Freshly-minted 00 agent James Bond (Daniel Craig) is having a tough time adjusting to his new post. He’s clearly an effective killing machine with no qualms about getting his hands dirty, but his methods are considered sloppy and overwrought by head boss lady M (Judi Dench). After his pursuit of a terrorist (Sebastien Foucan) ends with an embassy in ruins and her entire department in the hot seat, M begins to regret her decision to promote Bond to a position with so much autonomy. She worries that the young recruit is still too rough around the edges to understand the nuances of the work, that he might lack the judgment to know when to smash through a wall and when to simply jump over it. Still, she sees something in Bond that makes her willing to forgive his clumsy brutality, his constant insubordination, and his inability to see the forest for the trees. “Any thug can kill,” she tells him, “I need you to take your ego out of the equation and judge the situation dispassionately.” While Bond initially writes this off without too much thought — he’s still far too green to understand the advice — his journey into the world of Casino Royale will present the cocky upstart with a reason to listen more carefully. That reason’s name is Vesper Lynd.
He didn’t see her coming. No one sees her coming. But when Vesper (Eva Green) meets up with 007 for the first time, she gets exactly the smarmy asshole she expected.* Like M, though, Vesper is able to weather Bond’s bullshit because she sees his potential. In fact, their shared Sherlock Scan reveals that they’re both a bit full of it: Lynd is too smart and energetic to be a bean counter, and there’s more humanity to Bond than his posturing allows. They’re both orphans, both driven by a mysterious itch that neither seems able to scratch. Bond trusts her immediately and takes every opportunity to be impressive — flashing his pistol, blowing their covers with the hotel, coming up with the name “Ms. Stephanie Broadchest" — that he can. But this new reliance on a partner with a tricky disposition also puts Bond off his usual game; he thinks he’s being cute when he presents Vesper with a dress that would catch his attention, but she fires back with a properly-fitting dinner jacket and a reminder that he’s not as complicated or charming as he thinks. In any other context, that jacket is a benign gesture, a way to flirt. But in the Bond universe, the tuxedo is an integral part of the mythos. Our girl just invented it.
*The only two moments of this film I find unforgivably bad are those in which someone mansplains bluffing and/or poker to Vesper, who seems pretty clear on both concepts.