Say what you will, I think James Bond is pretty rad. This quintessential man’s man, man-about-town has been beloved by women and envied by men since the late 1950s. And ever since then, these films have set the trend for major action blockbusters extending far beyond the Cold War where it originated. Current James Bond, the strikingly handsome Daniel Craig, has starred in this role since 2006 with his first movie, Casino Royale. This makes him the longest acting James Bond in the franchise. But what really sets the Craig era Bond apart from its predecessors is the implementation of serialized storytelling that started with Casino Royale and will conclude with No Time To Die releasing at the end of March 2020.
The Craig Philosophy
Daniel Craig’s Bond is known for its almost stoic-like stature, moving away from the very suave Bonds, like Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan, that we have come to know over the last couple of decades. Fans of the five Craig Bond films will also know that a refreshingly humanising aspect has been brought to the franchise through Craig.
But that is not the only creative and commercial contribution this British actor has brought to Ian Flemming’s beloved character. He is the first Bond actor to receive a producing credit (on 2015’s Spectre) and has widely been credited as the mind behind appointing Cary Fukunaga (from True Detective season 1 fame) as replacement after Danny Boyle passed on the opportunity.
It is no secret that long-standing fans of the franchise were not impressed with the appointment of Craig in this beloved role. Despite the backlash, producer Barbara Broccoli saw Craig as a way to breathe new life into this otherwise stagnant franchise. As a result, Casino Royale was released four years after Pierce Brosnan’s final Bond appearance in Die Another Day, to a starved audience.
This first film, Casino Royale, kickstarted a brand new era for Bond. It also acts as a bit of an origin story as we check in with Bond just after his promotion to 00 status. With both Casino Royale and the later film Skyfall, we get a glimpse into Bond’s backstory that we have not really caught before. The first film also kicks off a storyline that will conclude with the last instalment, No Time To Die.
I remember that what struck me most when watching Casino Royale, as a die-hard Bond fan, is the fact that this is the very first time that we see Bond fall in love. Not the usual infatuation that we see Bond periodically succumb to, rather forming a meaningful bond, and even though she betrays him, it really shows a humanising side to him that we have not seen before.
Quantum of Solace, on the other hand, was to me a bit more of a return to the original Bond formats. He has an adventure and a clear nemesis, and he attempts to outwit the character for king and country. Then we find ourselves in the masterpiece that is Skyfall, which definitely takes a turn for the emotive.
The film journeys to Bond’s ancestral home and we get a glimpse into his jaded past that we have never had access to before. I was quite taken with the emotional angle that the film took and it really opened up the Bond universe in a way that we have not seen before. The film is also shot beautifully, paying homage to the barren Scottish highlands.
Last but not least, Spectre sees the return of Bond’s original opponent – the organisation Spectre. He discovers that all villians up until this point have formed part of this mega operation targeting MI6. The film is directed by Sam Mendes and the opening sequence is one of the most spectacular in modern blockbusters of the last decade.
Shaken, not stirred
Mark O’Connell, author of Catching Bullets: Memoirs of a Bond Fan, tells the Observer; “One particular trait Craig has brought to the world of Bond is his quiet but granite-like respect and captaincy of the character. Craig has lent Bond—and Bond movies—a renewed sense of confidence and pride. Craig revived the wider public’s regard for the franchise by being the best actor in the role the whole series has witnessed.”
Even though we now praise Craig for his contribution to the franchise, we do know that No Time To Die will be his last 007 film. A lot has been written on what we can expect from MI6’s favourite agent, and while some parties are holding thumbs for a black male lead, others are hoping for a female lead.
I think the James Bond films’ producer, Barbara Broccoli, said it best to Variety; “He can be of any colour, but he is male. I believe we should be creating new characters for women — strong female characters. I’m not particularly interested in taking a male character and having a woman play it. I think women are far more interesting than that.”
We’ve also ranked our favourite Bond songs, check them out here.
Image courtesy of Variety.com.