Casino Royale (2006, USA/GBR/GER/CZE) C-144m. SCOPE ** D: Martin Campbell. Starring Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright, Giancarlo Giannini, Caterina Murino, Jesper Christensen, Ivana Milicevic, Veruschka (von Lehndorf), Urbano Barberini, Richard Branson, Martin Campbell. Attempt at renewing the James Bond franchise with a new face (Craig). Title is lifted off Ian Fleming's first novel, with which this has fairly little in common, though. James Bond, at the outset of his career as a secret agent, goes after evil guy Mikkelsen, who is taking care of financial business for terrorists worldwide. It all climaxes in a game of poker with millions at stake, including Bond's new girlfriend Green. 21st Bond film is almost a disappointment, but not because of Craig, who is a tense and determined agent. The movie is long and talky(!), the bad guy nowhere near the classic Bond villains and two or three big action set-pieces are just not enough (although they are a wow, kudos to editor Stuart Baird). The producers should have stuck with Brosnan for one more Bond - with Quentin Tarantino as a director. Good title song by Chris Cornell (Soundgarden).

© Ron Altman