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Daniel Craig creates more complex, less suave Bond

02-Dec-2006 • Casino Royale

In the opening action sequence of Casino Royale, Daniel Craig, the new James Bond, chases a terrorist lackey through a construction site in Africa. The two run through metal building frames, jump between tall cranes and dodge flying bullets. Craig has many ungraceful moments, collecting bruises and narrowly making dramatic leaps. Where his predecessors would dive through a window with unrealistic ease, Craig plows through a wall. Casino Royale offers a fresh take on one of the oldest characters in film — moviegoers witness a more human, more believable, but still breathtaking Bond - reports The Rice Thresher.

Casino Royale, the 21st film in the Bond franchise, gives the character some much-needed reconstruction by taking on the plot of one Ian Fleming’s early Bond novels. In the film, Bond has just earned his license to kill and must learn how to use it. Only the role of M, played by the intractable Judi Dench (Goldeneye), remains intact — but really, who else could deliver Dench’s trademark quips?

In this film Bond tries to take down a terrorist money chain. He fumbles by storming an embassy and getting caught killing a man on film. After stopping a related bombing attempt at an airport, Bond tracks down the rich malefactor behind the terrorists, Le Chiffre (King Arthur’s Mads Mikkelsen). Desperate to recoup his losses, Le Chiffre brings together some of the world’s wealthiest gamblers — including a government-backed Bond — in a poker match with a $5 million buy-in. Without giving away the rest of the movie, the last act takes some unexpected twists away from the poker, defying the usual kiss-and-go endings of many previous Bond films.

Casino Royale lingers on the type of scenes that previous Bond movies would have quickly glossed over. Some of the action scenes feel overwrought, but the long poker scene exemplifies how this technique can work. It takes a long time for important hands to play out, but these moments enhance the sense of both victory and defeat, savoring the taste of crucial moments.

Character development has never been considered a strength of the Bond movies, but Casino Royale turns that preconception on its head. Some stock characters like Q and Moneypenny are conspicuously absent in order to make room for a more well-developed Bond and Bond girl. Pierce Brosnan (Goldeneye), the previous incarnation of Bond, took the suave, witty agent persona over the top. Craig portrays a more burly and struggling Bond. This 007 has trouble with quips, actually damages his formal outfits — and forms a real romance with Bond girl Vesper Lynd (The Dreamers’ Eva Green). Lynd is not treated as a disposable toy, and Craig’s character is made more human by his love for Lynd. Their relationship becomes a central focus of the movie.

Obviously, Casino Royale self-consciously stakes new ground. The trademark Bond gadgets are limited to cell phones and laptops: There are no watch-hidden lasers or missile-hiding headights. After an upsetting hand of cards, Bond even tells a bartender he does not care if his martini is shaken or stirred.

This film’s secret agent business is as much a discovery for Craig as it is for the audience. Old lines — “The name’s Bond, James Bond” — feel fresh and revitalized. Casino Royale trims the fat off of the franchise, leaving the audience with a leaner, more interesting and more entertaining Bond.

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