Arts & Life


Forty four years ago, Sean Connery starred as the movies' first agent 007 in Dr. No. The series continues with the sixth actor to play James Bond in the new "Casino Royale."

Los Angeles Times and MORNING EDITION film critic Kenneth Turan with this review.


KENNETH TURAN: What becomes a legend most? How do you retool an icon without alienating a fan base that has been loyal for longer than the core movie audience has been alive? What, in other words, do you do with James Bond?

Up to today, the 20 James Bond features have been as predictable as the shaken- not-stirred martini preference of their protagonist. Now with "Casino Royale," the hero with a thousand smirks has been given a shrewd and largely successful attitude adjustment that ups the reality quotient of the series.

It also provides an opportunity for star Daniel Craig to show a wide audience just how good an actor he is. Craig, who was murderer Perry Smith in "Infamous," has both the physicality and presence to make this film's more brutal, less suave Bond completely believable.

But while you buy Craig's cocky Bond as implacable and impervious to danger, you also believe him - and this is crucial - as a flesh-and-blood human being who can be physically hurt.


EVA GREEN: (As Vespar Lynd) You're not going to let me in there. You've got your armor back.

DANIEL CRAIG: (As James Bond) I have no armor left.


CRAIG: (As James Bond) You've stripped it from me.


TURAN: "Casino Royale" needs this rougher-edged 007 because this was the first Bond book Ian Fleming wrote. Though the plot has been updated to focus on terrorism, this is still the story of how the Bond of then became the Bond everyone knows.

Not all aspects of "Casino Royale" come off successfully. There is a disturbing torture sequence that makes a mockery out of the film's rating. If the words intense sequences of violent action, a scene of torture, sexual content and nudity don't exactly sound like the definition of PG-13 to you, you're probably not alone.

Filled with stunts so state of the art they are as exhausting as they are exhilarating, "Casino Royale" ends with words on screen you can take to the bank. James Bond, it says, will return. You can bet on it.

MONTAGNE: Kenneth Turan is film critic for MORNING EDITION and The Los Angeles Times.

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