Casino Royale Book vs Movie Review

written by Laura J.

Casino Royale by Ian Fleming (1953)

Casino Royale directed by Martin Campbell (2006)

Continuing with subscriber month, this one was suggested by Warrenwhinerson6373. It was also a patreon poll, I selected three sub submissions, and from those three, my patreons chose Casino Royale!

Book review

Spy thrillers like this aren’t my preferred genre, although I did cover The Gray Man book vs movie last year which is along the same vein. This was the first James Bond book ever written and it was interesting to read the book that started it all! Even though I don’t love books like this, I was actually liking this fairly well. As I was reading, I thought I would probably give it three stars, however I knocked it down to two stars due to a line where Bond is thinking about the main female character which reads, “She was thoughtful and full of consideration without being slavish and without com-promising her arrogant  spirit. And now he knew that she was profoundly, excitingly sensual, but that the conquest of her body, because  of the central privacy in her, would each time have the sweet tang of rape.” I know people justify stuff like this due to it being written a long time ago, but I don’t care what decade this came out in-talking about SA like it is something sexy is never okay. I won’t talk about the sexism of the book too much, because I went into the book knowing that would be a thing and tbh, I get tired of talking about it. But I couldn’t ignore that line.   

On a lighter note, I wanted to share a funny section that describes what James Bond wears to bed, “Bond had always disliked pyjamas and had slept naked until in Hong Kong at the end of the war he came across  the perfect compromise. This was a pyjama-coat which came almost down to the knees. It had no buttons, but there was a loose belt round the waist. The sleeves were wide and short, ending just above the elbow. The result was cool and comfortable.”

Movie Review

I have seen this movie once or twice before, but it had been a long time. Almost all of the first hour I didn’t even remember, aside from the black and white opening which shows Bond becoming a double O. (In the book he is a double O from the start, but in both we learn you get double O status by killing two people). The first hour though is all set up for the following hour and a half which is really when the plot begins. I get the first hour helps us see why he needs to beat Le Chiffre at Casino Royale and it also is important to the character of Bond. We need to see how detached he is, in order for his arc to be potent. Even so, it just felt long in that first part and if I watch this movie again on my own, I would just skip it.

This is course Daniel Craig’s debut as Bond and he is amazing, as are all of the performances. The action is also really well done, a lot of it happens in that first hour though and like I said, it just felt too dragged out at times but that is personal preference because I don’t always get into action/chase/fight scenes.

Overall, I was surprised how similar the plot was to the book. There are some changes, but it stays pretty close.

I wanted to mention there is a movie from the late 60’s called Casino Royale in which David Niven plays Bond. However that movie is a spoof on the Bond movies and isn’t an actual adaptation on this book.

From here on out there will be spoilers for both book and movie!

Overall plot

The details of the plot are different as to why Le Chiffre is trying to win money back that he owes to people. In the movie, he was going to have some bomb take out this new jet and from the stock crashing he was going to make a lot of money. However, Bond stops the bomb and Le Chiffre ends up losing the money instead. In the book he had money from the Russian mob or something, but he lost the money from different endeavors and now he wants to make the money back by gambling, hoping to pay back the Russian’s before they even notice.

The movie has a group called Ellipsis whereas the book as a group called SMERSH. SMERSH is connected to the Russians I think, but I wasn’t really sure what Ellipsis was in the movie, but I think it was related to Le Chiffre…?

In the movie Vesper is an account, part of the treasury that is funding Bond for the gambling. In the book she is a radio expert. In the book, when Mathis is describing Vesper to Bond he says, “She is very beautiful…She has black hair, blue eyes, and splendid . . . er . . . protuberances. Back and front,” I’ve never heard a woman’s figure be described as protuberances so that was pretty funny.

Le Chiffre

In both the gambling goes the same. At first Bond loses all of the money, however he is able to come back in when an American who is with the CIA offers to fund Bond. After he gets the American’s money, Bond then beats Le Chiffre.

In both he almost dies, in the movie Le Chiffe poisons him but he is saved thanks to MI-6 headquarters and Vesper, whereas in the book a guy comes up from behind and threatens to shoot Bond but Bond is able to do some manevaure to get the guy away (I think he kills him) and makes it seem like he like slipped from the chair due to fatigue.

However, later that evening Vesper is kidnapped and Bond goes after her, only to be caught by Le Chiffre and tortured. He and Vesper are saved by another person (in the movie they are saved by a group Vesper is working for, in the book I think it was again someone connected to her but tbh I’m not entirely sure, maybe it was someone with SMERSH.)

I remembered the torture scene in the movie, and I was kind of surprised to see that is directly from the book! Where they have him naked and get him in his private area.

Also, in the movie we see Bond order a complicated drink, this is also straight from the book. In the movie he says that it’s good and he needs to think of a name for it. In the book, he names the drink the Vesper.

Vesper and Bond

 Speaking of Vesper, in both they fall in love with each other and Bond wants to marry her. In the book I wasn’t really feeling the romance whereas it was much more believable in the movie. In the movie she is the accountant and when it is time to transfer the gambling winnings, rather than sending it to the treasury, she sends it to the agency she is working for. In the movie, Bond tells her that his password was Vesper, which is sweet but makes Vesper feel terrible considering she is double crossing him.

In the movie she goes to the bank to take the money out, and Bond finds her. It seems she had wanted Bond to find out what was going out because she had left her cell phone in the hotel where he could find it. Anyway, he stops the exchange and in all of the chaos, Vesper allows herself to be killed because she feels so guilty for what she has done.

In the book, at the end he finds Vesper’s body in her room where she has overdosed and left a note for Bond. In both, we learn she was in love with a guy who got caught up in some illegal group and in order to keep him alive, she had to work as a double agent for them. However, she falls for Bond in the process and now she knows there is no escaping from either group that she has crossed, as well as feeling horrible for what she has done to Bond, which is why she ends her life.

The last line of the book is Bond saying, “The bitch is dead.” Showing he has reverted back to his cold-hearted self. In the movie he says this, but it is followed by M making a point to show how Vesper sacrificed her own life at times to save Bond.

Final thoughts

Some final things I wanted to mention, it had been so long since I had seen the older Bond movies, so I only remember M as Judy Dench. So I was surprised that in the book, M is a man. Judy Dench is so fantastic in the role it’s hard to imagine someone else!

In the movie there is the woman Solange who Bond uses to get information early on, but then she ends up dead. This wasn’t in the book.

In the book, after being tortured by Le Chiffre, Bond says he wants to retire because he is longer sure who is good and who is evil. He says, “Today we are fighting communism. Okay. If I’d been alive fifty years ago, the brand of conservatism we have today would have been damn near called communism and we should have been told to go and fight that. History is moving pretty quickly these days and the heroes and villains keep on changing parts…Le Chiffre was serving a wonderful purpose, a really vital purpose, perhaps the best and highest purpose of all. By his evil existence, which foolishly I have helped to destroy, he was creating a norm of badness by which, and by which alone, an opposite norm of goodness could exist. We were privileged, in our short knowledge of him, to see and estimate his wickedness and we emerge from the acquaintanceship better and more virtuous men.”

In the movie, after the torturing by Le Chiffre, Bond tells M he retires because he wants to live a happy life with Vesper. Then of course he learns the truth about her in both book and movie and he gets back into it.

The movie ends with him getting the guy Vesper had been working for, but this wasn’t in the book.

Book vs movie

Without a doubt, I prefer the movie. It takes a while to get to the main plot but aside from that I found it more engaging than the book. The romance was also far more believable in the movie and the action sequences were great and the performances by all were amazing! It also is a cool movie because it was the first of the Craig movies and he went on to play Bond for like the next 15 years or more which is crazy! It was such a big deal to get a new Bond at the time, and now it will be interesting to see who they get next.