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Craig wins royal acclaim from critics

London, Nov. 13: The lofty verdict from film critics is that Daniel Craig cuts the MI6 mustard as the latest reincarnation of James Bond.

In the new remake of Casino Royale, the 38-year-old actor proves he can wield a Walther PPK with authority, play an ace high flush like a poker pro and leap from rooftops without a care for health and safety.

He even has his own Ursula Andress moment when he emerges from the waves in a pair of unconscionably snug swimming trunks that — nice detail — match his piercing cobalt eyes.

Needless to say, he gets the girl, but has he got what it takes to win over the women of Britain'

For James Bond is more than a mere fictional character. He is a totem of the nation’s identity, a testosterone-charged barometer of our sexual mores. Sean Connery’s serial 60s bed-hopping may be a thing of the past, but any secret agent worth his salt should make us wish it weren’t.

It’s not enough simply to see off Johnny Foreigner: 007 has to inspire our menfolk to lift their chins and raise their game. And, of course, he should leave otherwise sensible women nursing unspoken fantasies about being ravished by a wolfish trained killer in a bespoke tuxedo.

Unfortunately for fair-haired Craig, things have not augured well. When the former Our Friends in the North star beat hot favourites Clive Owen and Colin Farrell to this iconic role, there was widespread dismay.

There was even, briefly, a dedicated anti-Craig website featuring such lively comments as: “Why choose this putridly ugly man as Bond'” and “He looks like a charmless Big Issue vendor”.

Subsequently, though, he’s allegedly been bloodied by losing a tooth filming his first fight scene and has emerged as a 007 with a compelling on-screen presence. He’s got a lot to live up to.

In the 44 years since the first adaptation of Fleming’s novels, five actors have tried to capture the essence of this very British secret agent, while also reflecting the zeitgeist.

So has Craig got it' I’m going out on a limb here, but I would say he has. I suspect there was a touch of genius at work in the counter-intuitive casting of Craig. OK, so he’s not darkly handsome – in fact, he looks more like a Chechnyan baddie than a vodka martini-sipping smoothie.

But his hypnotic blue gaze and air of damaged vulnerability do it for me every time.

And besides (whisper it!), every girl has a soft spot for a baddie. Especially one in a Savile Row tux.

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