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James Bond's Best and Worst: Peter Travers Ranks All 24 Movies

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'Casino Royale' (2006)


Casino Royale
©Sony Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection
4/24

The only Bond to rival best-in-show Connery is rugged, jug-eared Daniel Craig, a Brit livewire who reinvigorated the series for a new century. Casino Royale was the first of Fleming's Bond series, making it the ideal place to start the wheel spinning anew. Director Martin Campbell acts like the other Bond movies never existed. We're back at square one, only the time is now, the fantasy is limited and the story is anchored in reality. Q, with his gadgets and invisible cars, is nowhere to be seen. Casino Royale uncovers something unique in the 007 dossier: an unformed secret-agent man, lacking polish, vulnerable to violence and helplessly lost in love with Eva Green's Vesper Lynd. She's a British treasury operative sent to stake Bond at the poker tables against Le Chiffre (a sublimely wicked Mads Mikkelsen), a banker who launders money for terrorists. A train scene in which Bond and Vesper attempt to guess each other's past histories trumps its comic zing with romantic gravity. Craig gives us Bond in the fascinating act of inventing himself.


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