+++ Opinion +++
I have an ambivalent relationship with James Bond. On the one hand, the screen agent has shaped action cinema like no other. The movies are full of spectacular stunts, scheming super villains and awesome gadgets. But in its entirety, probably no other film series is so redundant. There are now 25 official James Bond films, all of which follow more or less the same concept. Some of them are better, some worse.
In the end, however, there are two films in particular that stand out from the crowd as my absolute favorites. “Goldfinger” is the quintessence of James Bond. Anyone who wants to experience 007 in its purest form will get the full dose here.
However, for those who are less interested in the classic interpretation of the agent, I would like to recommend another part. For me, “Casino Royale” is the second best offshoot of the series and the best Bond film for everyone who actually thinks 007 is stupid. Today, Thursday, September 16, 2022, Daniel Craig’s debut will be broadcast at 8:15 p.m. on the VOX TV channel. A repeat will follow on September 17 at 10:15 p.m.
Alternatively, you can of course also stream the agent actioner or get it home as a DVD or Blu-ray, for example in the chic Daniel Craig Collection with all five films by the blonde Bond.
›› “Casino Royale” as VOD*, DVD/Blu-ray* and in the Daniel Craig Collection* at Amazon
Somewhere between Bond 10 and 20, fatigue just sets in. The flawless secret agent, who, as an unapproachable superhero, picks up one woman after the other and almost always gets away with his assignments almost scot-free (except for George Lazenby’s appearance), after a number of espionage adventures, at some point is simply no longer interesting.
“Casino Royale” represents a clear turning point. Part 21 is the first film to star Daniel Craig as a cult British agent, and it’s not just the blonde hair color that sets it apart from its predecessors.
Craig is not as untouchably sovereign as most of his 007 ancestors. He’s built rough and tough, less elegant, but with an incredible drive. This may not be anything new for action heroes in general, but in contrast to the groomed Pierce Brosnan, the mischievous Timothy Dalton or the much too old Roger Moore towards the end of his career, it is a Bond novelty.
What’s more, this version of the agent doesn’t come off as unscathed as many of its predecessors. Craig fights, rages and fails as Bond. Yes, things don’t always run like clockwork with the other 007 versions either. For example, Sean Connery lands on Goldfinger’s dissection table, where a dangerous laser beam slowly approaches his privates. But of course he can free himself in time before serious damage occurs.
Things are different with Daniel Craig. Captured by Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), this makes short work of his British crown jewels and deals him some particularly nasty low blows in one of the toughest scenes in Bond history. If you don’t like 007 at all, you can enjoy how the agent really suffers in this film.
Apart from that, “Casino Royale” is also just a really great spy thriller. It starts with a memorable action scene at the beginning, in which Daniel Craig follows a parkour specialist across a construction site up to a crane, but Bond can hardly keep up with the other man’s elegant maneuvers. Only with massive effort and clever ideas is it possible to face the actually fitter villains.
Later, the tension reaches its maximum when the agent goes to the casino and engages in intense eye and bluff duels with his adversary Le Chiffre at poker. The finale then comes up with an emotional climax that deals another heavy blow to Bond, perhaps even deeper than the previously mentioned “egg swing”.
Never before has 007 had to take so much damage and get so pissed off as in “Casino Royale”. That’s also why I root for Craig more than I do for Connery or Moore.
The direct successors (especially “Skyfall”) occasionally show Bond from his vulnerable side. But “Casino Royale” is not only the best of them, but as Craig’s first Bond appearance, it is also the perfect film to start with.
Because of the many standards that “Goldfinger” set, this iconic third installment in the series remains my favorite. But “Casino Royale” follows closely behind in second place.
Daniel Craig’s debut is the Bond film that I recommend to anyone who doesn’t really understand the standard 007 formula.
This is a re-release of an article previously published on DashFUN.
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