BitDepth 552 - November 28

He's blond and surprisingly, he's also a persuasive Bond. Daniel Craig in Casino Royale is a gamble that pays off...
Blond, James Bond

Bond things, refreshed. Clockwise from top left; the blue-eyed killer, investigating Solange (Caterina Munro), tooling around in his new-old Aston Martin and the card shark, who ends up shaken and stirred.

By now, any serious Bond fan will know. Despite all the strikes against him; his ashy blonde hair, his diminutive stature and a craggy, bad boy look with pronounced philtrum, Daniel Craig makes a great James Bond.

Eon Productions has framed this new adventure with intriguing grace, rebooting the franchise back to its beginnings to tell the story of the famous spy's first adventure in
Casino Royale, the first book written by Ian Fleming.
This James Bond is new to the high stakes spy game, earning his double O's with a tough bathroom brawl and the assassination of an MI-6 section chief that offers some hint of the suave but cool killer that Sean Connery so ably portrayed in 1963's From Russia with Love, quite possibly the best Bond film ever made.
But this makes for some surreal anachronisms if we read the films sequentially. It turns out that sophisticated tracking devices are cell phones, and the highest tech this Bond uses is a portable heart defibrillator.

The 1964 vintage Aston Martin DB5 that Craig Bond wins gambling in the Bahamas was a cutting edge auto when Connery Bond used it for the first time in
But that's layering sense, even time sense into a James Bond adventure and that's never been a particularly rewarding pursuit. Instead, let's look at the spirit of the thing, and on that score, this is the most enthusiastic, hardworking Bond film in decades.
While Pierce Brosnan performed admirably as a bobble-headed beauty in the four films that kept the franchise afloat during the late 1990's, there was a sense of marked time, a James Bond who just barely kept pace with the rapid development of the action-adventure film as it soared on wirework and effervesced in huge orange fireballs.
Daniel Craig's Bond announces from early on that he intends to work for our attention with a mix of enthusiasm and craft that has had no match in the genre since Nicholas Cage embraced guns and explosions in
The Rock.

After the savagely personal fight scene that opens the film, Craig gets to work in a remarkable parkour sequence, running and jumping in a chase scene with Sebastien Foucan that has absolutely no peer in a Bond film.
Neither does Mr Craig's physique, superbly carved muscles that he generously reveals for female viewers dragged along by action-craving males. There's a torture scene in
Casino Royale that will be as harrowing for men (who will feel every blow) as it will be engaging for women (who get to see a Bond stripped naked from head to toe).
Most intriguingly, Craig takes us along on his voyage of discovery with this character, portraying a Bond with disturbingly human rough edges still far from the controlled saga boy that charmed the world.

"This may be too much for a blunt instrument to understand" M (sole returning actor Judi Dench) says to Bond with brutal sarcasm.
Craig doesn't play against the line, he makes it real, showing us how a trained killer who has been in the world comes to painfully understand it. In doing so, he manages to make the longest Bond film fly by, whizzing on wings of physical and thespian skill that make even the lengthy card game at the heart of the film tolerable.
There's a wonderful throwaway scene in the film, in which Bond puts on his first tailored suit from Vesper Lynd (the gamine Eva Green). Studying the mirror, Craig lets us see the character's revelation as he turns and preens.
Bond doesn't succeed at his first mission. He is duped, almost killed, loses hundreds of millions of dollars, suffers agonizing torture and every woman he beds ends up dead.

At the end of the film, in a short sequence that's clearly an introduction to the sequel, Bond successfully tracks the man who took his government's money and after shooting him in the leg finally introduces himself.
"I'm Bond, James Bond."
And as he says it, you can see that Daniel Craig knows that he's earned it.
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