"James Bond: Casino Royale" on Vox: Poker face with a penchant for monogamy

TV tip: "Casino Royale"
Poker face with a penchant for monogamy: Vox shows the first James Bond with Daniel Craig

Daniel Craig as James Bond

Daniel Craig as James Bond

©Sony Pictures Germany /DPA

The 21st Bond film is chronologically the first: Casino Royale shows how James Bond becomes the dreaded secret agent 007. Daniel Craig does his job surprisingly well - only the charm is still a bit missing.

By Carsten Heidboehmer

my name is bond James Bond": Only at the very end, after 140 minutes full of action, suspense, psychological games and a broad love story, does the agent say his most famous sentence. There is a good reason why he took so long: In "Casino Royale", the film adaptation of Ian Fleming's first Bond novel, the hero must first become what he is - a feared secret agent. The self-discovery here is actually twofold. Just as the inexperienced James does not have the toughness of 007 from day one , actor Daniel Craig first had to grow into the big shoes of his predecessors in his first outing, and despite all the concerns expressed beforehand, he managed to do so, even if there is still some room for development.

The opening credits of the film, in which the bad guys of this world usually do sinister arms deals or hatch murder plots in remote places, are dedicated entirely to the new hero. We see in black-and-white documentary images how the simple secret service agent Bond commits his first two murders. These are the prerequisites for an agent to receive his double zero and thus the license to kill. When the story begins, Bond has already become 007. Now he is equipped with almost everything to survive the entanglements that follow. What he still lacks, he will have learned by the end.

James Bond: Service comes first

The British secret service is on the heels of a financier of international terrorism. On his first mission, Bond makes vigorous use of his right to kill - and leaves a trail of blood from Uganda via Hawaii to Miami, where he at least foils an attack on a plane. In the meantime, we found out how Bond got his legendary car, the Aston Martin DB5 - he won it playing poker. As a further trophy, he also takes the loser's mistress to his room. However, before things get serious between the two, Bond has long been over the mountains again. Former Bonds would never have missed the opportunity to hook up with the attractive Solange (Caterina Murino). The new one is completely different: Here, the service has priority, and so he leaves the beauty alone without further ado - not without having ordered champagne and caviar "for one person" beforehand, so much style has to be there.

The heart of the film takes place in the Casino of Montenegro. There, at the poker table, there is a big showdown between Bond and the terrorist financier Le Chiffre, brilliantly played by the Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen ("King Arthur", "Adam's Apples"). The two drive the sums to astronomical heights, until finally 115 million dollars are at stake. The actors pull out all the stops of their ability to convey the tension at the gaming table, to make the psychological tricks and the bluffs of the opponents visible.

Daniel Craig is cool and toned

They are Craig's strongest moments. With his unmoving, clear gaze, he is a poker face par excellence: so cool, so controlled! In the action sequences, too, the Brit proves to be the clear winner on points against his predecessors. It has been a long time since James Bond presented such a well-toned body on screen.

On the other hand, one misses the lightness and self-mockery that has always characterized the Bond films. Humor doesn't seem to be his thing, and all too often Craig twists his mouth into a duck-foot pout. While his predecessors Sean Connery, Roger Moore and most recently Pierce Brosnan were downright charmers, Craig always remains slightly chilled even when in contact with women. In "Casino Royale" he is only allowed one love affair - with the gorgeous Eva Green ("The Dreamers"), who embodies the tax officer Vesper Lynd. The fact that there is a lot of crackling between the two is mainly due to the dialogues, which Oscar winner Paul Haggis ("LA Crash") also co-wrote.

When Bond develops feelings and admits to them, the action hit slips into a slur for a moment, which slows the pace and lets the tension drop. The young agent was so badly hit that he wanted to give up his job for Vesper's sake and wrote his boss M (great as always: Judy Dench) a resignation email. But towards the end he has also learned his lesson in love affairs. Once again will be this Don't let Bond boil over with his feelings.

With the last sentence he confirms that his self-discovery is now complete.

"James Bond - Casino Royale" airs September 15 at 8:15 p.m. on Vox

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