Okay, so as much as I enjoyed the previous James Bond movies, at no point did I actually think any of them (yes, ANY of them) had the sort of hand-to-hand combat abilities the characterization would lead you to believe. James Bond was supposedly a human weapon along with being a lady charmer, and while most of the actors pulled off the latter quite well, the former always left me a little … unsatisfied.
But hey, who cared, right? I mean, we had all those crazy gadgets! Sure, Roger Moore couldn’t throw a decent looking kick to save his life, but he had one tricked-out car! But I’m afraid even that got old. As our technology advanced in the real world, Bond’s gizmos didn’t seem so incredible anymore, and when they tried to up the ante on them, they just came out looking ridiculous (invisible car, anyone?).
As I saw it, they only had once choice. Get rid of the ludicrous weaponry and focus on the man. And in order to do that, they had to get a man. Not just a man who looked good in a tux, but a man who could actually make you believe he could kick your tail with virtually no effort at all.
Enter Daniel Craig.
I always liked this guy (see Layer Cake), and I knew they’d found the right Bond the moment they picked him. Bond was originally intended to be a bit of thug. Sure, the ladies loved him, but his attitude toward them was rather one-and-done. He was cold, calculating, and he didn’t mind spilling blood to get what he wanted. He had a license to kill, and he wasn’t afraid to use it. He’d been in some scraps, and his face showed the history of those fights.
With Casino Royale, that’s the Bond we get through Craig. The action is amazing, absolutely amazing, and it’s so amazing because it is mostly physical action. The near-opening scene will have your eyes bulging, and it’s mostly just a foot chase! Craig is truly an athlete with a physically superior body, just the sort of thing you would expect from a secret agent of Bond’s caliber.
Thankfully, the technological aspect to Bond was kept to a minimum and none of it seemed unrealistic or over-the-top. It still played a role, mind you, but nothing that makes you slap your forehead and yell, “You’ve got to be kidding!”
Yes, the story runs a little long, and yes, it gets more than a tad confusing at times, but who cares! I was mesmerized with Craig the entire time and the story, while certainly not mind-blowing, was more than entertaining. I actually found it surprising they took some time to lay some character groundwork for Craig to work with.
I realize I border upon hyperbole, but Casino Royale may just be my favorite Bond movie ever-EVER.