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What Game Should 007 Play in the Next Bond Film?

James Bond and games go hand in hand. The first book about the superspy, written by Ian Fleming in 1953, featured Bond using his prowess at baccarat to dismantle a crime syndicate by bankrupting their financier.

It’s no surprise that when the reboot came in 2006, ‘Casino Royale’ was the film chosen to lead the way. The luxurious location of Monte Carlo and the tension-filled tournament helped characterise the dashing secret agent as one who could use his skills and remain calm under pressure to best the villain.

So, what other games has Bond played so far and what should he play in the future?

Where Are We, Now?

As we’re in the digital era of change, we no longer have to rely on traditional casino games if Bond visits a brick-and-mortar casino. To reflect the growing trend of people playing online bingo UK-wide, it would be very interesting to see how Bond engages with the classics, like poker, bingo and baccarat, over an online medium.

He’d be, of course, subject to a new level of tension with attempts to read Poker-faces through the screen and maybe even defeated in a live bingo room, if his attention were to lapse while sleuthing. 

What Has Bond Played Before?

Much as 1953’s baccarat was changed to poker in 2006, to connect better with audiences who were more likely to have played poker, the next Bond film after ‘No Time to Die’ (2021) should ensure they engage with the zeitgeist and the games that are popular at the time of filming.

Let’s not forget that this has previously been done within the franchise. The unofficial 1983 Bond film, ‘Never Say Never Again’, which brought back a 52-year old Sean Connery, featured Bond playing a video game against the villainous Emilio Largo. This highly tense scene fed into the 1980s thrill of arcade games and video gaming.

Perhaps the next Bond film, which will potentially feature a culturally relevant Bond to resonate with contemporary audiences, could use VR technology to have Bond facing off against a villain in cyberspace. Similarly to the game in ‘Never Say Never Again’, injuries in the game could be real.     

Meeting the Villain

Scenes in which Bond plays games don’t just serve to provide some flavour to the character. Often, they’re a meeting between Bond and the film’s villain. ‘Thunderball’ (1965) sees Bond drop several hints about villain Largo being in the SPECTRE organisation while they play baccarat.

In ‘Goldfinger’ (1964), Bond plays golf against the titular villain and catches him cheating, while also making sure Goldfinger knew that MI6 were onto him.

In ‘Die Another Day’ (2002), Bond faces off against villainous Gustav Graves in a fencing match at the Blades fencing club (with Madonna watching). The pair use the sporting game to square up against one another.  

Saving the Damsel in Distress

Another purpose for the game in Bond films is to meet and potentially save the romantic lead. In ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ (1969), the casino scenes where Bond rescues a penniless Tracy sets up their relationship as one defined by rescue and consequently make her death after their wedding that much more poignant.

In ‘The World is Not Enough’ (1999), a visit to the casino with kidnap victim Elektra King helps highlight Bond’s desire to protect her, despite the visit also tipping him off to the fact she may not be wholly innocent in the theft of a nuclear bomb.

If there’s one guarantee about the next Bond film, aside from Daniel Craig stepping down, it will be that a game scene needs to feature. The scenes allow the films to do what they do best with their tension, the set design, and the establishment of Bond as a character. The way he plays each game reflects the kind of person, and the kind of spy, he is. It doesn’t even really matter what he plays.

Pip Ellwood-Hughes
Pip Ellwood-Hughes
Pip is the Editor of Entertainment Focus and the Managing Director of agency Piñata Media.

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