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Daniel Craig Is

A Bond To Remember

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2006 James Bond movie Casino Royal.

2008 James Bond movie Quantum of Solace.

2012 James Bond movie Skyfall.

2015 James Bond movie Spectre in theaters soon.
The Blond-Haired British Actor Cemented His Legacy As One Of The Best Bonds Ever By Departing From The Franchise’s Roots And Attracting A Younger Audience

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By Ryan Scott
Modern Times Magazine

Nov. 11, 2015 — With the release of Spectre, fans are being treated to the 24th film in the James Bond series, which makes it by far the longest running franchise in film history. The newest edition also happens to be the fourth, and very likely last, Bond film that will feature the current 007, Daniel Craig.

Craig was recently quoted as saying he would rather “slash his wrists” than do another Bond film, so for those hoping he will change his mind, don’t hold your breath. That means Spectre, is the actor’s final chance to cement his legacy as world’s most famous spy. Critics are giving the film fairly mixed reviews, while audiences seem to like it, given that it has a 70 percent approval rating from fans on Rotten Tomatoes and 7.4 fan rating on IMDB.

However, the actors who play Bond are never remembered in the history books for a lone film, with the exception of George Lazenby for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Rather, they are judged on the sum total of their collected filmography, and, if this really is his last go, Craig’s legacy will be nothing shy of iconic.

The main thing that Craig managed to do was to make Bond relevant to a generation that largely didn’t care that the character despite its rich history in cinema and pop culture in general for that matter. Sure, many younger consumers played Goldeneye for the Nintendo 64, but that didn’t leave them with the same attachment to the character experienced by earlier generations.

More to that point, the last person to take up the mantle of 007 before Craig was Remington Steele himself, Pierce Brosnan. Many people who didn’t grow up watching television in the mid ‘80s may be asking “who is Remington Steele?” And to that I say, exactly.

Brosnan, like Craig, did four Bond films, starting with 1995’s Goldeneye. It had been six long years since Licence to Kill disappointed on all phases, and Goldeneye was the first well-received Bond film to come along in arguably more than a decade. This, however, did little to insert Bronson into the pantheon of iconic Bonds.

The problem is that Brosnan was a bit uneven and each film took a slight dip in quality (critically speaking) after Goldeneye. In 2002, the franchise fell off a cliff when Die Another Day came out. Many consider it to be one of the, if not the worst, film the series has ever produced, and it forced a change of direction, which meant forcing Brosnan out of the role.

Enter Craig. Because of the positive critical and commercial response to Craig’s Bond, it is very easy to forget now that there was utter and complete outrage when Craig was cast as 007. Why? Well, because Craig has blonde hair and James Bond doesn’t. He is supposed to have dark hair and a lot of it all over his entire body, that’s why.

In spite of the outcry, the franchise had its first blonde Bond. However, much like uproar over Heath Ledger’s casting as the Joker in The Dark Knight, a great performance and a great movie shut the critics up pretty quickly.

Casino Royale came out in 2006 and right out of the gate made everyone painfully aware that this wasn’t going to be like the 1960s chest-hair plastered Bond that generations prior had loved. It was the first proper origin story for Bond on screen, and it was also a total smash hit with critics and fans. It was gritty; it was sexy; it was modern; and it was fresh.

“Unlike recent Bonds, whose kills had no more weight than the one-liners that generally accompanied them, Craig's tend to be intimate, bloody, and devoid of glamour,” said film critic Christopher Orr of Casino Royale, expressing why Craig’s Bond managed to be a success.

The film currently holds a 95 percent approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes and went on to gross just shy of $600 million at the global box office. The sins of Brosnan and Dalton were wiped clean and Bond was back in a big way. Then, Quantum of Solace happened.

In fairness to Quantum, there was a writers strike going in in Hollywood at the time, and it is rumored that it led to something of a troubled production for Craig’s second outing as Bond. The film quietly made $586 million worldwide even though critics and fans don’t love Quantum of Solace, to say the least. The film has a mere 58 percent approval rating from fans on Rotten Tomatoes.

The thing is, quality isn’t what fuels Hollywood. It is the almighty box office. So, since the dollars kept rolling in, Craig got another crack at reviving the franchise, even if it did take four long years to make it happen.

Skyfall finally came out in 2012 and to say it was a bounce back from Quantum of Solace, would be putting it very lightly. First off, critics and fans loved it, as it currently holds a 93 percent approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes and an 86 percent from fans.

It was also a huge commercial success. The film went on to be the highest-grossing Bond film ever, raking in more than $1 billion at the global box office.

Skyfall does what no other 007 film has done before; humanize the secret agent by giving him a discernible past, a home turf, a family heritage and ambivalent feelings about his job and life,” said film critic Dann Gire upon the film's release. And that is one of the most important elements of Craig’s legacy.

That is also a likely reason why Spectre is being looked upon less favorably by critics. Following up Skyfall was a near impossible job, and it would seem like a fool's errand to try and satisfy everyone.

The thing to note though is that, prior to Spectre, each of the three previous Craig entries in the Bond franchise were not in line with the long standing formula that has been established and carried out by every actor to play Bond prior.

Casino Royale was a gritty origin wrapped in a love story and a poker game. Quantum of Solace was a direct sequel that was viewed as very flawed, and Skyfall was an all-out, action-packed spectacle that had Bond going rogue and took on a scale that simply couldn’t be topped.

Spectre, by comparison, is that return to legacy Bond form and longtime franchise fans will likely appreciate that it feels more like a classic Bond film than anything Craig has done to date. It also factors into Craig’s legacy to know that he can and did do a quality procedural Bond film.

The fact of the matter is, Spectre already set an opening weekend record in the U.K. and is pulling in numbers barely shy of Skyfall while dealing with stiffer competition at the box office. Point being, this generation clearly loves Bond again and loves him because of Craig.

Ultimately, Craig’s tenure as 007 saw both the longest (Spectre) and the shortest (Quantum) Bond films ever. It also featured the first origin ever for Bond on screen, the first film in the franchise to gross 10 figures, the oldest Bond girl (Monica Bellucci) to ever grace the screen and now has many who say that Craig will go down as the best Bond of all time. Though, a Scottish man named Sean Connery will always have something to say about that.

But then again, Connery was happy to take a paycheck and phone it in a few times as 007, whereas Craig looks like he is going to leave us wanting more, which is something all great performers do.  

One thing is fairly certain and that is this: whoever plays Bond next will not be compared to Connery like every Bond who succeeded him. He will be compared to Craig, and that really says something.

Ryan Scott is a contributor to Modern Times Magazine.
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