Along with Darth Vader, Freddy Kruger and Indiana Jones, James Bond has become a cinematic icon that we all have come to love. Over the past five decades, dozens of actors have played the role of Bond, bringing their own personal touch to the character. However, with the casting of Pierce Brosnan in 1995, the series nearly lost all of the witty dialogue that made Bond such a likeable character, and turned him into a monotonous secret agent who saved the world from the diabolical schemings of his numerous enemies. In other words, James Bond became a cheap retread of himself.

However, with the casting of Daniel Craig as Bond in Casino Royale, the James Bond series has regained the spunk it once had decades ago.

The plot is simple: a rich, power hungry man named Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), who’s responsible for financing terrorists around the world, attempts to win 150 million dollars in a high stakes poker game at Casino Royale. It’s up to Bond to infiltrate the game and stop Le Chiffre from winning, with the help of a Treasury agent (Eva Green). There’s no “end of the world” scenario to be found in Casino Royale, but there’s certainly enough fights and chase scenes to satisfy those audience members who have an insatiable hunger for action.

Perhaps what makes this Bond better then most is how different the style is. For instance, Casino Royale begins much differently then any other Bond movie. It shows how Bond came to be a 007 agent, and the two people he had to kill in order to achieve this status. Since this is before Bond became the graceful and elegant secret agent that we’ve come to know, his first kill is extremely sloppy. Instead of fighting with grace, he fights erratically. At times, it feels like you’re sitting in a movie about the mob instead of a Bond film. However, it’s not a bad thing at all. It makes Bond seem more like a human being instead of a secret agent bred for fighting against evil and injustice.

The movie, as I mentioned before, is chock full of fight sequences. In one particularly memorable one, Bond chases a suspect through a construction yard, attempting to extract information from him. The scene is not only enthralling, but also funny. It shows truly how inexperienced Bond is (at one point, the suspect gracefully lifts himself over a wall made of plaster, while Bond simply plows right through it).

As for the actor who plays Bond, Daniel Craig does a superb job. While Sean Connery is still considered the greatest Bond of all time (and likely will be until the franchise dies out), Craig revitalizes the role after it had been nearly killed by Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan.

With Casino Royale under his wing, one can only hope that Craig will return to portray Bond in the next installment. I know I’ll be eagerly awaiting to see him again. Bond is back, folks.

Grade: A-

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