Never had there been so much public opposition to the casting of James Bond. After Brosnan decided to quit the role considering himself to be too old for the part, the search was on again with hot favourites being Henry Cavall and Sam Worthington but the weather-beaten Daniel Craig made his debut as the toughest and most down to earth Bond ever seen. Craig faced considerable criticism before the release of the movie, mostly for his looks but confounded his critics by turning in a performance that won wide acclaim.
Also criticised was the decision to make “Casino Royale” in effect the “first” Bond movie a reboot of the entire franchise, effectively wiping out everything that came before as it shows Bond attaining his 00 status, licensed to kill and pout a bit. The script was, for the first time in a while, a direct adaptation of a Fleming novel, which had been loosely used as the basis for another film of the same name, a spoof this time, in 1967.
The plot follows Bond’s attempt to infiltrate the operations of Le Chiffre and Mr White. Le Chiffre is an investor who organises terrorist raids to help build the value of his portfolio, while Mr White is a shady figure with a powerful organisation behind him.
Bond meets and falls in love with Vesper Lynd, a treasury agent but she double crosses him, before changing her mind and tearfully apologising. White kills Le Chiffre for failing to assassinate Bond and Vesper dies in an elevator. In revenge, Bond tracks down Mr White and captures him.
Martin Campbell who had so successfully helmed “Goldeneye” returned as director to relaunch the franchise once again and filming took place during 2006. Locations included the Bahamas and Italy and a studio complex in Prague before returning once again to Pinewood. Eva Green as the primary Bond girl Vesper Lynd does a decent job with something of a non event of a character and Mads Mikkelsen is excellent as Le Chiffre. The CGI excesses of the previous film were toned down with the visual effects supervisor much preferring to shoot something for real if at all possible and one of the biggest and most complex effects sequences ever seen in the franchise was the spectacular sinking of a building in Venice at the climax of the movie, for which a water tank containing a set that could be raised and lowered on hydraulic pistons was constructed at Pinewood.
Music was again provided by now seasoned composer David Arnold, avoiding the use of the famous “James Bond Theme” until the very end where Bond announces himself to Mr White. As a reboot, the film was generally considered successful though many mourned the loss of humour and Craig himself makes for an extremely dour bond, seemingly devoid of wit. However, they must have been doing something right as “Casino Royale” became the most profitable Bond film so far.