Casino Royale — How Action Reveals Character

Casino Royale — How Action Reveals Character

(typing) – [Michael] Hi, I’m Michael, this is Lessons from the Screenplay. (typing) Anyone that has seen a James Bond movie understands how action scenes
provide cinematic spectacle. Some bang, pow, here. Some vroom, boom, there. And you’ve got yourself something cool to look at, and listen to. But but what might be
less obvious are the ways in which action sequences
also reveal character. According to Robert Wade, one of the writers of “Casino Royale,” – [Robert] Basically,
what you’re looking for as a writer of an action
sequence is something that, there’s an element of narrative to it, that you can have a developing story that shows an aspect of the character. – [Michael] An action scene,
just like any other scene, should help expose a
character’s true self. But in the case of “Casino Royale,” the opening action sequence needed to do even more than that. It needed to introduce the
world to a whole new James Bond. So today, I want to dissect the film’s freerunning chase sequence to see how it uses action to
develop the characters, to examine how it forces the
protagonist to make choices which reveal his key characteristics, and to demonstrate how
its underlying structure brings Bond’s deepest flaw to the surface. Let’s take a look at “Casino Royale.” (chill music) In “Casino Royale,” unlike
in most other 007 movies, James Bond is propelled through
a complete character arc. By the end of the film,
Bond overcomes his flaws, and is one step closer to
becoming the agent he needs to be. So what exactly are those flaws? – This may be too much
for a blunt instrument to understand, but
arrogance and self-awareness seldom go hand in hand. – You’re reckless.
(elevator bell rings) Take the next one. There isn’t enough room
for me and your ego. – [Michael] As M and
Vesper point out early on, Bond begins this film
as a blunt instrument, reckless and arrogant, driven by his ego. But the writers don’t convey these flaws only through dialogue. The first action sequence functions like a story in miniature,
following a three-act structure that forces the central
character to a crisis. The first act begins with
some quick exposition. Bond and another agent, Carter,
are looking for someone. (crowd yelling)
– Looks like our man. Burn scars on his face. – I wonder if bomb makers are
insured for things like that. – [Michael] Immediately, we understand that they’re trying to catch a bomb maker, but the inciting incident
of the sequence comes as their cover is blown
by Carter’s inexperience. – Stop touching your ear. – Sorry? – Put your hand down! – [Michael] As the bomb
maker, Mollaka, starts to run, we get the final and most
critical piece of exposition. – Holster the bloody weapon, Carter. I need him alive! – [Michael] Bond can’t just shoot Mollaka, so instead, he’s going
to have to chase him. (suspenseful music) As the chase begins, the
characters’ abilities are revealed through comparison. Mollaka appears to be a
master of freerunning. While Bond struggles to keep up. So Bond can keep chasing him
on foot, or he can improvise. (truck crashing) This is the first major
character revealing choice in the sequence. It shows us a Bond who
is resourceful, fearless, and ultimately, a blunt instrument. (truck crashing) – [Robert] This was particularly
appropriate as a way of introducing Bond as
a kind of no gadgets, vigorous, unstoppable, younger man. – [Michael] The stage has been set for an exciting chase sequence. Now it’s time for act 2,
rising and falling action. In act 2, the screenwriters
raise the stakes, in story structure, this is
referred to as rising action. Which, in this sequence,
literally involves the characters increasing
their distance from the ground, as they climb higher and higher through the construction zone. This is a simple, but effective technique. If Bond made a wrong move on the ground, the bomber would get away, but if he makes a wrong move here, the consequences could be much worse. (bomb exploding) As Mollaka reaches the
top of the structure, Bond opts for an
innovative way to catch up, with little regard for the consequences. We can see that Bond is reckless. This sends us into the
sequence’s midpoint, where the screenwriters
keep the scene dynamic by pausing the chase so the characters can face off directly. (empty gun firing) Here, things get personal, as the characters engage
in hand-to-hand combat. After a few moments, Mollaka
escapes by executing, yet another, seemingly impossible jump. In response, Bond makes the brash decision to continue pursuit, demonstrating a unique kind of arrogance. Now Bond does the jump, barely making it, landing awkwardly onto the second crane. His leap to the roof is even worse. This point in structure
is called falling action. Here, Mollaka’s acrobatic
skills are the biggest obstacle, putting more and more
distance between him and Bond. So Bond chooses to address this obstacle by quickly identifying shortcuts. – [Robert] The best
beat in it all, I think, is when the terrorist jumps
through the top of the door, and Bond just charges through the wall. Because that just tells you
everything about this guy. I don’t think that
would’ve been another Bond, I think it’s this Bond, who does that. – [Michael] Finally, Bond
and Mollaka hit the ground, and it’s on to act 3, crisis and climax. The sequence moves into its final act, as Mollaka reaches the embassy, and we find ourselves with
a new set of circumstances. Bond is entering enemy territory, a foreign embassy full of armed guards, further raising the stakes. Another Bond might rely on stealth, but not the Bond we’ve come to know over the course of this sequence. This Bond choose to march straight inside, in the plain view of the security cameras, and grab his target. Here, the sequence has a reversal. Now, Bond is the one being chased. Bond’s reckless choices
have successfully lead him to catch the bomber alive,
but they’ve also led him to the sequence’s crisis point. Bond is surrounded by
soldiers with no escape. (sirens ringing) And the final, most
critical choice Bond makes, reveals his deepest character flaw. Bond is driven by his ego
and wants to win so badly that he’s willing to
sacrifice the mission. (gun firing) (gas tanks exploding) Finally, the sequence ends, and we get a quick moment of resolution, as Bond finds a clue
in Mollaka’s backpack. We’ve now seen that he
will do things his own way, without consideration of the consequence. Which makes him an unpredictable, and potentially untrustworthy agent. So, in addition to providing several minutes of exciting action, the sequence has also
set up a critical part of Bond’s character arc. – Any thug can kill. I want you to take your
ego out of the equation. And to judge the
situation dispassionately. – [Michael] The flaw he will struggle with for the rest of the film. – You lost because of your ego, and that same ego can’t take it. – [Michael] Great action
sequences are about more than cool cars, or incredible stunts. They provide an important testing ground, presenting the characters
with split second decisions that reveal who they are. And in the case of “Casino Royale,” the action sequence can be an effective, efficient, and entertaining way to introduce the world
to a new version of Bond. – James Bond. – Hey guys, Michael here,
hope you enjoyed the video, it feels very good to be back. Now, I have a question for you, wouldn’t it be cool if there was a place where creators could make stuff without having to worry
about the algorithm, or the looming threat of demonetization, a place where experimentation
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100 thoughts on “Casino Royale — How Action Reveals Character”

  1. Check out Nebula and support some of your favorite creators PLUS get a 31 day trial of CuriosityStream!

  2. I'm glad he made this video! I think about this scene all the time haha. I hated spectre the whole time cause right from the bat i compared this opening to spectres. They really lost consistency which is quite unfortunate

  3. Can we take a second to appreciate the way LFTS ended this video? With the word "Bond" to be followed up with Craig's (and the character's) "James, Bond."

  4. This iteration of Bond is far and away the best making early Connery a second place finish in my opinion. This Bond could exist.

  5. Bond theory:

    The best Bond movies are adaptations of the books.
    Bad Bond movies are adaptations of Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang.

    That sounds crazy on the surface, until you realize that Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang was written by directed by Albert Brocholli based on a book by Ian Fleming.
    A significant number of the Bond movies made between Fleming's death and Casino Royale were retellings of ChittyChitty Bang-Bang with guns and sex.

  6. Pretentious bullshit. Unbelievable that people watch this shit. It really is. The only lesson you should take from a movie is that it's a MOVIE and not real at all. everything you see is scripted and acted by people who are good at pretending to be something other than what they actually are. Idiots. Fucking idiots.

  7. I think you’re wrong at 2:30. My impression was that they were doing surveillance at this point, not to capture. I also think you’re wrong saying Bond is untrustworthy, even potentially. I think there’s a better word you could of used.

  8. Casino Royale is the only Bond Movie I have on Blu-ray. I liked Skyfall but it was bleak and dreary, so I never bought it. I forgot Quantum of Solace existed for a few years. This has happened multiple times. I only saw it once. Spectre was… A movie.
    Casino Royale is FUN. I enjoy watching it. Also Eva Green. What a gorgeous woman.

  9. Between the Last of Us’s environmental storytelling (which you covered before) and Casino Royale’s bodily/action-based narrative, I appreciate the attention you give to “show don’t tell” forms of storytelling.

  10. Hello Michael,
    I enjoy your content and would be interested on your opinion about "Wolfen" by Michael Wadleigh.

  11. this is the magic ive been wondering when watching a good action movie. the actions tell story, not just purely meaningless actions

  12. Your videos are insanely good. I have been a fan for a few years now but man you are one of the best teachers I have ever heard. The way you superimpose words over scenes at the right time or match an example in a scene to what you are talking about is uncanny. You would think you were the one who told these writers how to piece it together.

  13. You've probably answered this before, but how do you analyze scripts and more importantly, how do you get the screenplays?

  14. Watched this movies 4 times. On latest viewing I've been noticing how the action sequences revealed the character. And then I found your video literally talking about the same thing. Great analysis.

  15. I watched this because I love Casino Royale. But this is not what I would call insightful.
    What would be insightful is to learn something we hadn't thought of already. Whereas the ideas here….if they weren't already deduced by every cinemagoer to this film, then the filmmakers would've failed in their intentions. Without them the film doesn't work!

    Film analysis should bring something extra to what any popcorn-munching cinemagoer has already witnessed!

  16. I have always thought the opening chase of Casino Royale is not only brilliant in and of itself, but a great example of “show, don’t tell” in filmmaking. You know everything you need to know about him in four minutes of action.

  17. As someone who hasn't seen the movie I gasped when he shot the dude XD

  18. Out of all the names you listed associated with Nebula, you’re pretty much the only one I’d follow there.

  19. The cadence and pitch of your voice is so soothing to listen to. It creates a easy, almost seamless understanding between narrator and viewer, where you convey complex and foreign concepts to a lay person accessible and so enjoyable. Thank you so much, for this video in particular!

  20. I liked your video and was Interested in curiosity stream, but there was no way to get a sense of the shows offered and when I read about all the third parties and use of my personal information, sorry, privacy concerns are important to me, especially when I am paying for a service. But I wish you well.

  21. great film, great story, great cast… best Bond film. Unfortunately, the succeeding films would fall short in comparison to this…

  22. When I first saw CR, I too thought that Craig was rebellious. But after 5 viewings it dawned on me that he is a very moral man who just hates bullies & a/holes and thinks they should be stopped or put in their place. I have not seen Bond slap down or kill anyone who really wasn't asking for it, or who did not attack him first.

  23. What you just outlined in this action scene is exactly what the constant theme running throughout the movie is, skill vs tenacity and every action scene in the movie boils down to this!
    Both traits of skill and tenacity are born out of ego. The heros and the villains both fall victim to this in their own ways where Bond represents the tenacity and the villains represent skill.
    The bombmaker is very skilled at free running and fighting. Bond has to make up for it with his tenacity and resourcefulness.
    Of course once the Bombmaker gets to the embassy, he thinks he’s safe and lost Bond. But then Bond comes right in and snatches him and unfortunately gets himself cornered. He has to compromise part of the mission to get himself out alive.
    This is very similar to what happens later in the film when Bond challenges Le Chiffre in the poker game. Le Chiffre is a skilled poker player and “mathematical genius” (is a line used in the movie.) So he has the skill and Bond needs to match that skill somehow with his tenacity. Yet also, just like when he was cornered at the embassy, his drive to win caught up with him and it cost him the mission when he loses the poker game.
    Later he’s given a second chance thanks to Felix and now Bond is not going to take this second chance for granted. Le Chiffre is now the one who loses due to ego because he really felt he should have been rid of Bond by now. (He even tries to poison him in one scene)
    Even the bomber at the airport foolishly thinks he’s safe at the end and presses the detonator on his phone not realizing Bond put the bomb on his belt.
    Even Mr White at the end of the movie thinks he’s safe until Bond comes in and puts a bullet in his leg.
    For every set back Bond has it is because of his tenacity driven by ego. His greatest strength is also his greatest weakness. The villains of the movie are the same way believing their skills are enough to deal with Bond.
    This dynamic is constantly at play throughout the movie and is exactly what pushes this movie above and beyond so many other action movies and even other Bond movies alike.
    It is truly remarkable the kind of thinking about willpower vs talent that has always been a great theme in any movie especially action movies and yet, we so rarely get action movies that follow through on this!
    More screenwriters and especially studioheads should be thinking about the kinds of themes that exist in action movies and be willing to build their movie’s narrative around that rather than be stuck thinking up what set pieces or special effects to use. Otherwise, it just makes the work harder in trying to figure out what should go in between the action scenes so that what they are making can qualify as a movie.
    Here’s a fun fact that shouldn’t be surprising to any writer…
    it’s kinda hard to write isn’t it when you have nothing to say.

  24. I've loved this movie for years, and this is the first time I've seen any kind of analysis about the movie. Gotta say your analysis not only kept me engaged, but somehow amplified my love for this movie. So bravo sir, you've got another subscriber.

  25. Loved this! Not sure the chase down the structure qualifies as falling action, but I like your fidelity to the metaphor. Really nice work.

  26. My parents are huge fans of the 007 saga. Casino Royale is one of those movies that brings me back when i was i child and I used to spend evenings with them on the sofa. This Bond movie has a special meaning to me and now that i live far from my family I watch It every time I feel homesick.

  27. Thanks, Micheal! Good to have you back! Thanks for this one. I'm working on short that has some big fights in it. Now I have a better way of looking over that to get the most character out of the fight! Looking forward to the next one!

  28. I don't think this person deserves glorification. He should be as unpopular as he'd be if you caught him and cared about humanity.

  29. “This was particularly appropriate as a way of introducing Bond as a kind of no gadgets, vigorous, unstoppable, younger man.”
    *less than 6 years later
    “Old dog new tricks”

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