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Casino Royale


Stars: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi Dench, Giancarlo Giannini, Jeffrey Wright

Director: Martin Campbell

Bond is back - back to the beginning, with a new adaptation of Ian Fleming's first novel, a TV version of which appeared as long ago as 1954. Bond, now hard-edged and slightly less sophisticated in the capable hands of grim-jawed, azure-eyed Daniel Craig, only wins his spurs as a double-0 agent with his first two kills at the start of the movie (although its events are now set in 2006).

In traditional style, the action - beginning with a muscle-busting if improbable chase across the cranes and scaffolding of a building site - sweeps from Uganda and the Bahamas, to Miami, Montenegro and Venice, as Bond trails international arms broker Le Chiffre (a lip-curling Mads Mikkelsen) and attempts to win several million dollars from him at the Casino Royale poker table.

This gives rise to just about the only old-fashioned Bondian quip in the script, after he's been poisoned with digitalis at the table, and saved only by beautiful Treasury watchdog Vesper Lynd (an unrecognisably sultry Eva Green, a French actress with almost perfect English). Returning to play after losing heavily earlier, he proclaims 'That last hand nearly killed me.'

There's a bit of a romantic lull before the slam-bang battle at the climax, but otherwise this is vintage stuff with action that looks as though it means it. It's also one of the most beautifully-dressed 007 films on record.

'I understand,' Bond tells M (still Judi Dench) at the beginning, 'that 00 agents have a very short life expectancy.' How wrong he was.

David Quinlan

UK/Czech Republic/Germany/US 2006. UK Distributor: Sony/Columbia/MGM. Colour by De Luxe.
144 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 11 Nov 2006