The idiots at FOXNews.com are already heralding the "bad news for Daniel Craig" as Happy Feet just barely beats Casino Royale at the box office. Nevermind that the kiddie flick opened on nearly 400 more screens than the Bond film and that it cashes in on America's continued love affair with penguins in the wake of that other penguin movie. And never mind that Daniel Craig is a relatively fresh face replacing a very popular actor in the title role. None of this matters. The fact that his movie only made $40,600,000 in its opening weekend spells trouble for Mr. Craig.
I went to see the 21st Bond film yesterday, and I can tell you that it is unequivocally the best Bond project produced in my lifetime. And mind you, that isn't an easy thing for me to admit. Pierce Brosnan is something of a holy cow in my household. We own Remington Steele on DVD (and you should too). I also love him in The Matador, The Tailor of Panama, The Thomas Crowne Affair, and Mrs. Doubtfire, and he was, without a doubt, the best Bond since Sean Connery. But while Brosnan had command of the character, the franchise that carried him grew more and more ludicrous. GoldenEye was the best of his run, but the others were utterly unbelievable at every turn.
Believability is what makes Casino Royale so refreshing. While there are a few modest gadgets, this is a film about style and attitude, blood and brawn, sex and wit, and it soars. In fact it's only real weakness is that it doesn't quite know when to quit. A la Lord of the Rings, we get three endings. But that's a minor quibble.
I've heard that this was the kind of Bond film Brosnan always wanted to make. I'm sure it is, but somehow, I'm not sure it would have suited him anyway. I believe Craig's physicality more than Brosnan's. He craggier. I can't picture Brosnan's Bond pulling up to a Bahamas resort in Ford, but that's just what Craig's Bond does. It's a really humorous nod to the change in direction.
I'm honestly surprised that this movie is as good as it is. Producer Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson are famously stubborn and unchanging in their conception of what a Bond film should be. They deserve a lot of credit for allowing this reboot, for giving the creatives a chance to push Bond in a new direction.
Anyway, I really liked this movie. I've always said that if I had to do a franchise film someday, I'd want to do a Bond film. And this is just the kind of Bond film I would have wanted to make. Here's hoping the next 21 will be as good.