Daniel Craig's Casino Royale Saved A Very Important James Bond Cornerstone Until The End And That Was Pivotal

With almost 60 years of history in the world of James Bond cinematic adaptations, you could practically drop a martini glass on any date and find something to celebrate. But some days more than others warrant the raising of a drink to celebrate, and June 1 is one of those dates to mark down. The reason for this commemoration is the fact that on this day, during Casino Royale’s production in 2006, Daniel Craig finally got to engage with a very important franchise cornerstone. For the first time, he got to say the words, “Bond, James Bond.”

Saved as the final moment of director Martin Campbell’s second time in the 007 director’s chair, Casino Royale was obviously under a lot of pressure on to deliver a Bond for the 21st century. And the decision to keep the line audiences were expecting throughout Daniel Craig’s origin story as an ending tag was a pivotal choice that nailed what the film was trying to do with this new version of James Bond. There’s several reasons for why such a classic line needed to be saved until the end, but before I jump into discussing why this was so important, let’s watch that big moment all over again.

Now that we've re-experienced Casino Royale's ending, on with the show!

Daniel Craig aims his gun down the gun barrel in Casino Royale.

Casino Royale Is All About Reintroducing James Bond

When the James Bond franchise first started, the words “Bond, James Bond” were automatically baked into the DNA of Sean Connery’s portrayal of the character. March 5, 1962 marked the first time ever the catchphrase was uttered on camera, and a series tradition was born from that very first film. As such, Dr. No started to set the cornerstones that the 007 series would hold onto throughout its first 20 films, right up to and including Pierce Brosnan’s swan song in Die Another Day.

So by the time Casino Royale was about to reintroduce James Bond to the world, some things had to be avoided. A new generation was about to adopt Daniel Craig’s Bond as its own, so a bit of surprise had to be thrown into the equation. Much like the opening gun barrel, 007’s iconic martini order and the James Bond theme itself, Casino Royale took the time to make something so iconic into a fresh and surprising debut, just as it should have been.

Daniel Craig looks annoyed ordering a martini in Casino Royale.

Using The Trademark 007 Touches Any Sooner Would Have Been Distracting

It’s already hard enough for any actor to pick up the mantle of James Bond, even if it’s in a well established line of continuity. But Daniel Craig’s debut in Casino Royale was basically a reset button that put 007 in the middle of his first mission as a 00-agent. The 21st Bond movie needed to reintroduce James Bond as a more modern action hero, as well as allow a new actor to feel out the role in their own fashion.

It’s a double whammy that would have made throwing in old fashioned 007 trademarks rather distracting. So when Daniel Craig gets to dismiss a bartender with the line, “Do I look like I give a damn?,” it makes for a martini that truly shows how rough Bond is in his early days of service. We’re treated to moments here and there that feel like James Bond coming into his own, like when he first slips on a tuxedo to head into his poker game with Le Chiffre (Mads Mikklesen). But it’s only at the right time, allowing Daniel Craig to really play around with what we should expect from James.

Daniel Craig wears his first dinner jacket in Casino Royale.

The Entire Movie Eases New Fans Into Signature Bond Touches

Should you have been a relatively new fan in the James Bond saga, Casino Royale was an even more exciting prospect. While in the decades after Sean Connery originated the role, fans could claim one of the original five actors as the person to introduce them to 007, Daniel Craig was literally introducing everyone into a new era of Bond. Catching onto the historic phenomenon that was James Bond, at this particular moment, was doubly important for the newcomers.

Easing new fans into the usual Bondisms throughout Casino Royale allowed these fans to really take in the story that would see James at his most confined. Reinventing the globetrotting, as well as the womanizing and tastes for the finer things in life, the film took tradition and made it worth the wait. By time Daniel Craig actually got to say “The name’s Bond. James Bond,” it was an adrenaline rush that showed audiences old and new that 007 was ready and reporting for duty.

Daniel Craig sits in a chair as he's tortured by Mads Mikkelsen in Casino Royale.

You Can’t Reintroduce James Bond Without Some Of The Old Favorites

On the other side of the coin, having Casino Royale reintroduce such moments was absolutely essential. Imagine what sort of hell there would have been if Daniel Craig never got to wear a tuxedo. Worse yet, imagine how disappointing it would have been if Bond never got to inform one of his high value targets just who he was. Fans would have been sitting in their chairs with the same feeling 007 had when Le Chiffre whipped him with that infamous knot of rope.

Yes, the theme may have been titled “You Know My Name,” but audiences still want to see such moments take shape in a reboot such as this. And the team behind Casino Royale also made sure that whatever was reintroduced to audiences was the real important stuff. In fact, the martini line, the tuxedo and Bond’s self name drop are probably the three hallmarks you need in order to keep with the classic form of the 007 saga; along with at least one moment to let the classic theme tune really swing out.

Daniel Craig smirks at his off screen target in Casino Royale.

By The End, Casino Royale Still Left Room For 007 To Grow

While the traditional touches were included in good measure throughout Casino Royale, they were only meant to be decorations for a legacy that most people are familiar with in some way. They weren’t meant as shackles to keep the franchise bound to tradition, but rather accents to remind the audience what they were watching. So by the time Casino Royale got to the end of its story, there was still room for Bond to grow.

The door was especially open with Quantum of Solace, which saw 007’s story continuing in a serialized fashion. And eventually, we’d see Daniel Craig’s James Bond become an emotionally complex agent, wrestling with his past in his quieter moments. If Casino Royale were too married to the traditional structure, none of that would have been possible, and it would have felt like a reboot in name alone.

It was equally important for Casino Royale to introduce Daniel Craig as the new era of James Bond, but also an incarnation that fans familiar with his history could have latched onto as well. And the way that one of the most recognizable catch phrases in movie history was reinvented as a killer finale is probably the best sign that the film had done its job appropriately. That’s why June 1 should be marked down in every 007 fan’s calendar, along with those other days that make this film series the cultural touchstone it always has been.

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.