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BlogalongaBond: Casino Royale
It took fifty-three for Casino Royale to make its way to the big screen (not counting a 1954 TV film and 1967 spoof) and it now seems both fitting and ironic that the first, and arguably best, Bond novel should have served as the first Bond film of Daniel Craig. Even more ironic is the fact that one of the best Bond novels led to one of the best Bond films. That fact though, is just the icing on the cake for what was to be a new beginning for 007.

Daniel Craig's debut as Bond is nothing short of stunning. Many wondered if this blond actor better known for his more serious acting roles could be an action hero. The answer: a definite yes. Craig brings a physical magnetism to the part of Bond missing for many years plus he is believable in all of the films action sequences. But what really sell Craig’s Bond is his acting abilities. Craig brings a very serious approach to Bond. He is everything Bond should be: cold, ruthless, and capable of being a human being. And when it comes to humor, which a lot of fans were worried about, Craig is just as adept. Any doubts about Craig as Bond, they should be taken away at the very end of the film where Craig gets to say "The name's Bond James Bond" for the first time. Craig’s performance is the best Bond since Timothy Dalton left the role nearly twenty years earlier.

Eva Green plays Vesper Lynd, a Treasury representative sent with Bond on his first major mission as a 00 agent. Green brings a considerable amount of acting ability to this role and she is far from your average Bond girl. While beautiful and truly stunning physically, Green is an actress and she gets to prove it more than really any other Bond girl. Green is truly an amazing Bond girl and a welcomed relief to the stereotypically cardboard Bond girls seen in both of the previous films.

Mads Mikkelsen, then a relatively unknown Dannish actor, makes an impressive Le Chiffre. Bond villains generally lack either believability or acting ability, especially all too apparent in Die Another Day. But here we get arguably the most realistic villain of the series to date. Le Chiffre is a villain; he is after all the man who serves as financier to the world's terrorists. Yet there is a surprising amount of humanity in him. He deformed eye that weeps tears of blood and his sense of both menace and humor make him the most three-dimensional Bond villain and even at times sympathetic.

The supporting cast is also great. Judi Dench returns as M, the head of MI6. Her scenes with Craig have a sense of menace to them that surpasses similar scenes with Pierce Brosnan. Dench had more or less inhabited the role of M since Goldeneye but in this film she once again makes the role her own. Jeffrey Wright makes a brief, but welcomed appearance as CIA agent Felix Lieter, a character missing since Dalton’s era. Caterina Murno seems to be little more than window dressing as Solange, a girlfriend of one of the villains, but she leaves one wishing we'd seen more of her in this film.

The script is also perhaps the best to be written for a Bond film. Based on the novel by Fleming, the films plot is an update of the plot of Fleming's novel. The plot is realistic and the lack of gadgets doesn't hurt the film at all. The love story, the first in a long while, is a nice addition to the film. The lines are well written and time is taken to actually develop the plot to its fullest and Fleming would be, in my opinion, proud of this film adaptation.

The action sequences of this film are stunning. From the gritty black and white fight in the opening sequence the to the running sequence in Madagascar to the attempted bombing of Miami international airport to the stairwell fight and the gunfight in the falling house in Venice at the end, the action sequences have a sense of realism missing from many of the Bond films.

Campbell, who directed Brosnan's debut in Goldeneye, does another stunning job in this film. Working with cinematographer Phil Meheux (who also did Goldeneye) and Editor Stuart Baird, Campbell created a visual style that brings a new sense of style to the series. From the excellently done black and white teaser detailing how Bond got his 00 number, to the shaky hand held sequence during which Bond is poisoned, and the darkness and shadows in the brilliantly done torture sequence, there is a sense of realism. The sets and costumes also help thanks to production designer Peter Lamont and costume designer Lindy Hemming.

The music score by David Arnold is the icing on the cake. No longer having to adhere to the typical Bond score, Arnold creates his best Bond score to date. The score uses the Bond theme sparingly and when it comes back in full force at the end you welcome it back. The score makes good use of a new love theme and sparingly uses electronics that had hampered the previous Arnold scores. The films theme song, You Know My Name by Chris Cornell, is a welcomed addition to the Bond theme songs and is a vast improvement over the last two or three Bond theme songs.

With strong performances from the entire cast, one of the best scripts for any Bond film, strong direction from martin Campbell, terrific cinematography and a great score by David Arnold, Casino Royale delivers. This film was meant as a Bond reboot and it has more than done that. In the process of rebooting the series, the filmmakers had possibly created the best Bond film yet.