The 21st official James Bond film crashed into theaters in '06 with great controversy over the casting of Daniel Craig. The main objection seemed to be that the guy is blonde – reverse discrimination, anyone? The franchise took a risk with Craig, an actor's actor known for his intense work in independent films like Enduring Love and The Mother .

Unlike Pierce Brosnan, who at times appears almost hermetically sealed in his skin, Craig brings a living, breathing humanity to the role of James Bond. Quite a reinvention of the character, Craig plays a very stirred Bond who bleeds, feels and howls at the moon – to my mind a welcome change.

The film opens with a fantastic chase scene and then takes us through three continents. Uganda, the Bahamas and especially, Montenegro provide beautiful and exotic backdrops for action and suspense that never lets up.

Eva Green dazzles as a luscious and more interesting love interest than the usual James Bond fare, and Judi Dench is a welcome familiar face as M. A roller coaster ride from start to finish, Casino Royale manages to keep the baby, but throw out the bathwater.

Grade: A