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Casino Royale: 3-Disc Collector's Edition (2008)

Sony

Cast: Daniel Craig, Mads Mikkelsen, Eva Green, Judy Dench.

Rating: PG

Run time: 144 mins.

Genre: Action

Verdict: Brilliant (see rating system)

 

A wonderful set of new extra features raises this great 2006 James Bond flick into the "definitive release" category.

We learn so much about the Bond character and the life of author Ian Fleming from friends and acquaintances in a sries of great featurettes. The genesis for the Casino Royal novel and ultimately this movie, for example, dates back to 1941, when Fleming was a top British naval intelligence officer. During a visit to Portugal (then neutral), Fleming tried to beat a group of suspected German agents at cards, but lost. He certainly put that right in the story he planned to eventually write!

Bond was the suave, fearless British agent Fleming wished he could have been after the Second World War - he also shared Bond's interest in women. No matter that Fleming had to restrict hisdreams to books and eventually movies. He ensured his name would live on.

Newcomer Daniel Craig not only steps easily into the James Bond character in Casino Royal, he takes it to a whole new level in the best 007 flick in years.

Good as Pierce Brosnan was, he simply couldn't match the muscular and mental toughness in Craig's interpretation that helps make the 21st Bond outing such a such a kick-ass action film. Craig really looks the part of a British agent who can take care of himself - and all the other past Bonds with the exception of Sean Connery in his prime The script is smart and lean, dumping some of the weak humour of past Bonds.

Set at the beginning of Bond's career there's a neat opening prologue in which he's shown achieving his first two "kills" - the requirement for "00" status. Bond then pursues an international bomb maker in Madagascar - a very exciting foot chase and crane fight here revealing Craig's physicality. Unfortunately, Bond is forced to blow up part of a foreign embassy during his escape, incurring bad publicity and the wrath of M (Judy Dench).

The bomb maker is linked to Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), a ruthless international financer of terrorists who uses their money to stage some attacks of his own on specific companies in order to make a financial killing on the markets. After Bond foils his next attack on a brand new jet at Miami airport, Mikkelsen needs to win a multi-million-dollar international poker game to recoup his clients' money.

Guess who's the best poker player in the British Secret Service?

The non-stop action encompasses the usual exotic locations, from Madagascar to the Bahamas, Montenegro and Venice. The stunts are great, the dialogue spare and Bond's romance with British Treasury agent Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) is hot.

Folks, 144 minutes rips by.

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