Casino Royale Is Still The Best Daniel Craig-Era James Bond Movie, But Why?

As celebrities gathered at the James Bond ‘No Time To Die’ premiere at the Royal Albert Hall on September 28, the average Joe sat at home reflecting on the 15 years Daniel Craig spent as the frontman of one of the most recognisable movie franchises ever made. Should the 53-year-old be replaced? Who will replace him? Will the latest instalment live up to the hype? Will there be a casino scene? More importantly, what was Daniel Craig’s best movie as James Bond?

Unsurprisingly, most people agree Casino Royale (2006), which was Craig’s debut as 007, was his best portrayal of the British spy. In fact, according to an IMDB poll that explored the top Bond films with Sean Connery, Pierce Brosnan, Roger Moore, George Lazenby, Timothy Dalton, and Daniel Craig in the role of Bond, 719 votes out of 3,010 said Casino Royale is the best movie. For perspective, Goldfinger (1964) with Sean Connery got 356 votes to secure third place.

So, what’s so special about Casino Royale? There has to be something. Why else would people return to the movie when they could watch later instalments like Skyfall, which is the only Bond film to reach $1 billion at the global box office and the only one to have its namesake song win an Academy Award? In this article, we’re going to explore exactly that. 

Long Live Casino Royale

One of the reasons Casino Royale is considered one of the best Bond movies is because the film marks a rebirth. Leading up to the movie’s release, the franchise had lost its way, with films during Brosnan’s tenure, such as Die Another Day, full of unrealistic gadgets that turned the audience away. It became apparent that after several films with ambitious contraptions, viewers wanted more elements grounded in reality. The success of Daniel Craig’s realistic portrayal of Bond in Casino Royale was proof that gadgets like invisible cars aren’t essential criteria for a successful Bond film.

That said, just because fans wanted a rebirth doesn’t mean they wanted certain elements to go extinct. For example, some people heavily associate James Bond with casinos. In fact, the very first Bond film, Dr. No (1962), set the scene for casinos to be featured in other films in the franchise, as Sean Connery first uttered the words “Bond. James Bond” while playing Baccarat.

Perhaps Casino Royale is a favourite because it plays on our association with Bond and casinos. After all, most of the movie takes place at a casino in Northern France. Of course, its popularity could also be because casinos are relatable, which we know was one of the reasons the franchise transitioned as fans wanted less fantasy and more reality. Even before Casino Royale was released, gambling was skyrocketing in popularity following the emergence of online platforms.

Today, the online casino sector is estimated at $267 billion, and the industry has taken advantage of the influx of users who started playing after Casino Royale’s release. For example, some of the best slot sites available, which are determined by review sites that look at bonuses, promotions, and payment methods, address James Bond. For instance, the site lists 888casino, a PayPal slot platform with a strategy guide, which features a section on the James Bond roulette strategy. Review sites such as this will help guide players to find further breakdowns by category, and go into other details such as customer service.

Over the years, the James Bond franchise has dominated, but it has also struggled. Too many instalments focused on outlandish gadgets, but the Daniel Craig-era ended this, with his debut role in Casino Royale reminding fans that they want a gritty leading man who’s grounded in reality. We know from the credits of No Time To Die that Bond is returning, and we can only hope his successor will be someone who captivates the audience in a relatable way.