Casino Royale
Artist: David Arnold
Genre: Film Soundtrack
Year: 2006
Record Label: Sony Classics

702369 (2006). Original soundtrack recording from the 2006 James Bond film CASINO ROYALE. Music composed by David Arnold, conducted by Nicholas Dodd. Stereo. CD running time: 74:19

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Casino Royale, based on Ian Fleming's first 007 novel, opens with James Bond making his first two "kills" and attaining double-O status. His first major assignment takes him to Uganda, to investigate a mysterious terrorist cell; however, his surveillance partner blows their cover, and Mollaka, a bomb-maker, attempts to escape. Bond pursues him furiously, and in the end is forced to kill him. However, Bond has learned that the cell has connections in the Bahamas; he goes there and encounters a man named Dimitrios, who is involved in an attempt to destroy the world's newest and largest airliner. Bond follows him to Miami, kills him, and foils the terrorists' plot. Now, however, he learns that Dimitrios was linked to a man called Le Chiffre, who is the banker for the world's terrorist networks. Le Chiffre had planned to cash in on the stock crash resulting from the destruction of the airliner, but having been thwarted, he now sets up a high-stakes card game at Casino Royale in Montenegro. MI6 funds Bond at the game—up to $10 million, with an option for $5 million more, if the money's caretaker—a young woman named Vesper Lynd—deems it prudent. Bond loses the $10 million, and Vesper refuses to authorize the additional funds, but CIA agent Felix Leiter offers to stake Bond for the remainder of the game. Now, Bond wins, but Le Chiffre uses Vesper to lure Bond to his hiding place. Bond is captured and brutally tortured, but a mysterious assassin intervenes and kills Le Chiffre. Bond, having fallen for Vesper, now desires to resign from the Secret Service, but as events take another unexpected turn, and Bond is again drawn into another web of intrigue that threatens to destroy both Vesper and himself.

Damned Rodan's Album Review

Rating (out of 5):

I'll say up front that I consider Casino Royale the best Bond movie since On Her Majesty's Secret Service, and David Arnold's score is easily his best work in the Bond series. I'm forced to give the album three gunbarrels rather than four, however, due to the glaring omission of the main title theme, "You Know My Name," performed by Chris Cornell. Reportedly, the decision to omit the track was Cornell's, but it's a terrible, terrible failing—mainly because the song itself is so powerful. I circumvented the issue to some extent by downloading both the album and title song (legally, of course), and burning them to a single CD.

Like the movie, the soundtrack is an exercise in darkness, something of a first in the 007 soundtrack realm. Much of the album's running time is very quiet and brooding, punctuated by jabs of almost nerve-wracking orchestral verve. There's quite a bit of music on this album—roughly 74 minutes' worth (plus another four for the title song)—and composer David Arnold wisely opts for straight symphonic scoring, foregoing the often annoying technonoise that plagued his scores to the Brosnan Bond films. Generally improving on his prior 007 work, he offers several slow, dark pieces that help define character and atmosphere, particularly on tracks such as "Nothin' Sinister," "Unauthorised Access," and "Aston Montenegro," the latter of which presents a beautiful orchestration of the title theme.

Among the action-centered tracks, "African Rundown," the album's first cut, is a long, exciting piece with lots of percussion; it works well as both a listenable stand-alone and as a background for Bond's free-running chase through Ugandan streets—one of the most exhilarating stunt sequences in any of the Bond movies, all the more impressive because the action is real. No goofy CGI, a la Die Another Day here, thank God. "Miami International," with a running time of 12 minutes, has lots of pounding, racing bass and percussion, but so typical of Arnold's action music, it lacks much in the way of a coherent theme.

The Bond theme itself is noticeably scarce, only occasionally insinuating itself into the background—until the very end, when we're treated to "My Name Is Bond...James Bond," which is, to my mind, one of the best orchestrations of the theme ever recorded. Casino Royale being the cinematic introduction to James Bond, the rationale of keeping the theme to a minimum is understandable, though there are several key moments when it might have surfaced to good effect—particularly during the "Miami International" sequence.

After so much brooding darkness, "City of Lovers" adds a welcome swell of romance to the album. And "Death of Vesper" offers a touch of poignance that drives up the score's emotional effectiveness just when it needs it.

In the overall, rather than resorting to aping John Barry's scores, as he did in Die Another Day, Arnold mostly pays homage to Barry by devising compositions that capture the Bond atmosphere via instrumentation and some unique plays on the title theme. Still, when it comes to distinctive themes—an aspect of scoring where John Barry, George Martin, and even Marvin Hamlisch excelled—Arnold is still too often sorely lacking. Consider Barry's "Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd" theme from Diamonds Are Forever, or Martin's "Solitaire" theme from Live and Let Die. To date, Arnold has never even come close to offering anything as memorable, an aspect of his scoring that I still find perplexing and disappointing.

Despite the thematic shortcomings that David Arnold can't seem to quite overcome, the Casino Royale score rates relatively high in the post-Barry soundtrack line. If the album featured the main title theme—as any self-respecting soundtrack album ought to—this one would surely score another gunbarrel.

12/27/12 16:40

Film Credits
Producer: Barbara Broccoli
Executive Producer: Callum McDougall
Co-producer: David Minkowski
Co-producer: Henning Molfenter
Co-producer: Matthew Stillman
Executive Producer: Anthony Waye
Assistant Producer: David G. Wilson
Producer: Michael G. Wilson
Co-producer: Charlie Woebcken
Director: Martin Campbell
Screenplay: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Paul Haggis
Cinematography: Paul Meheux
Film Editors: Stuart Baird
Production Designer: Peter Lamont
Title Designer: Daniel Kleinman
Music: David Arnold; Monty Norman (James Bond Theme)
Title Song Sung by Chris Cornell
Film Running Time: 145 minutes

James Bond: Daniel Craig
Vesper Lynd: Eva Green
Le Chiffre: Mads Mikkelsen
M: Judi Dench
Felix Leiter: Jeffrey Wright
Mathis: Giancarlo Giannini
Solange: Caterina Murino
Alex Dimitrios: Simon Abkarian
Mr. White: Jesper Christensen
Valenka: Ivana Milicevic
Villiers: Tobias Menzies
Madame Wu: Tsai Chin
Chief of Police: Michael G. Wilson (uncredited)

CD Tracks

  1. African Rundown (6:52)
  2. Nothin' Sinister (1:28)
  3. Unauthorised Access (1:08)
  4. Blunt Instrument (2:23)
  5. CCTV (1:30)
  6. Solange (1:00)
  7. Trip Aces (2:07)
  8. Miami International (12:43)
  9. I'm the Money (0:28)
10. Aston Montenegro (1:03)
11. Dinner Jackets (1:53)
12. The Tell (3:23)
13. Stairwell Fight (4:12)

14. Vesper (1:44)
15. Bond Loses It All (3:57)
16. Dirty Martini (3:49)
17. Bond Wins It All (4:32)
18. The End of an Aston Martin (1:31)
19. The Bad Die Young (1:18)
20. City of Lovers (3:31)
21. The Switch (5:08)
22. Fall of a House in Venice (1:53)
23. Death of Vesper (2:51)
24. The Bitch Is Dead (1:05)
25. The Name Is Bond...James Bond (2:50)
26. You Know My Name* (4:02)

*"You Know My Name" does not appear on the Casino Royale soundtrack album. I downloaded both the album and the title song from the Rhapsody music service to create a full soundtrack CD.


You Know My Name

Written by David Arnold and Chris Cornell
Sung by Chris Cornell

If you take a life, do you know what you'll give?
Odds are you won't like what it is.
When the storm arrives, would you be seen with me
By the merciless eyes of deceit?

I've seen angels fall from blinding heights,
But you yourself are nothing so divine;
Just next in line.

Arm yourself because no one else here will save you.
The odds will betray you,
And I will replace you.
You can't deny the prize, it may never fulfill you.
It longs to kill you.
Are you willing to die?

The coldest blood runs through my veins.
You know my name.

If you come inside, things will not be the same
When you return to the night.
And if you think you've won,
You never saw me change
The game that we have been playing.

I've seen diamonds cut through harder men
Than you yourself, but if you must pretend,
You may meet your end.

Arm yourself because no one else here will save you.
The odds will betray you,
And I will replace you.
You can't deny the prize, it may never fulfill you.
It longs to kill you.
Are you willing to die?

The coldest blood runs through my veins...

Try to hide your hand,
Forget how to feel (forget how to feel).
Life is gone with just a spin of the wheel (spin of the wheel).

Arm yourself because no one else here will save you.
The odds will betray you,
And I will replace you.
You can't deny the prize, it may never fulfill you.
It longs to kill you.
Are you ready to die?

The coldest blood runs through my veins,
You know my name...