As part of my family's Thanksgiving celebration, we went out to see Casino Royale.
I'll admit, I wasn't sure what to expect. I know that the casting of Daniel Craig caused quite a hullaballoo (a blond-haired, blue-eyed Bond? Sacrilege, apparently) and I had heard some good buzz about it before we went.
I have to say, this may be my favorite Bond movie. Now granted, I've only seen the Pierce Brosnan movies, so my experience with Bond is a bit limited, but even still, I found this movie superior to any of the recent ones.
Why? I thought that Craig's portrayal of Bond was a bit more realistic. He was merciless when he had to be and completely shut down emotionally, yet was still able to act human and display a sharp wit when the situation demanded it. This James Bond is more human than the last versions.
Not only that, but I appreciated the retooling of the Bond genre. By "retooling", I mean blasting down to bedrock and starting from the ground up. Gone are the over-the-top gadgets. Gone (thankfully) are the stupid, punny names for the Bond girls (that convention outlasted its welcome with Dr. Christmas Jones and the awful way Bond used her name in a pun. I can't remember how it went exactly, and I'm thankful for that little bit of amnesia). Gone are the insane supervillains trying to take over, if not the whole world, then a significant chunk of it.
Instead, we have a Bond grounded in reality. Like I said, the plot didn't involve stopping some convoluted plan to seize control of the world (which would then be evicerated in certain parodies). Instead, it seemed like a perfectly reasonable problem and, while playing Texas Hold 'Em seems like an odd way to solve it, it made sense.
I suppose when you come right down to it, there are times when franchises need to be restarted, so to speak. They need to be stripped of their out-dated conventions and revamped for the modern age. I know that Marvel and DC comics do that all the time with their heroes; it makes sense to do so with other cultural icons as well.
The trick, I think, is to make sure people understand it's a break from the old and an establishment of the new. If this had been a new entry into the existing Bond canon, it wouldn't have made sense. But if this is a complete rebooting of Bond, then it worked perfectly well. You just have to make sure you're doing a rebooting and not a prequel, or else any changes you make to the canon will be very, very bad.
Case in point.