Of all the James Bond films in the 50+ years the series has run, it’s Casino Royale that wins the top spot in my book.
With adrenaline-filled parkour, super speed car chases, high-stakes gambling, gunfights, and much more MI6 spy-stuff, it’s hard to argue with Casino Royale as one of the best, if not the very best, in the James Bond line-up.
The movie relies on the sexy portrayal of gambling and the high-rolling nature of both Bond and his enemy in the movie, leading to nail-biting excitement as the movie progresses. In typical Hollywood fashion, we see an incredibly cool Bond once again turn into a boyhood hero through his struggles as he attempts to take down the terrorist group he opposes.
But it’s not just a great piece of cinema, we can learn a lot inside the 2:25 run time and learn a lot I did. There are countless cool lessons I learned by watching Casino Royale – perhaps a few too many times, but in the interest of alleviating boredom here is just my favorite 5.
1. There is no such thing as Casino Royale
The title of the film itself, “Casino Royale”, is said to share the name of the Montenegro based casino featured in the 2006 Bond classic, although no such place exists.
The obvious choice for the casino scenes in the movie would be Casino de Monte-Carlo, the top casino to visit in during your lifetime present in Bond movies of the past – but that wasn’t the decision made for Daniel Craig’s debut. Instead, the fictional Casino Royale was chosen, sharing the name of the lesser-known 1954 motion picture adaptation.
Like many others, following the heart-stopping casino scene in which Bond reaches the final table in a winner-takes-all poker game, I searched for the casino in question. What I found was nothing short of disappointing – there is no Casino Royale, at least not in Montenegro.
The film is a lie, although consider Bond doesn’t seem to age and has been approximately 50 different actors, I really should have known better.
2. Every hand’s a winner in the game of poker
I play very little poker these days, but I still have a soft spot for it and from what I remember from my past – good players shouldn’t play more than 30% of the total hands dealt.
That’s a fair strategy, players aren’t too aggressive, they find it easier to bluff and all of the rest of it – if you’re a poker fan you’ll know the deal. So imagine my surprise when I see James Bond, an MI6 spy who was literally just told that he needs to win or else the British Government will have ties to funding terrorism go all in with a 5-7.
In a million-dollar game, a 5-7 shouldn’t sit anywhere near the table and you’d think should be folded straight away – but not by Bond. Head-to-head with his rival and another personality-less pair, he goes all-in on the river to make the final pot over 100 million with a daring wager. Of course, this is movie-land and he’s never going to lose.
He beats all 3 players inside the single move, taking home the funds and defeating his opponents at the table. All well and good, but there’s still the small question of the nemesis sat opposite.
Either way, the lesson is simple and there’s common ground between Bond and Kenny Rogers – any hand can be a winner and any hand can be a loser. That’s the beauty of poker.
3. Supercars aren’t all that great at cornering
In the movie, we see a cool but slightly panicked Bond rushing out of the casino to catch up with Vesper Lynd, the “Bond Girl” of the 21st JB movie.
Unfortunately, she’s snatched before he catches up with her and is thrown into the back of a black sedan that speeds down the road while Bond chases on foot. Naturally, his trusty Aston isn’t too far away and skillfully hopping a chain link fence, he clambers into the driver’s seat and bombs it down the road after Lynd.
The film shows the car hurtling at some speed, gaining air through the curvy country roads in the darkness when all of sudden Bond sees Lynd tied-up and laying in the road, helpless. In a desperate effort to avoid her, Bond turns a sharp right, flipping the car a total of 7 times down the grassy verge.
The car eventually comes to a stop, showing a bloodied Bond remaining in the driver’s seat of the wrecked car – giving conclusive evidence that supercars aren’t all that great at cornering – even if the driver is an MI6 spy.
During the filming, the team was awarded the Guinness Book of World Records for the most number of rolls by a vehicle, although that’s still not a good enough reason to make me buy an Aston Martin.
The airbag didn’t even go off…
4. Be wary of the free drinks
If you know the film you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about, it turns out that the free drinks (at Casino Royale anyway) aren’t always what they are cracked up to be.
During the poker game, Bond is poisoned by a Blonde Woman who pours a potion into his Martini. We see the spy abandon the game and struggle to his car, narrowly cheating death, with the help of a fancy pen and glovebox defibrillator.
It’s a close call, but within minutes we see a freshly rescued Bond head back into the casino to take his seat at the recently abandoned game announcing “I’m sorry, that last hand nearly killed me”. So cool it actually stings.
“There’s no real reason to be wary of the free drinks” Adrian Sireca, of OnlineCasinoGems, jokes when talking about the movie, “providing you’re not an intelligence agent or are quick to make enemies anyway”.
5. I’ll never be as cool as James Bond
I probably managed half of the film before the very last lesson hit me, although it’s probably not one I’m too proud of – I’m not ever going to be as cool as James Bond.
I can buy fancy clothes and fancy cars (if I end up with a big slot win), even talk with the British accent (it helps that I’m from the UK), but there’s absolutely no way that I’ll ever be as cool as James Bond. Granted I’ve got 20-odd years to practice until I reach Daniel Craig’s age in the movie. But I can’t help but feel that the time won’t be spent chasing baddies with my (non-existent) parkour skills up and down cranes and over trains.
Instead, it looks like I’ve got to become comfortable in my normal life, watching Bond movies at 2 AM in my underwear.
But I’m okay with it – I think…