A gamble pays off. Daniel Craig, an aesthetically unlikely Bond, gives one of the year's best performances -- defying death and charming the pants off women onscreen and us offscreen, putting some muscle and humanity back into the atrophied spy archetype, his success buoyed by a literate and coherent script. See how much everyone benefits when a movie is well-composed and thoughtful, when it is written to us and not down to us? Casino Royale boasts some kick-ass sequences and scenes (the opening one, the first chase, the train conversation, the poker game) but the point is this: They all add up. Things fall into place gracefully and I found myself emotionally stunned during the film's climactic scene. Thrilled throughout. Delivered at the end. Two and half (short) hours in exotic locales with exciting people. Who could ask for anything more?