(This is the second version of this post. The first one disappeared into thin air when I tried to publish it. Thanks, blogger!)
Let me open by saying that I love Sean Connery as James Bond. ML and I went through a Bond phase where we rented all the Connerys and they were wonderful. Nobody can match the Great Scot in his signature role. It's a perfect fit, he's perfection and no one who's followed (Lazenby, Moore, Dalton, Brosnan or the new guy, more on him in a moment) will ever live up to that performance. Even in Never Say Never Again, he was still The Man. That said, I think Daniel Craig did alright as Bond. Let's face it, this guy's up against a lot...filling Connery's shoes (impossible, but I think he knew that and just went his own way with the role), being a relative unknown (in the States, because if you check his list of credits on IMDB you will see it's as long as my arm) and, of course, being blond (this is a real bone of contention for some, along the same lines as Renee Zellweger, a Texan, playing the veddy British Bridget Jones). Did you know there's a Daniel Craig is not Bond web site. There are some hard core people out there.
Although I've seen a lot of Bond films, I don't consider myself an authority by any stretch of the imagination. Here's what I'm basing my opinion on: all the Connerys (Goldfinger rocks), the one Lazenby (On Her Majesty's Secret Service with Diana Rigg. Saucy!) and one Dalton (I caught The Living Daylights on cable once. I think he was better in Flash Gordon, with the green tights). I've tried to watch Moore, but it just doesn't work for me. I fell asleep during Moonraker and simply could not get through A View to a Kill (Tanya Roberts! Christopher Walken! Grace Jones! Oh my!). As for Brosnan, I can't get past the whole Remington Steele thing. I keep expecting Stephanie Zimbalist to walk in and yell at him for something.
So, about Craig. He's not as suave as Connery, not as cheeky as Moore and not as dark haired as any of the other ones. He is rugged as hell and quite possibly the fittest man I have ever seen. (I realize that his body might have been a bit of a distraction for me, but as ML said "it's about time you chicks got a bit of beefcake.") Granted, it was clear that he did not seem at ease in The Suit, but how many guys truly feel like themselves in a tux. I'll tell you how many. Four: Connery as Bond, Cary Grant, George Clooney and my Dad. I'm not counting Fred Astaire because he always wore tails. I'm talking about your basic, classic, timeless tuxedo. Craig seemed most comfortable in those swim trunks, which is ok by me. By the way, am I the only one who thought of Ursula Andress in Dr. No the first time Craig burst out of the waters? Intentional or not, that was a good wink.
Other notes on the film: this is supposed to be the prequel, the one where we find out how Bond became Bond, right? Right. That would explain the dearth of fancy gadgets. All we got in this one was a car (not even an Aston Martin) outfitted with a very large gun, a syringe full of God knows what and a defibrilator. Sad. But I love, love, love Judi Dench as M, so much so that I think she should be given a franchise all her own, complete with a young boy Moneypenny. Are you listening, Mr. Broccoli? You can't give this woman enough screen time. The villain? Yeah, ok, he was alright with his inhaler and his bloody eye (literally bloody, not English "oh bloody hell" bloody.) He totally monlogued when he should have simply gotten on with the business of dispatching Bond. They always do, don't they? (best Bond/Villain exchange ever? Bond: Do you expect me to talk? Goldfinger: No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to DIE!"). Vesper Lynd? She sure did wear a lot of dark eye makeup. Her name should have been Smokey Eyes. She's no Pussy Galore, I'll say that much.
Did I walk in to Casino Royale with expectations of how true it would be to old school Bond? Not really. Like I said, I love Connery, but I'm not a rabid fan. I didn't grow up watching Bond films, I actually came to them a bit late, but I do understand how some people might feel upset or betrayed. The only thing that comes close to that for me is the Superman franchise. ( I did go see Superman Returns, but no matter how many new movies they make, Christopher Reeve will always be Superman to me. Sorry, Brandon Routh.) I will say that this film had a lot of great action and exotic locales (London, the Bahamas, Miami, Montenegro, Venice) to keep me interested, even if it did run a bit long (no thanks to the series of commercials shown before the actual previews. Capitalist bastards.) My point is this; if you want Connery, gadgets, babes and Q, then watch one of the Connery Bond films. However, if you want to see a well-built guy stripped naked, tied to a chair and tortured in a most unusual fashion, then by all means, this Bond's for you.