Bond-a-Thond #21: ‘Casino Royale’ (2006)

MTV Movies Blog is earning its license to kill with a feature we call the Bond-a-Thond. Every Wednesday we’re taking a look back at a single (official) Bond film, giving you the vitals and seeing how it holds up, right up until the release of “Skyfall” on November 9. Feel free to watch along with us and share your thoughts or just kick back and enjoy the Bond.

Casino Royale (2006)

Plot: To stop a terrorist financier from reclaiming lost funds, Bond must defeat him at the poker table.

Title Meaning: It is the name of the casino in Montenegro where Bond competes against Le Chiffre.

Song: “You Know My Name,” performed by Chris Cornell

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Bond: Daniel Craig, in his first appearance

Villain: Le Chiffre, a banker funding terrorists, played by Mads Mikkelsen

Bond Girl: Vesper Lynd, a representative from the treasury, played by Eva Green

“Bond, James Bond” Occurrences: 1

Martinis: 3

Card Games: 2 (one, obviously, is the big game)

Cigarettes Smoked: 0

Explosions: 4

Tuxes Worn: 1

Kills By Bond: 14

Most Creative Kill: Bond surreptitiously clips and explosive key chain to a would-be bomber, who then detonates it himself.

Gadgets: In-car defibrillator

Mental State of Miss Moneypenny: Missing

First Occurrence of Sex: 2 hours in

Sexual Partners: 1 (Vesper Lynd)

Most Unrealistic Moments: Bond wins the card tournament with a straight flush, a hand with a probability of roughly 72,000 to 1.

Most “Bond” Moments: See below

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Place in Bond History: “Casino Royale” marked the first appearance of Daniel Craig, the current Bond. A controversial choice, the start of Craig’s run was a reboot of the series, returning to Flemming’s first book.

It’s impossible to underestimate the importance of “Casino Royale” for the longevity of the series. When working properly, Bond needs to reflect the period he inhabits, while always remaining true to himself and Flemming’s original vision. Though the Brosnan movies always made boatloads of cash, that version of 007 was never a 21st century character and certainly not a representative of the post-9/11 world.

Daniel Craig changed that. Once the world got past the idiocy of their hair color complaints and sat down to watch the man at work, they saw a Bond that was completely different yet essentially the same. Craig gave a performance that was all Bond, but offered a cross-section of the man beneath the tux.

Take that foundation and throw him into some of the series’ best set pieces with a story that involves you emotionally, and you end up with what is easily one of the very best of the series and, by the far, the best modern Bond.

The Bond-a-Thond will return next week in “Quantum of Solace.”

What do you think of “Casino Royale”? Let us know in the comments below and on Twitter!