One Great Shot: Casino Royale (2006)

Preamble

With the release of No Time to Die around the corner, I thought it would be a great idea to revive One Great Shot. As an excuse to build-up to Daniel Craig’s last outing as James Bond (aka 007), it will be interesting to view his previous films through the lens of a single shot. So, join me on this brief but exciting journey through the Craig era. What’s your favourite shot from Casino Royale? Let me know in the comments below.

One Great Shot: Casino Royale

Suave, cool and deadly are just some of the words that have become synonymous with James Bond. In fact, there are very few times within the franchise’s near 25 movie history where the character is truly human. For the most part, they’ve existed as incidental moments that may appear as odd record scratch moments to audiences.

But with Casino Royale, this dynamic is entirely reversed. It’s no longer about making a heightened and exotic lifestyle with 007 existing as an avatar that audiences can live vicariously through. Instead, it’s about trying to make you feel like Bond insofar as the tougher aspects of his occupation.

The above shot of Bond comforting a traumatised Vesper (Eva Green) is a statement shot that proudly proclaims this ethos of Casino Royale. It’s also postmodern, with Vesper’s reaction illustrating a collective terror that we have at seeing Bond kill someone in cold blood.

Sure there’s been moments sprinkled throughout the franchise of Bond committing cold murderous acts. But it’s now seen through the eyes of someone who has no exposure to those acts. This fundamental change in perspective is what grounds Royale in the realm of genuine pathos and empathy. The atypical “Licence to Kill” is no longer a cutesy phrase.

At the same time, the shot is a subversion of our expectation of Bond himself. Usually, he would either be flirting, bedding or just being generally smarmy towards the female characters he encounters. But beyond duty and hedonistic desire, this is a genuine instance where he cares about his female counterpart. In turn, this shot cements Bond’s budding relationship with Vesper. It’s a touchstone moment for the character. Between this shot and the subsequent betrayal, we fully understand why Bond is someone who does not open up to the women in his life.

Finally, the shot in question is a testament to Daniel Craig’s and Eva Green’s tremendous acting. In particular, the shot illustrates Green’s knack for portraying fragility with touching authenticity. This particular quality would lead to some of her best work in the Showtime series- Penny Dreadful.

About Sartaj Govind Singh

Notes from a distant observer: “Sartaj is a very eccentric fellow with a penchant for hats. He likes watching films and writes about them in great analytical detail. He has an MA degree in Philosophy and has been known to wear Mickey Mouse ears on his birthday.”
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