Casino Royale

Casino Royale ★★★½

The Mission: Impossible*-ification of James Bond makes this the best entry in the franchise. It's tight, the characters and drama work like gangbusters, and the setpieces are fantastic. A great action movie, a great spy movie, and a wonderful blockbuster. It's just a pity it's about the only one in the franchise I feel this warm about. Maybe one day Skyfall will click like that, but nothing in that one works for me quite like the Bond/Vesper connection in this film, and Mikkelsen as Le Chiffre is genuinely inspired. The sweaty scene he and Craig share is one of the best and most sensual in espionage cinema, and boy, it still scratches that itch all these years later.

*[OCT '21]: Could definitely go Bourne here, but that emphasis on parkour heavy action and a Bond who fucks up a lot feel right out of the Ethan Hunt playbook. His vulnerability makes him more interesting and cooler.

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