hide captionIn Casino Royale, Daniel Craig shows movie goers James Bond's softer side, as the British spy falls in love with Vesper Lynd (Eva Green).
Daniel Craig brings us a new James Bond in Casino Royale. He's not only rugged, fearless and — when the chips are down, as they often are in this poker-faced thriller — a lethal weapon. He's also vulnerable.
This blond 007 falls in love, and wonders whether that might not be better for him than being a globe-trotting killer. This not only shakes him up, it shakes up the franchise in its 21st official outing. Bond as a human being? Who'd'a'thunk?
Of course, this Bond wasn't even born by the time Sean Connery had churned out five double-oh epics. The series already had turned silly by that time, with motorboats flying over bridges and car tailpipes turning into machine guns.
Craig brings it back to life, not with gadgets — all he has is a nifty glove compartment — but with derring-do that gets daring-done with panache. The chase on a construction crane is pretty breathless.
But his finest moment may be when he finds his girlfriend shaken after a machete battle in a stairwell (how's that for low-tech?), sitting in her bloodied evening gown in a shower.
Most men would turn the water off and pull her into their arms. Craig's Bond does something none of the blown-dry pretenders since Connery would ever have done: He joins her in the shower, not for sex or to make a joke, but because he's starting to fall for her, and she clearly needs a shoulder to lean on. And she leans.
A moment or two later, he's back playing poker. And not long after that, half a world away, a building is falling down around their heads.
But that moment of tenderness has done what decades of special effects haven't been able to do: made you care about what happens to 007.
hide captionBond — now played by Daniel Craig — is often disarming, but rarely disarmed. His title songs aren't quite as consistent.
Theaters around the country await the latest addition to the James Bond collection: a new version of Casino Royale.
It's being promoted as all new — a new Bond (Daniel Craig), a new angle, new stunts, new "Bond girls." Yet in one way this new James Bond film will also prepetuate a much older Hollywood tradition: The theme song.
And we're not just talking about the familiar, driving James Bond theme. More than 20 times, Bond films have opened with an original song under the title credits — something that used to be a Hollywood staple and is now a rarity.
Featured performers have ranged from Shirley Bassey and Tom Jones to Duran Duran and Madonna (and don't forget Sheena Easton, Sir Paul McCartney and Wings, Carly Simon and Sheryl Crow).
Movie-music maven Trudeau — Andy Trudeau — and Andrea Seabrook discuss the history of a highly specific genre.
Trudeau has even broken the songs down into three handy categories:
Story Songs (such as Shirley Bassey's wonderful version of "Goldfinger"); Bond Songs (including Nancy Sinatra's "You Only Live Twice"); and Nonsense Songs (A-ha's "The Living Daylights" makes that list.)