Casino Royale (2006)
Director: Martin Campbell
James Bond: Daniel Craig
Notable villain(s): Le Chiffre
Notable Bond girl(s): Vesper Lynd
When this film came out I remember being quite confused by it, and I was slightly apprehensive about watching it again. Admittedly, I was 18 when it came out so should have been able to follow it but, for one reason or another, my memory tells me that I came away confused!
Watching it this week, however, I was completely taken by surprise – Casino Royale is a superb film and I was able to follow it with no problems. Admittedly the opening scene has no bearing on the rest of the plot and leaves you guessing as to its significance, but Casino Royale is a re-imagining of the Bond saga from its early days.
Apart from M – who was portrayed by Judi Dench for the fifth time – the remaining cast members are completely new. Q and Moneypenny are missing but Felix Leiter, Bond’s friend in the CIA, is back, portrayed by Jeffrey Wright. There’s a new actor portraying Bond himself too, of course.
It’s not just the cast that have been changed either. There’s a much more updated feel to Casino Royale compared to its predecessor, Die Another Day, which was released four years earlier. It’s an exceptionally slick film, with only very minor things to call it up on. While the main focus – a poker tournament – isn’t something that I’d normally be interested in, it’s presented in such an exciting way that you can’t help but be enthralled.
Quantum of Solace (2008)
Director: Marc Forster
James Bond: Daniel Craig
Notable villain(s): Dominic Greene
Notable Bond girl(s): Camille Montes
In my opinion, the Bond franchise took a large step back with Quantum of Solace. Craig was on sparkling form, but I found my attention wandering quite a lot. The fact that it picked up where Casino Royale finished did not earn the film brownie points in my book either. In making it a sequel it broke, what I consider, a golden rule of Bond films: you should be able to enjoy it as a standalone film without having to know what’s happened previously.
The reasons for both my poor attention span and its being a sequel could be due to the fact that Craig himself, together with director Marc Forster, had to write parts of the script. In an interview with Time Out Craig explained that the writers’ strike of 2007-2008 occurred during filming, which meant that no writer could be hired during that time to finish the script. It was down to Craig and Forster to finish it off.
Having said that, it does still fit in with the Bond genre as it features lots of action sequences, beautiful women and fast cars. It’s not one that will be remembered particularly well, though, and I don’t think I’ll be choosing to watch again anytime soon.
Current order of preference: Goldfinger, Casino Royale, Thunderball, Licence to Kill, The Man with the Golden Gun, You Only Live Twice, Dr. No, Tomorrow Never Dies, The Living Daylights, A View to a Kill, The World is Not Enough, Octopussy, The Spy Who Loved Me, Live and Let Die, Goldeneye, Diamonds Are Forever, From Russia With Love, For Your Eyes Only, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Quantum of Solace, Moonraker and, in last place, Die Another Day.
You can read all my mini reviews and posts in my Bondathon series here.