Vital Signs

Goodbye, Mr. Bond

Casino Royale
Produced by Barbara Broccoli, Andrew Noakes, and Anthony Waye
Directed by Martin Campbell
Screenplay by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and Paul Haggis
Based on the novel by Ian Fleming
Released by Columbia Pictures

It is with great trepidation and some sadness that I must announce that James Bond is dead.  Granted, there is a capable actor named Daniel Craig playing a character named James Bond in Casino Royale, the 21st “official” picture in the series, but there are major problems with the film.

I do not mean to say that Martin Campbell has made a bad movie—he has made an engaging postmodern thriller with some interesting characters and plenty of action.  This Bond is human, not a cartoonish cutout superhero whose adventures serve as an excuse for highlighting sci-fi gadgetry, leaving character and story by the narrative wayside—a stage the series has gone through a number of times in the past.  In that regard, Casino Royale is more akin to one of my personal favorites (including both the novels and the films), From Russia With Love.  The capable Mr. Campbell has not made a James Bond movie, however.  Indeed, the film’s creators were faced with an impossible task: to reinvent the Bond series, in effect restarting the timeline and narrative sequence in such a way as to engage...

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