James Bond, Casino Royale

Written by Samantha Ofole-Prince

James Bond is the most resilient of the century’s movie heroes, and in the 21st installment of the 007 series, Craig makes his debut as the suave and sophisticated super-agent who’s on a mission to track down a banker to the world’s terrorists.

One of the best Bond flicks in the most successful franchise of movie history, "Casino Royale" traces the early career of Bond in his first 007 mission. Based on the first secret agent novel written by Ian Fleming in 1953, it has all the necessary elements of the Bond formula that would work again and again.

Trying to thwart the charismatic one eyed baddie Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), Bond initially jets to scores of exotic locales seeking the source of the terrorist’s funds, but it seems the only way to stop Le Chiffre is to beat him in a high-stakes poker game at the plush Casino Royale in Montenegro.

This movie kicks off almost immediately into high gear with the usual action and incredible stunts as Bond chases a suicide bomber through a construction site in Madagascar on foot.

French actress Eva Green plays Vesper Lynd, a British Treasury agent and female counterpart to Bond. Cool and calculating, she’s the first woman Bond ever falls in love with and has a great impact on his life.

Actor Jeffrey Wright is Felix Leiter, Bond’s ally in the CIA and Dame Judi Dench in her fifth Bond flick is back as M, Head of the British Secret Service. {quotes}Craig has the sleek self-assurance needed for the role{/quotes} and plays the hero with an insultingly cool, commanding air. Gone is Bond’s terrible smoking habit, but his acquired taste for martinis though not necessarily shaken or even stirred remains.

Daniel Craig as James Bond

Like the standard Bond flicks, there are no extended sex scenes, only preludes and epilogues and the gadgets, though a rarity in this flick, are certainly in place as the car is kitted with a defibrillator, which comes in handy during the game of poker. Also gone is an accompanying theme titled musical score obvious in earlier bond flicks, and the memorable high speed electrifying car chases are replaced by plenty of foot chasing action. It’s all enough to keep one entirely engrossed.

At 144-minutes, this movie is the longest of the franchise, but it offers a plot that makes sense with far more crowd-pleasing moments than any other Bond films. Most importantly, this movie has the action and the formulaic familiarity, which is what makes a Bond movie so much fun to watch and enjoy.

The beauty of "Royal" is Bond’s vulnerability. Despite his sardonic humor, he’s an intense individual which is how Ian Fleming originally wrote his character in the Bond books. Although he’s not the best Bond ever, Craig has Connery’s devilish charm, Moore’s solid stature and despite caustic comments from critics and fans, he is the rightful heir for the Bond crown for he plays Bond with dignity and style.