Everybody has their opinion on Bond. It’s one of those franchises which can be debated to no end.
Casino Royale has been named the best James Bond film ever by Ranker, and for good reason. And on the anniversary of its release, now is the perfect time to explain why that decision is the correct one.
There are undoubtedly many factors which influence which Bond film any particular person ranks as best. Age, taste and memory will probably be primary among these.
Because if you really go back and look at the old films, they’re not great. Without the rose tinted glasses of nostalgia, they’re hokey and they’re uneven and they’re inconsistent.
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Even Brosnan’s outing as 007 isn’t the best run of films, though it did spawn a great N64 game, and Die Another Day will go down in history as one of the most boring spectacles ever put to film.
Let us cast our minds back to 2006, the Bond franchise was in a less than healthy state after the aforementioned atrocity which was Die Another Day. The Bourne trilogy was performing incredibly well at the box office, this was the new face of spy movies.
The folks at Bond HQ needed something different, something fresh, and boy did they get it in Daniel Craig.
Craig is one of the main ingredients in the Casino Royale cocktail which made it so successful, a near-silent, muscular man who still maintained that suave sense of cool so embodied by Bond.
But did he go over the top? No. Did he ham it up? No. There was restraint on the Bondiness in Casino Royale which made the film move beyond the basic restrictions imposed by their previous flaws.
Lets also talk about the flip-side to Craig’s Bond, the best Bond girl to ever grace our screens. You can forget Diana Rigg in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and you can forget Honor Blackman in Goldfinger.
Eva Green’s Vesper Lynd is the only Bond girl who actually feels like more than a piece of meat provided to titillate before being ultimately discarded.
She is on an equal intellectual level to Bond, and more importantly she has her own independent agency outside of Bond’s actions within the film.
She’s strong, she’s sexy, she’s alluring, and Bond falls completely head over heels for her, something which hasn’t happened so convincingly before or since.
Her eventual death contains the type of betrayal reserved only for the most poignant of dramas, something which actually goes some way to retroactively explain Bond’s womanising ways.
Casino Royale contains what is perhaps the best Bond villain of the franchise, perhaps second only to Ernst Blofeld (not the poor Christoph Waltz Spectre version). Le Chiffre, played by the coolest man on the planet Mads Mikkelsen, brings a chilling level of villainy while still being understated.
There are no cheesy one-liners, no overstuffed monologues, only subtle performances aided by attentive camera work to bring tension to the simplest poker move.
The direction of the film is strong, and the opening chase sequence will go down in history of one of the best in cinema – while also putting parkour on the mainstream agenda.
Elements of the film don’t always hit home, the collapsing building in Italy can feel confusing at times, and the music is largely forgettable until the final scene, but overall, this is a great Bond film.
It is the best Bond flick ever committed to film, and more importantly, a genuinely great film.