“Spectre” marks the fourth feature film where Daniel Craig has slipped into a tuxedo, sipped a martini (shaken, not stirred) and saved the world as super-spy James Bond. It’s been announced he will reprise the role at least one more time.
Only Sean Connery and Roger Moore have played Bond more, each taking on the character based on the hero of Ian Fleming’s novels seven times.
Craig may break their record – or call it quits – after five films. He has been playing the role since 2006’s “Casino Royale.” Because the franchise has gone on with new actors, there has been a lot of talk about who would replace Craig when he decides to finally holster his Walther PPK. Suggestions range from Idris Elba to a female Bond.
But who should play Bond shouldn’t be the primary concern. The bigger question is whether there even needs to be another Bond. Is it time for the Bond franchise to end?
This isn’t to suggest the Bond films have lost their power. The revamp with Craig almost a decade ago has given Bond a grittier texture, almost a blue-collar version of the spy. The concern is whether Bond has become obsolete in a world where spying depends so much on electronic espionage that can be carried on half a world away.
The James Bond that Sean Connery played starting with “Dr. No” in 1962 was necessary as the primary way to gather information. It was necessary to have boots on the ground. Or so often in the case of Bond, boots sitting next to a stranger’s bed.
Connery’s Bond was so cool, suave and debonair he could charm the secrets out of a locked safe. When necessary, he could play rough. But the Bond world of the ’60s was about playing verbal games with bad guys between romantic conquests.
Bond’s massive sexual appetite doesn’t seem as charming in this era of sexually transmitted diseases. Craig’s version of the character has played down the bed-hopping part of the character, which now comes across as more of a natural action rather than a way to get information in this high-tech spy world.
Spying was a game, especially through the ’70s and early ’80s when Roger Moore took over the role. He was more apt to toss out a quip than actually deal with a serious spy issue.
Audiences were more accepting of this kind of banter then. But with the increase in more serious spy stories, such as the “Bourne” series or even Tom Cruise in “Mission: Impossible,” the spy world no longer looks like a place where a henchman with metal teeth would be the biggest threat.
Craig’s Bond works in a more realistic world. In “Casino Royale,” 007 deals with terrorism, while “Quantum of Solace” takes on world politics. “Spectre” is a slight return to the Bond of the past as he faces a global criminal organization.
$1,108,561,013Worldwide gross for Daniel Craig’s last James Bond film, “Skyfall,” which was released Nov. 9, 2012.
Even the always noted “Bond girl” has changed dramatically. Early Bond films featured women with suggestive names: Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress), “Dr. No”; Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman), “Goldfinger”; Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles), “Moonraker”; and Octopussy (Maud Adams), “Octopussy.”
The women cast to play opposite Bond began to mature past mere sexual objects with Halle Berry’s work in “Die Another Day.” Since then women in Craig’s Bond movies have not been as vapid or two-dimensional. Léa Seydoux continues that with her role as Madeleine Swann in “Spectre.”
The world has changed dramatically since Sean Connery’s Bond days. Has it changed so much that a character created in the ’50s still has a relevance to today’s moviegoers?
Craig has shown it has. Bond can stay relevant as long as filmmakers are willing to make changes to fit the times.
The reboot of Bond with Craig helped re-energize the franchise by grounding it. It’s the kind of Bond the film world needs to fit with all of the high-tech spying changes.
Discussions of Bond’s future show there’s some different thinking when it comes to the next actor to play the iconic spy. Any slip backward will negate the touch of reality Craig has brought to the role.
The key with all the Bond movies has been its escapist entertainment. Seen in a different time period, the early Bonds look sexist and have a little camp. Adjustments made with Craig show that as long as there is room to shake up the character, there will always be a place for the man who has a license to kill.
Three best Bonds
- 1. Sean Connery
- 2. Daniel Craig
- 3. Timothy Dalton
Three worst Bonds
- 1. Roger Moore
- 2. Pierce Brosnan
- 3. George Lazenby
Three best “Bond girls”
- 1. Halle Berry, Giacinta “Jinx” Johnson, “Die Another Day”
- 2. Ursula Andress, Honey Ryder, “Dr. No”
- 3. Rosamund Pike, Miranda Frost, “Die Another Day”
Three worst “Bond girls”
- 1. Denise Richards, Dr. Christmas Jones, “The World Is Not Enough”
- 2. Jill St. John, Tiffany Case, “Diamonds Are Forever”
- 3. Grace Jones, May Day, “A View to a Kill”
Best Bond villains
- 1. Donald Pleasence, Ernest Stavro Blofeld, “You Only Live Twice”
- 2. Javier Bardem, Raoul Silva, “Skyfall”
- 3. Joseph Wiseman, Dr. Julius No, “Dr. No”
Worst Bond villains
- 1. Max Zorin, Christopher Walken, “A View to a Kill”
- 2. Jonathan Pryce, Elliot Carver, “Tomorrow Never Dies”
- 3. Joe Don Baker, Brad Whitaker, “The Living Daylights”