Bonding Agent

Casino Royale. Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, and Judi Dench star in a film written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and Paul Haggis, based on the novel by Ian Fleming, and directed by Martin Campbell.

Reviewed by Josef Woodard

Does a tougher world demand a tougher Bond? Well, we’ve got one in Daniel Craig, the latest actor to don the costumes and the persona of Ian Fleming’s protagonist and a grittier model with less fun and games than most of his predecessors. He’s lean, he’s mean, and has a face like a grimmer version of Steve McQueen. He looks good in a suit but is also subjected to the mortal abrasions of his job, with more bloodied and battered flesh than the Bonds of old.

CR_13927R.jpgIn the new film, which revisits and updates the Sean Connery-era version from 1967, the familiar elements are in place, plus some new bells and whistles and a newly hardened attitude. As usual, the location scouting is extravagant. Casino Royale includes a dizzyingly kinetic on-foot chase scene through a construction site in Madagascar as well as choreographed waves of sex and violence in Nassau, Bahamas. But there’s also a cerebral set in the middle of the story, with an über-high-stakes poker game at the lavish Casino Royale that simmers with psychological tension.

On occasion, the new Bond spoofs the Bond brand, as when he’s asked about his martini: “Shaken or stirred?” “I don’t give a damn,” he replies. The new Bond doesn’t particularly give a damn about much, except getting his man, dispensing unrelenting, cold (and not simply cool) thug’s justice on a world of bad guys. Oh, and love sneaks briefly into the mix, too, courtesy of the smart and lovely Accountant-to-the-Crown character, played with controlled flair by Eva Green.

With this gripping existential joy ride of a Bond film, we’re yet again reminded that, more than any other serial phenom in film, the Bond franchise just keeps on ticking. It ticks like a bomb, a Swiss clock, or a libido with a lust for blood.

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