The James Bond franchise has had its ups and downs over its 50 year run run, but where it came together for a lot of people after several missteps was the 21st entry. Casino Royale was parallel to other successful reboots like Star Trek, Batman Begins, and X-Men: First Class which honored what had came before whilst injecting new life into their respective franchises.
Martin Campbell was chosen for the film which made sense because he had already cut his teeth on one of the more critically praised Brosnan Bond movies, GoldenEye. GoldenEye had come after a six year hiatus following Timothy Dalton resigning the role which essentially made GoldenEye a 90’s version of Casino Royale. Predictably Campbell delivered in spades, pulling in little bits of inspiration from Batman Begins and the Bourne movies to create a grittier, more realistic Bond, pushing the gadgets and supercars to the background. The result is something that still has the original DNA but it’s just enough of a new vibe to keep things fresh. The action is toned down to just inside the realm of believability, which adds a lot more tension, and the action sequences are all well executed and well shot.
Daniel Craig is another key success to Casino Royale. He brought the suave demeanor that we’re used to from the character but he also added something that was absent before – grittiness and intensity. Bond has never been so visceral. The charm and wit that’s necessary for a likeable protagonist is still there but there’s a rawness which Daniel Craig brings that makes him threatening in the role, and makes a game of cards interesting to watch. He was given great dialogue to deliver and he’s always got a witty comeback; any scene with banter in it is the highlight of the movie. It also didn’t hurt they he had great character actors to play off, including Jeffrey Wright, Eva Green, and Mads Mikkelsen, whose Le Chiffre is a great deconstruction of previous Bond Villains.
With Daniel Craig’s steeley blue eyes, the intense and innovative action, and the love interest played by Eva Green being the main focus of the marketing team, it was little wonder Casino Royale became a hit. There were also gorgeous sweeping shots of the locations, casinos and slots machines like the Ceasars casino roulette game, helping to make Casino Royale the success that it was.