Table of contents

Casino Royale

The makings of a spy

James Bond is an ambitious man, enjoys luxury, & is extremely erotic. The latter would seem to describe a woman; the former – emphatically not. This opposition perhaps explains the attractions of the life of the spy for Bond. What other ways of life would satisfy him? His eroticism must be satisfied in lands foreign, not domestic. He seeks out the exotic, which he understands clearly to mean that which does not obey the law. His invasion of an embassy in a foreign country shows his opinion about sovereign laws. His chasing after people is a dramatic image of his ambition. So must all his actions be understood to imply an argument about law & love.

The test of an agent of Bond’s type is killing for his country. A cold-blooded man, an assassin can never fully earn his country’s trust. He is too unlike his countrymen. What is admirable about him, his daring, makes him dangerous. Bond rises as a spy by killing others of his type. He is not satisfied to be one among others, a fact of which his 007 handle reminds us. He mocks M, saying that 00 agents have brief lifespans.

The plot of the movie is simple. The story shows us how Bond learned the problem of trust. Why M is trustworthy, but perhaps unlovable, whereas the woman he loved was untrustworthy. This is a psychological distinction parallel to lawful & lawless.

Ambition leads Bond to bet his country’s money on poker. He does not consider it a game of chance, but applied psychology. Poker shows that greed overtakes danger, that conventions favor the clever. Bond is not altogether successful. A woman tells him that he is now financing terrorism. The players, of course, are terrorists. Bond is unafraid, but is he willing that his country should pay the price of his fearlessness?

Success, which may be likened to innocence, clouds Bond’s judgment. His country will not suffer; he himself will. The erotic betrayal & the torture show us that Bond does not respect the body enough to be a great spy. He does not respect necessity enough. Necessity always leads him in the chase, which led him to believe it would not hurt him.

Eros, for Bond, seems to dwell with crime & lawlessness. He can only occasionally move beyond the laws. Perhaps all his pleasures are unlawful. Why should luxury & crime be connected, however? Perhaps they are both ways of escaping necessity. As an agent of justice, Bond teaches that necessity might destroy criminals. But he cannot love this necessity like a woman. Bond first learned there is a difference between justice, pleasure, & the good.

The best James Bond since Sean Connery.