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New Bond Starts Off With A Bang

In a series around the release of 'Skyfall,' critic Cecilia Cygnar looks at Daniel Craig's debut as Bond, which she considers a roaring success.

With the release of the 23rd official James Bond movie, Skyfall, I thought I would look back on some of the best Bond movies from each of the different Bond eras, which also happen to correlate with the different actors who have played the iconic British super-spy.  This week...the current Bond, Daniel Craig in his first 007 outing. 

OK – I’m a James Bond fan. So, right off the bat I’ll say I was leery. Leery of a blond Bond. Leery about a relatively unknown actor jumping into the timeless role. Leery of an actor who might be a little too “hard” looking to play the über spy. But, enough of my fears…since this film and Daniel Craig’s performance put them all to rest, I will no longer focus on my apprehensions. What I will focus on is that this is a strong film in a series that has been through some hard times in the past…especially concerning actor changes. I will also focus on the fact that Craig makes a strong, determined Bond…different than all the others but made for the 21st Century.

Could Connery be Bond today? Probably not. He would slap the wrong woman’s bottom and she’d sue him. Would Roger Moore? Well, no, because his series of quips would also land him in court for one thing or another. Pierce Brosnan was the perfect end-of-the-20th-Century Bond…debonair, striking, yet with a soft side. In Casino Royale, the 21st installment of the official Bond films (not counting 1983’s Never Say Never Again and 1967’s Bond spoof also based and titled on Ian Fleming’s first Bond novel, Casino Royale), Craig holds onto Bond’s soft side right up to the very end.

Craig’s Bond is raw and harsh and more “action” and less "sophistication" than his predecessors. The plot is pretty simple, which is another departure from most of the recent Bond films that get mulled down with convoluted stories. Here, Bond needs to win a high-stakes poker game so a terrorist does not win money to finance his crimes. This film also goes back to the beginning of 007’s career…right after he has been granted his license to kill by Her Majesty’s Secret Service (this makes sense since this is the novel Fleming used to introduce the world to Bond). And, granted, the film could use a little editing (it is close to 2 ½ hours long) especially around the card game. But, what the film doesn’t need is another Bond search. The right actor has been found! And we can only hope that he sticks around for a while.

Casino Royale: 2006, PG-13, 144 minutes, directed by Martin Campbell, starring Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Jeffrey Wright, Giancarlo Giannini and Judi Dench.  The Niles Public Library owns this title on DVD and Blu-Ray. 

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