History, Legacy & Showmanship

Rebooting Bond: Remembering “Casino Royale” on its 10th Anniversary

November 17, 2016 - 9:27 am   |   by
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Casino Royale saved Bond.” — 007 historian and documentarian John Cork

The Digital Bits is pleased to present this retrospective commemorating the 10th anniversary of the release of Casino Royale, the 21st (official) cinematic James Bond adventure and, most notably, the first to star Daniel Craig as Agent 007.

As with our previous 007 articles (see For Your Eyes Only, Thunderball, GoldenEye, A View to a Kill, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Goldfinger, and 007… Fifty Years Strong), The Bits and History, Legacy & Showmanship continue the series with this retrospective featuring a Q&A with an esteemed group of James Bond scholars, documentarians and historians who discuss the virtues and shortcomings of Casino Royale. [Read on here...]

The participants (in alphabetical order)…

John Cork is the author (with Collin Stutz) of James Bond Encyclopedia (DK, 2007) and (with Bruce Scivally) James Bond: The Legacy (Abrams, 2002) and (with Maryam d’Abo) Bond Girls Are Forever: The Women of James Bond (Abrams, 2003). He is the president of Cloverland, a multi-media production company, producing documentaries and supplemental material for movies on DVD and Blu-ray, including material for Chariots of Fire, The Hustler, and many of the James Bond and Pink Panther titles. Cork also wrote the screenplay to The Long Walk Home (1990), starring Whoopi Goldberg and Sissy Spacek. He recently wrote and directed the feature documentary You Belong to Me: Sex, Race and Murder on the Suwannee River for producers Jude Hagin and Hillary Saltzman (daughter of original Bond producer, Harry Saltzman); the film is available on iTunes, Google Play and other streaming platforms.

John Cork

Bill Desowitz is the author of James Bond Unmasked (Spies, 2012). He is the owner of Immersed in Movies, a contributor to Thompson on Hollywood at Indiewire and contributing editor of Animation Scoop at Indiewire. He has also contributed to the Los Angeles Times and USA Today.

Bill Desowitz

Lisa Funnell is the author (with Klaus Dodds) of The Geographies, Genders, and Geopolitics of James Bond (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017) and editor of For His Eyes Only: The Women of James Bond (Wallflower, 2015). She is Assistant Professor, Women’s and Gender Studies Program and Affiliate Faculty, Film and Media Studies Program at the University of Oklahoma. Her other books include Warrior Women: Gender, Race, and the Transnational Chinese Action Star (State University of New York, 2014), (with Man-Fung Yip) American and Chinese-Language Cinemas: Examining Cultural Flows (Routledge, 2015) and (with Philippa Gates) Transnational Asian Identities in Pan-Pacific Cinemas: The Reel Asian Exchange (Routledge, 2012).

Lisa Funnell

Lee Pfeiffer is the author (with Philip Lisa) of The Incredible World of 007: An Authorized Celebration of James Bond (Citadel, 1992) and The Films of Sean Connery (Citadel, 2001), and (with Dave Worrall) The Essential Bond: The Authorized Guide to the World of 007 (Boxtree, 1998/Harper Collins, 1999). He also wrote (with Michael Lewis) The Films of Harrison Ford (Citadel, 2002) and (with Dave Worrall) The Great Fox War Movies (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, 2006). Lee was a producer on the Goldfinger and Thunderball Special Edition LaserDisc sets and is the founder (with Dave Worrall) and Editor-in-Chief of Cinema Retro magazine, which celebrates films of the 1960s and 1970s and is “the Essential Guide to Cult and Classic Movies.”

Lee Pfeiffer

Bruce Scivally is the author (with John Cork) of James Bond: The Legacy (Abrams, 2002). He has also written Superman on Film, Television, Radio & Broadway (McFarland, 2006), Billion Dollar Batman: A History of the Caped Crusader on Film, Radio and Television from 10¢ Comic Book to Global Icon (Henry Gray, 2011), and Dracula FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About the Count from Transylvania (Backbeat, 2015). As well, he has written and produced numerous documentaries and featurettes that have appeared as supplemental material on LaserDisc, DVD and Blu-ray Disc, including several of the Charlie Chan, James Bond, and Pink Panther releases. He is Vice President of New Dimension Media in Chicago, Illinois.

Bruce Scivally

The interviews were conducted separately and have been edited into a “roundtable” conversation format.

And now that the participants have been introduced, might I suggest preparing a martini (shaken, not stirred, of course) and cueing up the soundtrack album to Casino Royale, and then enjoy the conversation with these James Bond authorities.

An image from Casino Royale

Michael Coate (The Digital Bits): In what way is Casino Royale worthy of celebration on its 10th anniversary?

John Cork: Casino Royale saved Bond. The safe thing to do after Die Another Day would have been to make another Brosnan film, stick to that formula which pleased a lot of viewers, but like with the Roger Moore films in the 1980s, that was a path of diminishing returns. With all the studio chaos erupting between the 2002 and 2006, an unsuccessful Bond film could have permanently wounded the series. Casino Royale was filled with brave, risky choices that thankfully paid off. On a whole other level, the film returned Bond to Ian Fleming. This was not done with a small homage here or there, but with remarkable respect for the original novel in the second half of the film. That, for me, is a huge part of why it succeeds and why it should be celebrated.

Bill Desowitz: Casino Royale is pivotal not only because it was the franchise holy grail to finally adapt Ian Fleming’s first Bond novel, but also because it introduced an origin story and a character arc. After 40-plus years, the focus was finally on Bond, and Daniel Craig humanized and demystified him, delving into his troubled psyche and providing a rare glimpse into the “taciturn mask.” Now we finally witnessed more fully the consequences of having a license to kill and living with death every day. Timothy Dalton’s Bond was actually a middle-aged precursor: burned out and emotionally raw and vengeful in his second outing. However, Craig’s newbie Bond explored the blunt instrument and diamond in the rough. He didn’t have all of the answers — he was reckless and impulsive and unsure of his place in the world. It was refreshing and vital in making Bond more relevant in the post 9/11 world.

Lisa Funnell: Much like GoldenEye in the 1990s, Casino Royale helped to reignite interest in the Bond franchise in the 2000s after a four-year hiatus. The film not only updates but also recalibrates many key elements of the Bond brand while introducing the iconic superspy to a new generation of filmgoers.

Lee Pfeiffer: Casino Royale is a vitally important film in the James Bond canon. Although the series was still very popular, the 2002 entry Die Another Day turned off purists and hardcore fans with its over-the-top plot devices, some surprisingly shoddy special effects and a return to the kind of silly humor we hadn’t seen for a couple of decades. Royale reinvented the formula in a very bold manner. The producers could have kept grinding out profitable but by-the-numbers fare. Instead they took a substantial gamble by bringing in an element of grittiness and realism that was much more in tune with modern audiences. They also took a major risk with the casting of Daniel Craig, who was widely lambasted during production as the actor who would bring about the demise of the series. The press was almost entirely against him and an anonymously-written website, www.craigisnotbond.com, was widely quoted, citing all the reasons why Craig would fail. You have to give a lot of credit to producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson for going against the tide and sticking with Craig. He has revitalized the series and has proven to be enormously popular not only with older fans of the series but with younger viewers as well. 

Bruce Scivally: Casino Royale was a game-changer. Previous Bond films, despite changes of actors in leading roles, were all clearly meant to be separate installments of the same series. Casino Royale was a total reboot; the only obvious link to the past was Judi Dench’s reprisal of the role of M. But there was no Moneypenny, no Q, and the actor playing Bond was a dramatic departure from what had come before. After the over-the-top extravagances of Die Another Day, Casino Royale elevated James Bond from the realm of comic book fantasy to more adult, hard-boiled action-drama.

Eva Green as Vesper Lynd

Coate: Can you describe what it was like watching Casino Royale for the first time?

Cork: I was fortunate enough to be invited to the world premiere in London at the Leicester Square Odeon. The excitement was electric. I had read the novel at the age of 12. To see the story unfold in a way that merged what we wanted from the cinematic Bond and what I loved from the literary Bond was a deeply satisfying experience. It was one of the four greatest experiences I’ve ever had watching a Bond film.

Desowitz: I attended the first press screening at the New York junket and it was thrilling. It was like looking forward and back at the same time, which best describes Craig’s tenure as Bond. And then the following day, I sat down with Craig for my first and only 1:1 interview and we had a great conversation about what he’d accomplished and what his aspirations were for continuing as Bond. We even speculated on the return of Blofeld, and he was intrigued about the possibility of updating him in a much more modern, realistic fashion.

Funnell: Casino Royale is the first Bond film I saw in the theater. I went with my dad and we sat in the center of the very top row. Although he really enjoyed it, I did not and left the theater confused and upset. It was not what I expected. As a professor, I teach my students to be highly aware of their emotional reaction to a film and to use this as a stepping stone for film analysis. As a Bond scholar, I have done the same by re-watching the film and analyzing it through a range of lenses. Over time, I have gained a strong appreciation for Casino Royale and especially how it reintroduced and rebranded the franchise. As my thoughts have evolved, so too have my feelings; I am surprised by how much I enjoy the film, so much so that it is now one of my favorites. It certainly was not “love at first sight” but I have grown very fond of Casino Royale over time.

Pfeiffer: I had been invited to attend the Royal Premiere in London at the Odeon Theatre in Leicester Square. Nobody does big, splashy premieres as well as the Brits and none of the Brits can do it better than the Bond team. They actually red-carpeted the Square just for one evening and built walkways and mini-bridges to accommodate the attendees and thousands of on-lookers. I hosted a party at a nightclub/restaurant called Ruby Blue right in the Square and I recall standing on the balcony in a tux smoking cigars while watching the crowds assemble. It was quite a night. Queen Elizabeth attended and the security was air-tight. Everyone had to be in their seats a full hour before the royals arrived. Their arrival was simulcast on the big screen so you could see Her Majesty being introduced to the producers, cast and crew. When the proceedings started, the royal trumpeters came on stage to announce the arrival of the Queen. Lord Richard Attenborough introduced the cast and crew on stage. It was that kind of magical night. I thought the film might be an afterthought but when Craig said “Bond. James Bond” at the movie’s climax, the normally reserved crowd cheered to high heaven. I thought “Well, I guess we won’t be hearing much from the ’Craig Is Not Bond’ website henceforth.”

Scivally: Casino Royale opened just after I moved from Los Angeles to the Chicago suburbs, so I first saw it in a theater in Evanston, Illinois, that I recall being pretty packed. Having been disappointed in the previous 007 film, I went into Casino Royale with low expectations, but from the first frame to the last I found it fresh and exciting. This was in no way a throwback, but a fresh, original, exciting take on a character that was in danger of becoming stale and passé.

A piece of film for Casino RoyaleCoate: Can you compare and contrast Daniel Craig’s inaugural performance as Agent 007 with that of the other actors who have portrayed the character?

Cork: I love all the Bond actors and what they bring to the screen, even David Niven! Here’s the thing: there is never a moment in Craig’s Bond films where I don’t believe he is James Bond. There are times in Thunderball, You Only Live Twice and Diamonds Are Forever where I very much enjoy watching Sean Connery playing James Bond, but you can tell he’s saying lines for the audience, that there is a wink to the absurdity of it. I love it, but I can tell it is artifice. That play to the artifice a huge part of the appeal of Roger Moore. With Brosnan, I always wished he played Bond more like he played Osnard in The Tailor of Panama, embracing the relaxed self-assurance that Le Carré saw in his denouncement of a Bond-type spy. With Craig, there is no artifice, but nor is there the inner rage that stokes Timothy Dalton’s 007. I’ll never let go of Sean being my “favorite” Bond, but I love watching Daniel Craig.

Desowitz: Craig is the only Bond actor working from an origin story and with a character arc, and he has since become the most creatively involved actor in franchise history (getting a producer’s credit on SPECTRE). For him, it always has to be personal, which obviously was taken to the utmost extreme in SPECTRE. He came under intense fire for not looking the part (but then Connery wasn’t exactly Fleming’s Hoagy Carmichael inspiration). He was blond, he was shorter than all of his predecessors and he wasn’t suave. He broke the mold as a rough and tumble 007, who has his heart broken, and he passed his rite of passage. Casino Royale was a significant commercial and critical success that launched the Craig era.

Funnell: Casino Royale introduces a new heroic model of masculinity that depends more on muscularity and physical endurance than libido and sexual conquest. It breaks from the lover literary tradition from which James Bond has his roots and presents a more Hollywood-inspired and body-focused spy. As a result, Craig’s Bond is more muscular and physically engaged than his predecessors, and this factors into his depiction as more of a “blunt instrument,” as Dench’s M would have it, who has much to learn about the value of patience, strategic calculation, and finesse. He is the most bloodied, battered, and bruised Bond in history, and his ability to endure excessive pain (such as Le Chiffre’s attack on his “crown jewels”) and recover from it (for instance, when he sleeps with Vesper Lynd after the attack) becomes emblematic across the Craig era of the resilience of M16 and Britain. Through his tough yet tender performance (as Klaus Dodds would describe it), Craig presents a compelling interpretation of Bond who is action-oriented, emotionally vulnerable, and morally inclined.

Pfeiffer: Every actor who has played Bond to date has had the good sense not to try to emulate any of his predecessors and this is especially true of Daniel Craig. I saw him on stage recently being interviewed in New York and he spoke of his reluctance to take on the mantel of Bond, knowing that he would carry the fate of the entire series on his back. He said he told the producers he would only do it if they threw out the rule book and completely reinvented the formula. He felt there would be no point in him trying to play Bond in the manner in which the character had been developed on screen since 1962. He felt the actors who preceded him all did a great job but that the character had to be in sync with his own personality. Each Bond actor was the right person for their time. Connery and Lazenby had a rugged but charming appeal. Roger Moore emphasized the humor. Timothy Dalton brought some gravitas to the role. And Pierce Brosnan’s charm helped reinvent the franchise. That Daniel Craig, too, has succeeded is evident not only by the critical acclaim the series now enjoys but by the overwhelming box office success of the Craig films. I believe Skyfall is the highest grossing British film in history.

Scivally: Although every actor who has played Bond infused the part with some of his own personality, the basics of the character remained the same for 40 years — tall, dark-haired, classically handsome, urbane and sophisticated. When Daniel Craig’s casting was announced, my first reaction was that he seemed more like a blue-collar thug than a high-society secret agent. But that was part of the conceit of Casino Royale — this was a new Bond, a rugged-faced, blond-haired, inexperienced “blunt instrument.” I would never have cast Craig as Bond, which just goes to show the genius of producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson. Casting Craig was a statement that this would be a bold break from the past, and it worked — from his first moments onscreen, Craig totally owned the role, redefining James Bond for a new generation. That said, I think it is a little unfair to compare his Bond to previous ones, since the conception of the role was so different; he wasn’t being asked to play the flippant sophisticated action man. Some fans noted that Craig’s Bond was a throwback to Timothy Dalton’s conception of the character, especially as seen in Licence to Kill, and I do agree that Craig’s 007 is closer to Dalton’s Bond than the Bond of Goldfinger or The Spy Who Loved Me... except Craig’s Bond doesn’t smoke like a chimney.

A scene from Casino Royale

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Daniel Craig and Eva Green in Casino Royale

Coate: In what way was Mads Mikkelsen’s Le Chiffre a memorable villain?

Cork: Mads is a fantastic actor, but he is not even on my radar when it comes to the most memorable Bond villains. You are just never going to hear folks make a pop culture reference to Le Chiffre the way they do to Goldfinger, Dr. No or Blofeld. His performance is great, but this is Bond’s film.

Desowitz: He was the best Bond baddie in recent memory. He was charismatic and sadistic, and his scar linked him to Blofeld in You Only Live Twice. The suspenseful poker scenes and his brutal beating of Bond took the “dance” to a whole new level of wicked fun.

Funnell: Le Chiffre is a memorable villain because of his vulnerability. This goes beyond his malformed tear duct, which causes him to inadvertently cry tears of blood. Like Bond, Le Chiffre is fallible and makes mistakes. His actions, especially after Bond foils the bombing plot, are driven by his desperation and desire for self-preservation, even at the expense of his lover Valenka. Unlike other villains who are depicted somewhat two-dimensionally as megalomaniacs desiring world power, Le Chiffre is humanized through his positioning as a middleman who is visibly terrified of the organization for which he works. The compelling performance of Mads Mikkelsen renders Le Chiffre a more humanized and sympathetic villain much like Francisco Scaramanga in The Man with the Golden Gun (1974).

Pfeiffer: I very much enjoyed Mads Mikkelsen’s performance as Le Chiffre. The character has a special place in Bond history as the first Bond villain in the first Bond novel. I think Mikkelsen managed to convey the traditional attributes (if you want to call them that) of the great Bond villains: he’s urbane, suave, superficially charming and somehow reassuring even to the person about to be victimized by him. It’s worth noting for the sake of inclusion that he’s the third actor to play the role following Peter Lorre in the 1954 live TV version of Casino Royale and Orson Welles in the 1967 big screen spoof version. I also thought Welles would have made a superb Bond villain in a serious Bond film. He was rumored to have agreed to play one in the mid-70s aborted version of Warhead, which was to be produced by Kevin McClory, but by the time it morphed into Never Say Never Again a decade later, Welles was no longer associated with the project.

Scivally: Mikkelsen was perfectly cast as Le Chiffre. He’s cold, calculating, and very creepy. He’s not a cartoon baddie (though he does have the Bondian touch of a scarred eye that weeps blood) — he’s a serious bad-ass, one not to be crossed. He makes one believe that if Mr. White had arrived just a few minutes later, Bond’s torture would truly have ended in a painful and grisly death.

Jeffrey Wright as CIA agent Felix Lighter

Coate: In what way was Eva Green’s Vesper Lynd a memorable Bond Girl?

Cork: She wins the award for most eye make-up worn by a Bond woman! My favorite shot of her in the film is when you see her without the make-up and she looks so stunningly beautiful and human in that moment. On a serious note, Eva Green is a rare actress who understands how to play the façade and not the fragility of a character. Her strength, her armor, the wall she has built up around herself makes her a woman we believe James Bond can love. It’s a great performance. The character of Vesper is a keystone character in understanding 007, and you can read the entry in the James Bond Encyclopedia to see how passionate Collin Stutz and I are about Vesper. I’d still vote for less mascara.

Desowitz: Vesper was the most important Bond Girl since Tracy, and in this ret-con universe, Vesper was both the forerunner and echo of Tracy. The testy train meeting, the tender shower scene and her tragic suicide, among others, helped humanize Bond. And their love defined his motivations and actions in subsequent films. It even provided a “quantum of solace” at the end of SPECTRE when Bond gets a second chance at happiness (the last line of the script — “We have all the time in the world” — was cut from the film).

Funnell: To me, Vesper Lynd is not a Bond Girl. Across the orphan origin trilogy — Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, and Skyfall — the Bond Girl archetype is deconstructed and the qualities typically associated with the figure are divided among two or more characters in each film. In Casino Royale, it is Bond and not Lynd who emerges from the sea in a bathing suit — an homage to the introduction of quintessential Bond Girl Honey Ryder from Dr. No — as Solange Dimitrios and, in a later scene, Lynd watch him from the shore, an act that effectively establishes the female look in the film. Thus, it is Bond who is positioned in the traditionally exhibitionist role of Bond Girl and presented as the object of desire (as Laura Mulvey would describe it). As a result, Vesper Lynd is freed from the constraints of the Bond Girl archetype and presented as more of a “Woman” than a “Girl” in the film. Her characterization shares much in common with Judi Dench’s M as she is depicted as a bureaucrat and bean counter who wields both institutional and emotional power over Bond. She is a complicated and multifaceted character, and this makes her both a compelling and sympathetic figure.

Pfeiffer: Eva Green represented how far the image of the Bond woman has changed with the times. It isn’t actually true that Bond’s lovers have all been stereotypical airheads, all bust and no brains. In fact, most of them were courageous, intelligent and self-reliant characters. These attributes continued to be emphasized even more as society evolved and female characters became treated with more respect. In the Bond films this was especially true in the Craig films, where women were not just used as recipients for sexually-charged bon mots tossed out by Bond. Vesper is a complex, fully-fleshed out character who obsesses Bond in a way that no female has done since Tracy in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Bond isn’t just excited by her; he is in love with her. They have a mature, believable, but ultimately tragic relationship that continues to haunt him through the next film.

Scivally: Vesper Lynd is probably the most three-dimensional female character in any Bond film, and Eva Green hits all the right notes in her performance. In remarking on the performances, credit must also to be given to the writers (the team of Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, followed by Paul Haggis) for giving the characters more shades of dimensionality than was found in the previous Bonds, and to director Martin Campbell for getting such superior performances from his cast. Campbell had previously proven his mettle introducing Pierce Brosnan as Bond in GoldenEye, and he does an excellent job introducing Craig. It’s a pity he hasn’t been given more 007 assignments, since he clearly has the right touch for them.

Daniel Craig as MI6 agent "007" aka James Bond

Coate: Where do you think Casino Royale ranks among the James Bond movie series?

Cork: Fifth, which sounds too low for how much I love this film. But after all my praise, I still hold Skyfall just a smidge higher on my list (that could change on a whim). All the others that rank higher are the early Connery Bonds.

Desowitz: In the top five, right behind From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, Dr. No and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. It holds up very well after 10 years and may be the best of the Craig films, despite his gaining confidence and improving in the subsequent films.

Funnell: Not only is Casino Royale one of the best in the Craig era, but it also ranks highly in the series as a whole. It has a solid narrative, strong character development, dynamic action sequences (such as the parkour-inspired chase sequence), and a compelling soundtrack that enhances the emotional tenor of the film. From start to finish, Casino Royale is an exciting and immersive Bond film.

Pfeiffer: I would certainly rank Royale in the top tier of Bond films… up there with the best of them. In a way it’s hard to compare it to all the films that preceded it because it is so unique in terms of content and style. For example, I love Goldfinger (who doesn’t?) but would it really be appropriate to try to directly compare it to Royale? The Craig films almost exist in their own universe. I would argue that it’s the best of those films (but a case could be made for Skyfall).

Scivally: If I were to rank the 007 films, Casino Royale would definitely be in my top five. It’s tightly scripted, directed with style and confidence, and has superior performances, as well as one of David Arnold’s best scores and a brilliant Daniel Kleinman title sequence. Like Goldfinger, it fires on all cylinders from beginning to end.

A newspaper ad for Casino Royale in theatersCoate: What is the legacy of Casino Royale?

Cork: There are the James Bond films before Casino Royale and there are the ones after. You can love or hate any of them, but Casino Royale changed the look, feel and tone of the Bond movies. Before Casino Royale, certain things were a given. We will open with the gun barrel. We will hear The James Bond Theme as white dots move across the screen. The movie will be in color. James Bond will be an experienced agent already at the top of his game. With the exception of one film, Bond will get the girl at the end. Once Casino Royale successfully broke that mold, for better or worse, everything was on the table. The other legacy of Casino Royale is the ascendancy of Daniel Craig. Barbara Broccoli is the one who picked Daniel Craig, insisted on him over some very strong objections. Michael Wilson backed her instinct on that. Craig is Bond for a legions of filmgoers around the world, and arguably the actor who has wielded the most direct influence over the creative aspects of the series. He’s now been afforded something no other Bond actor ever achieved: he hand-picked Sam Mendes, the director of the last two Bond films, and he has been afforded a co-producer credit, something Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman would have never given to Sean Connery or Roger Moore. These films are now being made in a very different way than they were in the 60s or 70s, not just technologically, but the entire business model has changed. I think Barbara and Michael still approach these films with the same level of personal and business integrity that Cubby embraced, but there is a sense that they know the stakes were raised with Casino Royale, that these can no longer feel like films that are made by a bunch of good friends out having a lark (not that this was ever the case). With Casino Royale, the Bonds became very serious business.

Desowitz: The legacy is that Bond was reborn with Craig in the new millennium. It marked a new dramatic direction that made the character the center of his universe. It began as an origin story and continued as a four-film rite of passage. It also re-connected with Fleming, which was partially cut short when Sam Mendes came aboard for the last two films. He not only developed a more personal Bond story, but also shifted the tone back toward the early Connery films.

Funnell: As a prequel, Casino Royale is an important revisionist film (as Christoph Lindner and James Chapman, among others, have described it) that finally tells the origin story of the iconic superspy from the moment he attains his “00” license to kill. It updates the Bond brand while remaining true to Ian Fleming’s depiction of James Bond as a man who makes mistakes, feels pain, and even harbors doubts about his role as an agent. It is a film that reaches forward cinematically while remaining connected to the literary past.

Pfeiffer: Casino Royale will also have a rich legacy in the Bond canon. The Brosnan films had run their course and needed a creative boost. I also thought it was a pity that Pierce never got his chance to do a gritty, ultra-realistic Bond film because he’s quite a good actor and audiences stayed with him even if some of his movies didn’t live up to their potential. There was such excitement following the premiere of Royale that I could tell a new era had arrived in terms of the Bond movies. Realism was in, gadgets were out. Believable relationships were the order of the day and female characters with sexually suggestive names were relegated to the past. Most important, Royale made Bond relevant to an entirely new and younger audience, which is essential for any series to survive and thrive.

Scivally: As stated before, Casino Royale was a game-changer. It brought James Bond definitively into the 21st century, and did so — ironically — by remaining largely faithful to a novel written more than fifty years earlier. By eschewing many of the traditional trappings of previous 007 films, the filmmakers created a new paradigm for Bond. Unfortunately, it raised the bar so high that Craig’s subsequent 007 films pale in comparison; Quantum of Solace particularly seemed to be a Jason Bourne movie rather than a James Bond film, and Craig’s latter Bond films, while restoring more of the classic Bondian elements, were not as tightly plotted. Perhaps Casino Royale benefited from being the only one of his films to be directly based on an Ian Fleming novel.

Coate: Thank you — John, Bill, Lisa, Lee, and Bruce — for participating and sharing your thoughts about Casino Royale on the occasion of its 10th anniversary.

The James Bond roundtable discussion will return in Remembering “Diamonds are Forever” on its 45th Anniversary.

James Bond will return.


Selected images copyright/courtesy Eon Productions Limited, Danjaq LLC, Columbia Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, United Artists Corporation.



Mike Heenan

- Michael Coate

Michael Coate can be reached via e-mail through this link.

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