>> Friday, April 6, 2007
USA-UK/C-144m./Dir: Martin Campbell/Wr: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, & Paul Haggis/Cast: Daniel Craig (James Bond), Eva Green (Vesper Lynd), Mads Mikkelsen (Le Chiffre), Judy Dench (M), Giancarlo Giannini (Mathis)
I’ve always been lukewarm regarding the Bond series. Most of the films are overlong and mediocre, and Bond himself is a disappointment as a boozer. I mean--“Vodka martini, shaken not stirred”--what kind of a prissy drink order is that?! Shaken… stirred… who gives a ****? Furthermore, anyone that orders vodka in their martini doesn’t know squat about martinis. A vodka martini ain’t a martini. It’s slop. Give me gin, and make it dirty, Baby.
That said, I always get excited when I hear a new Bond film is in the works, and for once that excitement was justified. Daniel Craig steps into the role of America’s favorite British action hero with confidence in the film version of Ian Fleming’s first Bond novel, Casino Royale. It was a wise move on the part of the producers to cast Craig. Since this film was meant to be a reboot of the series--it begins with Bond earning his double “0” status--it only made sense to engage a new actor to essay the part, and Craig immediately makes us forget the Bonds that have come before (sorry Connery). Not only is he the beefiest of the Bonds; he’s the best actor to attack the role. He brings to the part a brutality that we have not seen before, along with a surprising emotional vulnerability. Through Craig, we witness Bond grow up with every misstep, slowing morphing into the suave monster that we have grown to know in the previous movies.
Like most Bond films, Casino Royale feels about a half hour too long, but that is a small complaint. Boasting a tight script that sticks close to Fleming’s original story, less emphasis special effects, and a first-rate lead performance, Casino Royale is simply the best of the series. Even better, it’s also the booziest. When faced with difficulty, Craig’s Bond is much more likely to turn to the bottle than Connery, Lazenby, Moore, Dalton, or Brosnan. Daniel Craig doesn’t care if it’s shaken or stirred. He just wants the damn drink. Amen to that, 007.
Drinks Consumed--Rum, whiskey, wine, champagne, and “The Vesper” (gin, vodka, & Kina Lillet)
Intoxicating Effects--None. This is 007 we’re talking about.
Potent Quotables--BOND (to bartender): Vodka martini.
BARTENDER: Shaken or stirred?
BOND: Do I look like I give a damn?
Video Availability--Casino Royale (DVD) & Casino Royale [Blu-ray] (Columbia/Tri-Star)
Similarly Sauced Cinema--Bond first ordered a martini in the classic 007 fashion in Goldfinger (1964).