Bond franchise producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, widely regarded throughout the film industry as a pair of amiable chumps, tried to get several name actresses to play Daniel Craig‘s leading lady in the currently filming Casino Royale, but the agents and managers for these actresses counselled against it for one reason or another. (One of them being that they think the Bond franchise is on a downswirl these days.) But now Wilson-Broccoli finally have someone to play Vesper Lynd, and it’s Eva Green, last in Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven and before that in Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Dreamers. Green is an enticing, exotic, sparkly-eyed actress and a good fit, but throw her together with Craig, the recently-signed Mads Mikkkelsen (who’s playing Le Chiffre, the Bond villain) and Jeffrey Wright as 007 second-banana CIA agent Felix Leiter (a character who was first played by Jack Lord 45 years ago in Dr. No) and the prospect of Royale being regarded by audiences as a second-tier, no-star package all the way seems unavoidable. The only thing that has a chance of making a difference with forward-thinking types is the quality of it (if it manifests). The buzz will have to be that Casino Royale is the exception to the 007 rule — that it’s an origin story with an above-average script by Crash guy Paul Haggis, and that it’s not just a formula thing with the usual quips and explosions and a PG-13 notion of adult sexuality by way of a 1964 Playboy magazine sensibility. (Wilson has imposed restrictions on Bond screenwriters for years in order to keep the Bond franchise family-friendly.) If this doesn’t happen and the criteria of Wilson-Broccoli prevails, Casino Royale will be a flatliner and yet another nail in the coffin of a franchise that has been culturally and spiritually dead for a long time. It doesn’t mean a damn thing if it’s been financially profitabile…not a thing.