With all the hoopla regarding the return of Bond, with filming on Bond 25 now underway, it is high time to dip back into the franchise and start some debates.

So here’s one for you – is Casino Royale the Best Bond Film Ever? It’s an argument that could run and run amongst Bond fans all over the world. It’ll make many purists of the series baulk but will also bring to the fore many Bond fans who argue it’s a special film that breathed new life into the franchise.

It was the first 007 novel that Ian Fleming wrote – and adapting it turned out to be a difficult road to navigate.

Purists will know that it was turned into a film spoof in 1967, featuring Peter Sellers, David Niven, Woody Allen, and Ursula Andress, some would argue this is best forgotten completely.

Re-igniting the Bond Franchise

If the Bond franchise was going to be re-ignited, it needed a change of pace and style. Giving it a gritty, darkly menacing reboot seemed like the right step to take at the time. Fleming’s novel provided the basic premise of the plot – which is a short story about a secret agent who doesn’t get the girl (or save the world).

Daniel Craig, was, at the time considered a completely unconventional choice for the role. However, it proved a masterstroke, as it meant that the other less successful versions of the film could be forgotten and also put into place an extremely talented actor who would help steer Bond in the right direction.  

Fleming’s original story was adhered to. Bond must play a high stakes card game against an international criminal known as Le Chiffre in amongst the innovative slot machines and Poker professionals at the Casino Royale. If Bond wins, he’ll have nobbled a villain who could be persuaded to turn other villains in. If Bond loses, the British government will have directly financed terrorism…

A Massive Departure for Bond

Of course, it marked a huge departure for many Bond fans and was nothing like the films from previous decades. The tone of the film was clever, more knowing – and the ending left audiences aware and uneasy in the knowledge that yes, there was a shadow cast over the victory.

After it’s release, there was a feeling of ‘what next?’ – would there be anything at all that could compete with, or indeed, better it?

The next film in the franchise, Quantum of Solace, was a solid go at creating a sequel, that again divided fans into those who thought it better and a worthy follow up or those who simply felt it fell flat and was an inferior film.

Skyfall, which came after, was aimed as a film to purely be crowd-pleaser. Again, this harked back to the tradition of having a very memorable villain, plus the re-boot of Moneypenny and Q. However, critics argue that it is still a step away from grimier, darker world of Casino Royale.

Spectre again brought back another familiar face in the form of Blofeld, who hadn’t been seen more for more than thirty years. However, the film felt flat and was, to many, a flop – though again, others disagreed and felt it was bringing back the Bond that had been missing for a long time.

However, many still argue that Casino Royale offers a truly unique accomplishment in the world of Bond films. It’s a film, in a franchise, in which a Hollywood studio gambled on a much loved character – brought him back and it ultimately (whatever you think of the follow ups) paid off.

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written three books - on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014), the history of the character Norman Bates (2015) and the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker (2017). He is currently working with director Richard Loncraine to explore all avenues in a bid to orchestrate the re-release of 1978 Mia Farrow chiller Full Circle