Daniel Craig was by far the strangest choice for a James Bond role. He’s blond, short and grimaces a lot. His looks are closer to pub crawl brawler than gentleman’s club boozer. Many noticed and there was a big push by some fans to boycott his debut.
Obviously that didn’t work. Casino Royale was a hugely welcome refresh for the franchise and even the subsequent three films, though successful, never matched its impact. But Craig could carry it: he was only contracted for three movies – that he appears in a fourth – Spectre – says all you need to know (it also helped that Skyfall, the previous 007 film, was the biggest earner in the franchise’s history).
Craig’s Bond harkens to two eras. His career resembles Pierce Brosnan’s: a massive, genre-defying debut and a lucrative run of increasingly so-so movies. But he is also part-Timothy Dalton: a colder, more brutal Bond that helped the franchise step up against existing action threats. Dalton rivaled the 48 Hour generation and Craig took on the Bourne era.
Legend has it that the producers of Bond were looking for something fresh and even approached the likes of Clive Owen for the role. But it was Craig’s cynical drug dealer from Layer Cake said to have won him the role.
The Craig Bond is competent and very dangerous, but also flawed and vulnerable. His frequent clashes with M were a big break from Bond’s passive aggressive condescension towards authority and much closer to the novel version (not unlike Dalton’s Bond, which was also very novel-focused).
But Craig appears done and his tone lately in interviews suggests he became fed up with the same problems Dalton and Brosnan encountered. If we learn anything about Craig’s era, it’s that Bond’s producers really have no clue what to do and are now just looking for big money by aping trends. If Craig retired a few years ago, they’d probably have tried to hire Liam Neeson for a Taken-style 007 (who ironically did turn down Bond in the 90s as he never saw himself as an action actor – go figure).
Craig deserves credit: his Bond more easily overcame the shifting action movie landscape than Lazenby or Dalton could. And much like Brosnan, he was a stellar Bond despite the general mish-mash efforts that his films degenerated into.
Last Updated: November 26, 2015