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In the home stretch of the Bond franchise and with only four more films to go, I’m excited. Not only because I’ve heard the Daniel Craig-era Bond films are mostly very good but also because I’m soon going to be done with this project. Having started it back in November 2016 and thinking I would finish it by the end of that month, it’s now almost mid-February 2017 and I’m finally wrapping it up. One thing I learned is not to pick such a gigantic franchise to recap again. But anyway, here we go with Daniel Craig in Casino Royale.

We open on…black and white(?) and a building in Prague, where a fellow wearing a funny hat walks through a giant building in the dark. Entering a shadowy room, he sees his safe has been opened and boom! There’s Bond, sitting in the darkness. Bond says hey pal, making money by selling secrets isn’t the best way to go, and this dude says you know, you can’t be 00 without two kills, and we cut to Bond elsewhere kicking the hell out of some dude. Back in the office, this guy raises his gun and tries to shoot James but Bond just holds up the clip he had removed and is like, game’s over, sucker. Back to Bond beating a man to death in a bathroom, and he has an icy look of death in his eyes. He drowns this jerk-o in a sink and stands there for a moment to catch his breath. Back in the office, this guy says hey, don’t worry if the first one was difficult, the second one is…and then he’s shot by Bond. Bond quips, “You’re right.” Cut back to the bathroom and the guy that he just drowned gets up and tries to shoot James, but he just spins around (in the barrel!) and shoots this guy. Nice.

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“Hi, I’m your new James Bond. Let’s murder people together. Also, you’re dead.”

The opening credit sequence starts and it looks really, really good. Like, HD good. It’s a bunch of neat rotoscope animation and card suits being used as bullets and A Scanner Darkly Bond beating dudes up. The song isn’t bad, either, and even though I hate Chris Cornell’s turn in Audioslave, he’s doing a pretty good job with this Bond song. A bunch of dead dudes are splayed all over the place because they were shot by various clubs and diamonds and it’s just a very modern-looking Bond opening credit sequence due to it being a pretty modern movie.

So this is a reboot of the franchise, and we are right at the beginning of Bond’s story as a 00, having just been given his license to kill. We CUT TO some godforsaken place in Uganda where a warlord plays pinball while a child soldier gets him a few Cokes. He then lays back and talks to some banker guy or whatever about funneling money out of there. Some jeeps pull up and a bald bad guy opens the door to our obvious villain, La Chiffre, who has a scar over his left eye and is eeevil. Le Chiffre gives his creds about being a bad guy and the warlord says whatever, just get my money to a safe place. After looking back and forth to Mr. White (the banker dude), they load a big case of money into one of the jeeps. Le Chiffre then puts in a buy order to his broker (what?) and the caravan of jeeps roll away. OK.

Meanwhile, in Madagascar, a loud cheering crowd bets on a fight between a mongoose and a snake. Bond’s hanging out on the sides on a mission and checks out a dude with half his face all scarred up. Bond tells his goofy idiot partner to stop touching his earpiece but nope, this goober is spotted and the scarred-up dude makes a run for it. So Bond, having to do every-fucking-thing around here, goes on a footchase after this guy. They run through the jungle and into a construction site. While Scarface gets to splitting, Bond just ups and takes a bulldozer, which has bulletproof glass for some reason, and starts wrecking shit after this guy. Bond smashes into the side of a building and Scarface starts doing some parkour among the metal framework of a building being built. Bond kind of just kills a bunch of dudes that are in his way and then it becomes a Popeye cartoon where he’s chasing Swee’Pea around a construction site, which I appreciate. Scarface climbs way up high on a crane so like a boss Bond just kicks the winch (is it a winch? I don’t know construction stuff.) to zip up to this guy’s position. Scarface tries to shoot Bond but he’s out of bullets so he just throws the goddamn gun at him…which Bond catches and throws it right back at him! Nice. They have a crazy fistfight like hundreds of feet up in the air and Scarface just jumps down from place to place with literally no problem whatsoever. Bond says fudge it and also jumps, and I’m really glad we’re back to practical stunt work because all of this is completely insane. On the second jump, Bond doesn’t really stick the landing but being nigh invincible he just shrugs it off and the chase continues.

This is all very exciting and cool-looking and–unlike a lot of the Brosnan Bonds–is very James Bond-like. Bond’s quick-thinking on his feet and is using his mind to get around obstacles, which is always preferable to just having him shoot a machine gun. Hopping on the back of a truck, Bond zips down the street and gets ahead of Scarface, and he jumps off a moving van. Getting into the embassy, where Scarface is probably trying to get immunity or some such bullshit, Bond just walks in hauls his ass out of there. When guards arrive, Bond shoots out a water pipe that knocks them down, and then there’s like dozens of soldiers shooting into their own building. Scarface gets shot in the leg because fuck that guy, and Bond just beats the shit out of every single person in his way. Now with Scarface outside, they’re this close to actually getting out of there, but nope: he’s cornered. Bond drops the gun and lets go of Scarface, but holy shit, he just pulls another gun out, shoots Scarface, and then shoots a stack of propane tanks. Man, this Bond is completely unhinged! Having gotten out of there with Scarface’s backpack, he finds a bomb and a cell phone, where he sees the word “ellipses” in a text message.

ELSEWHERE on a boat, some babe comes up from the water and Le Chiffre is playing cards. Ew, he bleeds from his dead eye, which is gross, and Le Chiffre explains that weeping blood is from a derangement in his tear duct, and they are really semiotically pushing that he is a BAD GUY. After winning all of the money from these weirdos, Le Chiffre checks HuffPo and sees that Bond has just wrecked a bunch of shit in Uganda. Back in London in Parliament, M walks out of a meeting all pissed off that her bosses are giving her shit and is also pissed at Bond for being out of fucking control.

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“Sorry, just being gross. Now where were we?”

BACK TO WHEREVER BOND IS, he hacks into the bad dude’s phone and finds the text message came from the Bahamas. So he uses his secret spy website or whatever to pinpoint where exactly it came from. Turns out it’s a place called The Ocean Club in the Bahamas, so Bond figures I’ve already done enough work in this movie–time to go on a vacation. But where is Bond? Why, in M’s apartment, of course! She tears into him for being an ass in Uganda and Bond flippantly says whatevs cuz, I’m kind of a sociopath killer, what did you expect? M says hey Bond, you’re just a blunt instrument; can you not be such an egomaniac for once, what with you doing all of this impossibly dangerous, high-stakes work and all? Also, GTFO. So Bond just kind of slinks away while M sees that Bond got onto her computer.

But enough of that: here we are in Nassau, Bahamas! Bond walks off a plane looking like a trillion bucks and drives….a Ford? What? That’s kind of a lame car for Bond. But I get it, tie-in products, etc, Ford was trying to sell a few cars that year. Pulling up to The Ocean Club, Bond gets checked out by a few ladies walking past and eyes his old enemy, surveillance cameras. Some old dick throws his keys to Bond, mistaking him for a parking attendant, and he just goes and parks the car because why not? But he also smashes it into a Jaguar and sets off a bunch of alarms, tossing the keys away like they were a sandwich he didn’t like, which is pretty funny. Having created a distraction, Bond starts snooping around. Going through the surveillance records, Bond finds the disc that has the date in question of when the text message was sent. Matching up the time, he looks for his suspect, and there’s some creep that he spots. After taking some looks to make sure he remembers this guy’s face, he goes to check in. He also has a black card because Bond is a gazillionaire. He suckers the lady at the counter to tell him who the fellow is (a dude name Mr. Dimitrios, who also drives a 1964 Aston Martin, and I’m wondering why Bond’s stuck in a Ford when the setup bad guy has a nicer car than him, but whatever movie) and where he lives.

CUT TO a woman in a bikini riding a horse on a crowded beach, which looks really dangerous, and Bond in the water. He walks out of the water in another Ursula Andress homage (that’s the second homage of that scene in two Bond movies in a row! We get it: it’s iconography) and spots Solange, the woman on the horse, along with this Dimitrios fellow. CUT TO M sleeping in bed and awoken by a phone call. It’s some wormy dude at M16 who lets her know that Bond is in the Bahamas and has used her username and password to go into their database. Bond looks at a file on Le Chiffre, and then CUT TO (jeez, movie, awful lot of cutting happening) The Ocean Club, where Dimitrios is gambling and Bond is hanging out at the bar (as usual). The dude whose car he trashed is there and looks astonished at Bond standing next to him, but that’s why you don’t assume peoples’ jobs based on what they’re wearing–because you make an ass out of both you and me. Solange walks in looking like she’s in a perfume ad and Dimitrios is a dick to her. She takes a seat at the bar and Bond plays, I think, Texas Hold ‘Em, and Bond just gambles away and gives Dimitrios an icy stare of death. Bond being blonde and blue-eyed gives him a very menacing air. He’s also beating Dimitrios at cards and frustrated, Dimitrios bets his car (Ooohh! That’s how they’re gonna get Bond into that sweet ride!) on the hand. Bond says whatever looney tunes, let’s play, and Dimitrios thinks he won with three kings, but Bond kills him with triple aces. Bond rakes over his winnings, including asking for the valet ticket, and Dimintrius looks pissed (as would I if I just lost a 1964 Aston Martin). At the bar, Solange pays her tab and knows she’s in for a world of shit when she gets home.

Outside, the Aston Martin is driven up and she thinks it’s for her, but of course it’s Bond’s now. He offers her a ride home and flirts like it’s his job (it kind of is, in a way), and asks if she wants to have a drink at his place. I guess Craig inherited Bond’s voodoo powers over all women because she says sure. He zooms around in a circle and ends up right back where he was because he’s staying at the hotel, you see. That’s fun.

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His other car is his dick.

Back at Le Chiffre’s place, Dimitrios is getting shit from for that dude being killed in Uganda and Dimitrios says who gives a shit? Leave me alone, dude. And then BACK TO Bond’s place, he’s already having le sexy times with Solange. Nobody has any morals or boundaries in the Bond universe, so she and he have a fun back-and-forth about how terrible they are and how cheating on your spouse with bad people is fun. Bond questions her as they get down, asking if she knows what “ellipses” means, and just then Dimitrios calls. Apparently, he’s on his way to Yemen, so the two of them can continue committing adultery. Bond stops what they’re doing so he can order champagne and caviar, and while she goes into the bedroom thinking they’re going to actually have sex, Bond fucking beats it in a taxi to follow Dimitrios. Damn Bond, you’re cold-blooded!

At that creepy Bodies exhibit (you know, the one where they have skinned human figures in different poses), Bond spies Dimitrios leaving his bag check  ticket on a table and is then taken hostage at knife-point. He and the fellow have a steely close match of strength and Bond literally fools him with a “Hey what’s that over there?” fake-out and stabs him in the stomach. Bond steals his phone and it also says “ellipses” in the text messages, and then looks back over to see the bag ticket is gone. A quick thinker, he calls the last number on the cell phone and sees a dude answer the phone. He follows this guy to the airport, where this guy goes through security. Bond keeps on this guy like white on rice but nope, this dude catches on that he’s being followed. Stupid handsome Bond!

Ducking into a changing room, this guy puts on a security uniform and Bond really does have some piercing eyes. Eyes that spot the bad guy going into a restricted area (how does this guy know the passcode to get into this room?) and Bond calls M16 to say goddammit, I need to speak to M because I think a bomb’s about to go off. Bond hangs the fuck up on her though because he realizes that “ellipses” is the security code for the door. Back at M16, a quick web search reveals that there’s the largest passenger plane taking off that night from the airport. The Bad Guy sets off the sprinklers, which makes every worker at this airport panic like total pros, and Bond is still tailing this dude. He sees this guy get into a goddamn police cruiser that some jabroni cop left with the door open and keys in, and then we see the gigantic plane that’s supposed to take off.

Indeed, it’s an impossibly large plane, but Bond eats impossibly large planes for breakfast. Bad Guy ices the refueling tanker and attaches a remote bomb onto its undercarriage. As the plane is taxied across the runway, Bond jumps onto the back of the moving tanker like a fucking maniac and holds on for King and Country while cop cars finally get the fucking clue that something is happening. About to be smashed onto the side of another car, Bond dives off the moving tanker and rolls across the front of the other truck and somehow doesn’t die about ten different ways from this. Then he runs  back up to the tanker because apparently Bond can run about 30 miles per hour and continues to survive one insane thing after another. Jumping through the shot-out windshield, Bond starts close-quarter hand-to-hand combat with the Bad Guy while the cops shoot out the tires. This causes the tanker to skid all over the fucking place, crashing into another cop car, and as the jumbo jet takes off its force blows a cop car over like it was a goddamn Matchbox car.

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The Police: Useless in Bond movies since 1962.

Phew! So anyway, Bond’s dangling out of the door and the Bad Guy locks on to destroy the jet and set off the bomb, and just as he’s about to jump out of the tanker, Bond catches him like not today, fucko! But he succeeds in jumping out and Bond tries to stop the tanker but there’s just no breaks on this thing. So, skidding to a stop by turning the wheel, Bond just barely stops the thing before it crashes into the plane and–looking a little surprised himself–sees that he actually stopped this crazy thing. And then he gets a wood shampoo from a few cops for his efforts. No matter: Asshole Bad Guy gets ready to detonate the tanker anyway, and whoops! Bond put the explosive charge onto his belt. That guy goes boom and Bond–getting handcuffed and being treated to a fine piece of police brutality–just kind of smirks.

MEANWHILE, La Chiffre just lost a great deal of money thanks to this terrorist attack not going off–$100 million to be exact–and he takes a hit off of his inhaler because they haven’t established enough yet that this guy is Creepsville, USA. He says, “someone talked,” but nope, James Bond, Super-Spy is on our ass, motherfucker! Speaking of which, Bond walks up onto the beach of Dimitrios’s house and finds that Solange has been tortured and mangled and left tied up in a hammock. Yikes! So, goodbye, Solange. You are very attractive. Bond gets his arm into some weird high-tech scanner and M is there in the Bahamas, as well, and he gets a tracker implanted because he’s way off the chain. M explains Le Chiffre’s plan: he was going to short the stocks of the airline company that he was going to blow up to get a gigantic payday, but Bond fucked that plan up. So instead Le Chiffre is going to play this big insane card game where $150 million is on the line. Since Bond’s the best card player in the service he’s going in, and M says you’re a cold, robotic monster-man so you’ll have no problem keeping things impersonal just as the woman he was just smooching the night before is loaded into a bodybag. He says nope! No soul here.

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“So you don’t feel a thing seeing this woman dead?” “Nope.” “Good lad.”

On a train to Montenegro, where he looks like he owns the goddamn world, a woman slides up to him and says, “I’m the money,” to which he retorts, “every penny of it,” and I’m like didja see? What he just said? Moneypenny? But nobody’s here with me so I’m nudging and winking at nothing. Then she gives him her card: she’s Vesper Lynd, an international liaison officer who’s fronting the insane amount of buy-in money that Bond needs to get into this crazypants card game. He makes fun of her name because he’s a master at negging, and she’s astonished that millions of dollars have been allotted to this nutcase. They have dinner on a train line that I would love to spend a night on and also flirt with each other because why not? He explains how great he is at cards and reading people and being the sexiest, best man ever, and Vesper says nah, you’re out of your fucking mind dude. So he gives her a little rundown of who he thinks she is because apparently he’s also Sherlock Holmes. She also never blinks and gives Bond her rundown of who she thinks he is, and it seems like both are pretty on-point. This is how two sociopaths flirt, isn’t it? She’s one cold Tony that walks away from Bond and he kind of likes it. Oh, people that are sick in the head, will you never find true, awful love?

In Montenegro proper, Bond and Vesper get into a taxi and Bond gets his dossier that says they are to pose as a loving couple. His name is Arlington Beach and she is Stephanie Broadchest (which gets a surprising reaction from her and is a nice nod to the ridiculous names they usually give Bond girls in these movies), and Bond reveals that he only likes women that are attached because, again, sociopath. At the hotel, she’s pissed off that she has to sign in, and Bond explains to her that Le Chiffre already knows him and is going to play him anyway, and Vesper gets the good line in that he has to take the next elevator alone because “there’s not enough room in this one for me and your ego,” which, fair enough. Daniel Craig is playing Bond as a much more reckless and egomaniacal Bond than we’ve seen in quite awhile in the franchise. In fact, he’s kind of a dick.

He gets a message and goes outside to check out his new wheels, which is an Aston Martin DBS V12, and it looks like pure sex. Out in the car, he looks over his other secret dossier that he just received, and the car is all decked out with secret gun compartments and other neat stuff. He gets a gun and then we’re treated to an aerial shot of Montenegro, which looks like a kingdom from a Disney film. Bond hotly pulls up to a parking space and they meet Mathis, their contact, over lunch. Mathis says there’s no real backup here so you should probably not fuck this up. Also Le Chiffre is in cahoots with the locals so watch out, dude. Fortunately, the police zoom up and arrest the local chief of police and Mathis just kind of happily explains that they falsely set up the chief to look like he was bribed. What fun.

Back at the hotel, Bond brings Vesper a knockout dress and says that she has to look fabulous to distract the other idiot card players he’ll be against. Then he goes back to his room and finds that Vesper has also gotten him a new dinner jacket so he doesn’t look like fucking garbage that night. And, indeed, Bond looks like a trillion bucks in the tailored tux and jacket. Goddammit, Daniel Craig, you are a handsome man. And he takes his handsomeness to the Casino Royale, where this high-stakes card game is being held. Le Chiffre introduces himself to Mr. Beach–err, Bond–and they both know what the fuck’s up between each other. I miss what the card game is because I’m eating a sandwich right now, but whatever. It’s a card game. Everyone put in $10 million for this game, and Mr. Bond gets called out immediately as Mr. Bond, who has to enter a password for this crazy game. So of course he enters the password and Le Chiffre doesn’t look too pleased.

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“Goddammit am I handsome. What am I doing here again?”

The card game starts and describing a card game is like describing a car chase: it’s a high-stakes card game. So I’m going to take a little break here from recapping to eat my sandwich. Vesper walks in looking like an unbelievably attractive woman (mostly because she is), and the card game continues. Bond orders the precise drink he always does, and so do like four other people at the table because it sounds like a great drink, and Bond continues to be the Alpha Male of everyone’s dreams. They take a break from card-playing for an hour and Bond has a martini and slips a tracker in Le Chiffre’s inhaler.

Le Chiffre goes back to his room and finds a blonde on his balcony. Le Chiffre is then put into a chokehold by the Ugandan warlord and Bond retrieves some stuff from the counter. Bond takes out a pistol from the envelope he just retrieved and Le Chiffre says hey guy, don’t kill me, honest. Bond uses the tracker to figure out where Le Chiffre is in the hotel and, being an African warlord, goes to chop off the girls’ arm with a machete. As they get into the hallway outside Le Chiffre’s hotel, they hear the girl scream. Bond sends Vesper away and the warlord just stops at cutting off her arm. These dudes split from Le Chiffre’s room and Bond is spotted with his earplugs in by one of them so they turn and open fire on Bond. A fight in the stairwell happens between Machete Man and Bond and they toss each other around like sacks of deadly potatoes. Bond ends up strangling this dude to death and that’s the end of that problem. But didn’t he also just help Le Chiffre? Anyway. He tells Vesper to go find Mathis to let him know where he’s hidden the bodies and Bond goes back to his room to wash some of the blood off of him before he has to go back to playing cards.

Back at the table, Le Chiffre looks pretty concerned while Bond shows back up still looking like he just walked out of a dream. Unfazed by just murdering two men, Bond throws some shade at Le Chiffre and then….cut to later? Where Bond’s back in his room and sees a broken wine glass. Bond starts looking around and finds Vesper clothed and sitting under the running shower. She’s obviously not used to watching somebody get strangled to death in front of her and this is all freaking her out just a bit. Bond sucks on her fingers(?) and comforts her, so he might just be a little human after all. The 10% that isn’t killing machine, that is.

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“Shhh…it’s OK. You just watched me murder two men in cold blood and then go on with my business like nothing happened. It’s OK. By the way, do you have any more people I can murder tonight? Haven’t slaked my bloodlust quite yet.”

The next day, Bond checks in on the sleeping Vesper and also checks in with Mathis, who’s arranged for the bodies to be used as part of yet another framing scheme. Le Chiffre sees this shit going down and starts crying blood (hint: because he’s evil). Back at the tables, this marathon card game keeps happening and I’m wondering why nobody’s addressed that Jeffrey Wright (Basquiat, Westworld) is at this table yet. Le Chiffre raises Bond to a million on a hand and Bond thinks he’s got it because he’s figured out Le Chiffre’s tell. So he raises it to two million. So Le Chiffre goes all in, which is over $14 million, and exposition machine Mathis lets us know that Bond has to go all-in to call. Which he does. Bond gets a full house, which Le Chiffre fucks him by turning in four jacks. Whoops. They break for an hour and Bond’s arrogance has really messed him up this time.

Vesper goes up to Bond outside and says you really screwed the pooch, hunh? And Bond says I need $5 million to buy back in, so be a dear, eh? When she says sorry, Bond gets handsy with her and she says back off, fucknuts. He calls her an idiot and then says that he can win, dammit, like all gambleholics do. She says hands off the merchandise, creep and walks away. So Bond goes back inside and orders a vodka martini. When asked if he wants it shaken not stirred, Bond says he doesn’t give a damn and then starts following Le Chiffre with a knife. And then Jeffrey Wright finally introduces himself….as Felix Leiter! YES! Anyway, Leiter says that he’ll stake Bond the money to keep going and Bond can keep the money! Well, aren’t things just coming up ducks for Bond suddenly.

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“I think we’re all robots.” “Wrong series, Jeff.”

Back at the table, Bond buys back in with $5 million and Le Chiffre looks pissed at this. Chiffre also finally realizes he’s giving away his tell and that blonde lady that’s with Le Chiffre squeezes in some poison into Bond’s martini. He sips it while Vesper stares daggers at him from the bar. And then he realizes that he’s been poisoned. Ruh-roh! So Bond gets up from the table, grabs a glass and some salt, and goes to the bathroom to somehow stop the poison. The camera work gets all crazy and we are treated to Bond vomiting in the sink. Then he goes outside where he’s hit by a car and acting all dizzy. Getting to his spy car, Bond struggles to inject himself with an antidote before he fucking dies. He notifies M16 that he’s been poisoned and is going into cardiac arrest. On the phone now with Bond, they walk him through how to stop from dying. He takes out a defibrillator from his glove compartment and attaches it to his chest, and then plugs himself with something else. Pushing the red button, the goddamn defibrillator doesn’t work. He sees that a lead was disconnected and he passes out. Fortunately, Vesper shows up, gets the lead in place, and pushes the damn button. This shocks the monkey awake and he goes right back to gambling because he only has one God and his name is Gamblor.

Back at the table, Leiter loses his damn money like a chump and then Bond shows up looking better than before somehow. They go into the final stage of the game and Bond looks like he’s doing pretty great. One hand goes up to $6 million as call and Le Chiffre raises the hand to $12 million. Bond considers this and then says fuck it, why not and raises it to goddamn $40 million. Le Chiffre considers this and calls him on it. Dammit, Bond, why are you so reckless! Now the pot’s up to $150 million, which is nuts, and one guy gets a flush, another guy gets a full house, Le Chiffre shows a high full house, and Bond? He shows a straight flush. This makes Le Chiffre cry blood like never before and Bond wins the whole damn thing. Shit, Bond. So Bond says now that I have $150 million, you can take him down, Leiter. So Bond sidles up to Vesper and says let’s go have dinner, yes?

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“To the little things in life: a good dinner, great company, and murder.”

At dinner, Vesper says the Americans are going to extract Le Chiffre at dawn and Bond marvels over how great his martini is that he made up. They engage in more sociopath flirting and spots the necklace around Vesper’s neck, identifying it as a gift from a lover. She wonders how Bond can switch his emotions on and off so easily and Bond says that’s my job, lady: I kill people for a living, dig? I’m betting that Vespa is a bad guy somewhere along the way. She splits by saying Mathis needs her and leaves Bond sitting alone with just his martini and millions of dollars to keep comfort. But something suddenly switches on Bond’s brain about Mathis and he races outside. And indeed, he sees Vesper kidnapped.

Bond gets to his sweet spy ride and starts vrooming towards these sneaky Petes. And at a high speed, he sees Vesper tied up in the middle of the road and suddenly brakes, which makes his car flip over about a million times. Then he’s dragged out of the car by some goons who dig into his arm and dig out the tracker in his arm and yuck. Le Chiffre looks at the tracker and snaps it in half while also giving Bond the scoop that Mathis was his plant. D’oh! He’s plopped into the back of the car next to Vesper and driven to the docks.

Vesper is put in a cell while a goon cuts the bottom of a chair out with a knife. With this bottomless chair in place, Bond is stripped and tied to it. And Bond actually looks frightened for once. Le Chiffre has a rope with a knot at its end and….holy God, no….he starts beating Bond’s balls with the end of knotted rope. Jesus peasus. What the fuck, Ian Fleming? Le Chiffre says he wants the damn money or the ball-beating will continue. And indeed, it does. This is wildly unpleasant to watch. Le Chiffre wants the password for the money but Bond says fuck you, keep beating my balls, like I give a shit. He keeps goddamn mocking Le Chiffre like the maniac he is and getting more ball beatings. Vesper’s also getting tortured elsewhere and this is the darkest goddamn scene I’ve ever seen in a Bond film. No matter what, Bond’s not going to tell him, so he kicks over Bond’s chair and is about to cut his balls off when some dude enters with a gun. This dude shoots Le Chiffre in the head. And blackout?

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What a ball-breaker. (rimshot)

Bond wakes up in a hospital room and sees that Vespa’s still alive. And then there’s also Mathis. But then he’s outside in a wheelchair talking to Mathis. What? I’m not sure what’s going on now. Mathis is then stun-gunned by some agents and dragged away while Bond just kind of stares off at the insanely gorgeous countryside of wherever this is. And hey! There’s Vespa, alive and well. She’s suddenly all lovey-dovey with Bond and I’m wondering if this is leading up to the reveal that she’s a bad guy as well.

Some wacky Swissman dashes up to Bond and asks for the account number, and Bond reveals that the password was VESPER for her to type it in for him. How cute? Anyway, the funds are transferred and the silly Swiss dude kicks rocks. Suddenly, Vesper’s all fucked up and sad, but they go back to the sociopath flirting anyway. They also make weird allusions that Bond may not have working balls anymore or something, I don’t know. But then they’re in his hospital room doing it so I guess getting your balls smashed in doesn’t affect your performance ability at all.

Later, on the beach, she and Bond have a moment of idyll. Bond says Mathis was the bad guy, how nice, and good thing that he’s now getting his balls bashed in by M16 right now. But Bond’s wondering why Vesper doesn’t have a tell and says that he loves her, which is the first time since On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in 1968 that Bond’s revealed to actually love one of these ladies. Bond’s saying he’s splitting from the service so he can be with her and she seems happy and they kiss and isn’t this just ducky. Later, on a schooner, Bond and Vsper sail into port together and Bond’s typing up his resignation to M16 and looks a little funny typing away on a laptop.

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You know he’s just playing Minecraft right now.

Venice looks lovely, and this seems like it’ll be a happy ending, but Vesper spots and odd-looking man wearing a one-lens sunglasses and I bet that’s the final bad guy. But never mind that: here’s Bond and Vesper having sexy times. Vesper jumps out of bed to run to the bank and Bond notices she’s not wearing that necklace anymore. He gets a text that says his employer doesn’t agree with his resignation, so she texts back for him that he’ll be back in a month and they make out on the elevator ride down. So looks like a happy ending for Bond but I know that can’t be true because there’s 20 minutes left in the movie and Bond can never find happiness.

Bond hangs out in his hotel room and enjoys life for once when he gets a text and then a call. It’s M, who says hey Bond, bad news: those winnings were never deposited into the treasury and Bond looks like he’s saying oh fudge in his mind. He runs out of the hotel and realizes that snake Vesper has double-crossed him. So he runs to the bank where the funds are being withdrawn but she’s not there. And wait: you can withdraw $150 million from any bank? I doubt most banks have that kind of scratch on them at any given time. Whatever, movie. So he starts looking around kind of randomly for her in a crowded piazza and incredibly spots her somehow. He follows her as she walks holding a steel briefcase. He locks and loads his gun because now he knows this affair can’t end any other way than her painting a wall with her brains, like most of his affairs do.

Now with gun drawn, he shoots a dude that’s a lookout, I guess, and spots Vesper handing over they money. But he’s spotted and machine gun fire goes off all over the place as the baddies run away. Bond does his regular run-and-aim routine as he chases them and chase chase chase, gunfire gunfire, etc. It’s all very exciting, I’m sure. Meanwhile, the building they’re in starts crumbling into the Venice waters and the effect is both very impressive and somewhat silly. The suitcase full of money falls into the water and the tourists outside are just loving watching this building sink into the water. Meanwhile, a bad guy starts shooting a nailgun at Bond and Bond electrocutes one of them. And then he shoots the Big Bad wearing the one-sunglasssed glasses. Bond catches up to Vesper, who’s locked in an elevator, and she says I’m sorry and lets herself sink with the building. He dives in after her, but she gestures  nah, just let me die, and then croaks while Bond kicks at the door. He almost gets to her but nope, she’s dead.

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RIP you crazy, beautiful woman.

Bond surfaces with her in his arms and tries to resuscitate her but no dice. Sorry, Bond, but your princess is in another castle. He embraces her dead body and we get the reveal that one of those slinky, shady dudes from the beginning (Mr. White?) has the briefcase now. Later on the schooner, Bond gets the exposition of Vesper’s backstory (she was blackmailed) and Bond has her cell phone so they can try to figure out what the fudge to do here. M says you don’t trust anyone, do you James? Good: you’ve learned your lesson. Bond is now back to being coldhearted and now he’s a fucked-up sociopath and M says now we’ll never know who was behind all of this, darnit. Bond sits on the deck of his boat and looks again through her cell phone and sees there’s a message for James from Mr. White.

Speaking of which, Mr. White pulls up to another gorgeous palatial estate (you know, the guy with the briefcase) and looks off into the landscape when his phone rings. He picks it up and it’s James saying, “Hello? Mr. White? We need to talk.” And then he’s shot in the leg because Bond is goddamn badass. And there’s James Bond with a high-power automatic rifle standing over this dude. He introduces himself as “Bond, James Bond,” and BLACKOUT BECAUSE THAT’S THE END OF THE DAMN MOVIE! And the classic arrangement to the “James Bond Theme” plays because this movie’s a fucking reboot, goldarnit.

Stray Notes

  • Vesper is played by Eva Green, who I recognize from The Dreamers and Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. As stated in the recap, she’s quite a looker–and she does a great job in this movie as Vesper Lynd.
  • I really want to go to Montenegro. That place looks like a fairytale land.

Conclusions

That was a hell of a good James Bond adventure. Daniel Craig’s a great Bond; we got the travelogue of exotic and beautiful locales that I’ve always enjoyed in these movies; and much of the action was back-to-basics hand-to-hand combat and Bond using his wits instead of his firepower to get out of one sticky situation after another. The film looks sharp, is well-written, and does a reboot the right way.

Daniel Craig, in particular, is an incredible Bond since he plays him just as the character was initially conceived: as a cold-blooded killer. While Sean Connery had a lot of this characterization (at least in the beginning before he got doughy) and Timothy Dalton had this in spades, Craig–the first blonde-haired, blue-eyed Bond–pulls off the menacing undercurrent and barely contained seething violence that James Bond as a 00 would have. I think it’s Craig’s angular looks that emote an air of viciousness, along with his steely blue eyes.

It’s really nice to see Bond back to being the realistic street-fighting mental case that he once was, especially way back in the beginning of the franchise. Combine this with the ultra-slick cinematography and this being a fairly modern movie (well, it’s over a decade old now, but still very modern), and a cracking good story and it’s a heck of fun Bond movie. Maybe the torture scene was a bit much, but then again being a guy I’m a little sensitive about watching a dude’s tender bits getting smashed to pieces.

Another thing: this is the longest Bond film in the franchise up to this point but it really didn’t feel like it. It kept its pace up better than most other Bond films that clock in at two plus hours and held my attention the entire time.

What else can I say? What a great reboot for a franchise that had already run out of steam at least three times before this. Now reinvigorated and with my interest recaptured, I’m looking forward to finishing off this unexpectedly longer-than-initially-assumed project in style. Thanks, rebooted Bond, for giving me some good flicks to finish this madness on!

Rating

As stated: what a great reboot. What a smashing Bond film. Great job, Daniel Craig, for breathing life back into this franchise. Great job, everyone else involved. And great job, me, for putting up with so much malarkey from this franchise to get to this point. Four out of four Bonds.
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