On one of the busiest travel days of the year, I was able to meet with three college friends and fellow Bond fans at the Loews on 34th Street, and boy, was it worth it.
In contrast to the winking, smirking, quipping Bond we can thank Roger Moore for, Daniel Craig's Bond is a doer. He chases down baddies, charges into fights, shoots first, jokes almost never, and is completely convincing.
The breathless pace makes for some great jaw-dropping moments. My only complaint, in fact, is that the pace slows in the middle, with Bond considering leaving MI6 to "float around the world" with Vesper Lynd. You know that's not gonna happen. Get on with it.
I had been concerned about the presence of Judi Dench's M. In GoldenEye, she was the new boss, calling Bond "a sexist, misogynist dinosaur, a relic of the Cold War."
In Casino Royale Dench plays the old guard adapting to Bond as the newest Double-0. "God," she says, "I miss the Cold War."
And it works.
Bond villains, Bond girls, and Bond allies have all become clichés. Casino Royale is a chance to throw everything out and believe this is the first woman who got to Bond, this is his first meeting with CIA's Felix Leiter, this is the first megalomaniac he's ever faced.
And I have to mention a torture scene where Craig proves he's more man than any Bond since Connery. What do I mean? Go see.
I came away from the movie wanting to be James Bond.