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:: Casino Royale

It was a case of a new James Bond (Daniel Craig) and a re-invention of the philosophy, driven by the original Ian Fleming idea of what this character had to offer. Therefore, great expectations surrounded the introduction of the new James Bond. The result is one of an inspired and totally satisfactory choice of Craig as the new Bond. Casino Royale had been converted into film previously but was the only Bond novel that wasn't adapted for the MGM franchise. It's the first film based on Fleming's material since Octopussy.

The essence of the character - from the early days - is a darkened sense of danger where one could have watched someone be horribly killed and then laugh it off. The story is modernised in moving from the Cold War period to today's terrorism world, and in substituting the card game baccarat to using poker, which relates to a younger audience.

Dame Judi Dench continues her role as M and Mads Mikkelsen plays notorious terrorism financier Le Chiffre, who has overdone his financing with his clients. The face-off between he and Bond during the card game is fascinating. A small criticism could be drawn in that, although the poker game can be viewed to some as enthralling, it may have been a mistake to have the seated participants for a fairly long period of time.

This James Bond is tough and uncompromising, and Craig is an inspired choice. He is a pure, fit, ruthless person for the role and he gets the freedom to “do his thing”. He deserves great credit for ensuring a revitalised franchise. He gives the character depth and a raw sexuality - a charismatic presence - that will give renwed enthusiasm for Bond lovers like myself. Not that I think Pierce Brosnan was a bad Bond. To the contrary, but the setting here has that extra bit of oomph. Right from the outset, there is frenetic action and purpose and we don't see the overwhelming number of gadgets of the last few films. The jaw-dropping opening chase scene is terrific.

The support cast is extremely capable. Eva Green, like Craig, is a stage actor, and she is dangerously sexy and captivates with her chemistry with Craig. She has a presence you can respect. Mikkelsen is most suitable as Le Chiffre, complete with the physical distinction like all Bond villains should have. Italian stars Giancarlo Giannini and Caterina Murino play their roles purposefully and appropriately. Giannini is a screen legend in Italy and his efforts are done with utmost professionalism. Caterina has a small but sumptuous role.

Casino Royale thrills from start to finish and contains fantastic action sequences. The scenes are graphic and violent, ensuring the adaptation is in keeping with the original dark overtones. Daniel Craig is a revelation and he already ranks highly amongst all the previous Bonds. The film is highly enjoyable and sets up a new lease of life for Bond.