The Broccoli franchise has finally produced the movie version of the one novel of Ian Fleming's James Bond series where it missed acquiring the rights, Casino Royale. With a new lead player and probably the weakest plotline of the literary series, it holds up very well.Â AlthoughÂ this adaptationÂ has a few weak points, this is a thoroughly modern 007 who should not only maintain its past fan base, but attract many new ones as well.
The biggest challenge Producers Callum McDougall and Barbara Broccoli faced was dealing with a dated, weak plotline.Â While Author Ian Fleming had had the experience working in naval intelligence, there was so little meat to his first published novel.Â Because of James Bond's talent at gambling, he is given the assignment to drain the financial resources of the Russian Cold War crime syndicate, SMERSH, through the casino it uses for money laundering.Â A lot of precious dramatic time is given to explaining the mechanics of baccarat to its readers and there is still more dead time on Bond's convalescence as he recuperates from the injuries drawn while on his mission.Â In addition, today's audiences would not accept the overwhelming sexist attitudes of the literary edition.
Since the main thrust of the novel was so simple, updating and readjusting the plot for today's movie audiences was not so difficult to keep Screenwriters Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and Paul Haggis from pulling together a fun action story.Â Instead of dealing with Russian Mafiosos, James Bond is up against international terrorists.Â As he keeps one under surveillance in Uganda, the chase ensues, leading Bond (Daniel Craig) into the thrillseeking stunts that fans have come to expect in the movie series.Â Even though Fleming shied away from putting his protagonist in such grandiose confrontations, the tone of this adaptation matches that of the novel series more than most of the Bond movies have.Â Bond was never really a spy.Â Spies collect information and report to their leaders.Â Bond is an operative and assassin.Â This movie gives audiences the character Fleming meant to convey.
There has been a great deal of criticism that this installment has no gadgets.Â Au contraire.Â There is a plethora of them.Â Cell phones, laptops, and blackberries abound in this movie.Â This may be technology anybody with the interest and money can indulge in, but it is there nonetheless.Â It really brings Bond into today's world and is consistent with his movie personna.Â If he can operate so many cars, trucks, boats, and planes as he has in the past, the internet network should be a breeze to him.
The biggest bone of contention with the script and marketing of this 2006 movie is its lack of continuity with the rest of the film series.Â As it adapts the first Bond adventure, it takes James Bond back to the beginning of his MI6 career.Â Since Producers Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman missed acquiring the rights to Casino Royale before someone else did, they obviously filmed the series out of order.Â The movie adaptations have always had their own continuity.Â The claim to put the character in a retrospective adventure is absurd.Â It damages the film series's continuity, if anything.Â If audiences are going to see the first Bond adventure, then M should be played by the late Bernard Lee and 007 goes back to fighting the Cold War.Â Instead of promoting it as the first Bond adventure, it would have been better if it was just another new one.
Craig (Munich, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider) as Bond works quite well.Â It's appropriate to have a true Englishman in the part again.Â He's the right age and obviously fit for the job.Â On a personal note, he's also brave to take on the comparisons that are bound to be made to those who came before him in the role, most notably Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan.Â He gives a tough, gritty performance, showing Bond's shield of bravado well.Â Or true nature, as the literary version had little remorse.Â However, Mr. Kiss-Kiss-Bang-Bang is supposed to be dark.
Casting Judi Dench (Notes on a Scandal, Shakespeare in Love) as M is a refreshing change of pace.Â She is a superior actress and commands authority quite well in her character.Â It's doubtful Fleming ever imagined the sassy Vesper Lynd Eva Green (Kingdom of Heaven, His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass) portrays, but she puts in a persuasive performance in the way she responds to the violence surrounding Bond.
One of the most incredible highlights of the movie is its opening credits.Â If anything shows the series is shedding its sexist fixations, this is it.Â The style of them has been pushed to another level.Â The silhouettes of near-naked women have been dropped, yet they still envelop all that is 007.Â Very well done.
The music, on the other hand, was the biggest disappointment, and not just because it held out the full Bond theme until the end.Â (Veteran fans would recognize that a few bars of it were played here and there throughout the course of the story.)Â After enjoying the imaginative, jazzy music of John Barry for most Bond movies, Danny Arnold's compositions come off plain.Â There is none of the distinctive string and horn sounds that one could expect.Â The music in this 007 adventure could be applied to any other action movie.Â There's little style to it at all.
Back in the 1960s, the spy craze was one of the biggest demands from audiences.Â It brought fans characters like Derek Flint, Matt Helm, and Napoleon Solo.Â Most of those characters were just cashing in on the success of James Bond and are now just a vague memory.Â This film adaptation of Casino Royale, unlike the others that came before it, shows that Bond is still with us, and ready to take on the 21st century.Â It's well worth the time to watch it.