Casino Royale: Sorry, Haters – Daniel Craig IS James Bond!

Casino RoayalWell, the suspense is over: Daniel Craig has shaken the Bond franchise and stirred Bond fanatics. Now, we can say it – Daniel Craig's Bond is, at the very least, the best since Sir Sean…

About the only things that haven't changed in Casino Royale are the running time, and M [the always fascinating Dame Judi Dench]. The script is tighter and more character-driven; the international cast is composed of actors [not just pretty faces]; the stunts are simultaneously more real and more dangerous; the gizmos, while few and far between, are more firmly rooted in reality, and – despite his cleverness – this Bond is still pretty much a rookie.

The film opens in glorious black & white – giving Bond's first two kills [required to attain a double-oh ranking] a very noir feel. Oddly, the first kill, a very messy affair, actually gains much impact from this treatment. After the second, it also gives an extra edge to the laconic Bond.

When the film shifts to color, it is to lead into what may be one of the most entertaining foot chases in film history. It also leads to the first of the newly minted 007's mistakes – mistakes that get him thoroughly dressed down by M. On the other hand, he does discover M's home, hack her computer and learn her real name.

Bond & Vesper Lynd

To rectify his mistake, Bond is assigned to break a banker-to-terrorists known as Le Chiffre [Mads Mikkelsen] at a high-stakes poker game in Montenegro. Because of his earlier error in judgment, he is assigned a watchdog – the lovely Vesper Lynd [Eva Green], a Treasury Agent who will oversee Bond's use of the ten million dollar buy-in and crack Bond's emotional armor – but not before some ego puncturing on both sides…

Casino Royale is quite the ride. The smart script clearly benefits from Oscar

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