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Bond begins blonde

Bond is back, and the trademark dark hair is gone. Not since Roger Moore has there been a blonde Bond, but the change of actors also brings about a total revamping of the Bond franchise.

While the last several movies sacrificed plot for over-budgeted special effects and stunts, Casino Royale ditches that pattern and goes back to a solid story based on the Ian Fleming novel of the same name.

The film opens with James Bond [Daniel Craig] getting his first two kills, as he confronts a mole inside MI6, the British Secret Service. Those two kills give him double-0 status, presenting him with a license to kill. He immediately abuses his privilege and shoots up an embassy looking for an informant. M [Judi Dench], the boss of MI6, tells him to take a break and lay low.

Bond takes his leave, and uses it to follow a lead from the now dead informant. It leads him to Miami, where he discovers a threat to blow up a prototype super plane. But this plot was only a set up, and Bond discovers a deeper scheme, invoving a terrorist bank network headed up by Le Chiffre [Mads Mikkelsen].

Director Martin Campbell (who also directed GoldenEye and The Mask of Zorro) takes Bond back to his roots. No longer a stone-faced agent of justice, Bond bares his soul and shows his flaws in moments of weakness.

Campbell upholds a frenetic pace, which slows down to a crawl for a poker match that goes on several hands too long. After the slow middle, Casino Royale picks up the pace again for the remaining third.

Bond?s conversations with his boss, M, give for some of the funniest moments in the movie, as he enjoys toying with her and breaks into her house.

Casino Royale is a fast paced, hard hitting action movie, showing that a skyrocketing stunt budget does not a great movie guarantee. Craig brings a quality back to Bond that many are comparing to Sean Connery, and has critics hailing Casino Royale as the best Bond movie in years.

However, this movie is not for everyone. As it is rated PG-13, parents may find that some of the violence portrayed in the movie may be too much for younger children.

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