In this document, I will be critically analysing how Casino Royale (2006, Martin Campbell) reinvented the Bond series and how it took its alternate approach to the conventions of Bond while still reliving the original traditions as seen in the previous Bonds. In 2002, Pierce Brosnan’s final Bond film “Die Another Day” (Lee Tamohori) came out. Leaving speculation of who was next in line to play the role of James Bond and what it would look like. Then 4 years later Casino Royale was released starring Daniel Craig as the new James Bond.
The film starts off in black and white with a slow conversation with Bonds next target in order to claim his licence to kill. I think the choice of black and white colouring is the perfect way to introduce the new Bond as it almost pays homage to previous bonds and how slow they can seem in comparison to some of the set pieces seen in this film. While paying homage to the older Bond films it also shows a flashback to James Bond killing his first target in a ruthless brawl with the man in the bathroom showing them breaking through cubicles and smashing against glass and ending with him trying to drown him alive. Unfortunately, the guy gets back up but ends with the new Bond once again paying homage to the older bonds with the classic turn and shoot pose. This scene is a great way to introduce the new James Bond as it shows his brutality, his intelligence and his style but most importantly gives way to the next set piece in the film which does all of these things but on a much larger scale which leaves James Bond fans in shock at how explosive it is.
The next set piece takes place in Madagascar and has Bond chase down a bomb maker through a construction site and then an embassy. Once again showing Bonds Intellect, he recognises that the man he is chasing is much faster and much more agile so he uses his intelligence to keep up with him. This includes using machinery and other methods of action to catch him like climbing up cranes to reach new heights instead of having to climb up walls. This scene also shows his incredible hand-to-hand combat while fighting the terrorist on top of a crane. Compared to some of the set pieces depicted in earlier Bond films, Casino Royale brings a whole new spectrum of action to the series in this scene with parts like Bond jumping from one crane to another and my personal favourite showing the terrorist jump through a tiny gap to get through a wall but Bond just runs through the wall once again showing his strength. The shot composition for this set piece is done very well making sure you can see every single iconic detail like a very long shot for when Bond and the terrorist jump long distances. Another thing I picked up on is the fact that they reuse shots for both characters but for this type of introduction it works very well. Take the part where Bond runs through the wall as an example, agreed they do reuse the shot but it once again shows the new style that Daniel Craig has claimed as the new Bond and shows his intellect in comparison to the man he is chasing down all at the same time. One other key thing I picked up on is after finally catching the terrorist at the embassy, during the standoff with all the troops he remains very calm and chilled even after having a dozen guns pointed at him.
Next, we’ll talk about the villain and how he is introduced. He is first introduced in Africa in a business deal with some freedom fighters. From this scene, you can tell that he’s quite legit with the fancy clothes and after detailing the amount of money he has provided for others. In the next scene, he’s in, he is playing poker with a few guests on a yacht. This scene also shows the weeping blood with his eye and states that it just comes from a derangement of tear duct and its “Nothing Sinister”. This scene also details his talent for poker as he goes all in and explicitly details how low his guest’s chances are of winning while looking him dead in the eye. After analysing Casino Royale though I like to think that Le Chiffre isn’t a very villainous character. Obviously, he executes villainous tasks like poisoning James Bond and the obvious exception of his activities with money and such but other than that I wouldn’t necessarily say that Le Chiffre is evil. However, the idea of the crying blood out of his eye paints the picture of Le Chiffre is always hurting due to the business he is involved in. For example, the scene where the freedom fighters turn up at his hotel room shows the fact that he is just a man who doesn’t have a licence to kill or great combat experience but is just a regular guy that’s good at poker and with money. This helps back up my idea that he isn’t necessarily evil.
Possibly the biggest way that Casino Royale reinvents the James Bond films is with its new depiction of the Bond character. Daniel Craig does an incredible job of playing the spy with a licence to kill. He brings more terror to the character in a sense that his version of James Bond feels more dangerous and thrilling as seen in some of the action pieces. However, at the same time he does feel more fragile and easier to hurt. For example, he very easily gets poisoned and while he does have great skill in combat, he does seem to have too many close calls during fights. There’s also the fact at how hard he tries to save Vesper from drowning, almost resulting in him drowning as well. For a character like James Bond though, I think it works well as it shows that he’s not the perfect man whose good at everything. Instead, he’s rational, emotional and whose actions have consequences.
One of the other larger set pieces in Casino Royale is the gun fight in Venice with the collapsing building. At this point during the film, we discover that Vesper, the woman that James Bond has fallen for has betrayed Bond and has taken the money. After following her through Venice and catching her in the act. He then chases her into a building under construction. Soon after, the building starts to collapse into water and leaves Vesper trapped in the lift and drowning. Not only is this yet another huge set piece and once again showing the extent of high octane action that the Bond films could reach. I believe that the crashing building could represent Bond’s and Vesper’s crumbling relationship after the discovery of the betrayal.
I believe that one of the ways that Casino Royale reinvents the bond series is through the themes and the style that it uses. For example, as previously mentioned, one thing that Casino Royale that no other bond film has is its brutal action scenes. However, one of the major themes that Casino Royale also discusses is trust and how in James Bond’s line of work you can’t trust anyone as more than one character turns out to betray Bond including his love interest Vesper. This works well for this film though as he only just earns his licence to kill at the start of the film so it seems quite early in his career. This film is also quite dark compared to the others. As mentioned, one of the major themes seems to be betrayal but there is also an underlying theme of loss and loneliness with the death of Vesper and how Bond tries to keep a brave face after trying to save her.