Having never been a fan of the 007 series, never being enthralled with car chases, international espionage, gun play (unless in a western) gadgets, or silly romantic encounters that make little sense to the plot, the films for me were always a chore. Having to see them angered me, because it was one part of the job that felt like a job, and being a film writer has rarely felt like a job. When I learned that Daniel Craig has been cast as the new James Bond in Casino Royale (2008) I went back and watched all the Bond films.
For the most part it was painful, because I have even less interest in those films today that when I was younger.
Watching Casino Royale (2008) was like seeing the character for the first time, as though there had never been another James Bond in the history of the movies. It was new, dangerous and fresh and I loved every minute of it. Craig had something even Connery did not have as the character…danger. Craig walks into a room and radiates a danger, exudes it in fact, that none of the other men playing the part have ever had. Craig plays Bond as a badass, which is what he might have been before Her Majesty’s Service got hold of him and turned him into a spy with a license to kill. I believe for the first time while watching a Bond film that Bond was a killer, that he would indeed kill if needed. There is a darkness about Craig that the other actors in the role have never had, have never shown, and he has re-invented the character and subsequently the franchise.
Sean Connery was good as Bond, though he never really enjoyed playing the role, believing it held him back as an actor. He believed playing the part would lead to other roles, and though it did, people wanted to see him as Bond and only Bond, and Connery wanted no part of that. Quick with a quip, good-looking and rugged, he was the best of the Bonds before Craig.
Poor George Lazenby was never really given a chance, just one film and not a very good one at that. Never have I felt he was as bad as the critics thought he was, in fact he was better than at least two of the other Bonds, Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan. Roger Moore was something less than a cut out doll come to life. A pretty boy with a gun and no discernible acting skills at all. He looked great in the suits, hit his mark, and that’s about it, emotion was not his strong point as an actor, and even creating the lack of emotion sometimes needed for Bond? He did not have it. Timothy Dalton was a curious choice for the character, and had the actor taken it seriously, as Craig obviously does, he might have done a good job. Being Shakespearean trained can have its fall backs because some of those good folk tend to look down on anything the Bard did not commit to parchment, and James Bond must have seemed silly to him. Pierce Brosnan? Please. I mean really? Again the man looks good in a suit, he hit his mark, but has all the depth of a piece of paper. Too much Remington Steele in the role, not enough 007, not enough killer.
Craig is lethal, we believe he is a killer, we believe he will kill and there is a darkness to his past that is interesting. Best of all, we have Craig, a real actor, who approaches the role like a real character as opposed to a franchise character. Christian Bale did the same thing with Batman/ Bruce Wayne, and breathed new life into a character that had been all but ruined in the previous films (sorry George Clooney). Should we be surprised that Craig is so good in the part? He has given terrific performances before, and brings to Bond a tightly wound intensity, a straight into your soul stare that means trouble, and a humor buried under all the menace. I love the chemistry between he and Judi Dench, it adds so much to the film, and with this film it is clear he would die for her if had to do so.
Skyfall is superb entertainment, and most of the credit needs to go to Daniel Craig for portraying Bond in a believable manner, as a person and not a thing. Good for Sam Mendes for doing exactly what I was worried he would do, make a great film.
As long as Craig plays Bond, I am a fan.