After the “Pierce Brosnan years” James Bond had begun to get a little stale. Goldeneye was great but unfortunately Brosnan’s movies slowly went downhill. Perhaps it was the focus on action over story or maybe after nearly 40 years of watching the MI6 Secret Agent save the world again and again audiences simply got tired of him. Whatever the reason the James Bond franchise needed to be resuscitated quickly. Casino Royale did that with a bang because it did something that few other movies in the franchise did before, focused on the character of James Bond and gave us a look into the mind of this complex character while still giving audiences classic moments and action sequences that rival any other films in recent times.
First off the most obvious change in Casino Royale was Daniel Craig as James Bond. This was a choice that infuriated many people as evidenced by countless websites and blogs that were attempting to incite a mass boycott of the movie because of Craig’s involvement. Luckily Daniel Craig brought a fresh look and attitude to the secret agent; making Bond a much more athletic and humanized character that audiences see go through the transformation that caused him to become what we have been used to in other movies.
Another change to Casino Royale was the lack of the character Q. While Q was not really a fault in the Bond films his exclusion led to less crazy gadgets like exploding cigarettes and cell phone tasers. This allowed the focus to be placed on Bond’s abilities and not his dumb luck of being in a situation where a villain wants to open Bond’s briefcase and then is hit in the face by a smoke bomb. Bond is agile and quick thinking; always keeping M and the rest of MI6 on their toes.
While Casino Royale has a heavy focus on action scenes like some of the more recent movies it also slows things down; the most obvious case being the card game that fills the room with tension all around. It hearkens back to Bond’s early days; one of the first scenes in the series involves the spy playing cards with an enemy of his. In between poker hands we are treated to fighting that convinces the audience that Bond is perhaps untouchable; until, minutes later, we are shown one of the most vulnerable scenes ever when Bond is forced to take a break from the game and nearly loses his life. Casino Royale mixes the unstoppable, emotionless spy with a vulnerable human being who is quickly learning that being a 00 agent is going to require him to make some changes to himself. Bond is forced to strike a balance between detaching himself from everything but not allowing himself to become a completely cold-hearted killer for hire.
Like Batman Begins before it Casino Royale has completely reinvigorated a franchise that had been faltering. The film, again like Batman, felt darker and gritty than previous entries in the franchise. This new direction mixed with a new lead actor that was able to exemplify the character of James Bond and just enough mix of classic Bond moments with newer ideas makes Bond a very relevant movie franchise again. Batman, like Bond movies, had gotten out of touch with what made the first ones loved by everyone. Both movie franchises became “silly” and lost focus by throwing ridiculous enemies and tons of unnecessary gadgets into the mix. The Batman movies became focused more on their star studded villain cast and Bond movies added invisible cars mixing that with a whimsical James Bond who clearly had forgotten the events of his past.
With Quantum of Solace right around the corner and already getting great reviews audiences everywhere should be very excited about James Bond’s return. I’m just really excited that we are getting a Bond movie that is a direct continuation of the previous one; most likely going even more in-depth into the character of Bond, something that has been absent from many other movies in the franchise. Similarly to how The Dark Knight continued to show the tortured soul of Batman and focus even more on his character Quantum of Solace looks to go deeper into James Bond’s attempts to cope with the events at the end of Casino Royale. The darker tone that fit Batman so well also works with Bond as well. Perhaps the best part of Casino Royale is how, despite being a much more realistic and darker look at the character, we still see the same one-liners and carefree attitude that has been a staple of the Bond franchise since its inception.
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