New Zealand-born director Martin Campbell gets a second call (his first was 'Goldeneye' in 1995) to direct a reinvented James Bond, this time with Daniel Craig as Bond. The villain this time is Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), a banker for terrorists' funds. When MI5 learn that Le Chiffre is going to the Casino Royale in Montenegro to raise funds, Bond is sent to thwart him at the poker table. Accompanying him is Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), who's more intriguing than the usual Bond Girl and provides this film's love interest.
Writers Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Paul Haggis restart Bond's career, though it's not clear why. Early scenes establish that Bond is already a government-appointment assassin, so giving him a double-O license to kill seems superfluous. They also drop the terrorism and tinpot dictator premise, rendering the plot rather twee and removed from our post-9/11 reality.
Where the film excels are the high-impact and innovative action scenes, especially the parkour chase through a construction site and the bombing in an airport. Daniel Craig certainly has the right physique to suggest a much more athletic Bond in future films of the series.
A so-so outing for a new Bond.
3 out of 5 stars.
14 March 2009