Watching 'Casino Royale' may not remind you so much of the classic films featuring Ian Fleming's cool Brittania spyboy. It's not camp, it's not traditional, it's not a lot of things that any number of Bond films have been.
But that's a good thing.
This film, with Daniel Craig as Bond, has human qualities, and human characteristics, and human pain, and human suffering. Sure, he runs up again a cartoonish antagonist, each with an array of beautiful women by their side. Yes, there are weapons, toys, cars, chases, fights, and meetings with the formidable spy wrangler 'M.' Of course, there are scenes across the globe, in locales not often visited, where evil lurks just behind the toiling classes.
But here, this all adds up to a sum much greater than each individual part, creating the most original, visually arresting, and strongest Bond film ever. From the narrative flashback at the start, defining Bond for us, as if we don't know this man, to the remarkable chase scene where Bond just won't let go of his catch, on to the more dramatic and at times witty lines, and on to the sequel inspiring ending, this film hits the mark across the board.
Action, drama, light humor, and even romance all have roles in this film. Still, they are all subsumed by Craig as the latest 007. Blond Craig is the first of the lighter topped men to take on this role, but only purists should be concerned by this turn. While there is a fair amount of flesh flashed on screen, the surprise here is that much of it is of Bond, and not just the décolletage or shapely legs of the latest Bond girl. A nod to gender and manner in the new millennium, perhaps, but also one part of many that shows this as a Bond film that is fresher, sharper, and more real than any predecessor.
Action/adventure fans might recall the dispatch with which a tuxedo clad Brit was smoked out in the opening scene of the Vin Diesel vehicle XXX. It seems as though the producers and director were aware of how dated a standard Bond would appear these days, and updated his character, his vulnerability, and his humanity (or lack thereof) for the present day. There's also a passing nod to the fact that a 00 is in fact a killer, and thus a political liability when his work becomes public.
Whether you like the franchise, are looking for light entertainment, or desire a look at current action/adventure fare, 'Casino Royale' should very much meet your standards.