Finally, Bond is back. He may be licensed to kill but Covid proved to much of a challenge and stopped 007 in his tracks; delaying the release of No Time to Die from April 2020 to September 2021. Now the film is out, all we want to know is does 007 find his way to a casino? Short answer: no.
No Time To Die runs for nearly three hours. It features spectacular stunts, glamorous women, stunning locations, a small garage of Aston Martins, and Daniel Craig grinding his way through a role he has played for more than 15 years. What it doesn’t feature, however, is James Bond at the baccarat table.
The closest the new film gets to a casino is mysterious (no spoilers!) party in a Cuban nightclub. There may be some blackjack and roulette in the background but Bond doesn’t make a visit to the cashier to grab some chips.
Of course, the James Bond created by Ian Fleming has had to move with the times. Although his steady consumption of vodka martinis still comes with a health warning, he no longer smokes sixty cigarettes a day. He does – of course – still love fast cars, women, and spending time at the casino.
In Casino Royale, Fleming writes: “Bond had always been a gambler. He loved the dry riffle of the cards and the constant unemphatic drama of the quiet figures around the green tables. He liked the solid, studied comfort of card-rooms and casinos, the well-padded arms of the chairs, the glass of champagne or whisky at the elbow, the quiet unhurried attention of good servants. He was amused by the impartiality of the roulette ball and of the playing cards.”
In the books, Bonds favourite game is baccarat Chemin-de-Fer. In the Daniel Craig version of Casino Royale, they brought the film up to date with Bond beating Le Chiffre playing Texas Holdem instead. It added drama; baccarat is purely a game of luck. Poker is more complex.
Baccarat Chemin-de-Fer does feature in Dr. No, Thunderball, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and GoldenEye. If you play baccarat online, it is usually punto banco where the house plays the role of the bank.
In Chemin-de-Fer, every player takes it in turn to be the bank. The banker sets the limits for the hand. In Bond’s world, he can test the banker by making a huge bet. The banker can decline but… this is Bond. Of course, they will try and take it all.
Although blackjack is the world’s most popular casino card game, it features in only one Bond film: the hugely underrated Licence to Kill. Timothy Dalton’s Bond wins a cool quarter of a million from a casino owned by the film’s villain Frank Sanchez.
Craps and roulette both feature in Sean Connery’s last outing as Bond, in the film Diamonds Are Forever (Never Say Never Again excluded). The action was shot in some of the most iconic 1970s Las Vegas casinos, including the Tropicana, Dunes, and the Riviera.
Although No Time To Die may not feature any casinos, it’s a worthy end to Daniel Craig’s tenure as Bond. Grab that tux, shake that martini, and renew that licence to kill.