New Bond in a bleak world

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 December, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 December, 2006, 12:00am

The new James Bond movie Casino Royale is perhaps the darkest and most violent instalment of the spy franchise.

It opens with a black-and-white sequence of a newly-promoted and panting Bond (Daniel Craig) murdering the first victim of his 007 career.

He first savagely drowns him in the washbasin, and then shoots him in the head. This is a sequence designed not to entertain but to shock. Welcome to a world of terror.

Director Martin Campbell clearly wants to reinvent the genre. We come to hate 007 as much as we admire him by the end of the film. This new Bond, thanks to the stony face of Craig, has the look of a man who would not hesitate to strangle his grandmother if she stood in his way.

As a film hero, he is killing for the good of mankind. But he employs means and methods that will give those who are wishing for a better world in 2007 little comfort.

The villain Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen) is a banker who has little ambition other than investing the terrorists' money in airline stocks.

After Bond foils his plan to blow up an aeroplane, Le Chiffre sets up a poker tournament at a casino in Montenegro in an attempt to recoup his loss in the stock market.

He is an incredibly pitiful character - where else has the bad guy in an action movie been hassled by loansharks?

The point of Casino Royale is that there is no winner. No one can live happily ever after.

The world remains as bleak and chaotic as ever after the belated ending. The movie is about half an hour too long, allowing Bond to fall in love for the first and final time of his life.

Even the beautiful Eva Green's presence as a Bond girl doesn't lift the gloom from the movie.

Unlike Bond films of the past, this one portrays the coming-of-age of an emotionless killing machine, rather than a cool hero in the mould of Roger Moore, Sean Connery or Pierce Brosnan.

Welcome to the real world, Bond, Craig's James Bond.