The best Bond since Connery

Up close and personal ... new Bond Daniel Craig with Eva Green
Picture: REX

October 20, 2006

CASINO ROYALE is the most eagerly awaited Bond movie ever.

It’s not out in Britain until November 16 but here The Sun’s secret agent The Sneak gives Sun readers the world’s first review.

He has gone undercover to infiltrate a preview screening of the film, starring Brit Daniel Craig.

''I WONDERED if I should do two versions of my review — one for the Bond fans who prefer the tongue-in-cheek Roger Moore and another for those who long for a return to Sean Connery’s classic From Russia With Love.

To be honest, those 007 fans who want more Moore — or Pierce Brosnan back — will not like what I am about to say."

And that is: Daniel Craig is the best Bond since Connery.

Craig’s performance is so strong he could even make moviegoers forget there was anyone between himself and Connery.

Bond ... Daniel Craig really looks the part

He plays the gritty, tougher-than-nails secret agent novelist Ian Fleming meant the world to see.

With his bulked-up frame, intense blue eyes and don’t-mess-with-me attitude, Craig makes Brosnan look a bit girlie in comparison.

Blond-haired Craig has had to dodge as many bullets from internet critics as movie villains since becoming the sixth official James Bond.

But from the black-and-white opening sequence to the pulse-pounding, action-packed end, Craig is telling his critics, “I’m gonna be doing this for years.”

The film includes the most disturbing Bond torture scene ever filmed and shows 007 will not be pulling any punches from now on.

Bond’s Thunderballs get so gruesomely whacked that every man in the audience will feel his pain long after getting home.

And rather than simply dusting himself down after this attack, the new, realistic Bond takes a month in hospital getting his mojo back.

The director, Martin Campbell, returns to kick butt after directing Pierce Brosnan in GoldenEye in the Nineties — and again clearly jump-starts the series for the 21st Century.

Gone are the cartoon-like trappings of past films such as the invisible cars and outlandish villains — and some fans may be disappointed by the noticeable absence of old favourites Q and Miss Moneypenny. But the presence of Dame Judi Dench brings authority and humour to her role as Bond’s boss M.

Casino Royale was Fleming’s first Bond novel. The title was used for a spoof starring David Niven in 1967.

This, though, is the first attempt to bring Fleming’s original vision to life.
And, to be frank, like the novel, it suffers from a lack of sharpness in the plot.

You will need to concentrate as you follow the story because, running at a whopping two hours and 20 minutes, the movie is 20 minutes too long.
A healthy bit of editing would have avoided confusing scenes where some characters appear and disappear inexplicably.

And, often, the characters do things for no apparent reason.

Suave ... sophisticated and explosive action scenes
Bottom picture: REX

Some scenes seem to be going in a certain direction but end up leaving the audience scratching their heads in sheer confusion.

The novel is the rough template for the film — but screenwriters Robert Wade, Neal Purvis and Oscar-winning Crash writer and director Paul Haggis have to change the enemy and setting in order to bring it up to date. Casino Royale follows Bond on his first Licence to Kill mission.

Not everything goes according to plan, though, and Bond is forced to investigate a terrorist cell on his own, which leads him to banker Le Chiffre played with understated menace by Danish actor Mads Mikkelson.

Le Chiffre and Bond then take each other on in a high-stake game of poker.

Fortunately, the action sequences more than compensate for the complicated plot.

Campbell has ditched the computer-generated imagery and gone back to real stunts – which give Casino Royale a real awe factor.

The set-piece with a terrorist called Mollaka crackles with energy.

He is played by Sebastien Foucan — the real-life free runner who gets his kicks out of jumping from building to building. Mollaka is chased through a construction site and across a crane suspended high above a city.

Another thrilling scene sees a terrorist attempt to blow up an airliner.
Female fans will not be disappointed by the sight of Craig in a picture-postcard Bahamas landscape.

High-rollers and high-flyers ... the new Bond has it all

He emerges from the sea wearing a skimpy pair of swimming trunks, set against a stunning Bahamas backdrop.

French actress Eva Green plays the main Bond girl Vesper Lynd.

And she manages to bring out the soft side of Bond that has rarely been seen in previous films.

But beyond that, she still has the perfect assets for a Bond girl that have wowed generations of red-blooded males.

James Bond is the most successful film franchise in history in terms of box office receipts.

And the key to its continuing success is whether the fans are still egging on their hero at the end of each film.

But you can bet on Craig being a hit because when he sorts out his enemy at the end of the film — with his well-worn line “Bond — James Bond”, you just can’t help cheering.