- 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") was a fictional banker who finances the world's terrorist organizations. Based on Ian Fleming's literary character, he was the main antagonist in 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) and the 2015 film Spectre; where he is revealed to be a member of Quantum and its parent organization SPECTRE.
- "When they analysed the stock market after 9/11, the CIA noticed a massive shorting of airline stocks. When the stocks hit bottom on 9/12, somebody made a fortune. The same thing happened this morning with SkyFleet stock, or was supposed to. With their prototype destroyed, the company would be near bankruptcy. Instead, someone lost over 100 million dollars betting the wrong way...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. We can't let him win this game; if he loses, he'll have nowhere to run."
- ― M to James Bond
Believed by MI6 to have been born on November 16, 1970 in 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 James Bond into becoming overconfident. He suffers from haemolacria, which causes him to weep blood out of his left eye, and uses a platinum-plated benzedrine inhaler. He was suspected of being involved in the funding of the September 11th attacks, as well as profiting from it.
In 2006, Le Chiffre is contacted by Mr. White, a representative of a mysterious terrorist organization later revealed to be Quantum, who introduces him to Steven Obanno, a feared leader of the Lord's Resistance Army in Mbale, Uganda, and arranges to bank several briefcases full of cash for Obanno. Even as the money is being loaded into his convoy, Le Chiffre contacts his banker and orders him to buy a million Skyfleet shares from the money he has just received. Although the man discourages him, Le Chiffre insists that he intends to make an extreme profit out of his efforts: in fact, he has invested his money in such a way that he would make an extreme profit in the event of the company's failure to sell short and hires it the middleman Alex Dimitrios, who mediates him to a terrorist. This hires Le Chiffre to destroy the prototype of Skyfleet's new aircraft on release in Miami International Airport.
While waiting for the release date, Le Chiffre is playing poker with a general on his yacht in Montenegro. As the poker game draws to an end, Le Chiffre can accurately predict the general's hand, causing him to frustrate the cards. Shortly thereafter, Le Chiffre's right-hand man Kratt appears and asks his patron to the side. Outside the earshot of his guests, Le Chiffre is informed that the assassin hired to destroy the Skyfleet prototype was killed by a British secret agent in Madagascar.
To find a new assassin for the job, Le Chiffre travels with his yacht to the Bahamas, where he meets with Dimitrios. The Greek, however, makes it clear that he is not responsible for Mollaka's death and merely mediated the contact. He reveals that he has found someone else who can take over the job, and that this only requires the order and payment. However, this new assassin fails due to the intervention of James Bond, and the Skyfleet prototype completes its maiden flight without any problems. Shortly thereafter, Le Chiffre is called by his banker, who tells him of the massive losses Le Chiffre has suffered. Frustrated, the villain acknowledges that he has lost all of Obanno's money and comes to the conclusion that someone must have spoken. Since Dimitrios and the assassins are already dead, Le Chiffre's men torture Dimitrios' wife Solange and murder her.
In order to win the money back, while not informing Mr. White or Obanno of what happened with Skyfleet, Le Chiffre sets up and enters a high stakes Texas hold 'em tournament at the Casino Royale in Montenegro, in an attempt to recoup the loss before Obanno learns that his money has been misappropriated. Bond is sent by MI6 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's inhaler shortly after the tournament begins.
During an interval 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's forearm 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 by strangling him, and his henchman by throwing him down a square staircase. René Mathis arranges the blame to be placed on Le Chiffre's bodyguard Leo, by having the corpses put in the boot of Leo's car. Looking through the window, Le Chiffre cries in joy as he is now rid of Obanno.
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. Bond wins the tournament and all the money.
Torture and death
- "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
Enraged by his loss, Le Chiffre kidnaps Vesper, 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.
Le Chiffre and his henchmen bring Bond and Vesper out to an old barge south of Petrovac, When Bond regains consciousness he is stripped naked and tied to a chair that has its seat cut out. 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, even with the torture, 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, before announcing that even if Bond and Vesper are killed, MI6 will still take him in.
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.
In the film, it was revealed that Quantum was a subsidiary of SPECTRE, making Le Chiffre an agent of the latter organization. It also turned out that Le Chiffre was a pawn alongside Mr. White, Dominic Greene and Raoul Silva, all of them used by Ernst Stavro Blofeld (the leader of SPECTRE) as part of his true plot to inflict psychological pain on Bond and conquer the world.
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 bombing 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 appearance throughout the tournament, right up to two particular points - firstly, when Steven Obanno arrived and threatened him and later Valenka; and 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 shoot him in the head for disappointing him and Quantum.
Henchmen & Associates
- To date, he is the second main antagonist in a James Bond film (after General Orlov) to die before the film's final act.