Daniel Craig’s James Bond movies never quite outdid the opening of Casino Royale, which creates a high bar for Bond 26 to meet. The timeline of Daniel Craig’s Bond movies began with 2006’s Casino Royale, with 2021 release of No Time To Die acting as Craig’s swansong. During his time as James Bond, Craig established his take on 007 as an extremely rugged and physically strong M:I-6 agent.
Casino Royale itself wasted no time in making that point clear with its first big action scene of Craig’s Bond pursuing Mollaka (Sébastien Foucan) in a heart-racing parkour chase. While the chase sequence of Casino Royale more than does its job as an action scene, it also set the action bar to a height that stands as the peak action sequence of Craig’s Bond movies. Of course, Craig’s subsequent Bond films are still full of incredible action scenes, but the intro to Casino Royale retains the number one spot for the innovation it brought to the franchise.
In establishing a bleaker tone for Craig’s Bond films, Casino Royale was essentially a reboot meant to take Bond into grittier territory after 2002’s CGI-heavy Die Another Day. Casino Royale immediately establishes Craig’s Bond as a force to be reckoned with in his determined pursuit of his target. The parkour chase itself also greatly advances Bond’s character development on the fly, showing his brutish athleticism when he bursts through a wall before using a hydraulic lift to swiftly descend to ground level after his enemy.
The opening chase sequence of Casino Royale also goes a long way towards humanizing Craig’s Bond right as viewers first meet him with the equal emphasis it places on his vulnerability and mortality (which also set up Craig’s Bond fixing numerous 007 issues throughout the series). With decades of Bond’s perpetually cool and charming image, Casino Royale’s parkour chase re-invents Craig’s Bond into one much more susceptible to human limitations, but still completely undaunted by them. In its goal to reboot Bond for the modern age, Casino Royale got the job done with the very first mission Craig’s Bond ever embarked upon.
After Casino Royale set a completely new standard for Bond action with its opening foot chase, Craig’s Bond movies consistently treated it as their template with their action scenes. 2012’s Skyfall and No Time to Die are particularly energetic in the heights of adrenaline a Craig Bond film requires, and that bodes well for Bond 26 meeting its numerous post-Craig challenges head-on. The action hero image of James Bond has been influenced by Craig to such an extent that, while another Bond re-invention is still likely – if not actively advisable – the standards of physicality that Craig’s Bond established are all but indispensable, and ideally should be matched if not potentially even outdone in order to solidly set the tone for the new era.
While the opening parkour action sequence of Casino Royale remains the greatest action scene of Craig’s (and arguably any) Bond films, his series still kept pace with the level and tone of rough and tumble action the chase set up. It would most definitely take much blood, sweat, and tears to outdo the Casino Royale opening chase, on top of introducing a new (potentially younger) James Bond. With that being said, where there’s a will, there’s a way, and with the right director and stunt team, Bond 26 could rise to the occasion by creating an opening that also breathes new life into the role of James Bond while keeping up with the expectations for impeccable action sequences.