Though Bond is still some ways off from being a film I would find truly appealing, as both a character drama and a political thriller/intrigue, Casino Royale is probably the best I’m going to get for some time to come. That seems like a rather lukewarm response, but as far as mainstream action thrillers, there is only one film of the type I rank higher in this decade, and I like both dearly. The film begins with a bang, and sustains that energy throughout, and what I especially like about the pacing and tone is that the energy is maintained mostly through a fluctuating range of emotions. Beyond perhaps OHMSS, which I like for Rigg, this Bond story has the most “heart” and Craig has the acting chops to channel a complex set of aggression, bravura, candor and heartbreak with a great deal of nuance and believability. Eva Green matches him in every way, and together they seem to shift gears in the franchise, making the set pieces and action scenes well executed afterthoughts, while the strength and complexity of their relationship takes priority as the film’s narrative interest. In many ways, this film exceeds what we have come to expect from a franchise that has recently been floundering, but also succeeds at accomplishing the classic Bond-isms with a great deal of skill and surprise.