SKYFALL opens in the US today, after already breaking box office records in the UK. I was recently discussing the James Bond film series, with someone who doesn’t like the current actor, Daniel Craig, and preferred Pierce Brosnan. I don’t agree with that. Don’t get me wrong, I loved all the Pierce Brosnan Bond films. I used to watch Remington Steele, so I was already a fan of his even before he got hired to play James Bond. But Daniel Craig really surprised me with how good he’s been, so far. I was slightly skeptical when he was first announced, but he won me over, particularly with Quantum of Solace, which I liked better than Casino Royale, so I’m glad he’s continuing for two more films after this. It’s also been an interesting choice the way they’ve chosen to continue storylines from one film to the next, unlike all previous Bond films, where each is treated as a stand-alone film.
Another thing I like about Craig is his physical appearance. I use my mother’s thoughts on this. She grew up watching the early Bond films and, like me, she still thinks Connery is the best. But one of the things she said she likes about Craig is that, like Connery, he’s not classically handsome. She said the reason women should be attracted to a man like James Bond is not specifically because of how he looks, but because of who he is. He’s brave, dangerous, smart, and rugged. That’s what turns women on. She never really like Brosnon as Bond, because she said he was too good-looking. He looked more like a male model than a badass secret agent. Connery and Craig, on the other hand, look like they could strangle a man to death with their bare hands anytime they wanted to. That makes sense to me. I also think Timothy Dalton could have made an excellent Bond, but the he was just given mediocre scripts to work with (I know I’ve seen his films, but I cannot remember a single thing about them). I was not a fan of Roger Moore as Bond. I think he was a bit too tongue-in-cheek, and not that believable as a badass, either.
I know some fans have complained about the Craig movies turning Bond into Jason Bourne, I kind of understand that complaint. Some think that, particularly with the last few Brosnon films, Bond had started to become too far out there, with the gadgets and stuff, and that it was time to go back to basics, as they’ve basically done. While others say that was the appeal of Bond, that he wasn’t just a regular guy like Jason Bourne (or Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan), that his use of high-tech gadgets helped set him apart. Both complaints have merit, I think I could go either way on how Bond should be written, it just depends on the script. I do think they needed to scale that stuff back a bit, as they’ve done with Craig films, but I wouldn’t mind if, now that they’ve re-established the character, they brought back some of the gadgets, but try to keep it more based on reality, and not so much sci-fi, meaning no invisible cars, but you can have exploding pens.
Comic-book writer Warren Ellis wrote a nice piece on James Bond years ago, where he brought up that side of the character:
“Bond as a scarred man with clear psychological damage, often on the edge of being removed from service by M on mental health grounds. It’s made stridently obvious that being on the 00 detail of the Secret Service is a job that f***s you up.
Bond is not a superman. He prevails because he is quite simply nastier and more determined to wreak utter bloody havoc than the next guy. In some ways — and I don’t think Fleming was unaware of this — he is what Allen Ginsberg called “bleak male energy,” causing and taking immense damage in single-minded pursuit of what he wants. At the conclusion of YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE, the front end of his personality essentially rubbed out by torture, drugs, multiple trauma and a sequence of horrible mental hammerblows, there is an almost disturbing glimpse of an amnesiac Bond as gentle, open, devoted, and almost sweet. And his lover dreads the day that he recovers.
He is England’s blunt instrument of international assault — the spiteful, vicious bastard of a faded empire that still wants the world to do as it’s bloody well told.
Most importantly; he beats people up and makes stuff explode”
You can read the full text here http://www.warrenellis.com/?p=421