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Review

New 007 actor successfully plays role

November 30, 2006

No matter how you put it, the James Bond franchise has succeeded like no other legacy. Spanning 40 years with more than 20 films, it is the longest-running series in cinematic history. With a recent installment, it appears that streak won’t be ending soon.

Decades ago Ian Fleming began writing about the super spy, and though Casino Royale was his first novel, it was never made into a serious, action-packed blockbuster.

But now, it too has finally and deservedly become an addition to the franchise.

Like in the past, “Casino Royale” has everything that past Bond flicks brought. Complex plots of espionage, amazing fight scenes and, of course, never-ending womanizing with a martini somewhere in the background.

“Casino Royale” is easily one of the best Bond films ever made, perfectly capable of rivaling the classics made infamous by Sean Connery 40 years ago.

In this story, we learn of Bond’s first months as a 00 agent for the British agency MI6, during which we do see a transformation from a coarse, rough-edged assassin to the refined man we’re familiar with.

Though I was initially surprised that a new actor would be brought in while Pierce Brosnan was still in his prime, I’ve gotta say newcomer Daniel Craig was an ace in the role.

Like other actors who came before him, Craig created a slightly different version of the secret agent. For example, Connery brought charisma while Brosnan took a more suave approach. Craig brings a more complex, in-depth look of a clever assassin while bringing in a sense of humor.

By the end, we do see him transform into the man we’ve come to expect. In doing so, audience members loved him.

Since I first saw Craig five years ago in “Tomb Raider,” he’s underwent a transformation: from a scrawny guy to his present muscular physique. I guess it shows how dedicated he was. Though there wasn’t much of his trademark womanizing taking place or any fun gadgets to show off, “Royale” still packed a punch. It focused on the core of the character — a spy expressing one’s loyalty for his country.

I loved the fact that his expertise at the poker table was brought to light once again — a characteristic that had for the most part been forgotten over the years.

And the action scenes are without a doubt the best.

Even the story, though complex, took audiences along for the ride and didn’t let go. Though it did seem to drag on a bit about three-quarters in, by the end I really did appreciate the man’s remarkable intelligence and ingenuity.

But of course I can’t say I’m surprised at how well it turned out. Martin Campbell came back as director, whose work on “Goldeneye” literally brought the icon back to life. I just hope he’ll come back for the next installment.

In short, “Royale” was everything the previews promised and so much more.

Craig’s performance showed that despite his meager resume and altered appearance from previous actors, he really was the best man for the job.

Nick Welsh is a student at UW-River Falls.

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