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Casino Royale: Why the New Bond Is Better

To be frank, I never truly got into the James Bond movies of yesteryear. To me, they were silly, predictable, and, in many ways, laughable. Sure, it's interesting to see a young, dashing Sean Connery, since I've always known him as a kindly old uncle type. But the only other Bond I know more than just fuzzily is Pierce Brosnan, who's a little prissy and who, in my opinion, made for a flimsy 007.

These "eh" feelings toward Bond changed when I saw the new movie, Casino Royale. The film tells the story of James Bond's origins and how he came to be involved in this continuous string of spy adventures. Daniel Craig's Bond is interesting in that he's less suave, less debonair, and more coarse than most of the other Bonds before him. He bumbles missions, makes mistakes, loses his footing, and lets his pride get in the way. He's smart and funny, but not all the time.

According to Entertainment Weekly, the author of the Bond books, Ian Fleming, "never meant for Bond to be a hero. Said the author: 'I intended him to be a sort of blunt instrument wielded by a government department.'" In this movie, you definitely get a sense of that, so

Particularly interesting is the interplay between Bond and his "handler" (to use an "Alias" term) M, played by the ever-fantastic Judi Densch, who basically dismisses Bond's letter of resignation. I enjoyed relating to this Bond and feeling like it's a triumph for the "everyman" (er, a very tough version of the everyman) when he does succeed. He's one of us, we think. He falls in love and does dumb things and every once in a while throws out a zinger. I adored him.

The movie itself has a few flaws: It's rather on the longish side and a little more complicated than seems necessary. But the majority of the film is really interesting and enjoyable. It has a great balance of explosions-gunfire-beat-'em-up scenes and quieter, calmer, or tension-filled scenes. The female characters (with the exception of M, though Bond sometimes treats her like a nagging old aunt) are, as usual, either villains or victims. Having said that, however, the main "Bond girl," Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), is allowed a surprising degree of cleverness, wit, sass, and sensitivity. She is neither utterly ruthless nor a nincompoop nor simple eye candy. In fact, as far as appearances go, she is in some ways an unlikely choice: gangly, pale, and freckled, seemingly only a few years out of Britain's finest school for girls. I was consistently impressed with her ability to be sharp one moment and deeply vulnerable the next, and it's refreshing to see the writers/directors of a Bond movie allowing such traits in a girl.

It looks like that handsome Daniel Craig has reinvented Bond as we know it, creating a three-dimensional, complex character whose humanity makes us root for him. Or maybe it is simply those gorgeous, stunning, electric blue eyes. Whatever the cause, I absolutely cannot wait for the next one, Bond 22, which is already in pre-production!

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