Daniel Craig’s James Bond in Casino Royale is a very appreciated refurbishment of 007: imperfect complexion, lacking a suave polish, he’s a stealthy pygmy. In short brown hair with just a tinge of dirty blond and with light Aqua eyes, he’s a model of English macho fitness, and a super brisk walker to boot. He’s got a paltry facial arsenal—which helps him in the plot’s high-stakes gambling and aid in the required emotional detachment—but he’s packing a melodious vocality that speeds undressing. (Prepare to surrender on that bullet train to Montenegro.) We take in his rough cut imagery enjoyably aware he’s smashing Bond conventions; he’s the butchest thing coming out of pawncy Britain. For many viewers, there’s a recall of his kind of hazard in Elizabeth and Infamous: the smaller the characters, the more threatening they (try to) become. The online cineophiles tell us that Casino Royale was the second best reviewed movie of 2006 (The Queen topped the list) and the high favorability is warranted. Director Martin Campbell, who directed Pierce Brosnan’s début as Bond in Goldeneye, knows the turf and liabilities: He reduces the techno flash, a lesson from the last Brosnan Bond when the hallmark fantasy rationale went to Hell with that impossibly grandiose ice palace sequence. Fear not, there’s one marvel of virtuosity—when a Venetian palacio comes tumbling down. (But don’t give much credence to the depths of its collapse, for the canals of Venice aren’t that deep.) What a pleasure to see Judi Dench’s M have an enlarged presence; is there any actress since Glenda Jackson who’s more compelling when chilling us to the bone with such exacting articulation? And that pad she calls home is deluxe swank. Hands down the cheekiest female love interest the Bond movies is Eva Green; she’s a little bit Parker Posey, a little bit Kate Beckinsale (before her nose job), a welcomed reminder of Susan Kohner, and a whole lot of smarts. The opening black and white kill is based on Britain’s bent Guy Burgess, infamous for selling state secrets to the Russians.

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Text COPYRIGHT © 2007 RALPH BENNER  All Rights Reserved.