Thursday, November 23, 2006

My New Favourite Bond

Like many other fans of the James Bond film franchise, I was dubious about the casting of Daniel Craig in the legendary 007 role. Whilst I respect him greatly as an actor, I found it hard to picture him as the suave and sexy spy, who for me had always been embodied by the twinkly-eyed Sean Connery. In spite of my reservations, I was eager to see the new movie, so much so that I booked tickets for the opening night and braved West Street to join hoards of others at the Odeon. We chose the slightly later showing in the hope that we wouldn't be surrounded by kids, and it seemed to work.

From the opening scene - a film-noir-esque depiction of Bond's violent initiation into 007 status - Casino Royale immediately distances itself from its predecessors in both style and substance. Gone are the gimmicky gadgets and tongue-in-cheek humour. Craig has seized the role by the neck and shaken (not stirred) new life into it. His Bond is less self-consciously sexual, making him imminently more appealing than the suggestive and somewhat sleazy versions offered by Brosnan, Moore, and even Connery. The endless innuendos and puns have been replaced by a refreshingly understated humour, subtly executed by Craig, who skilfully resists the temptation to milk it.

All the classic ingredients remain – the scarred European baddie, the smouldering smoky-eyed love-interest, and dramatic chase scenes a-plenty – but darker undertones, superior acting and a more human approach establish Casino Royale as a new breed of Bond. Any remaining doubts I may have had about Craig in the leading role were banished at the moment he emerged from the sea, pecks glistening, in a pair of tight swimming shorts (see above). Need I say more?

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