4) 2006’s Casino Royale
Few, if any, Bond movies have received as much immediate positive press as Casino Royale. Critics and fans tripped over themselves trying to praise Daniel Craig’s gritty, jarring performance as many times and in as many ways as possible. And rightfully so. Craig’s 007 is vicious, aggressive and enchanting. He’s the perfect man for this role at this specific moment in time, but beyond him, there are actually a ton of other things about Casino Royale that really work.

The chemistry between Bond and Eva Green’s Vesper Lynd is among the best in the history of the franchise. Apart from Tracy, she’s the only woman who I’ve ever thought Bond could truly retire and be happy with. She pushes back, reads him as well as he reads anyone else and acts quickly and efficiently under pressure. Beyond her, Le Chiffre, while not a super villain of the Blofeld variety, works very well as a man with as much or more to lose than Bond and the scene where Bond flips his car is quite possibly the visually shocking stunt we’ve ever seen from the franchise.

Director Martin Campbell’s direction also deserves special note for how well he handles the momentum. Bond films typically contain about twenty minutes of unnecessary footage. Casino Royale, as the longest entry, should suffer the same problem, but it doesn’t. Its 144 minutes fly by, and just the right amount of poker footage is included to give viewers an idea of what’s going on without coming off like late night ESPN.

007 needed to be rebooted at some point. We needed to see him earn his 007 stripes, and I’m really glad it happened here.

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