I have to admit, I was skeptical when they announced that Daniel Craig was being cast as James Bond, but after seeing his debut in Casino Royale, I have to admit that they made the right choice. Craig brings a much harder edge to Bond than Brosnan did, but he also has more charm than Timothy Dalton did in the role. Casino Royale does a great job of reinventing the Bond franchise, giving it a new direction while keeping the elements that make it enjoyable. There are still plenty of martinis, girls, guns, girls, large explosions, girls, dramatic set pieces, girls, and did I mention that Eva Green is absolutely brilliant?
James Bond is a difficult character to play, and each actor who has portrayed him has taken the character in a different direction. What makes Craig brilliant in the role is the fact that he brings layers of depth to Bond. Brosnan was effortlessly cool and suave, while Craig gives Bond a much harder edge. His Bond gets the crap beaten out of him, is tortured in a way that will have half the audience cringing, and even gets played himself. The Bond franchise sometimes becomes so over-the-top that it loses sight of who the character of James Bond really is. Craig manages to not get overshadowed by the large set pieces.
The incredibly lovely Eva Green plays a Bond girl who is every bit as complicated as Bond himself, which is a testament to her acting and the strength of the script. Dame Judy Dench has the part of “M” down pat now, although even she gets to put a new spin on the character. The bad guys aren’t mustache-twirling parodies, but have some depth to them. Plus, the plot is far more complex than the average Bond film – just when the movie looks like it might drag, it ends on just the right note.
Casino Royale is possibly one of the best Bond films yet, which is quite an achievement for such a long-running franchise. Daniel Craig’s Bond is multi-layered and intense, but still very much in the rich tradition of the character. This version of Casino Royale sticks close to Fleming’s original novel, and gives the franchise a much-needed new direction.
UPDATE: The comments for this post are completely borked, and I’ve no idea why. As soon as I’ve a moment to look at it, I’ll try to get them working again.