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Jurgen Fauth & Marcy Dermansky

Gut Reaction: Casino Royale

By November 15, 2006

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Everybody's wondering whether or not Daniel Craig makes a good James Bond, but of course he'll do nicely. The truth is, the role of 007 doesn't really take much more than a cold stare and the capacity to look snazzy in a dinner jacket. The real question: what about Eva Green? We've adored the French ingenue since her debut in Bernardo Bertolucci's The Dreamers, and truth be told, she was the real reason we attended yesterday's screening at New York's Ziegfeld theater. Casino Royale starts out very strong, with gritty bathroom fights and a breathtaking, Ong-Bak-inspired chase through a construction site.

Just when the film starts losing steam, Green appears to save the spy from his own smugness. As Vesper Lynd, the smart but reserved accountant who lords over Bond's finances while he plays high-stakes poker for terrorist funds, Green's not only the most intriguing Bond girl since Sophie Marceau, she's also the most important since George Lazenby got hitched to Diana Rigg in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Their banter's charming, the outfits are glamorous, the villian's creepy, and the locations are splendid as always (even if they borrow Natalie Portman's space retreat from Attack of the Clones.)

In other words, the ingredients are right, and Casino Royale had the potential for a truly great Bond movie. The franchise, which is really an endless series of remakes, always tends toward bigger, louder, and more cartoonish installments (Die Another Day was a superhero comic book), and every decade or so, the producers feel obliged to dial down the nonsense and reintroduce grit and a real sense of danger. Director Martin Campbell succeeds on this score, but he doesn't know when to stop.

If Casino Royale had kept to a lean, mean 90 minutes, it could have been the perfect James Bond flick. But it just keeps on going, and after two and a half hours, all the drama and tragedy Campbell is obviously aiming for have bled from the movie, leaving us with nothing more but a headache and the familiar catchphrase. You'd be better off--and you'd see more of Eva Green--if you just rewatched The Dreamers, twice. 2 stars. [posted by Jürgen]

Image © MGM/Columbia Pictures


November 15, 2006 at 4:52 pm
(1) Aubrey Henry says:

You bring your credibility into question by placing the burden of a Bond film’s success on a Bond girl.

Did you walk into the screening room knowing you would be watching a Bond film, or did somebody just tell you that it “starred” Eva Green?

How can you honestly review a Bond film when you don’t display even the slightest respect for the role or its history? I can respect that you feel the film is too long, but your overt pandering to your own indie film sensibilities doesn’t exactly inspire trust in this case.

November 15, 2006 at 5:33 pm
(2) worldfilm says:


I understand where you’re coming from, but I don’t think paying special attention to the female lead is pandering. Indie and world film is my beat, and of course I’ll watch a blockbuster release from that vantage point. If you look back over what I wrote, you’ll also see that I’m not placing the burden of success on Green–she’s great as Vesper Lynd, and she wasn’t the reason for my disappointment.


November 15, 2006 at 5:44 pm
(3) Tigger says:

Pardon my curiosity, but how on earth is Casino Royale considered an “Independent Film”?

November 15, 2006 at 6:06 pm
(4) worldfilm says:

Tigger, it’s getting pretty hard to define what exactly makes an independent film anymore, but we can probably agree that Casino Royale isn’t it. If you want get technical about it, the movie was financed in England and shot in London, Prague, Italy, and the Bahamas, so perhaps it could squeeze in as a world film. But really, I posted about this because Eva Green, a French actress, was in one of my favorites films of 2004, and I figured our readers would be interested in how she did as Bond girl.

November 15, 2006 at 9:37 pm
(5) Richard says:

Trust me, i don’t think people would take too well to a 90 minute Bond film. It’s just tradition to have it at 2 hours min, but yes i too agree with Aubrey’s point.

November 16, 2006 at 12:38 am
(6) Edward says:

So, It was a great film, just too long? Meh, that deserves more than 2 stars.

November 16, 2006 at 8:49 am
(7) Chris A says:

Your comment “You’d be better off–and you’d see more of Eva Green–if you just rewatched The Dreamers, twice.” smacks both of previously mentioned over-reference to Eva Green, together with a total change in target demographic, and a recommendation of a film largely thought of in terms of mediocrity.

November 16, 2006 at 11:14 am
(8) m says:

90 minutes? nothing pisses me off more than a 90 minute action movie, this is bond, not the transporter. when i saw the title of the review i was surprised anyone would say that. then i noticed the writer is a female and was no longer surprised. keep to writing about movies like the break up and lake house sweeheart

November 16, 2006 at 12:09 pm
(9) billymatt says:

Craig sucks as what James Bond should be.
Brocolli just shoved him down our throats.
Take the name Bond away from this movie and its just another action movie with an actor, a good one as he is, who should not be playing James Bond. Period. Exclamation point!

November 16, 2006 at 12:41 pm
(10) Lance says:

I think it’s great that this movie is doing well and getting excellent reviews. Check out http://www.rottentomatoes.com which collects all of the reviews and gives you a percentage of good and bad reviews. The last time I checked I think there were 37 reviews posted from all over…..35 positive and 2 negative. I always thought it was ridiculous to judge a movie and actor before the movie was even released. I’m sure the people at danielcraigisnotbond.com are feeling pretty stupid about now. There was even a call to boycott this film since Pierce Brosnan is not playing the part of Bond. Reviewers are saying Craig does a GREAT job and this is one of the best Bond movies ever. I’m sure all of the controversy has helped add fuel to this debate so to all of the “nay sayers”…….thanks!

November 17, 2006 at 9:05 am
(11) Gary says:

Excelent review. One of the few that exposed this for for the over-bloated and boring mess that it is. They should learn from their beginnings and make these films under two hours, like the first three were.
Also, he is nothing like Fleming’s character at all (if any of there review would try to read a book or two). A short, ugly, blonde boxer is not 007 and the sad thing is that he is doing two more.

November 20, 2006 at 4:17 pm
(12) Ernie says:

This stuff kills me. Nothing but self-important musings presented as fact, with credentials like, “I see a lot of movies.”


November 21, 2006 at 10:57 am
(13) Lance says:

Actually, he’s doing 3 more. :o ) Some of us prefer longer movies…..those of us with long enough attention spans. I like to feel like I get my money’s worth when I go to the movies. I definitely did with the newest Bond movie. If there’s any doubt that it’s a HUGE success. go to http://www.rottentomatoes.com the great reviews keep pouring in!

November 22, 2006 at 12:08 am
(14) Jackie says:

In my opinion, he’s not what Bond should be….watch the bond box office take a big dip in the next week or two…Americans won’t like him, like they didn’t like Dalton.

November 23, 2006 at 11:04 am
(15) laura says:

i cannot believe this review. what utter crap.
i have read flemmings books. i re-read casino royale in the run up to the film. daniel plays him the way flemming wrote him.
anyone who prefers the crap spewed out in previous years, where they completely forgot flemmings character needs their head testing and their eyes looked at .

daniel craig has done a wonderful job

November 23, 2006 at 2:30 pm
(16) jan says:

To Laura,
blah, blah, blah…who did you say read the book to you.

December 1, 2006 at 9:45 pm
(17) Tyrone says:

This review totally misses the point. You do yourself a total disservice by trying to see this movie as an idie. Daniel Craig totally brings to the screen Feleming’s 007 warts and all. The box office is doing very well with not much drop off. All i can say is Pierce Brosnan who?? Give me more of Craig’s 007!!

December 19, 2006 at 12:00 pm
(18) rosie powell says:

A 90-minute Bond movie? Thanks, but no thanks. I’m quite happy with the 144-minute CASINO ROYALE. On first viewing, the movie’s last act seemed to drag. But when I saw the movie for the second and third time, the pacing was just right, as far as I was concerned.

December 24, 2006 at 4:38 am
(19) Coolio Hunt says:

He not a Blunt Bond or any failure. He is a great Bond. Daniel Craig did a great & Cool performance as 007. Great action & great romance.

December 29, 2006 at 6:04 pm
(20) euripides says:

I thought the torture scene was just too, too much – why do we have to have such horrible cold-blooded violence? Apart from that, I loved it. Daniel Craig was brilliant and gorgeous and for once the director seems to have realised that female fans are watching too.
Would have liked a bit more of the beautiful car and less poker-playing, but I figure it they are keeping in tune with popular culture and the current poker craze – I expect most people would have understood the poker game and found it suspenseful. (which I didn’t)
The plot seemed a trifle muddled at times and the role of ‘Mr White’ could have been a touch clearer. The heart-stopping opening chase was incredible. Seamless, death-defying stunt work.

February 13, 2007 at 3:56 pm
(21) daniela says:

In my opinion i still thinking Sean Connery’s Movie are still being the best as 007 movies….and the women who appiered in those movies…
i agree with the opinion that casino royale specifically Daniel Craig didn’t do well his job as james bond.
actually i thought was watching another movie from tom cruise (mission impossible) it’s seems like that and no as James Bond isn’t even close to be.

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