The first press reviews of the 21st James Bond film
Casino Royale have been published in the British
press today, with a lot of positive feedback...
Update: 5/11/06 - More reviews added.
Casino Royale Early Press Reviews
4th November 2006
The Times - 04/11/06
Who would have thought that the casting of a blond Bond
would stir up such a hornet’s nest of controversy?
Daniel Craig has been the subject of fevered speculation
and a good few personal attacks since he signed on as
the sixth Bond, and even now there are threats of boycotts
in some sectors of the online community.
But despite the antipathy to the idea of Craig as Bond,
it’s all good news for EON productions. Although
the previous instalment was drubbed by critics and audiences
alike, the fans still care enough about the Bond series
to get angry.
While Die Another Day was a box-office draw, in it Bond
was in danger of losing something equally valuable to
the franchise in the long term: his cool. It was the
invisible car that did it. That, and a blanket of special
effects that could smother the life out of the best of
screenplays — and let’s face it, Die Another
Day was not the best of screenplays.
In The Bourne Identity’s Jason Bourne and 24’s
Jack Bauer, special agents who share Bond’s initials
but little else, the lumbering, longrunning franchise
met its match. That much-derided vanishing Aston Martin
in Bond’s 20th official outing sealed the fate
of 007 as we had come to know him
With Bond No 21, in what the producers are describing
as a “reboot” of the franchise, Casino Royale
takes us back to basics: to Bond’s early years
as a newly appointed 00; to a leaner, lower-budget production
and to a Bond who looks like he can do some serious damage,
rather than just smarm his way out of a tight spot and
disappear on a mini-nuclear submarine disguised as a
For this picture, which lists Paul Haggis, who wrote
Crash, as one of its screenwriters, the action is less
reliant on the sillier gadgets favoured in the Brosnan
era (although fortunately Bond does have a portable defibrillator
in his car). Instead the film stakes its reputation on
one formidable weapon — Daniel Craig’s ruthless,
Every decade gets the Bond it deserves and we are living
in some pretty scary times. Craig is up there with the
best: he combines Sean Connery’s athleticism and
cocksure swagger with Timothy Dalton’s thrilling
undercurrent of stone-cold cruelty. While the rather
foppish Pierce Brosnan had the bland chiselled looks
of a male catalogue model, Craig’s face is endlessly
fascinating. It’s brutishly ugly — he looks
like he’d stab you in the eye if you crossed him,
and would probably enjoy doing it. But his sex appeal
is off the scale. He even makes his first assassination
an unsettlingly erotic experience. His Bond bleeds, bruises,
makes fatal mistakes.
The chemistry between Craig and his co-star and love
interest Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) is explosive. The relationship
is founded on prickly admiration, but it’s when
they both peel away their defences that things get interesting.
A scene where Bond comforts a traumatised Vesper in the
shower by gently sucking her fingers is impossibly sexy.
Vesper is the treasury accountant who is bankrolling
Bond’s mission to break the bank at a high-stakes
poker game in Montenegro. The target is Le Chiffre (Danish
star Mads Mikkelsen), an international money launderer
with a Hitler haircut, a platinum asthma inhaler and
a tendency to bleed from the eye. They might as well
have just tattooed the word Evil on his head.
In this new, edgy Bond, the stunts are more physical
and the violence raw. An early chase sequence appropriates
the free running techniques popularised in Paris to impressive,
if ludicrous, effect. And there’s a genuinely horrible
torture sequence where Bond suffers some unpleasant genital
Craig has an impressive physique (generously displayed)
that makes him a far more plausible Bond than many of
his predecessors. But his main asset quickly becomes
evident. He can act.
The Daily Mirror - 04/11/06
Turning to face the world's most famous superspy, the
bartender asks: "Shaken or stirred, sir?"
I look like I care?" comes James Bond's icy reply.
Make no mistake, the rulebook has been well and truly
torn up for 007's latest movie.
And Casino Royale is a breathless, thrilling romp that
will win over a whole new generation of fans.
Easily the best Bond film since GoldenEye, it's 144
minutes of non-stop, end-to-end action that proves there's
plenty of life in the world's longest-running movie franchise.
But a word of warning - this is unlike any other Bond
flick. Dark, gritty and surprisingly violent, the suave,
smooth-talking secret agent of old is replaced by a steely-eyed
killer with a dash of vulnerability.
And new 007 Daniel Craig - the man with the golden
hair, whose casting provoked an outcry among fans - is
simply brilliant, oozing the kind of edgy menace that
recalls Sean Connery at his very best.
Based on Ian Fleming's first Bond novel, the action
begins with Her Majesty's finest assassinating two baddies
in a bid to earn his licence to kill. It then switches
to his first assignment, spying on terrorist suspects
His mission soon leads him to the Bahamas, where he
learns of the evil Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), who's
planning to bankroll a series of terrorist outrages
by holding a high-stakes poker contest at Le Casino Royale
Bond is given $10million to infiltrate the game, the
rookie spy still isn't trusted enough by handler M (Judi
Dench), who assigns the shapely Vesper Lynd (Eva Green)
to keep an eye on him - though 007 still manages to get
to grips with mysterious Solange (Caterina Murino).
It's fitting that the film revolves around a card game
since, by turning the Bond formula on its head, director
Martin Campbell has taken one of the biggest gambles
in cinema history. While 007 still gets to drive around
exotic locales in his Aston Martin and ends up in a clinch
with his leading lady, that's about the only thing Casino
Royale has in common with the 20 films that have come
Aside from his readiness to kill, this Bond is far more
vulnerable than his predecessors - not only does he have
his heart broken, he also winds up almost dead after
a severe beating at the hands of Le Chiffre.
After a pummelling, Connery and Roger Moore simply dusted
off their DJs but this time 007 winds up on the critical
list. And if the torture scene doesn't stun, the action
set-pieces most certainly will.
Aside from some awesome chases, we get to see Bond
trying to stop a jet being blown up in a scene that'll
make your head spin faster than downing five vodka martinis.
Tellingly, Campbell is the man who re-energised the
series with GoldenEye, the 1995 entry that introduced
And, incredibly, he's done it again, turning a franchise
that, after 2002's Die Another Day, was looking distinctly
second-rate - especially in the face of competition from
the likes of Mission: Impossible and The Bourne Identity.
The year's most eagerly anticipated film does not disappoint.
You'll be shaken. You'll be stirred. Heck, you'll be
The Daily Mail - 04/11/06
The Bond movies have been getting steadily more and
more gadget-ridden and less and less about the character
of James Bond.
Casino Royale takes us back to the basics.
At one point, Bond even drives a Ford Mondeo (though
don't worry, he soon gets an Aston Martin).
Daniel Craig is probably the best and most serious actor
to have been cast as 007 and this film makes full use
of his range.
He's also the toughest and most virile leading man since
Russell Crowe's Maximus in Gladiator. The numerous shots
of his torso and piercing blue eyes will, I suspect,
make many in the female audience extremely happy.
And he develops the character very skilfully. When he
starts he is - as M (Judi Dench) tells him - 'a blunt
instrument'. By the end, he's the sharpest tool in the
As if to show us that we're going back to basics, the
pre-title sequence - traditionally a huge, stunt-driven
action sequence - is in sombre black and white.
And the titles tell us something that has not been true
of the last few Bond films - it is 'based on the novel
by Ian Fleming'. To reassure us that this will, at the
same time, be very 21st century, the first action sequence
is all about 'free running', where a bomber is pursued
by Craig over rooftops, along a tall crane and into an
Craig does a lot of his own running and jumping - indeed,
he does more of this in half an hour than Roger Moore
managed in all of his appearances put together.
There's a real problem with parts of the movie. A deliberate
policy decision has been made by director Martin Campbell
(who directed the first Brosnan Bond film, Goldeneye)
that many of the action sequences happen before we know
who Bond is chasing and fighting, or why. It's generally
left to Judi Dench to supply the explanation, after the
This unusual approach makes for some minutes when we
can't concentrate on the action because we're wondering
if we've missed something. Well, we haven't. We just
haven't been told what's happening yet.
Another weakness is that Le Chiffre is one of Fleming's
drabber villains, and Mads Mikkelsen does-n't give
him much personality. Le Chiffre means 'the cipher',
it's all too apt.
The premise behind the plot is that Le Chiffre subsidises
terrorists, but for financial gain, not out of any religious
or ideological doctrine. This feels a little weak as
motivation and during the first less-than-gripping hour
I noticed people walking in and out of the movie as children
do during a panto matinee - not a good sign.
The film really starts to hold the attention during
a mammoth game of poker, during which Bond suffers poisoning
and cardiac arrest but demonstrates superhuman powers
His recuperative abilities also come in handy after
the most famous scene in the book, a torture session
at the hands - or rather the knotted rope - of Le Chiffre.
In no time at all, Bond is back on his feet, with his
manhood miraculously intact, and enthusiastically wooing
the femme fatale of the piece, Vesper Lynd (played, extremely
attractively, by Eva Green).
This film may be about the making of Bond into a smooth,
coldhearted killing machine but there's still room for
I especially liked the moment when he orders
a vodka martini. The barman asks 'Shaken, not stirred?'
And the still-rough-around-the-edges Bond pierces him
with a look of contempt and remarks 'Do I look like
I give a damn?'
Daniel Craig is much better at comedy than I thought
he would be. But he really comes into his own when he
has to choose between his job and a woman, and chooses
None of the previous Bonds could have carried this scene
off with the same depth or sincerity.
Will Casino Royale be a huge hit and continue the franchise?
I think it will.
It's as action-packed, globe-trotting
and luxurious as ever - though I could have wished
for more motivation for the action, and therefore more
But the big strength of the film is that it takes us
further inside Bond's head than ever. Despite showing
us his sensitive side, Craig looks a far more convincing
killer than any 007 since Connery.
Will the public warm to him? I'm not 100 per cent certain,
but over the next couple of Bond movies, for which he's
already signed up, it should at least be fun finding
The Daily Telegraph 04/11/06
For decades, the debate among 007 fans has been who
is the best Bond — Sean Connery or Roger Moore.
Now a new contender has arrived, in the shape of Daniel Craig — the blond
38-year-old, who despite being a cold-blooded killer, manages to fall in love
with his Bond girl and show emotional vulnerability.
The critics were struggling to contain their excitement
last night, ahead of the first British screening of the
21st Bond film, Casino Royale. And when they came out
of the showing, they were thrilled.
The £57 million production is perhaps the most
eagerly-awaited Bond film ever. The film begins in black
and white, but then the credits roll and amazing technicolour
Sean Connery played the first Bond in 1962 and he played
him sexy and tough. Moore, with his trademark arching
eyebrow movement and knowing glances, was sexy and humorous.
But last night, there were no doubts Craig — who
has been romantically linked to Sienna Miller and Kate
Moss — possesses the hard-man credentials which
might make him many millions more fans.
"It's terrific," said one critic. "This
is going to be the prequel to all other Bonds. There
are a lot of fans who prefer either Moore or Connery
but Craig could be better.
"This will make Craig a worldwide star. The James
Bond films are watched absolutely everywhere."
"Casino Royale is the story of how Bond got started,
before he became 007," he said. "Daniel Craig
is such a good actor. He plays him as strong but emotionally
vulnerable. For the first time you see Bond's sensitive
There is no sexual innuendo in this film; Craig's Bond
is more sophisticated than that. And the film makers
have been sure to show the consequences of violence — he
Ian Fleming introduced the fictional British spy in
1952 with Casino Royale, which was the first Bond novel.
Craig depicts a character who is tough and gritty and
while the plot of good versus evil is the same, there
is no Miss Moneypenny.
If Bond has been a role-model for playboys across the
generations, Craig's 007 is not only interested in seduction.
He falls deeply in love with his Vesper Lynd.
The Treasury agent is played by Eva Green, an actress
who starred in Bernardo Bertolucci's The Dreamers to
Green, 26, said recently of her latest role: "I
am not just a bimbo in a bikini."
The Sunday Times - 05/11/06
They said he was too ugly, too chunky and too blond to play the
sixth James Bond. Bookmakers took bets that the actor known as “Mr
Potato Head” would not survive the first movie.
But Daniel Craig has come through with flying colours
as Ian Fleming’s sadistic secret agent in Casino
It is probably the most violent Bond film yet, with
Craig, 38, wading gamely into the fray, breaking heads,
loosing lead and, in a notable torture scene, strapped
naked to a chair and getting his unmentionables whipped
by a man with a thick rope.
The 21st film in the series takes Bond back to his earlier
years and his first assassination. He dispenses with
the usual gadgets in favour of a ruthlessness and athleticism
that is reminiscent of Sean Connery, the first screen
Craig’s performance rescues the franchise from
the trough into which it had fallen in the last outing,
Die Another Day, which despite a good box-office seemed
as vacuous as Bond’s invisible car. Many thought
it was time for Pierce Brosnan to disappear, too.
Guests who attended a sneak preview emerged impressed.
Monica Bertei, 29, an actress, said: “He’s
very sexy. It’s a lot more graphic and gritty than
in the past.” Graham Rye, 55, editor of 007 Magazine,
said: “I haven’t been as excited about a
Bond film for years. He’s the best Bond ever.”
Casino Royale, which goes on release on November 16,
is only nominally based on Fleming’s 1953 novel.
Here 007 finds himself pitched against a Euro-villain
named Le Chiffre (played by Mads Mikkelsen), a man with
a scarred, dead eye, who weeps blood through a tear duct
when he starts to get agitated.
Such traits do not serve him well when bluffing at Texas
hold ’em, the card game around which the story
revolves. Having tracked Le Chiffre from Madagascar to
Miami, Bond — “the best player in the service” — must
face off with him in a high-stakes game in Montenegro.
This provides an opportunity to showcase Craig in a
tuxedo, quaffing a cocktail and squiring a comely babe
(Vesper Lynd, played by Eva Green). She is a chaperone
from MI6, on hand to ensure the agent doesn’t blow
his wad, in any sense, outside of the business at issue.
Le Chiffre, it turns out, prefers bankrolling terrorist
organisations to anything fanciful like satellite death
rays or pools of piranha fish. Armed with several million
pounds from the Treasury, Bond’s mission is to
clean Le Chiffre out, thus siphoning off global terror’s
It’s all quite riveting. Throw in some neat oneliners
and a couple of major setpiece stunts — notably
a vertigo-inducing bit of leaping between cranes on an
African dockside — and Casino Royale does the business.
It is almost enough to forgive the absence of Q, and
the pain of an appalling theme song, sung by Chris Cornell.
We see Bond as little more than a grubby little murderer,
or “blunt instrument”, as M calls him, who
performs his first messy kill in a public lavatory and
whose new-found 00 (assassin) status barely elevates
him above the villains he terminates before his afternoon
Casino Royale is rich in little insights. We learn that
Bond is an orphan, resents the mysterious benefactor
who paid for his schooling, won his Aston Martin DBS
at poker, and prefers the no-strings thrill of married
women. This is a prototype Bond we have never seen before.
It seems we have underestimated you, Mr Craig.
The Observer - 05/11/06
Give or take the odd Octopussy, I suppose, like all of us, I've pretty
much seen them all. My first, memorably - you never forget your first
- was a rerun of Thunderball at a Gaumont in Birmingham, which in
my memory was in the process of being demolished. I'd have been eight,
and the most dramatic big screen extravanganza I'd seen previously
was Swiss Family Robinson, so Bond came with something of the force
of revelation; I went home to re-enact Sean Connery's underwater
fight with Largo's men with a single rubber-suited Action Man in
My first on its proper release, not long after, was
The Man with The Golden Gun, complete with Lulu's soundtrack.
I had nightmares for a while about Christopher Lee's
Scaramanga, and recall trying to join in with playground
discussions about the voluptuous merits of Britt Eklund's
Mary Goodnight in relation to Pussy Galore, a name whose
reference was possibly still beyond me. I was, in any
case, hooked, for a long time secretly thinking Roger
Moore was the best Bond, a fact which would have dismayed
my Dad who properly held out for the more spartan virtues
of Sean Connery, and my Mum, who would sometimes make
an impassioned, slightly flushed argument for the missed
opportunity that was George Lazenby.
Anyhow, with some of this in mind, I went along to the
Odeon Leicester Square on Friday night for the first
screening of the new Bond, the Daniel Craig Bond. Most
of the other balding, paunchy one-timeschoolboys in the
queue seemed to have a similar not quite cynical sense
of expectation. There'd be chases, and gadgets and gags
- the last Bond line I'd heard in the cinema, was also
one of the best: Pierce Brosnan, on the Bosphorus with
Dr Christmas Jones at the end of The World is not Enough:
'I've always wanted to have Christmas in Turkey.'
Hopes were high. If nothing else, there would be John
Barry's theme, which, as I joined the line to have my
mobile phone confiscated - an emasculation I could never
imagine 007 submitting to - was already dun-de-dunning
in my head. The word before this screening was that Daniel
Craig's Bond would be a purist's Bond, dirtier and grittier
than recent smoothies. Casino Royale was the first of
Fleming's books, and the only one, for contractual reasons,
never previously filmed except in the Peter Sellers spoof.
It would return James to his roots, the cold-blooded
killer, the ex-wartime Commander, before fast women and
invisible cars turned his head. It begins, after a title
sequence involving the designs on the back of playing
cards, and diamonds coming out of guns and writhing croupiers
in silhouette - you know - in exactly that retro spirit,
apparently in black and white, in Prague: Bond is in
the shadows surprising a double agent rifling through
a filing cabinet.
Craig had effectively auditioned for Bond in Layer Cake,
in which he played a cocaine dealer out of his depth,
and we cut to what looks like a scene from that film
- the very un-Bond-like graphic violence of Craig murdering
an informer in a white-tiled public lavatory, holding
the man's head underwater in a cheap sink. This, we are
led to understand, was Bond's first kill, the most traumatic,
his 007 status still pending, before the quips set in.
His second, of the double agent by the filing cabinet,
with a silencer, is more straightforward, and prompts
a wry smile.
That grainy preamble over, Craig is in colour and up
and running - straight through a staged cobra and mongoose
fight in a market in Madagascar, over the odd trashed
car, past plenty of startled villagers carrying unlikely
dry goods, up some serious scaffolding scattering hard-hatted
building workers, and on to a crane tower over the
impossibly blue ocean in pursuit of a scar-faced villain
bag of explosives. Who wants backstreet grittiness
when you can have fights with guns that run out of bullets
at opportune moments at high altitude?
Craig is the first Bond since Connery who looks more
than capable of doing his own stunts, he runs like a
streetfighter, falls credibly from great heights and
has been practising his free running. This is pre-Q Bond;
the closest he gets to a gadget is a decent mobile phone;
he spends a good deal of his time chasing fast cars on
foot in a manner Roger Moore would have deemed far too
keen; to start with he doesn't even seem to have his
own motor. Worse still, he hasn't yet earned Barry's
theme, except in odd mangled chords.
The best preface to Casino Royale is Simon Winder's
wonderful book The Man Who Saved Britain, out in paperback
to coincide with the release of the film. It's the comic
history of an obsession with Bond, both his own and our
own - an unravelling of all the curious hang-ups about
posh drinks and hat-throwing and casual misogyny that
takes in the demise of imperial ambition, post-war austerity
and Fleming's taste for torture.
It's a brilliant deconstruction
of those staples of British life that Paul Johnson,
writing long ago of Bond in the New Statesmen, denounced
snobbery and sadism', (this before Johnson moved to
the Spectator and discovered the pleasures of the same).
You rather wish Cubby Broccoli and the rest had studied
Winder's memoir before embarking on Casino Royale. One
of the things his book argues well is that the explosion
of a gas tanker is no real substitute for vaguely plausible
plotting or some notion of contemporary relevance - a
key element in Fleming's thrillers was his sharp move
from villainous former Nazis, to Cold War paranoia.
In attempting to flesh out the idea of Daniel Craig's
Bond as backstory to subsequent Bonds - trying on his
first dinner jacket for size, tripping over his chat-up
lines to Eva Green's gorgeous Vesper Lynd, replying when
asked if he wants his martini shaken or stirred, 'Do
I look like I give a damn?' - almost everything else
seems to have gone out of the window (along with various
not particularly sinister villains).
I'm quite happy for Bond to live in a continuous present,
but the time frame of the film is perplexing. After
the grainy Fifties Prague opening, there is the predictable
Seventies, Whicker's World rush of destinations, taking
in Uganda, Madagascar, the Bahamas and Venice, while
Bond, who we are presumably supposed to believe we
never come across before, suggests from time to time
that he is in 2006. Judi Dench as M, seems more than
usually unsure about the wisdom of her role or which
era she's in. She speaks at one point of her nostalgia
for the Cold War, before outlining the plot, such as
it is, which involves an attempt to manipulate the
stock market using terrorism, bringing in the first and
reference to 9/11. You don't expect Casino Royale to
be 24, quite, or Bond to be Jack Bauer, but it seems
bizarre to be employing a mix of Albanian and Swiss
and African and Italian financial terrorists when you
think there are more real current fears to explore.
Director Martin Campbell is also unsure about how much
of the glamour of violence he wants to strip back. There
are unusual 007 moments in which Bond lets us know he's
human, sitting soaking in the shower in his blood-drenched
dinner suit comforting Vesper after she has helped him
kill a man; or, oddly, screaming in pain. Raymond Chandler
praised the original book of Casino Royale for its brutal
description of torture, exposing genre-fiction to a new
realism. The scene that Chandler singled out is reproduced
here, with Bond tied naked on the frame of a chair while
his exposed scrotum is whipped with a knotted rope. Craig
is, not surprisingly, in more obvious pain than any previous
Bond , but having put him there, the only way to remove
him is through a comically unexplained ambush; by the
next scene, like the Bonds of old, he is recuperating
by the Italian lakes, his tenderized tackle magically
The problem with making Bond more real, is that everything
around him then seems even more fake than usual. Craig,
always a charismatic presence, often looks unsettled
by that dislocation; his sex scenes are more energetic
than those of his predecessors but even less convincing;
he is hardly allowed any comedy. As a result, by the
end of a curiously back-to-front film, when he finally
gets his theme tune and introduces himself - 'Bond. James
Bond' - he, like the creaky franchise itself, seems profoundly
unsure whether he is coming or going.
The Sunday Mirror - 05/11/06
THE STARS: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi
Dench, Caterinia Murino.
THE STORY: The storyline takes the franchise back to
before James Bond (Craig) held his licence to kill. After
two assassinations he is elevated to "00" status
and sent on a mission to Madagascar and then the Bahamas
on a terrorist trail. He finds a link to Le Chiffre (Mikkelsen),
banker for the world's terrorist organisations and is
instructed by "M" (Dench) to observe Le Chiffre
while he plays in a high stakes poker game in a Montenegro
casino. Additional interest comes in the form of government
money minder Vesper Lynd (Green), but as the stakes are
raised Bond and Lynd find themselves caught in a web
of deceit, passion and violence.
WHAT'S GOOD? Bond is back, and with a vengeance! This
spellbinding re-imagining of the James Bond spy myth
sees 007 back to his bone-crunching best, with Daniel
Craig brilliantly intense and gloweringly muscular.
new Bond is no bow-tie-wearing lightweight smoothie,
but a tough and determined street fighter who doesn't
know when to quit. Part way through the film, when he
is readying to go the casino, he gets handed a smart
handmade dinner suit by sultry spy squeeze Vesper Lynd
(a sexy and convincing Eva Green). He reluctantly puts
it on and is suddenly transformed into the James Bond
we know and love - smooth, brutal, sensual and darn cool.
As expected, the action sequences are top notch, from
the spectacular opening chase through to the brutal fist
Great locations, stylish action and fabulous cars are
all excellently filmed by director Martin Campbell who
keeps the pace up throughout the film. Danish star Mads
Mikkelsen makes for an impressively sadistic villain,
while the familiar sight of Judi Dench as "M" is
a suitable and subtle link between the Bond films of
old and this new one. And rest assured, the cars, guns,
stunts and sheer sense of 007 style is still brilliantly
WHAT'S BAD? If you are looking for a Bond bearing spy
gadgets and battling tall blokes with metal teeth, then
this new Bond is going in the wrong direction for you
- this time round the story is complex but more grounded.
Instead of a plethora of gimmicks this Bond simply has
a fast car and lets his fists and guns do the talking.
No Miss Moneypenny and no "Q" I'm afraid and,
while the one-liners are still there, they are more subtle.
Though she looks the part, Green never quite cuts it
as a foil for this brutal Bond. Yes, it is long at over
two hours, but there is a lot to pack in and frankly
you just can't get enough of this new-look 007.
HOW LONG IS IT? A breathtaking 144mins.
FINAL VERDICT: Bond is brilliant! One of the best 007