Nobody Does It Better

James Bond is dead. Long live the new James Bond. After a couple of years of waiting (and gnashing of teeth by some petulant, stuck-in the-past fans), Daniel Craig, the new face of 007 has made it to the big screen and truly brought the legendary franchise into the 21st century, by stripping him down to the basics in order to rebuild him.

When Pierce Brosnan was unceremoniously dumped as the world’s most famous spy, I was not happy. Brosnan hewed most closely to the Bond I was introduced to – early ‘70s Roger Moore, and managed the role with more swagger and fewer quips. But once he was gone the realization set in that the franchise had, despite raking in record box office takes, had lost its already tenuous grip on reality. The stories and villains had spiraled out of control, as has the gadgets and miraculous escapes. While these were the essential elements of every Bond movie I had grown up with, the films now bore more of a resemblance to Goldmember than Goldfinger.

The release of The Bourne Identity in the same year as Die Another Day set the bar higher for any spy film that was to follow. Compared to Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne, Commander Bond looked soft and effete. Bourne could beat someone half to death with a rolled up magazine, while Bond was rolling about in an invisible car. It was hard not acknowledge that the torch had been passed.

That didn’t mean that it was time for James to slip quietly into the night though, and the producers recognized it. They returned to 007 creator Ian Fleming’s first novel, Casino Royale, and hired a relatively unknown actor for the role, eschewing the A-listers circling the part. And the results are a fantastic success. Craig plays a much harder Bond, disassociating himself from what he does with arrogance instead of smarmy one-liners. He’s rough around the edges and less than infallible. He makes mistakes and is more than willing to get his hands dirty – dispatching bad guys up close and bloodily personal. Craig comes across as leaner, meaner and far more believable because of it.

The film even deals with one of the most improbable aspects of a secret agent – the fact that he tells everyone his name. It is one of many nods to the character’s long lineage, from the vodka martini to the Aston Martin and a reinterpretation of a famous scene from Dr. No. This Bond film hasn’t forgotten where it came from, but nor is it tied down by history – jettisoning Q, gadgets and Miss Moneypenny, at least for now. The critics that were up in arms with the choice of Craig as the new face of 007 have been silenced.

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  1. I take back every bad thing I have ever said about Daniel Craig.

    Love Him!

  2. All is forgiven - it could have gone so wrong, but happily Bond lives for another day.