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Posted: July 5, 2015 in James Bond
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237373-daniel-craig

When it was announced that Pierce Brosnan was no longer going to play 007 I was annoyed, when it was further decreed that the next Bond was going to be Daniel Craig I was downright outraged. Not, I must stress, because he’s blonde (seriously it’s not like Roger had raven black hair!) but because I just didn’t rate him as an actor. Now to be fair I had only seen him in Layer Cake, which isn’t a terrible film but I thought he was fairly average in it, so the notion of him becoming the most iconic spy in history made my blood boil.

Should I ever meet Mr Craig the first thing I’ll do is apologise most profusely for ever doubting him*. This might be embarrassing for both of us but it has to be done. Because you see I think he’s a really, REALLY good James Bond.

I’ll talk about his other qualities in a moment, but first I’d like to mention something about his performance that I haven’t seen mentioned elsewhere, and it’s something I’ve always really liked. Watch his Bond and you’ll soon see how disposable things are. Gun out of ammo? Chuck it away. Beautiful woman knocked unconscious? Hand her off to a hotel worker…But it isn’t just that he does these things, it’s the way he does them. Watch how he tosses the keys to that Range Rover aside in Casino Royale, or how he throws his mobile to one side after calling M from Haiti in Quantum of Solace or what he does with his father’s hunting rifle (and it is a rifle not a shotgun) in Skyfall. He’s out of ammo so he just throws it to one side. Whether it’s a mobile phone or a finely crafted firearm that belonged to his dead dad it doesn’t make any difference. When things have served their purpose they’re of no further interest to 007. It’s a lovely little touch that he’s kept throughout his tenure and it always seems to be overlooked.

Craig, like Dalton, is an ac-tor but their interpretations do differ. Dalton’s Bond might be damaged by his job as a killer, but he still seems to enjoy the perks of that job, and there’s definitely still a certain hedonistic quality to his portrayal. By contrast Daniel Craig’s 007 seems to treat the trappings of success with disdain. He sports a flash watch, wears a dinner jacket, drinks the finest spirits, but you can’t shake the feeling that they’re meaningless distractions nothing more. Look in his eyes and it’s like a piece of his soul is missing. Even his quest for vengeance in Quantum of Solace seems, if not exactly hollow, then somewhat mechanical. I can never shake the feeling that his 007 is just going through the motions. I must stress, it’s not that Craig is going through the motions, I think it takes a good actor to portray the complexity of character that he does with just a flicker of his eyes. He is at once perhaps the most human of Bonds, yet by turns the least human.

His physical presence is a large part of what makes him great (I still remember my friend Simon remarking the first time he saw Casino Royale that he’d never been scared of a Bond before) and it’s even more impressive when you consider that he’s the shortest actor to play the role. He’s the first man since Connery to being that animal presence to his portrayal, like a tiger stalking its prey through the jungle.

This doesn’t mean he has no heart, clearly he feels the death of some people— Vesper, M, Mathis—even if at times it’s hard to gauge his feelings about others, watching his reaction after the deaths of Solange, or Agent Fields, or Severine I still can’t tell if he’s hiding his regret or just doesn’t give a shit. I think it’s clearer that he does care with Fields, but she still seems an acceptable casualty of his mission.

Even his reaction upon killing seems the vary, killing in cold blood he can do fine, but when it’s a hot-blooded kill his response is quite different, look at him after he makes his first kill, or after he kills that African warlord in the hotel in Casino Royale, and it’s like he appalled at what he’s done, maybe he’s just afraid to let his more bestial side out?

As a final point it’s hard to discuss Bond without mentioning humour. Like Dalton Craig is funny, and they share a very dry sense of humour. Unlike Dalton Craig is catered for quite well by his scripts in this regard.

If there is a downside to Daniel Craig, it’s that you never get the feeling he actually likes playing James Bond, and whilst I know it shouldn’t make a difference, sometimes it does make me like him a little less than I would otherwise. I don’t expect Brosnan-like glee, but crack a smile sometimes, Daniel!

He may not always look like a suave secret agent, but Daniel Craig is most assuredly James Bond, and I have to admit that, whilst Tim remains my Bond, Craig is so close behind that we’re almost into photo finish territory. Who knows Spectre might be the film that nudges him ahead?

So that’s it then, the six Bond from favourite to least favourite. You might not agree with my choices, in fact I’m be surprised if a lot of people didn’t downright disagree with them, but hopefully even if you don’t agree you can’t deny I’ve made my arguments rationally…for the most part.

Of course once Bond #7 turns up I’m going to have to revisit this list all over again!

Bond #001 Timothy Dalton
Bond #002 Daniel Craig
Bond #003 Roger Moore
Bond #004 Pierce Brosnan
Bond #005 George Lazenby
Bond #006 Sean Connery
* My friend Kay also has to apologise to him (Hey I’m not taking the rap alone on this!)

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Comments
  1. Mim says:

    He is a brilliant Bond. I didn’t think anything would make me like the series again after the Brosnan films, but the ones he’s been in are excellent in so many ways. But will we be reassessing him in another 30 years time?…

    • starkers70 says:

      Possibly, of course in 30 years time there may not be any more Bond films (shudder at the thought). I can’t see how he can ever be reassessed as a failure in any way, the films might be (I like Casino Royale but I do have a lot of issues with it) but even then I think they’ll only be reappraised upwards (especially the underrated QoS)

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