Be careful what you gamble on.
Many have imitated, but there is only one Bond... James Bond. Although various actors have played the lead character of this aging franchise, and the mother studio of Bond (MGM) has been sold and revamped, there is still a breath of hope left in this spy's game. It comes in the form of Daniel Craig and an innovative approach to the script, which makes this incarnation far more contemporary.
First, don't confuse the 2006 Casino Royale with the 1960s spoof of the same name. This outing is serious business--in fact, it's the most "down to business" Bond I can recall. Yet even with less flippant humor, more blood and (gasp!) less sex, this episode will still capture viewers. But this time the tools of the trade are smart writing, astounding performances (Craig being the kingpin) and a polishing of that classic 007 style.
Ironically, this film is based on the first book written by Bond's creator Ian Fleming. The story recounts the secret agent's initial mission where he takes on Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), a financier for freedom fighters and terrorists. All the bullets and fistfights eventually lead to a high-stakes poker game in which the super sleuth, with the backing of the UK government and the watchful eye of their beautiful treasury officer Vesper (Eva Green), puts taxpayers' money on the line in the hopes of breaking up Le Chiffre's evil network.
Parents of teens wanting to view this action/adventure should know there is both good and bad news. From the moment of the opening credits (which are missing the typical silhouette of a nude woman) you know this Bond is a little different. That's not to say the film is devoid of sex, but the quantity is toned down. The covert operator has a sexual relationship with only one woman, and he is even depicted as having feelings for her. (Welcome to the new, sensitive Bond.) However, violence is still as rampant as ever, with hand-to-hand combat, gunshots and a scene of torture. Yet, adding a dose of mortality to the usually unbeatable character, this Bond bleeds -- even quite profusely in one scene.
And perhaps that's what will make this film more appealing to 21st century audiences. Having a suave, cool and sophisticated hero can be a little boring sometimes, so this movie allows him to make the occasional mistake and stumble while chasing the bad guy. Women have been promoted from being mere sex objects to becoming sexual distractions... okay, that's not a huge improvement. Still, compared to the last few installments of 007, Casino Royale may prove a better bet. Whether or not you should share it with your oldest teens though, is still a gamble.