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Monday, November 13, 2006

Casino Royale: The Best Bond Since?

I'm excited about the debut of Casino Royale, the latest installment of the James Bond film franchise set to open this Friday.

As I've mentioned previously, this reboot of the 007 storyline initially had me concerned, but no longer. From the preview advertisements I've seen, Daniel Craig looks to be a convincing and realistic secret agent, and the movie appears to be light on CGI and heavy on characterization and drama. (Well, as heavy as Bond movies get, but the presence of both is saying something).

The initial buzz appears to be very positive and heavy on hyperbole. New Bonds typically receive a similar welcome to newly elected presidents: They get largely warm praise at first, and only in hindsight does the picture become clearer.

Timothy Dalton, perhaps the right Bond at the wrong time, earned a good reception with The Living Daylights in 1987 that soon cooled. Pierce Brosnan was greeted with enthusiastic acclaim that survived his four-film run as Bond despite increasingly weaker scripts. (Sean Connery and Roger Moore obviously were well received in their debuts while George Lazenby was not, but I only saw their debut films in hindsight, not in the theater.)

That leads me to two questions I intend to ponder this week. What film will critics hail Casino Royale as "The Best Bond Since ..."? Which actor will Craig be compared to as "The Best Bond Since"? The answer to the latter may be more compelling than the former, but we'll see. More to come.

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