Casino Royale (PG-13)

Action/Adventure 144 min. November 17, 2006
By Robert Wilonsky
To say that Casino Royale -- the third attempt to perfect the very first book in Ian Fleming's series, which began in 1953 -- ranks among the best James Bond offerings is not intended as backhanded praise. Absolutely, it goes on too long (clocking in at 144 minutes), and absolutely, half the damned thing makes no sense at all, but it works hard enough to merit its prolonged coda and nonsensical storytelling. Because beneath all the gimmicks and gadgets -- chief among them a collection of cell phones capable of doing things of which Catherine Zeta-Jones never dreamed -- is the actor Daniel Craig, who brings to Bond all the things he's lacked since Sean Connery fought the Cold War in a toupee. Fleming would recognize Craig's Bond as most like his literary creation: damaged goods in a tailored tux, doing nasty things to bad people who do nasty things to him. Still, Craig's Bond has little interest in living up to the legend. When a bartender asks him whether he likes his martini shaken or stirred, Bond shoots back, "Do I look like I care?" And in that instant, it's as if the part had never been anyone else's.
Martin Campbell Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Mads Mikkelsen, Eva Green, Jeffrey Wright, Giancarlo Giannini, Caterina Murino, Ivana Milicevic, Simon Abkarian, Tobias Menzies Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Ian Fleming Barbara Broccoli, Michael G. Wilson Sony

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