For its 21st entry, the producers of the most resilient movie series in American cinema reintroduce British agent James Bond with a faithful adaptation of Ian Fleming’s first novel.
In Casino Royale (2006), Daniel Craig—the sixth actor to play Bond in the official series—has a streetwise scrappiness and a ruthless, reckless, cold-blooded intensity missing since the days of Connery, and he makes a memorable entrance by earning his legendary “license to kill” and “00” status in the gritty pre-credits sequence. He’s still rough around the edges, which bedevils M (Judi Dench) as he takes on an international financer to terrorists (a creepy Mads Mikkelsen) and spars with the beautiful British Treasury official Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) sent to babysit the cash he’s using in a high-stakes poker game. (Not quite as continental as the baccarat tournament of the original, but easier to follow).
Martin Campbell, who revived the franchise once before in Goldeneye, brings a leaner style and a meaner temperament to the series, tossing out gadget-laden spectacle for bare-knuckle battles and adrenaline-pumping stunts with a wincing physicality. The set pieces are all here but it’s also a battle of wits as much as an action film, with great adrenaline-pumping scenes built from simple attacks. Craig’s streetwise scrappiness gives him a feral quality missing since the days of Connery that helps rejuvenate the character as the lean and mean take reboots the series with a sinewy confidence and a brutal directness.
Jeffrey Wright takes over the role of CIA agent and Bond pal Felix Leiter and Giancarlo Giannini, Caterino Murino, and Isaach De Bankolé co-star.
On Blu-ray and DVD and on SVOD through Amazon Video, iTunes, GooglePlay, Fandango, Vudu and/or other services. Availability may vary by service.
Casino Royale [Blu-ray+DVD]
Casino Royale (2006) (Two-Disc Collector’s Edition) [Blu-ray]
Casino Royale [4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray]
Casino Royale (2006) [DVD]
Casino Royale (Three-Disc Collector’s Edition) [DVD]