MI6 agent James Bond gains his status as a 00 agent by assassinating traitorous section chief Dryden and his contact.
In Uganda, the mysterious Mr. White introduces Steven Obanno, a high-ranking member of the Lord’s Resistance Army, to Le Chiffre, a private banker to terrorists. Obanno entrusts Le Chiffre with a large sum of money to invest; Le Chiffre subsequently buys put options on aerospace manufacturer Skyfleet, betting on the company’s failure given his insider knowledge of a terrorist attack.
In Madagascar, Bond pursues bomb-maker Mollaka to an embassy, killing him and blowing up the building. In London, MI6 chief M admonishes Bond for ignoring international law and her orders to capture Mollaka alive. Clues point to corrupt Greek official Alex Dimitrios, whom Bond finds in the Bahamas. After winning his 1964 Aston Martin DB5 in a poker game and seducing his wife Solange, Bond pursues Dimitrios to Miami, where he kills him. Following his henchman Carlos to the airport, Bond thwarts the destruction of Skyfleet’s airliner and Le Chiffre loses Obanno’s money.
To recoup the money, Le Chiffre organizes a high-stakes Texas hold ’em tournament at the Casino Royale in Montenegro. MI6 enters Bond in the tournament, believing a defeat will force Le Chiffre to seek asylum with the British government in exchange for information on his clients. Bond is paired with Vesper Lynd, a British Treasury agent protecting the $10 million buy-in. In Montenegro, they meet their contact, René Mathis.
Bond initially gains the upper hand, deducing Le Chiffre’s tell. Obanno ambushes Le Chiffre and his girlfriend Valenka with a machete, but allows him to continue playing to win back the money. Obanno’s bodyguard spots Bond and Vesper, but Bond kills Obanno. After comforting a traumatised Vesper, Bond loses his stake when Le Chiffre is tipped off to his own tell, and Vesper refuses to authorize the $5 million to buy back in. Preparing to kill Le Chiffre, Bond meets fellow player Felix Leiter, a CIA agent, who agrees to stake Bond in exchange for taking Le Chiffre into American custody.
Bond rebuilds his position until Valenka poisons his martini with digitalis. Retrieving an antidote and defibrillator from his Aston Martin DBS V12, Bond passes out until Vesper rescues him. Bond returns to the game, which culminates in a $115 million hand in which the remaining players go all in. Le Chiffre trumps the others, but Bond wins with a straight flush.
Apparently tipped off by Mathis, Le Chiffre kidnaps Vesper. In pursuit, Bond crashes his car to avoid Vesper, tied up in the road. Le Chiffre brings the captive Bond and Vesper to an abandoned ship and tortures Bond to reveal the account number and password to the winnings, but Bond refuses. Le Chiffre prepares to castrate Bond, but Mr. White barges in and kills Le Chiffre, leaving Bond and Vesper alive.
Bond awakens in an MI6 hospital and has Mathis arrested as the traitor. After transferring the winnings, Bond goes away with Vesper, with whom he has fallen in love. He resigns from MI6 and they run away to Venice, but when M reveals the money was never deposited, Bond realises Vesper has betrayed him. He follows her to a handoff of the money, where gunmen take her captive. Bond shoots the building’s flotation devices, causing the foundation to sink into the Grand Canal. He kills the gunmen but Vesper, imprisoned in an elevator, locks herself inside as the lift plunges into the rising water. Bond is unable to free Vesper before she drowns and his efforts to resuscitate her fail. Mr. White escapes with the money.
M informs Bond that the organisation behind Le Chiffre had threatened to kill Vesper’s lover unless she became a double agent; she likely made a deal, trading the money for Bond’s life. Bond coldly renounces Vesper as a traitor and tells M he will return to service. At an estate in Lake Como, Bond locates Mr. White, shooting him in the leg and introducing himself: “The name’s Bond. James Bond.”