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Film Preview: Casino Royale


For the last few years, there has been much speculation as to who would be the latest actor to take up the role of James Bond. Six actors have picked up 007’s license to kill, to varying degrees of success.

Virtually every popular actor with an accent has been rumored to be in the running at one point or another, from Clive Owen to Jude Law to Hugh Jackman. For a while, it certainly seemed as though they would simply sign whoever was the most popular at the moment, but finally the announcement came: little known actor Daniel Craig would be replacing Pierce Brosnan as the iconic superspy. Initial reactions were almost completely identical: Who? (Craig costarred with Eric Banna in Steven Spielberg’s Munich, as well as in Michael Vaugn’s Layer Cake.)
Bond’s first 007 mission takes him to Madagascar where he is to spy on a terrorist, Mollaka (Sebastien Foucan). Not everything goes according to plan, and Bond decides to investigate–independently of MI6–in attempt to track down the rest of the terrorist cell. Following a lead to the Bahamas, he encounters Dimitrios (Simon Abkarian) and his girlfriend, Solange (Caterina Murino). He learns that Dimitrios is involved with Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), banker to the world’s terrorist organizations.

Bond (Daniel Craig) has a chat while Solange (Caterina Murino) looks on.
Secret Service intelligence reveals that Le Chiffre is planning to raise money in a high-stakes poker game in Montenegro, at Le Casino Royale. MI6 assigns 007 to play against him, knowing that if Le Chiffre loses, it will destroy his organization. M (Judi Dench) places Bond under the watchful eye of the beguiling Vesper Lynd (Eva Green). At first skeptical of what value Vesper can provide, Bond’s interest in her deepens as they brave danger and even torture at the hands of Le Chiffre. In Montenegro, Bond allies himself with Mathis (Giancarlo Giannini) MI6’s local field agent, and Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) who is representing the interests of the CIA.
The marathon game proceeds with dirty tricks and violence, raising the stakes beyond blood money and reaching a terrifying climax.

Mads Mikkelsen is Le Chiffre.
Looking at the trailer, Craig appears to be taking the character back to the days of Sean Connery; a time that many would say was the heyday of the character. It also looks like they are giving the character a bit of an edge, something that was present in the Flemming novels, and missing from some of the films.

In this day and age, the concept of a super smooth spy seems outdated. I grew up with Roger Moore and if there was one issue I had with his Bond, it was that he never seemed too concerned with his predicament: if he was not worried about the death ray or sharks that were about to eat him, why should I be worried?

While part of the allure of Bond is that he is the best in his unusual profession, he has–at least for me–felt one step removed from the real world. This may not have been a problem during the Cold War, but it is a new world with new adversaries; we can’t always tell who the enemy is, and slick, stylish resolutions seem less plausible.
The Bourne Identity has done so well, in part, because the audience can sympathize with Jason Bourne, who is portrayed as a flawed and somewhat vulnerable human being, who just happens to be an assassin. Paul Haggis (Crash) has proven he is able to write characters that viewers can connect with; his contribution to the script of Casino Royale appear to have helped give Bond back his grit, making him less of a superhero and more of a man. It is a welcome change, ushering 007 into the 21st century.

Jeremy Lynch

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