Best. Bond. Ever.

I finally saw Casino Royale this weekend, and though it has been said in many other reviews, I will repeat it:  This is the best Bond ever.  More than just changing Bond actors, the movie represents a retooling of a Bond franchise gone way, way astray in the Roger Moore years.  Pierce Brosnan did a good job bringing Bond back to reality, but he was still too pretty-boy to really portray the ice-cold, very serious Bond of the books.  The double-0's are supposed to be hired as assassins (license to kill, remember) and not because they look good in a tux.  Bond in the book Casino Royale, for example, doesn't even want Vesper Lynd around because he refuses to be distracted by women on duty.  The Bond of recent movies seems to do nothing but get distracted by women on duty.

Casino Royale was always my favorite of the Bond books, and I am pleased that it was this book that brought the franchise into a new era.  Yes, Q and the gadgets are gone, and even some of the classic lines are mostly absent (though shaken not stirred draws a funny joke).  In their place is much sharper and more interesting dialog.  Judie Dench finally gets a role as M that does justice to some of her acting talents.  And  Daniel Craig is fabulous.   

This is also by far the closest any Bond movie has stuck to it's namesake book.  The book was a bit light on action, so rather than try to work it in where it does not belong, they grafted the action onto the front of the movie, which is essentially a prequel to the action in the book.  The book begins about where Bond gets approval to go after LeChiffre in a card game, and from that point forward it follows the book almost exactly, with some minor updating.  The only small amount of pain was seeing Bond playing Texas hold'em rather than Baccarat, but after seeing the movie, poker works much better than Baccarat did in the book - the element of bluffing adds to the tension.

Don't worry, the action is still there.  The opening chase scene is fabulous, all the more so because it is mostly free of gadgets and aircraft and missiles and... you get the idea.  Instead, you get Bond at his most ruthless as well as the improvisational Bond we haven't seen since Sean Connery.  First movie in a while I immediately wanted to see again.  And first action movie in forever where the plot made any sense and the writing was sharp.

  • Ditto.

  • Sol

    I don't know if I'd say best Bond ever, but certainly the best Bond of my lifetime.

    As a big fan of Fleming's books, I was disappointed when I heard the movie was going to use poker instead of Baccarat. But after seeing the movie, I think it was exactly the right choice to make, for one simple reason. Even as a Bond fan, I've got no clue how to play Baccarat. But I was playing Texas Hold 'Em with my cousins the night before we all went to see the movie. Being actually able to understand what is going on in the game makes those scenes a lot clearer.

    The traditionalist in my was a little disappointed to see Bond openly disobeying M, but that's a small quibble with a great movie.

  • asg

    Isn't baccarat a game of pure chance? How does one "go after" someone in a baccarat game? See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baccarat.