“Man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed but not defeated.” This Ernest Hemingway quote from Old Man in the Sea is the conceit of the 21st entry into the James Bond franchise Casino Royale (2006).
After winning a lawsuit to win back the rights to Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel, EON productions decided to reboot the series, depicting Bond’s first mission as a double-O agent. They cast Daniel Craig replacing Pierce Brosnan as Bond.
We join Bond on his last day as Section Chief as he hides in the shadows waiting to pounce on a member of MI6 who is selling secrets to foreign operatives. The conversation between Bond and the traitor is intercut with Bond murdering the double agents contact. Bond brutally dispatches the contact drowning him in a bathroom sink and shooting him. Bond then kills the double agent thus earning his 00 status and receiving the numerical calling card of 007. The revamped Bond in Casino Royale is brutal in his removal of his targets. The new Bond would be an unlikable character if not for his sly smile and his wry wit. Bond is cocky given the nature of his inexperience and his large ego. Even though we are witnessing the genesis of James Bond as a 00 agent, the audience is given very little information on Bond’s background. Whatever information we do receive about Bond, is provided when he first meets the film’s femme-fatale Vesper (Eva Green).
Vesper is the perfect foil to James Bond. She is intellectually his equal and can match his wit. Bond quickly falls for her as they travel together to win a game of high stakes poker in Montenegro in an effort to bankrupt Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), a financial backer of terrorism. Vesper is a tall, cool woman who, like Bond, holds her emotional cards close to her chest. They first fall for and eventually destroy each other. By the end of the film, Bond has learned many lessons and is no longer the man that he was at the beginning. He has lost the ability to trust anyone. He is reborn as James Bond 007, dispatcher of megalomaniacs and women.