Casino Royale

Casino Royale ★★★★★

"You love me?"

Where do I even begin? Such an inspired vision for the series, both narratively and cinematographically. Breathless—practically relentless—yet piercingly inward, weaving brutality with intimate reckoning in a sublime portrait that balances excitement, revelation, and tragedy possibly better than any other chapter for 007. Director Martin Campbell has managed to successfully introduce two eras of Bond (Brosnan with GoldenEye before), Casino Royale being a watershed production for him and the property altogether. Rivaled, thus far, by Skyfall, Craig’s debut revitalized decades of franchise-making in one fell swoop.

A blistering experience complete with astounding craftsmanship (the direction, editing, and cinematography marry spectacularly), a screenplay that values character development propelled by surprising, subtle complexities, David Arnold’s best score to date, and a roster of impressive, committed talent. Craig commands the mantle in a magnetic performance brimming with ego and creeping vulnerability, one matched with equal presence and intensity by an unforgettable Eva Green (probably the best Bond Girl) and Mads Mikkelsen as one of the more compelling villains in the series (desperation is a helluva motivator). The entire film is delivered with such conviction and ambition that awe comes naturally.

Maybe I’m a little biased considering that this was my first 007 flick seen in theaters (Dad and I were seated front row because tickets sold so fast), but the final picture more than speaks for itself. Casino Royale is a definitive chapter for the character. Honestly, it’s one of the best blockbusters around. As electrifying as it is emotional, there’s really only a few others of its calibre around.

"I have no armor left. You’ve stripped it from me. Whatever is left of me—whatever is left of me—whatever I am, I’m yours."

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