The famous (and fictional) British Secret Service agent, James Bond first appeared in 1953 in the novel Casino Royale by Ian Fleming and has since gone on to appear in twelve novels and two short stories by Fleming as well as numerous television, radio, comic strip, video game and film adaptations.
Most would be familiar with the film adaptations of James Bond, which kicked off in 1962 with Dr No and starred Sean Connery as the 007 spy. Flash forward to today and there have been a total of twenty-seven Bond films, which naturally begs the question: what is the best James Bond film?
Of course, everyone will have a different opinion but here at DMARGE, we think Casino Royale, the 2006 film that introduced Daniel Craig to the series, is the best Bond film. From getting a supervillain to scratch his jock itch to coming up with witty remarks such as “that last round, nearly killed me,” Daniel Craig as James Bond in Casino Royale is really unbeatable. The ultimate 007 movie, if you will.
Well, Casino Royale completely rebooted the James Bond franchise and not only did it provide us with the first blonde Bond – something that was controversial in 2005 when Craig was first announced as the new 007 – it provided us with a Bond who was refreshingly realistic, hands-on and, at times, vulnerable.
It also had a witty x-factor some of the later Daniel Craig Bond films lacked, including the latest instalment (and Daniel Craig’s last) No Time To Die.
As one Reddit user puts it (speaking about the “Oh I’m sorry, that last hand nearly killed me” line): “It was this kind of playful energy that is missing from Sam Mendes’ films, especially Spectre.”
Plus, Craig’s Bond in Casino Royale had the strongest romantic plot of all the films. While Casino Royale’s ‘Bond girl’, Vesper Lynd, played by Eva Green, did have a typical ‘damsel in distress’ role, she was a complex and deep character. In fact, we’d argue Bond and Vesper’s romance was the strongest Bond relationship ever portrayed on-screen in the entire Bond franchise (and also explained a lot of his later actions in follow up films).
Casino Royale also had a powerful, strong and simple (and we mean that as a compliment here) plot. It wasn’t contrived, didn’t have cartoonishly strong henchmen, and didn’t rely too heavily on action scenes to carry the film. It was also a stimulating departure from Pierce Brosnan’s previous gadget-heavy Bond films. And everyone – especially Craig and Mads Mikkelsen – gave almost flawless performances.
The film also gave us some truly iconic moments. For instance, the scene where Bond emerges from the water wearing nothing but light blue ‘brief’ style swimmers – a viral moment if there ever was one. Or when Bond is getting tortured by Mikkelsen’s Le Chiffre, he quips, “Now the whole world will know that you died scratching my balls,” – a classic one-liner.
Of course, as we mentioned earlier not everyone will agree with our Bond assessment. Dr Bruce Issacs, an Associate Professor of Film Studies and Director of the Film Studies Program at the University of Sydney does admit Casino Royale is a fantastic film.
“Casino Royale has wonderful sequences and just a stunning performance from Craig in his very first attempt at Bond, [it] still bewilders me how he just fit the role so perfectly the moment he appeared in that prologue.”
But ultimately, Dr Isaacs deems that Skyfall should probably be considered the best Bond film.
“I would say that Skyfall is the best Bond film of the Craig era, and maybe the greatest Bond film of all time. In my opinion, for its experimentation with story and action, it’s the Bond film that truly elevated the franchise to film art, and sadly, they never got near it again!”
We confess that both Casino Royale and Skyfall are phenomenal Bond films, so excuse us while we fix ourselves martinis – shaken, not stirred, of course – and rewatch both Bond films immediately…