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Casino Royale: A New Beginning or a Dead End?

By Chris Osman (MrBond)
August 15, 2007

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The last few years have been a roller coaster ride in being a Bond fan. I was rejoicing about the decision of Casino Royale being chosen as the next Bond film, then had the rug
Casino Royale Poster
Japanese Casino Royale poster
swept under me by the decision to replace Pierce Brosnan, followed by me holding my breath until the decision was made for the next actor, and then being skeptical about the decision of choosing Daniel Craig, then again relieved after seeing some of his films, followed by me anticipating Casino Royale and literally sitting in the movie theater in suspense during the film, and finally being quite overjoyed (and quite relieved) that everything was good again. Box office performance was better than expected and the journalists who were giving Craig a hard time were now sitting at home in front of their dinner table eating their words on a plate. Simply put, the sun came out, the clouds parted, and everything was good again. Or so we thought.

There is no doubt that Casino Royale is a remarkable film by itself, and a phenomenal Bond film. I think however, that what comes next will determine the films fate. Barbara Brocolli, Michael G. Wilson, and the rest of the creative team all succeeded in successfully re-launching the series and giving a fresh new take on the character of Bond himself. They took him away from science fiction and forced him to land in a real world affected by real current events. Such a desire could be in part related to the growing success of the Jason Bourne films, which currently seem to be used as a reference as a direct comparison to the Bond films. Perhaps it was the belief that the James Bond property was going out of control, due in part to the many different video games that were produced in the last few years, which were proving unsuccessful financially. Whatever it was, the point is that what we see next will determine how remarkable of a change Casino Royale is.

Casino Royale was the first Bond novel written by Ian Fleming and until now, it has experienced one of the worst book to film adaptations in its interesting history, ranging from a CBS T.V. special to a satire led by Peter Sellers.
Peter Sellers in CR
Peter Sellers in the 1967
Casino Royale spoof
It wasn't until MGM finally secured the rights to the book, that it could have finally been made into a proper film. Furthermore, despite the success of the film due to the superb direction of Martin Campbell, the clever adaptation of Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, the re-write of Paul Haggis, and the Daniel Craig's inspirational take on the character, it is still just that, an adaptation of a Fleming novel. This could have a couple of implications; either the creative team really re-invented the character and gave it a new fresh look and feel, or it just re-confirms that Ian Fleming has always been a good writer, and additionally if you adapt his novels wisely and accurately, you will always produce a solid film.

One might consider that Im merely just stating the obvious, but take a slight pause and consider what this means. Bond, in all his essence was created in this story. If you take this book and turn it into a proper movie by dusting it off and modernizing the story, you get what you see today. From this line of thought then is Casino Royale that remarkable? Or will we only know how remarkable it is until the second chapter in the Craig series comes to life? I ask this vital question because obviously the easiest thing one can do is tell the "origin" story of James Bond, and additionally the following films will just step into the old shoes and walk the same now-beaten dusty path, which we have seen since 1962. In fact, we absolutely cannot know if this is as innovative, remarkable, and spectacular as we first thought, until we see what comes next and where it ends.

If these old shoes were indeed laced up, then would Casino Royale be as great of a film as it is considered today? Did Die Another Day make you forget how superb Pierce Brosnan was in Goldeneye?
Pierce Brosnan as James Bond
Pierce Brosnan is one of
the most successful 007's
Would you consider On Her Majesty's Secret Service to be one of the greatest Bond films if George Lazenby was able to continue on in the series and develop his Bond in more films? Would Roger Moore be considered to be one of the "sillier" Bonds if he decided to stop after Octopussy and not snowboard to the Beach Boys in A View to a Kill? All these questions must be considered, because what we consider now to be good could later be turned into a one-off, a fluke, or perhaps even a one-hit-wonder.

If you thought the stakes were high when Casino Royale was being produced, they are even higher now. The creative team has set very high expectations, and one must realize that if they fail to capitalize on and further the direction they have successfully set with Casino Royale, then the dangers of returning to the old, and creating Casino Royale to be just another flash in the pan are that much greater. One must comprehend that a return to the old is a return to something that, according to the producers, cannot work and survive in today's cinema and if that were to indeed happen, then Daniel Craig could turn out to be the final James Bond of the series.

Article written by Chris Osman (MrBond)

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