The Sunday Express,
UK Film Critic
Henry Fitzherbert On Craig:
The Fun Has Gone Out of Bond

SUNDAY EXPRESS - 14/05/2006

By Henry Fitzherbert FILM CRITIC

Rugged Bond? You mean silly and unkempt, complain fans

HIS name, of course, is Bond, James Bond. But is the world ready to accept a bland

The first glimpse of Daniel Craig as the new 007 has failed to quell the growing
uproar over the actor's controversial casting. Last week an official trailer for Casino
Royale was released over the internet and Bond fans gave Craig - and the movie -
the thumbs-down. Craig's haggard appearance and wooden delivery came under
fire, while the film itself has received criticism for being a generic action movie rather
than a true Bond adventure.

A website established by Bond fans upset at Craig's casting, CraigNotBond. com,
derided his appearance. It said he ranged from "silly (in sunglasses) to absolutely
red-eyed, unkempt and haggard (in tuxedo). He couldn't look any worse." As for his
delivery, it said: "We get to hear Craig speak as Bond which is about as exciting as
watching paint dry."

Criticism has not been confined to anti-Craig campaigners, however. The popular
film website JoBlo. com commented: "The film really doesn't look or feel like a Bond
flick any more." It added that Craig appeared to have only one facial expression, that
of "sucking on a lemon".

A poll of AOL users has also given the trailer the thumbs-down, with over half of
those questioned saying they did not like it, citing Craig as the main reason. Craig,
37-year-old star of Layer Cake, replaced Pierce Brosnan whose last outing as 007,
Die Another Day, was the highest grossing Bond film ever.

Little has gone right for the actor since he was lambasted for turning up at his first
press conference by speedboat wearing a lifejacket and complaining of being
scared. Since then, he has had two front teeth knocked out in a fight scene,
developed prickly heat in the Caribbean sun and had to be taught how to play poker.
It was also reported that he could not drive manual cars and Bond's Aston Martin
DB5 had to be converted to automatic.

To compound matters, he has antagonised fans by proclaiming his reluctance to
take on the role in the first place, hinting he was only doing it for the money. He said:
"I never really wanted to do James Bond. I want to make big movies and as much
money as I possibly can, but there is not a tremendous emotional challenge."

The film's makers, Eon, are attempting to relaunch the franchise with a tougher,
grittier and more realistic film in the manner of the popular Bourne spy films with
Matt Damon.

The opening sequence, which is partly based on Ian Fleming's novel, is shot in
black and white and shows Bond assassinating two people, earning his 00 " licence
to kill" status. The film then depicts his transformation into a cold, cynical killing
machine after his love affair with Eva Green's Vesper Lynd goes disastrously wrong.

The trailer features scenes of violent hand-to-hand combat and some stunning stunt
work, notably a leap on to a girder high above the ground.

But, in the view of this critic, Craig looks ill at ease in the role, lacking Bond's
customary urbanity and wit. More worryingly for Bond fans, the fun appears to have
gone out of the series.