It’s been a while since I first saw this film in theatres and I recall being impressed with the toughness and style of the last version of Bond. The opening chase segment (the black runner is specially credited upfront) is probably the most visceral of any in the series. Craig ‘proves’ his toughness and endurance from the beginning.
There are several other strong sequences including a memorable stairwell fight, the torture scene (not recommended for kids), and the climactic collapsing Venice palazzo scene. Director Martin Campbell does not disappoint on that score. Certainly the fantasy violence is way over-the-top, but formulaically keep up the viewer interest ever-so-often. The Bond girl in this one, Eva Green, though not conventionally beautiful like some of the former girls, is an interesting character who intrigues Bond beyond the surface from the get-go. For his own part, Mads Mikkelsen’s Le Schifre makes a good villain appearance-wise, but he is weak in the non-casino scenes, especially in his final moments.
There are definitely quite a few surprises, though, no doubt contributed by co-screenplay writer Paul Haggis of Crash fame. So although the pic runs for 144 mins., it is not noticeably long, given the number of plot twists and turns. The card games are reasonably engaging, even for someone not familiar with them. But much of the movie depends on the look and choices of Craig’s protagonist. he certainly is more physical than Fleming’s original creation, but, sensibility-wise and convincingly, he appeals more to audiences in our times than any previous version. In many ways, this Bond forgoes the pretty boy Remington Steele version or the humorous Sean Connery version for something in the same vein as Timothy Dalton, but much further beyond that take.
“Daniel Craig is the best Bond in the franchise’s history” opined a New York critic when this movies came out in 2006. I would have to second that. Of all the Bonds, this would be the one Bond to check out if you have not seen it. Two thumbs up.