Enter No.6 ... "I'm not a number .. I'm an actor !"
Distributed by Sony Home Entertainment
Never has so much hype been written about a new Bond since Lazenby took over the role all those years ago but now we have our latest 007 in the muscular shape of English actor Daniel Craig. Based around Fleming's first effort this story tells how our favourite secret agent becomes "Bond. James Bond" and boy don't we have to wait for the sixth actor in the Eon series to say that !
From the opening credits with the MGM Lion handing over to Columbia's Lady with the Torch gives the impression of another hand-over in role playing as the pre-title b&w sequence opens in modern-day Prague, Czech Republic. New Bond has to earn his 2 kills for his agent ranking. So after waiting in an office he listens to his 2nd chatty target as flash-backs are seen of his earlier kill over a toilet basin in a rather gory fashion. Just working out he's the 2nd kill and his days are up, Bond shoots him commenting "Yes. Considerably". Back again to the demolished toliet-room, the battered first victim reaches for his gun and Bond reacts with his shot in a sweeping moment to signal the title's gun barrel. This leads into Daniel Kleinman's card-fighting men titles ( initially reminding of tv title sequence for Moore's final Saint series ) with the whining cries of the theme tune. It is stylishly done with card symbols as weapons, advising James Bond - 007 status confirmed and incorporating Craig shooting his gun with walk up to the camera at the end.
The story introduces our villain Le Chiffre ( Mads Mikkelsen ), an evil financier during a cash transaction in Mbale, Uganda with some jungle terrorists. Meanwhile we catch up with our 007 in Madagascar observing a bomb terrorist who is betting at an open-air mongoose/snake fight, after a mix-up a chase starts with Bond following him to a building site. Cue high rise action as our hero runs up scaffolding etc. there is one moment when he kicks a lever and goes up in the air to the top of the crane that you wish that The James Bond Theme is heard but Composer Arnold holds back because of the journey ahead. The fast chase concludes at an embassy where Bond shoots him and escapes with a bang to get some mobile phone info.
This 007 as we find out back in London is very handy with laptops & phones and has no need for old Q - missing like Miss Moneypenny who is replaced by a male assistant ! James makes an uninvited night visit to see an angry M ( Judi Dench - MI6's sole cast survivor with past memory loss ) in her apartment. She is not very happy about his execution being splashed over the papers and suggests "...it was to early to promote you". After a ticking-off she sends him packing not knowing that he's following the trail to Nassau in The Bahamas. Here we hear Arnold's opening theme which is equivalent to Barry's own 007 theme as James drives his hire car, the latest Ford Mondeo to the hotel. Luckily he wins a silver 1964 Aston Martin DB5 at the card table and gets to grip with the loser's wife Solange played by curvy Caterina Murino whom he sees earlier on the beach. Here Craig makes his now famous shallow sea exit ( shades of DN and Ursula ) but adored for some reason by the ladies.
After a short diversion to Miami to follow Solange's hubby and a hectic airport chase, reminiscent of Die Hard 2 and the tanker part from Tim's LTK, he's back in the Bahamas to meet M and a dead Solange. He is sent to Casino Royale in Montenegro due to his airport efforts to take on Le Chiffre aided by the Treasury Department's Vesper Lynd ( Eva Green ) who becomes the love of this Bond's life. Outside the hotel we get to see his new car Aston Martin DBS which he drives around town and later during a short night chase over some hills to discover Vesper on the road which results with that World Record roll. Alas no bumper to bumper action which is disappointing for a beautiful piece of machinery. Also in town another cameo from Bond producer Michael G Wilson as the Chief of Police with two dolly birds, does he turn up again later in M's office requesting the money back ?
So we have the card/mind games, you win, you lose all, getting no financial help from Vesper he has to be funded by the latest Felix Leiter ( Jeffrey Wright ) after a hearty break. We have another murder scene with more blood which results with James comforting Vesper ( looking more natural without her layers of make-up ) in the shower after she earlier gave him his famous black tux & tie to the wah-wahs of Arnold's good score. The later torture scene where Bond is stripped bare - humour is his saviour and a mysterious Mr White. Recovery, romance, boat trip to Venice, more betrayal and destruction. Finally those famous words delivered by Craig in unmemorable fashion for me. Directed by GoldenEye's Martin Campbell he introduces another Bond: serious, moody, athletic, (too) bloody compared to the more likeable Brosnan finished version.
This is still a good debut by Craig but his thug-type killings were too realistic which don't make for good family viewing. The lack of James Bond Theme moments proved annoying again as in GoldenEye and the wait for those words. Let's hope he relaxes more for the next outing as the narrative picks up after this movie's ending.
Extras: After DAD's efforts, what a disappointment by Sony, on the 2nd disc we get 2 half hour documentaries seen numerous times on UK TV: Becoming Bond & James Bond: For Real, Chris Cornell music video of You Know My Name and finally another helping of D'Abo's Bond Girls Are Forever (2006). Note: 2006 as they're just added some chats with Green & Murino before the World Premiere to the much repeated documentary made in 2002. That's it !
The 2-Disc Collector's Edition comes in a cardboard container repeating the front & back DVD covers. They have not carried on the MGM tradition of reversable video covers - very annoying for Bond collectors. Alas on the first disc we just get the feature film without any commentary from Campbell & Wilson.
My first dip into Blu-ray and thought if all were like this package bring it on ! This Deluxe Edition was purchased online in a sale somewhile ago but I remembered receiving it and removing the wrapper to find the box set placed in a card with a rear resembling a dvd cover with all the details ( keep it ! ).The box uses front & rear Craig CR posters, pull out the inside to reveal the 3 part display with 2 discs - my two display photos probably don't do it justice. Inside the middle section is a glossy 20 page colour booklet about the movie.
Both discs use the playing card menu like in the movie's titles, first disc comes with the HD movie and the director & producer commentary missing on the dvd. It also has a fun 2 level Bond trivia quiz. The second disc makes up for the dvd's poor efforts with deleted scenes, loads of new documentaries about Fleming, Bahamas & more. Also there are individual profile interviews with Campbell, Arnold ( filmed in Eon's Piccadilly offices ) etc. As on the dvd version includes Cornell's video & documentaries: James Bond: For Real, Becoming Bond & Bond Girls Are Forever.
From a 007 collector's viewpoint with great presentation, it's a quality and must buy !