007 Legends – A Review by Film Nerd

Developer: Eurocom, Activision

Consoles: PS3, 360, Wii U, PS Vita, PC

Cast: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Michael Lonsdale, Richard Kiel, Carey Lowell, Toby Stephens

Synopsis: This game was released specifically as a celebration of 50 years of James Bond.   As such, it includes 6 missions, each representing one film of each man to have played Ian Fleming’s super-spy.   Bond and M are played by Craig and Dench respectively throughout.

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Skyfall – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: Sam Mendes

Cast: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Berenice Marlohe, Albert Finney, Ben Whishaw, Rory Kinnear

Film matched beverage: Silver Balloon Cocktail

Synopsis:   Bond is wounded, presumed dead, whilst pursuing a hard drive featuring the identities of every international secret agent.    He remains undercover, until MI6 itself is attacked, and returns to active service, facing more than one demon at the same time.

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Quantum of Solace – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: Marc Forster

Cast: Daniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko, Mathieu Amalric, Giancarlo Giannini, Gemma Arterton, Jesper Christensen, Rory Kinnear, Jeffrey Wright, Judi Dench

Film matched beverage: Choc-mint martini (for Dominic Greene)

Synopsis: Following directly from the events of Casino Royale, Bond attempts to extract mission from Mr. White on the mysterious organisation Quantum.   As he continues to follow the links in the chain, it is unclear whether his motives are professional, or if they are fueled by his hurt and anger over Vesper’s betrayal.

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Casino Royale – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: Martin Campbell

Cast: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Jeffrey Wright, Giancarlo Giannini, Caterina Murino, Jesper Christensen, Judi Dench

Film matched beverage: Vesper Martini

Synopsis:   Finally, after years of legal wrangling, Eon got to make Casino Royale, the very first Bond novel that Ian Fleming ever wrote.   Being a beginning for Bond in popular culture, they made this film a new beginning for the franchise.   Indeed, they went full reboot mode, and to great effect.   New film, new start, new Bond.   And Daniel Craig made the role his own…. Continue reading

Die Another Day – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: Lee Tamahori

Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Halle Berry, Toby Stephens, Rosamund Pike, Rick Yune, John Cleese, Madonna, Michael Madsen, Samantha Bond, Judi Dench

Film matched beverage: Mojito

Synopsis: After being betrayed by a colleague, Bond is imprisoned and tortured for 14 months in a North Korean holding facility.   When MI6 is led to believe he is hemorrhaging information, they arrange a trade, but put him out to pasture as washed up.   Bond must track down the person who betrayed him to clear his name and exact revenge.

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The World is Not Enough – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: Michael Apted

Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Sophie Marceau, Robert Carlyle, Denise Richards, Robbie Coltrane, John Cleese, Samantha Bond, Desmond Llewelyn, Judi Dench

Film matched beverage: Christmas Cookie Cocktail

Synopsis: MI6 is fooled into returning money to industrialist Robert King, money which ends up being the device used to murder the recipient,   Bond gets injured in pursuit of the henchman observing the hit, an injury which affects him while he attempts to protect Elektra King, whom he believes will be the next target of the terrorist behind the attack.   After all, she was formerly the kidnap victim of the same man, Renard.

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Tomorrow Never Dies – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: Roger Spottiswoode

Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Jonathon Pryce, Michelle Yeoh, Teri Hatcher, Ricky Jay, Gotz Otto, Joe Don Baker, Vincent Schiavelli, Samantha Bond, Desmond Llewelyn, Judi Dench

Film matched beverage: White chocolate martini (as everything in the news is black and white!!)

Synopsis: A media mogul has plans for world-wide broadcast privileges  but China refuses to allow him broadcast rights.   So he does what any sane entrepreneur would do and attempts to start a war between Britain and China, using stealth ships and stolen GPS encoding devices.   Naturally.

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GoldenEye – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: Martin Campbell

Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Sean Bean, Izabella Scorupco, Famke Janssen, Joe Don Baker, Judi Dench, Robbie Coltrane, Alan Cumming, Samantha Bond, Desmond Llewelyn

Film matched beverage: Golden Cocktail

Synopsis: After the longest gap between Bond films since the franchise started, Brosnan begins his tenure as the ultra-cool British agent.   Bond tails the mysterious Xenia Onatopp following a chance encounter.   In doing so he stumbles upon a much larger plot.   A few twists later, and it turns out our new villain is not unfamiliar to Bond… Continue reading

30 Day Film Challenge Day 19 – Your Favorite Action Film

Film Nerd’s Choice: Casino Royale

Review:

Director: Martin Campbell

Cast: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright, Giancarlo Giannini, Caterina Murino, Jesper Christensen

Synopsis: Based on the novel by the same name by Ian Fleming, this James Bond film takes the first written novel as an excuse to reboot the series.   In doing so, a harder edge is given to the franchise bringing it closer to Fleming;s source material than ever before, even if it does translocate the action forward into modern times.

 

As a Bond fan, it delights me that the 30 day film challenge has afforded me the opportunity to reflect on what I consider a true highpoint in the franchise after already being in a position to review the low point, that being Moonraker.   I have in many ways been raised on the 007 franchise, and am intimately familiar with his adventures both in text and on-screen.   I have many favourite stories in both formats, the earlier films being more direct adaptations of the novels than the later films became, the mor recent films not being based on Fleming material.   Casino Royale, due to legal issues as the most prominent Bond story never yet brought to the cinema in the official Broccoli 007 franchise.   Thankfully, despite shifting the setting to a modern casino in Montenegro, and changing the game of choice from Baccarat to Texas Hold’Em poker, this is once again a fairly faithful adaptation… just with more action thrown in.

Campbell is a gifted director, once before having creating a dying Bond franchise when he was in the main chair for Brosnan’s first outing Goldeneye.   He managed the same magic trick twice, creating a different Bond film that also retained respect for the franchise.   He portrays Bond here as a man struggling with his new role in the secret service.   Though he is still a man of wit, he finds less humour in his activities than previous Bonds, bearing the scars of previous encounters, both literally and figuratively.   His penchant for alcohol and women is portrayed as less suave and cultured, and more as escapism from the realities of his world.   As such, we have a much more visceral film, that seems more grounded than many previous instalments.

However, this entry is for favourite action film, and as such I should spend some of the discussion on this element of the film.   There is much more action in the film than in the novel, yet none of it is superfluous.   Each action sequence does something to advance the plot, while also being an edge of your seat, nail-biting thrill-ride.   The pace is frenetic, yet everything is filmed in such a way that things are not lost in a flurry of activity that is impossible to follow (take note, Michael Bay).   From the free-running opening that redefines chase sequences, to the chase to prevent an explosion at Miami airport, to the final sequences in Venice, Craig is painted as a Bond to be reckoned with, ever resourceful without any reliance on special gadgets.   I would also argue that the poker game itself is an action sequence.   There is no running or bullets flying, but it manages to make a sequence of twelve people around a baize table holding cards consistently exciting, and it does so while occupying a large part of the film at the same time.

I could go on for much longer, discussing individual performances, especially focussing on the cracking chemistry established between Green’s Vesper and Craig’s Bond.   The simple fact is, I can write a pages long essay on this film, though I fear my level of interest may deter readers from even starting this post.   So I will leave it here with just a simple recommendation.   If you like your action fast and loud with enough character development to keep it interesting, well, this is the minimum of what Casino Royale achieves and what is not only a superior Bond film, but a superior film outright.

5 stars out of 5

 

Casino Royale on IMDB

Casino Royale on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fl5WHj0bZ2Q]