UK-based fans of James Bond and/or poker are in luck. The Odeon and Vue cinema chains will be showing Casino Royale on the big screen again, in wide release for the first time since 2006.
For the next five Saturdays, cinemas across the UK will be running the Daniel Craig Bond movies in order.
The Vue and Odeon cinema chains started working their way through the Bond films in order of cinematic release back in April. The series will be finished in October just in time for the 60th anniversary of the Dr. No (1962) premiere (and so of the Bond movie franchise as a whole).
Casino Royale itself has been out for fifteen years and still stands up as one of a handful of truly great Bond movies. It also contains some of the most compelling (if not terribly realistic) poker scenes ever committed to film.
My own local cinema is showing Casino Royale is at 2 PM, Saturday, September 2. Though show times may vary somewhat depending on where in the country you are.
Why rewatch Casino Royale
There were a fair few factors making Casino Royale the enormous success it turned out to be. The return of director Martin Campbell (Goldeneye) to the franchise. The involvement of Paul Haggis (Million Dollar Baby, Crash) in the screenplay. The hiring of Daniel Craig (Layer Cake) to play Bond.
But above all, it was a canny reading of the prevailing cinematic winds. Bond has always adapted to the current political and artistic zeitgeist. Live and Let Die jumped on the popularity of blacksploitation movies in the ’70s. Moonraker, with its space sequences, came out two years after Star Wars. For Casino Royale it was gritty reboots and the grounded low-key brutality of the Bourne movies.
Haggis, Purves, and Wade grabbed from headlines. Post-9/11 international terrorism, the post-Moneymaker poker boom, and the post-Youtube popularity of parkour all made their way into key sequences. The result was a move that felt both very-2006 and oddly nostalgic for the Fleming novels.
However, the crunchy action sequences, a solid thematic throughline, and genuine emotional stakes stand up even now.
They also made this the best Bond movie since OHMSS — only to be surpassed by the brilliant (though poker-free) Skyfall in 2012. Casino Royale is not one of the best poker-movies out there. But it is absolutely one of the best movies that happens to be about poker.
Well worth catching it next weekend if you can.