Best. Bond. Ever.
James Bond films have always given a pretty sheen to the world, turning it into a place where a smooth, suave tuxedoed secret agent faced off against a colorful array of villains and psychopaths hellbent on destroying the world or some such nonsense. Bond was a cartoon. Pretty to look at, never a hair out of place, always holding a vodka martini ("Shaken, not stirred") and ready with an apropos, witty one-liner.
The world is not pretty, however, and for the first time, James Bond has recognized that fact. The world is full of dirty, ugly people who do dirty, ugly things, and James Bond is one of them. He doesn't exist to flash a bright smile while some diabolical villain unveils his dastardly plan. He exists so that you can sleep at night.
Casino Royale opens in grainy black & white (digital video?) and you immediately know that this isn't your father's Bond. In fact, Daniel Craig's 007 would wipe the floor with each and every previous incarnation of the character. Daniel Craig isn't Sean Connery. He isn't Pierce Brosnan. He's better.
This Bond is bloody and brutal, and viciously efficient. He doesn't pull punches. There is no twinkle in his soul-piercing blue eyes. (Yes, this Bond is blonde and blue-eyed. Deal with it.) He is cold. Unemotional. At least, that's what M wants him to be. What she needs him to be.
There is so much right in this film, I don't know where to begin. Daniel Craig is absolutely perfect for this role. And Eva Green, as Her Majesty's Accountant Vesper Lynd, is drop-dead gorgeous. Jaw-droppingly gorgeous. Jeffrey Wright makes a brief, but important cameo as the CIA's Felix Leiter, a man whom one day Bond will call his best friend. I look forward to his return in future installments. And Judi Dench's M, well, she's Judi Dench.
There are no gadgets in this film. No John Cleese as the clumsy-but-kindly Q. Bond is back-to-basics here. Guns. Knives. He is, as M describes him, a blunt instrument. He is a force of nature.
The car is nice. An Aston Martin DBS. It's rather a shame, really, what they do to it.
Honestly, the only negative thing I can think to mention is the theme song by Chris Cornell, of Soundgarden and Audioslave fame. It doesn't fit. It's too...much. Too loud. Then again, since they are introducing a young, brash, hothead of a Bond, perhaps subtlety was not what they had in mind. Still, it's out of place with the tenor of the film.
I wouldn't mind seeing this one again. I think this might be the first Bond film I truly loved, as opposed to simply liked or enjoyed. Sean Connery was the first. Pierce Brosnan, a worthy (eventual) successor, but Daniel Craig...Daniel Craig is Bond. James Bond.