When Casino Royale was announced, I wrote on this blog that I'd be interested to see if the filmmakers went to any particular trouble to introduce him. Overall, I think the answer was yes and no: the opening sequence didn't spend a lot of time trying to convince us that Daniel Craig was a credible James Bond (he was, but the movie didn't use any special tricks to convince us of that), but it did spend a lot of time and effort on showing us that this was a different approach to James Bond. The way the sequence was shot, and everything that happened in the sequence, was calculated to announce to us what the film's approach was.
This made me think back to On Her Majesty's Secret Service. In that movie, even though it also was a different kind of James Bond movie, the opening sequence works in the opposite way to that of Casino Royale. The whole point of almost everything in that sequence is to convince us that this is the same James Bond, to reassure us that even though there's a new actor playing Bond, it's still the series we know and love. The most famous examples of that in the film are the use of clips from the five previous movies in the title sequence, and, in the scene where Bond clears out his desk, the trinkets and soundtrack clips from the Connery movies. But look at the first four minutes of the movie, and consider how many tactics the filmmakers are using to get us used to the new Bond:
In that short time frame, we've got:
- The producers' credits at the very beginning (instead of the beginning of the titles, as in all the other movies) so we know it's an official Bond movie.
- The movie starts with M, Q and Moneypenny, to start us off with familiar faces from the earlier movies. Note also the self-parody in Q's line about "radioactive lint," a joke about how outlandish and stupid the gadgets had become in the last couple of movies (and an indication that this movie will have less of that).
- Moneypenny has a line about all the exotic locations she's contacted in looking for 007, reminding us that Bond is still a globe-trotter.
- When we cut to Bond's car, we immediately hear the James Bond theme.
- As in the first movie, Dr. No, we don't see Bond's face until he says "Bond, James Bond," which increases the impact of that line and makes it easier to accept that this is in fact James Bond.
- Also as in Dr. No, before we see Bond's face, we get close-ups of his hands, his fancy cigarette case, his smoking -- indicating that this is still the same guy from Dr. No even if the actor has changed.
- The first bad guy to appear in the movie says "Don't move, Mr. Bond" -- now that we know he's James Bond, we need to know that the bad guys have the same attitude to him as they had to the last Bond.
Really, everything in that pre-credits sequence is calculated to tell us that the formula hasn't changed, right up to the one thing that does change: the girl Bond has saved drives away without thanking him. That, along with the famous line "This never happened to the other fellow," is the first clue that the formula won't be quite the same; but the producers and the director, Peter Hunt (who appears in a cameo in the first shot of the film), obviously didn't want to get around to that until they'd established all the ways in which this movie was going to follow the rules.