This couldn't have been any better, Casino Royale fires up the Bond cannon after a four year break since the rather average Die Another Day. This 21st film says goodbye to gadgets and visual effects driven action scenes and welcomes more grounded and gritty action with smarts and style. Best of all the story is told superbly, rich with characters and subplots that connect beautifully leaving nothing unanswered.
M sends 007 on a mission that takes him to Montenegro to go up against financier Le Chiffre in a high-stakes poker game at the Casino Royale, where Le Chiffre plans to win in order to pay back his deadly terrorist clients. Never before has an assignment felt so realistic in a Bond adventure, it's probably the smartest and most finely written since Goldeneye back in 1995.
There is action that goes beyond anything you've ever seen, Bond climbs a construction site chasing after supremely talented freerunner Sebastien Foucan ending in one heck of a shootout, then there's the extremely tense airport chase where Bond attempts to foil a bombing, and the opening featuring Bond's first kills that promote him to "00" status is fierce and one of the best prologue's in Bond history, followed by Chris Cornell's excellent "You Know My Name".
However, whilst the action is constructed perfectly, the poker games are what thrilled me the most, Martin Campbell directs with style ensuring you're feeling like a player or someone watching in the background, I love the focus on the player's tells and the facial expressions pulled by Bond and Le Chaffer.
No review would be complete without mentioning how brilliant Daniel Craig is, or the supporting cast, Craig is witty, brutal and utterly convincing as 007. Eva Green is a definitive Bond girl, not playing a damsel in distress but a smart and sassy girl who puts Bond in his place and means an awful lot to him. Judi Dench is one of the all time great actresses and M is one of her finest characters, I like her blunt nature towards Bond and no nonsense approach. Mads Mikkelsen is terrifying as Le Chiffre, he's probably the most realistic Bond enemy, seeing that he doesn't live in a hidden underground base or has a nuclear missile aimed at a satellite, stuff we've seen in the past.
Without a doubt, the Bond series needed slightly sprucing up, and for a big fan of the franchise that's hard to say but it's true, especially after Die Another Day, and Casino Royale is the perfect entry to restart this explosive franchise.