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New 007 actor successfully plays role

November 30, 2006

Bond has seen many transformations since the franchise began filming in the 1950s.

In this version of “Casino Royale,” we see James Bond as the dark character who Ian Fleming had always envisioned -- not the charming kiss-ass like Brosnan.

As a prequel to the other 007 movies, Bond’s first mission as a 00 agent takes him to the Casino Royale in the Mediterranean country of Montenegro where he must bet the treasury’s money in a high-stakes poker game against Le Chiffre, the villain who aides terrorists.

Well, at least I think that’s the plot -- there were a lot of things blowing up.

As the sixth actor to play 007, Daniel Craig, was an unlikely choice for Bond. He hasn’t been in anything memorable since he played Alex West in “Tomb Raider.”

I refuse to be one of those people who think the Sean Connery Bond movies are the only ones worth watching, but I can admit I didn’t like the idea at first. He is blond, those piercing blue eyes are unreal and he doesn’t have macho-man chest hair.

But then when he was asked if he would like his martini shaken or stirred, he coldly replied, “Does it look like I give a damn?” I totally fell in love with the character and forgot about the man playing him.

Le Chiffre, which is French for “the figure” (not a very creative name), is visually frightening. The scar over his glazed-over, messed up eye makes him a unique Bond adversary who reminded me of bad guys in old black and white films.

His eye looks even more visually disturbing when he cries a single tear of blood.

That’s a totally cool ability, but there’s one problem -- Le Chiffre cries a lot. Villains aren’t supposed to be pussies.

They needed some sort of backbone to become a bad guy in the first place, right?

But Le Chiffre cries and cowers when the terrorists demand their money that he must win at the poker tournament.

The villain’s evil side is only shown in the scene when he tortures Bond attacking him below the belt in order to get a coveted secret bank password.

But even then his character fails to go to the extreme.

Every time he pounds Bond in the balls with a rope Bond turns his cries of pain into laughter, and eventually Bond and his sexy lady friend are let go.

Why didn’t he just kill them? I don’t really know.

Le Chiffre had promised to dismember Vesper Lynd, the Bond girl who also works for the government, but the next thing you see is both of them laying on the beach — arms, legs and testicles in tact.

I know the Bond films follow a certain formula with overly dramatic and sexy scenes, huge explosions and great escapes.

But “Casino Royale” accomplished all of that in the first hour and a half.

If I wanted to see a really intense game of Hold ‘Em with a vague back story and conflicts between creepy characters, I would turn on ESPN and watch the World Series of Poker.

Jenna Lee is a student at UW-River Falls.