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Obanno : "Do you believe in God, Monsieur Le Chiffre?"
Le Chiffre: "No, I believe in a reasonable rate of return."
―Steven Obanno and Le Chiffre.[src]

Le Chiffre (French: ​"The Cypher" or "The Number") is a fictional banker who finances the world's terrorist organizations. Based on Ian Fleming's literary character, he is the main antagonist of the the 2006 James Bond film Casino Royale and was portrayed by Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen. Mikkelsen subsequently provided his likeness for Activision's 2008 video game Quantum of Solace (given the name Jean Duran[1]) and the 2015 film Spectre; where he is revealed to be a member of Quantum and its parent organization SPECTRE.

Film biography

Background

"When the analysis about the 9/11 attacks ended, the CIA was uncovered a person that financed terrorist organisations, which would explain how he could set up a high stakes poker game at Casino Royale in Montenegro: ten players, ten million dollar buy in, five million dollar rebuy, winner takes all, potentially a hundred and fifty million dollars. We can't let him win this game. If he loses, he'll have nowhere to run - we'll give him sanctuary in return for everything he knows. I'm putting you in the game: replacing someone who's playing for the syndicate. According to Villiers, you're the best player in the service. Trust me, I wish it wasn't the case."
M to James Bond[src]

Believed by MI6 to have been born on November 16, 1970 at Albania, Le Chiffre is banker to the world's terrorist organizations. A mathematical genius and chess prodigy, his abilities enable him to earn large sums of money in games of chance and probability. Consequently, Le Chiffre has a penchant for poker, even though he has what at first appears to be an obvious tell — it is later implied that this is a trick to fool Bond into becoming overconfident. He suffers from haemolacria, which causes him to weep blood, and uses a platinum, benzedrine inhaler. He was suspected of being involved in the funding of the September 11th attacks.

Bad investment

Casino Royale (19)

Le Chiffre is contacted by Mr. White, who is a representative of a terrorist organization later revealed to be Quantum. White introduces Steven Obanno, a feared leader of the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda, to Le Chiffre, and arranges to bank several briefcases full of cash for Obanno. Le Chiffre invests the money along with his other creditors' money in the aircraft manufacturer SkyFleet. Though SkyFleet's shares have been skyrocketing, he plans to short the company by purchasing put options, and ordering the destruction of the company's new prototype airliner, set to make its first flight out of Miami International Airport. Bond intervenes and foils the plan, costing Le Chiffre his entire investment totaling $101,206,000.

Gambling

Casino Royale (99)

In order to win the money back, while not informing Mr. White or Obanno, Le Chiffre sets up and enters a high stakes Texas hold 'em tournament at the Casino Royale in Montenegro; an attempt to recoup the loss before Obanno learns that his money has been misappropriated. Bond is sent to make sure that Le Chiffre does not win back the money. The reasoning is to force Le Chiffre to turn to MI6 for protection, in exchange for information on his creditors and employers. Bond plants a listening device in Le Chiffre inhaler shortly after the tournament begins.

During the tournament, an enraged Obanno and one of his henchmen break into Le Chiffre's hotel room and threaten him and his girlfriend, Valenka. Le Chiffre does not blanch at the threatened amputation of Valenka and is granted one last chance to win their money back.

As Obanno leaves the room, his bodyguard spots Bond and hears Valenka's cries coming from Bond's earpiece. In the subsequent brawl, 007 kills both Obanno and his henchman, and René Mathis arranges the blame to be placed on Le Chiffre's bodyguard Leo.

During the tense tournament, Le Chiffre initially outwits and bankrupts Bond, who cannot get additional funding from Vesper Lynd. However, Felix Leiter agrees to bankroll Bond, and so Le Chiffre has Valenka attempt to poison Bond's drink. Bond is almost killed but is revived at the last moment and returns to the game. During the final round, Le Chiffre's full house bests the hands of the two players preceding him but loses to Bond's straight flush.

Torture and death

Casino Royale (124)
"You know, I never understood all these elaborate tortures. It's the simplest thing... to cause more pain than a man can possibly endure.... And of course, it's not only the immediate agony, but the knowledge... that if you do not yield soon enough... there will be little left to identify you as a man. The only question remains: will you yield, in time?"
― Le Chiffre[src]

Enraged by his loss, he kidnaps Vesper Lynd forcing Bond to give chase, and Bond is led straight into his trap. Le Chiffre leaves Vesper, bound at the feet and hands, in the middle of the road, and Bond is forced to swerve and he subsequently crashes his car.

When Bond regains consciousness he is stripped and tied to a chair. Le Chiffre stands right in front of the chair and sarcastically says to Bond "You've taken good care of your body... such a waste." Le Chiffre proceeds to torture Bond by repeatedly striking him in the testicles with the large knotted end of a thick rope, trying to extort the password that will enable Le Chiffre to collect the tournament winnings. Bond refuses to give in and plays on Le Chiffre's fear that there will be retribution from the clients whose money he lost. An enraged Le Chiffre brandishes a knife and threatens to castrate Bond.

Casino Royale (127)

This is interrupted by the sound of gunshots and Mr. White suddenly enters the room. Le Chiffre makes a final plea for his life but it is to no avail. Mr. White says "money isn't as valuable to our organization as knowing who to trust", and personally executes Le Chiffre by shooting him in the forehead with a gun fitted with a suppressor, rescuing both Bond and Vesper in the process, partly because he needs the two to access the money later (only Bond knows the password to the money container, and Vesper is needed to steal the money for White, who had kidnapped Vesper's love interest and successfully blackmailed her) but also because Le Chiffre could no longer be trusted.

Alternative continuities

Quantum of Solace (video game)

Personality 

Le Chiffre was a dangerous man in his own right - absolutely pitiless to a fault, he had absolutely no complaints about inflicting savage violence against those who crossed him. He was obviously a high-ranking member of Quantum because of the responsibility he was entrusted with, suggesting that Le Chiffre's ruthlessness went a very long way. However, Le Chiffre had the weakness of complete overconfidence which would ultimately lead to his downfall - his habit of gambling his client's money in order to bolster the riches that he would gain as a result of his success backfired violently when James Bond thwarted the destruction that Le Chiffre planned at the airport. Le Chiffre showed a dangerous level of desperation, fear and paranoia, falling back on his gambling skills in order to repay his bosses. Le Chiffre maintained a calm and pitiless exterior throughout the tournament, right up to two particular points - firstly, when Steven Obanno arrived and threatened him and later Valenka; later on, when Bond defeated him in the poker game, Le Chiffre kidnapped Vesper Lynd (who was actually an asset to Quantum as well) and savagely tortured James Bond, desperate to receive the money from Bond before his more powerful, more dangerous superiors came baying for his blood. At the end of his life, when Mr. White finally confronted him over his outrageous failure, Le Chiffre pleaded with him, only for Mr. White to calmly gun him down for disappointing him.

Henchmen & Associates

Trivia

  • To date, he is the first main Bond villain to die before the film's final act.

Gallery

See Also

References

  1. Intentionally anonymous in the 2006 film, the name Jean Duran is provided only in the non-canonical video game Quantum of Solace.

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