10 years ago, on 17th November 2006, the 21st James Bond film, Casino Royale was released.
A reboot of the popular spy franchise directed by Martin Campbell, the film follows Bond’s transformation into a 007 agent, and his efforts to stop a terrorist financier with the help of fellow government agent Vesper Lynd. Needless to say, this is accomplished through a combination of awe-inspiring car chases, a suspenseful gambling sequence and a particularly wince-inducing (for male viewers, at least) torture scene.
Despite strong fan opposition (including internet petitions to boycott the film), Daniel Craig was cast in the starring role – inheriting it from Pierce Brosnan – marking the beginning of the series modernisation and retooling. The supporting cast was filled out by Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Giancarlo Giannini, Jeffrey Wright and sole returning cast member Judi Dench as M.
The film was a huge success, becoming the fourth highest-grossing film of the year (making $599 million on a $150 million budget). Critical reception was also extremely positive with the film appearing on many top ten lists, in addition to winning a BAFTA Rising Star Award for Eva Green’s performance and was nominated for Best British Film.
Bond’s renewed vitality was achieved partly through Craig’s fresh portrayal of the iconic character as a newly-qualified double-o agent that takes risks and suffers the consequences of his actions. The addition of Vesper Lynd as a believable love interest also allowed for a deeper exploration of Bond’s character compared to other ‘Bond Girls’.
The other crucial ingredient was the action scenes. The previous instalment, Die Another Day (2002) was criticised for its excessive use of CGI and Casino Royale answered these criticisms by including a thrilling parkour chase in Madagascar and an incredibly destructive car crash that were both achieved through practical effects. This aesthetic allowed the franchise to compete against more recent spy series such as the Jason Bourne trilogy, and allowed its sequels Quantum of Solace and Skyfall to reach even greater critical and commercial heights.
While the film does suffer from a slower third act – albeit necessary to set up the tragic finale – it never becomes dull and remains an entertaining experience throughout. The film also remains relevant with its ‘ripped-from-the-headlines’ plot dealing with themes of terrorism and torture. Furthermore, it proved the value of British spy films at the box office, paving the way for more recent thrillers such as Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, Our Kind of Traitor, The Man from UNCLE and Kingsman: The Secret Service.
Watch the trailer below.