New James Bond blonder, younger, better than past

“This may be too hard for a blunt instrument to understand,” James Bond’s boss, M, tells him.

But there is something that is not hard to comprehend: the Bond franchise is back and better than ever.

The past three Bond films have been littered with terrible computer graphics, misplaced, flash-in-the-pan actresses and idiotic world domination plots. But after a four-year hiatus, the Brits have made a comeback with a newer, younger and blonder 007 in “Casino Royale.”

What makes this Bond movie better than most of the 20 predecessors I’ve seen is that it is a departure from the standard, high-action, pre-title sequence: meet the girl, get betrayed, save the world and sleep with the girl again.

The film begins in black & white, with Daniel Craig as Bond sneaking into an office in Prague. There he meets a man who is somewhat close to him and his organization, MI6. Bond tells the man, who has a hidden gun nearby, how he killed the man’s associate, and then he kills the man.

The movie is about how Bond first came to be the James Bond we all know, so the two men were his first kills. Hence the title, double-0.

From that point – well, after the playing card-theme opening credits – the film takes the audience on a ride from Uganda to the Bahamas to Venice (to name a few locales) with loads of beautiful scenery, seductive women and brutal fights and stunts.

One of the best, if not the very best, sequences in Royale was the chase between Bond and a bomb maker named Mollaka, who is played by French freestyle walker Sebastien Foucan. I don’t know what made Bond producers cast Foucan, but thank God they did.

Once he realizes he is being tailed, Mollaka darts away, leading Bond on a chase through a Madagascan jungle, construction site and embassy. Thanks to Foucan’s harness-free acrobatics, Mollaka leaps to daring heights, jumps from impossible distances and tightropes along a crane that dangled higher than the tops of most of the surrounding buildings. Long story short, bullets were dodged, prisoners were taken and it all ended in an explosive manner.

M later assigns Bond to go to Montenegro to play a $150 million game of Texas Hold’em against a man named Le Chiffre.

Le Chiffre is a stockbroker of sorts, who takes terrorists’ money and buys company stocks. Once the stocks earn more money, he sells the stocks before that company suffers a certain accident.

Crippled by the accident, the company’s stock falls and the man behind the accident, Le Chiffre, comes away with a considerable amount, narrowly thwarting the company’s bankruptcy.He gives the extra money back to the terrorists while taking a cut for himself.

On his way to Montenegro, Bond meets the accountant responsible for giving him his $15 million buy in. Vesper Lynd departs from the previous Bond girls by wanting nothing to do with Bond besides making sure he wins the game.

But of course, Bond woos his way into her dress, they handle a major problem and they live happily ever after-until the two arrive in Venice. The problem Bond and Lynd thought they stopped came back to bite them hard, and the movie does not quite end on as happy a note as the previous 20 Bond films. Much to the dismay of numerous Internet petitions and disgruntled Bond fans against Craig being cast, Craig is Bond. There is no doubt about it.

Craig throws away the comic book feel that sullied the Bond reputation, but managed to make Bond likeable and humorous when the situation is appropriate-and even when it is not.With all the heart-pounding action, double-crossing and near-death experiences, I must agree with Bond when he said, “That last hand almost killed me.”