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Spectre marks the fourth installment in the Daniel Craig era of the James Bond franchise, and it can be tough to remember all the important details that came before. Or, perhaps you haven’t seen any of the previous films, but want to check out the new one. We’ve got you covered with this guide to the Daniel Craig era of the James Bond films.


Casino Royale


Directed by Martin Campbell. Produced by Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli. Written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and Paul Haggis. Release date: November 17, 2006.


It was in 2005 that Daniel Craig was announced as the newest actor to play the iconic character of James Bond. “A blonde Bond?” was the response from many after the announcement. Craig was a relative unknown to American audiences, which certainly didn’t help things, even though he’d been nominated for two British Independent Film Awards and was only a couple of months away from being a prominent player in a Steven Spielberg film. Audiences waited with bated breath in anticipation of Casino Royale, a reboot of the Bond franchise, only to have it wind up being one of the most critically well-received films of the franchise, as well as, at the time, the highest grossing of the series.

The Characters

James Bond (Daniel Craig): Our leading character. Set at the beginning of his career, he earns his double-0 status at the start of the film and is tasked with taking down a terrorist financier, Le Chiffre.

M (Judi Dench): The head of MI6, she acts like a mother figure to Bond, although she’s often hard on him. Returns in Quantum of Solace and Skyfall.

Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen): A banker who serves several terrorists. Enjoys playing chess and poker.

Vesper Lynd (Eva Green): A Treasury agent who watches Bond and determines whether or not he deserves additional funding. The Bond Girl.

Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright): A CIA operative Bond meets at a poker tournament who helps him here and in Quantum of Solace.

René Mathis (Giancarlo Giannini): One of Bond’s contacts. He is based out of Montenegro. Returns in Quantum of Solace.

The Plot

James Bond, an agent for MI6 – the British intelligence agency – is promoted to double-0 status after thwarting a plot from an agency traitor. He is then tasked with going to Madagascar to locate a bomb maker. He kills the bomb maker, though, discovering in the process a terrorist group and its financier, Le Chiffre. Le Chiffre invests the money of many of his terrorist clients into an airplane company, deciding to plan an attack on its newest prototype, causing its share prices to fall while he bets against the predicted growth, giving himself a substantial profit.

Bond heads to Miami to stop the terrorist plot. He does so by redirecting the planned fuel truck-to-airplane assault, and killing the henchman who was tasked with its execution. Le Chiffre loses his clients’ money, and as such decides to organize a high-stakes poker tournament, which he believes he will win, to recoup his losses. Bond enters with the hope that Le Chiffre will become an aide for the British government in exchange for protection if Bond can defeat him. On the way to the tournament, Bond meets Vesper Lynd, a Treasury agent who gets to determine whether or not Bond can use a $5 million re-buy-in if he loses.

Bond does well in the tournament before taking a risk that sees him get eliminated. Vesper decides that he does not deserve the $5 million, causing Bond to be eliminated for good. Before anything else can happen, a fellow player named Felix Leiter approaches Bond, revealing himself to be a CIA agent. Felix gives Bond the $5 million to continue playing. Bond wins the tournament, even in spite of a failed assassination attempt, and deposits them into a Swiss bank account. Later on, Le Chiffre captures Bond and tortures him for the accounts password. He doesn’t succeed, being interrupted by Mr. White, later revealed to be a representative for the terrorist organization Quantum, who kills Le Chiffre. Bond wakes up in a hospital, with Vesper, tells her he loves her, and resigns from MI6.

On a holiday in Venice, Bond learns that his money was never deposited into his bank account. Vesper has stolen it. He follows her into a rundown building, where he kills the men with whom she meets. The building begins to collapse, Vesper locks herself in a cage and drowns while the building sinks. Mr. White walks away with the money. Bond rejoins MI6 and vows revenge. He learns that Le Chiffre and Mr. White blackmailed Vesper into stealing the money in exchange for Bond’s life. He also discovers where Mr. White lives, where he wounds and kidnaps the man as the film ends and sets up Quantum of Solace.

Is It Any Good?

After a couple of lackluster Pierce Brosnan installments and a controversial casting choice in the form of Daniel Craig, audiences were a little worried about Casino Royale. A reboot of the franchise, this movie turned Bond away from the suave individuals of the past and made him into a gritty, realistic person – superhuman strength, durability, and incredible accuracy aside. A chase scene early on in the film would never have been possible in the years earlier, but with this rebooted Bond, it is. There are some great action scenes, the entire poker sequence is incredibly intense, and you begin to care about Bond, Vesper, and the relationship between the two. Daniel Craig silenced critics with this movie, leading one of the best Bond films of all time in just his first outing.

Quantum of Solace


Directed by Marc Forster. Produced by Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli. Written by Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis, and Robert Wade. Release date: November 14, 2008.


After Casino Royale successfully rebooted the James Bond franchise, it was decided that its forward momentum needed to be continued, and Quantum of Solace was released just two years later. It was impacted by the Writers’ Strike, which explains why the story was lackluster, although it still made a ton of money, even if audience and critical scores were nowhere near as high as they were for its predecessor.

The Characters

James Bond (Daniel Craig): Our leading character. A double-0 agent working for MI6. After foiling Le Chiffre’s plan in Casino Royale, but losing his love, Vesper, he’s now out for revenge, wanting to hunt down the men responsible for her death.

Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric): A high-ranking member of the terrorist organization Quantum who poses as a business person worried about the environment. The film’s main villain.

Camille Montes (Olga Kurylenko): An agent looking for revenge against Dominic Greene and General Medrano.

M (Judi Dench): The head of MI6, she acts like a mother figure to Bond, although she’s often hard on him. Returns from Casino Royale and will be back in Skyfall.

Strawberry Fields (Gemma Arterton): An MI6 agent tasked with bringing Bond back to the agency. Later seduced by Bond and fails at her mission.

Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright): A CIA operative Bond met at Le Chiffre’s poker tournament in Casino Royale. Limited but crucial role here.

René Mathis (Giancarlo Giannini): One of Bond’s contacts. Helps Bond in his quest to get revenge for the death of Vesper.

Mr. White (Jesper Christensen): A representative of the terrorist organization Quantum. Killed Le Chiffre in Casino Royale, but was also kidnapped by Bond.

The Plot

Having seized Mr. White at the end of Casino Royale, James Bond takes him to a safe house in Italy to interrogate him. M’s bodyguard, who turns out to be a double agent, frees him. Bond chases the bodyguard and kills him. After rooting through the things of the bodyguard, Bond discovers that he had a contact in Haiti. That contact is a hitman sent to kill Camille Montes at the request of Dominic Greene, her lover. Bond learns that Greene is helping a former Bolivian General, Medrano, to overthrow the government and become the new president in exchange for a piece of land. Bond rescues Camille before any harm can befall her. Medrano killed and raped Camille’s family, which is why she’s here: she wants revenge on him.

Bond then follows Greene to an opera performance, where he manages to reveal several of Quantum’s executive board members. In an ensuing gunfight, an advisor to the British Prime Minister is killed, which M sees and assumes was Bond’s doing; she proceeds to revoke access to his passports and credit cards after he refuses to come in for debriefing.

Bond convinces his ally Mathis to accompany him to Bolivia. Upon arrival, they’re met by Strawberry Fields, who is here to bring Bond back to the UK. Instead, Bond seduces her and goes to a party hosted by Greene. Bond rescues Camille at the party but is pulled over by the corrupt police. Mathis is wounded and in the trunk of Bond’s vehicle. He then dies.

Bond and Camille survey the land Greene wants to acquire, but their plane is shot down. They learn that it’s not oil Quantum was after; it’s water. Upon returning to the hotel, Bond finds a dead Fields and is ordered to be arrested by M. He escapes, heading to a desert-based hotel. Greene and Medrano come to an agreement which sees Greene’s company be the sole supplier of water to Bolivia. Bond and Camille get into the hotel, with Camille killing Medrano and Greene being stranded in the middle of the desert. Bond is reinstated as an agent, his revenge complete.

Is It Any Good?

A lot has been made about Quantum of Solace since its release, particularly because of the comparative lack of quality when placing it side-by-side with Casino Royale. It’s true that Quantum of Solace is a far worse film than its predecessor, but I think there are still some things of value to be had. The dual story threads of quests for revenge are fun, some of the action scenes are solid, the acting is good, and the villain’s plot feels very real-world. It’s a bit of a mess, and it doesn’t have much edge-of-your-seat tension, but it’s not a bad movie by any stretch.

Skyfall


Directed by Sam Mendes. Produced by Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli. Written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and John Logan. Release date: November 9, 2012.


Even though Quantum of Solace was far less positively received than its predecessor, it still made a lot of money. Unfortunately for studio MGM, financial troubles ensued anyway. The James Bond franchise was put on the backburner while those troubles were dealt with, leading to a four-year gap between films. The time, however, allowed the filmmakers to come up with a solid script, something that wasn’t available last time, and led Skyfall, released on the 50th anniversary of Dr. No – the first James Bond film – to become the highest grossing Bond film of all time.

The Characters

James Bond (Daniel Craig): Our leading character. A double-0 agent working for MI6. Having gotten his revenge for the death of his love, he is back working for MI6 with a clear mind.

Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem): A former MI6 operative who has become a cyberterrorist.

M (Judi Dench): The head of MI6, she acts like a mother figure to Bond, although she’s often hard on him. Returns from the previous two films.

Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes): Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee. Will return in Spectre.

Eve Moneypenny (Naomie Harris): An MI6 agent. Returns in Spectre.

Q (Ben Whishaw): Q, the MI6 quartermaster who supplies Bond with gadgets. Returns in Spectre.

Séverine (Bérénice Marlohe): Raoul Silva’s associate and Bond Girl.

The Plot

On a mission to retrieve a computer hard drive containing details of undercover agents, James Bond is shot off a moving train and into a river, presumably having died from his injuries. Afterward, Gareth Mallory begins to pressure M to retire. MI6’s servers wind up breached by an unknown person, and the headquarters explode. MI6 moves underground and Bond, having survived the attack and taken a leave of absence, returns to London to assist in bringing down the terrorist behind the attack. Despite failing physical and psychological tests, M lets Bond back into the field, sending him to Shanghai and eventually Macau.

It’s in Macau where Bond meets Séverine, whom he witnessed in Shanghai and is an accomplice to the terrorist. After seducing her, he travels via yacht to an abandoned island where Bond meets Raoul Silva, a former MI6 operative who now spends his time on cyberterrorism. Séverine is killed, but Bond kidnaps Silva and transports him to Britain.

Silva escapes and Bond realizes his plan was to kill M, whom Silva resents for leaving him to die several years ago while he was still an agent. Silva attacks M during a public inquiry regarding the stolen hard drive, but Bond, Eve, and Mallory fend off the attack. M is rescued and Bond drives her to his childhood home in Scotland. He gets Q to leave an electronic trail to leave Silva to their location. Bond and M set a trap. An extensive firefight wounds M, and Bond and M head to a chapel. Bond kills Silva, but M is unable to survive her wounds and dies. After M’s funeral, Eve retires from the field, and Mallory becomes the new head of MI6.

Is It Any Good?

There’s a debate raging on the internet whether Skyfall or Casino Royale is the best of the Craig Bond films. Skyfall has a great villain, explores in depth the relationship between Bond and M, is probably the best shot film of the franchise, contains some incredible action, and is another for-the-moment film. All of that goes to say that it’s quite good. For me, though? Casino Royale is better than Skyfall by a hair, if only because it’s more thrilling. But Skyfall is also excellent, and that there’s even a debate speaks volumes about its quality.

Spectre (Preview)


Directed by Sam Mendes. Produced by Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli. Written by John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and Jez Butterworth. Release date: November 6, 2015.


After three years, we finally have another James Bond movie after Skyfall became the highest grossing film of the franchise by more than a little bit. The newest film will see Bond face off against Franz Oberhauser, whom the trailers want us to believe has been behind many of the obstacles that Bond has encountered ever since he’s been played by Daniel Craig. It promises to be sprawling, clocking in at two and a half hours in length, and was produced on a budget of an approximated $300 million, which is insanely high. Sam Mendes returns as the director, following Skyfall, and a pretty fantastic cast has been gathered.

The Characters

James Bond (Daniel Craig): Our leading character. A double-0 agent working for MI6. Has foiled three major terrorist plans since becoming 007.

Franz Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz): The leader of a mysterious group named S.P.E.C.T.R.E. The film’s villain.

Dr. Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux): A psychologist working at a medical clinic in the Austrian Alps.

Gareth “M” Mallory (Ralph Fiennes): The new head of MI6 following the previous M’s death.

Eve Moneypenny (Naomie Harris): An MI6 agent who retired in Skyfall and is now the secretary of Mallory.

Q (Ben Whishaw): Q, the MI6 quartermaster who supplies Bond with gadgets.

Mr. Hinx (Dave Bautista): Oberhauser’s henchman.

Max “C” Denbigh (Andrew Scott): A member of the British government.

Mr. White (Jesper Christensen): A representative of Quantum who was captured by Bond but escaped MI6’s clutches.

Why Should You Care?

I’ve already mentioned a couple of the reasons why you should care about Spectre, assuming you don’t live in a location where it has already been released. Sam Mendes has a pretty stellar track record, and his Skyfall is seen as one of the best James Bond movies to-date. Daniel Craig has always been a solid Bond, and he looks to be in top form here. With a $300 million budget and a 2.5-hour running time, Spectre appears to be quite extensive in scope, and should feature a ton of great action and character beats.

Furthermore, Christoph Waltz is a tremendous actor whose villain roles are always captivating. The supporting cast is quite good, and it will be particularly interesting to see how Léa Seydoux and Dave Bautista do. The pre-release buzz has said that Spectre is more like a “traditional” Bond film, meaning it’s a little silly and features even more action – although not as grounded – which will either disappoint or excite, depending on where you stand.

Mostly, though, I want to know exactly what this version of S.P.E.C.T.R.E. will be like, whether Oberhauser is just Oberhauser or if that’s a fake name, and how exactly he influenced the previous movies. Will he have impacted them in a way that ruins them or makes them even more compelling upon a re-watch? There are more mysteries surrounding this Bond movie than most others, and I want to see them get solved. Spectre should be a fun ride.

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If you want more of Matthew “Marter” Parkinson, you can follow him on the Twitter @Martertweet and check out his weekly movie podcast.

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