Casino Royal is based on the first Ian Fleming novel, written in longhand at Fleming's retreat near Port Antonio, Jamaica "Goldeneye" (which was the title of one of the cheesier Pierce Brosnan Bond films). I was up there once when I was 9 years old. We ate roadside jerk pork and roast corn and I was shitting all night! That started with ackee, callaloo and Milo for breakfast, when I was brought up on Lucky Charms and Nestle's Quick. My travels in Daddy's homeworld is the stuff of another post...
Casino became a campy parody starring Peter Sellers, Ursula Andress, David Niven and Woody Allen. Orson Wells played "Le Chiffre" and of course Ursula, famous from Dr. No was was "Vesper Lynd." Other than the Academy Award and Grammy-winning soundtrack by Burt Bacharach ("Casino Royale," "The Look of Love," "What the World Needs Now") it was good only to showcase a young Woody Allen's writing and acting talents, and as fodder for Mike Meyers (along with the serious Bond flicks and James Coburn's "Flint" films) in creating Austin Powers.
I found this version thrilling and intelligent. Short on plot but great dialogue, incredible screen tension--and yes, I am a believer for Daniel Craig. OK, I referred to him as an albino ape with a buzz cut, but I never doubted his new take on Bond, or the adaptability of those steely blue eyes. Icy one second, then knowing, sagacious, then loving. He nabbed the role when Clive Owen, fresh off Closer decided to bail. He would have played both a cruel and smarmy Bond, based on his breakout in Closer. But Craig clinched it based on his acting in the multi-character, multi-plot (you know I love that stuff) "Layer Cake." I did appreciate casting Jeffrey Wright as "Felix Leiter."
Now, the original novel didn't have much of a plot, thus nor did Woody's version. Le Chiffre ("The Cypher") was embezzling from the Russians and "SPECTRE" in the original; he's doing so from terrorists in this one. In the past, the game was Baccarat. Now's it's no limit Texas Hold'em (whatever happened to five card stud poker? Jesus).
I highly recommend this film. Mads Mikkelson is a truly frightening-looking Le Chiffre. What he does to Bond's scrotum is truly inspiring--worse than anything contrived by Dr. No, Goldfinger, Blofeld, et al. Hell wid lasers, sharks, pirhana, Jaws-teeth, metal derby. Nuff said. Eva Green is sexy and sharp. Judi Dench is mean mom to Bond and never disappointing.
Nevertheless, no one will take Sean Connery's place. Roger Moore sucked (except for Live and Let Die, which was a blaxploitation movie and should be remade with Daniel Craig and the cast of The Wire hahahaha). Timothy Dalton was underrated. The scripts sucked but he had a great edge. Pierce Brosnan--please. I'm so glad that cracker's gone.
So, see you at Apocalypto. It may redeem Mel --partially-- in my eyes, after his drunken Nazi rant and that trainwreck and paen to fanaticism The Passion of the Christ.