The screen fades in: block housing, dark shadows, black and white picture. A man, a gun and a shot. Casino Royale was the film to usher Bond into the new age: nitty, gritty and scarred. With Daniel Craig in the limelight and a fresh script to work with, Director Martin Campbell made his statement on the world of Bond forever. That was over twelve years and three sequels ago, yet Royale remains the best Bond film in the entire history of the franchise for many – here’s why.
It’s What Makes Bond, Bond
It’s a classy film. It’s the epitome of bond: it has the vodka martinis, it has the handsome spy, it has the pretty girls (or boys as later films have inferred). Most of all, however, it has the cards. Nothing shows off Bond’s wit or charm better than his scenes at the blackjack or poker table, and Casino Royale, as in the name, puts the ace in focus.
Cards have always been popular. They’re a daring, fine pleasure, and for Bond an opportunity to put his superior luck into play. On one level, the world of Casino Royale is distant and lavish, but on another, it’s entirely relatable. Bond is harder, he bruises, he gets angry, and the games of poker, slots, blackjack and dice are all something we still enjoy ourselves, both online and off with the help of modern tech. This highlights the continued appeal. Times may change, Bond may change, but cards are always the same.
A Royale Flush
It’s safe to say that Casino Royale has it all, then, or most of the Bond ‘it’, at least. It’s full of a wrapped up nicely and neatly in a sub-two-hour movie. It has the tension, the risk and the love, but it does go further than that too, and that’s what makes it great. Stylistically speaking, Royale is the first obviously artistic Bond movie. From the first shots in black and white to it’s modern and not-so-subtle transition to the world of today, it has cinematic direction and a specific story to tell. Brosnan, Dalton and Moore are all well and good – they’re handsome, witty, debonair – but none come quite close to the raw, cold fury of Craig in a suit with gun in hand, and it’s the latter that’s really something special, especially in its first debut.
Into the Future
So it’s settled then: you’ll go back and enjoy this utter statement of a film once again, you’ll deal the cards. But afterwards? What comes next? Royale was followed by three sequels; Quantum, Skyfall and Spectre, each their own take, each with their own critical reception. Feel free to go watch those, too.
It’s safe to say that Skyfall and Spectre in particular left us heartbroken in many ways (no spoilers!) – but they also happened to leave the door open for a whole host of new franchise possibilities and themes. As Daniel Craig brought old into new, so too must the next set of writers, actors and stars. Technology, terrorism, fear; our modern day spy has dealt with modern day problems as of late. Only time will tell what challenge could be next, what opportunities could present themselves and what fresh lick of paint the Fleming Foundation can conjure onto screen.
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