Get local news delivered straight to your phone

We can't make City Paper without you

$
$
$

Your contribution is appreciated.

During a strategic lull in the action of Casino Royale, a bartender throws James Bond (Daniel Craig) a question that, in days of yore, would have been considered a softball. Would the gentleman prefer his martini shaken or stirred? “Do I look like I care?” comes the snarling reply. Welcome to the latest upgrade of Ian Fleming’s 007—let’s call him 2-007—a strapping, chesty, aerobic fellow who seems to have given up gin and olives for Muscle Milk. Craig does more running in the movie’s opening action sequence than Roger Moore did over seven Bond pictures, and one shudders to imagine an early-’70s Sean Connery carrying off the nude torture sequence with quite the same aplomb. This James Bond is hot, folks, and for about an hour or so, Casino Royale has as much vigor as its leading man. A wild chase across the wastes of Uganda gives way to an epic chase across the wastes of the Miami airport; actual contusions begin to grace the canvas of Bond’s face; and although the usual quotas of women and minorities are sacrificed, director Martin Campbell, an old hand at the series, seems to have acquired an itchy trigger finger as Bond stalks a terrorist financier through the gambling salons of Montenegro. Where does the film begin to lose both its shake and its stir? Somewhere in the third or fourth poker sequence, where the suspicion arises that Bond’s real ambition is to be the Cincinnati Kid. Things only go off the rails, though, when Bond murmurs the words “I love you” to Vesper Lynd (the pallid Eva Green), who is either his accountant or an inexpensive mode of transportation. The mission of Casino Royale is to capture Bond at the dawn of his career—he has only just earned the double 0—but there is nothing remotely green in the relief map of Daniel Craig’s face, and one can’t help thinking that if producer Barbara Broccoli really wants to jump-start her dad’s old franchise, she should take her cue from Craig’s lapis lazuli eyes, which promise to explore the costs of insouciance right down to their icy blue core. James Bond, meet Tom Ripley. —Louis Bayard