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James Bond’s Swan Song: Reflections on the Daniel Craig Era

The name’s Bond. Blonde Bond.
Skyfall Seige Daniel Craig James Bond
By  and  · Published on October 12th, 2021

Which of these films should a non-Bond fan see?

Casino Royale Torture Scene Daniel Craig James Bond

Bond Beginner:

I’d have to say Skyfall. It’s the least Bond-y Bond film in the whole franchise. So if you were on a mission to convert someone who was wary of “goofy Roger Moore shit” this would be the way to do it. It’s Bond Batman. An easy, if somewhat cynical, sell.

Bond Veteran:

Daniel Craig’s first James Bond movie: Casino Royale. Without a doubt, this is the right answer. It being a franchise reset makes it an easy point of entry for obvious reasons. But it’s also a thrilling action movie with grit and heart to spare. If you want to introduce someone to Bond, there’s no better way to do so than with his origin story. And if you want to just show someone a good time without having to know anything about what’s come before or since, this will most certainly get the job done. The only case against starting with Casino Royale is that it’s all downhill from there.

What element from this era would you like to see come back in the future? What do you want to see left in the past?

Skyfall Bond M Vista

Bond Beginner:

I would love to see Roger Deakins shoot another James Bond film. His expertise is unparalleled and starkly ameliorates the caliber of everything he touches. Despite his inevitable trademarks as a cinematographer, a quick peek at Deakins’ IMDb page more than speaks to the man’s versatility. So, wherever the franchise leads, I hope they give Roger another ring.

As to what I’d like to see stay in the past, I have to ask: are we still doing the anti-hero thing? Having watched all of the Bond films (something I can now say!) it isn’t hard to trace the way in which Bond has shifted from a charming brute to a guilty brooder. Ever since the Brosnan era, there’s been contrite stank on 007 that, while absolutely well-deserved, is kind of, well, boring.

It’s one thing to call attention to your franchise’s sins, it’s another to wallow in them to the detriment of the franchise itself. Is it possible to make an alcoholic, womanizing, murderous civil servant “fun” again? I don’t know. But I’m beginning to suspect that I’m not the only one getting a bit tired of Bond being a bit of a bore.

Bond Veteran:

Dear reader, please join me in a chant that I’ve been silently leading for years: MARTIN CAMPBELL, MARTIN CAMPBELL, MARTIN CAMPBELL. I appreciate the artistic vision that a director like Sam Mendes possesses. But, when it comes to Bond, I’ll take a journeyman with an eye for action over an acclaimed auteur any day of the week.

GoldenEye and Casino Royale are each the best of their eras and standouts in the franchise as a whole. They’re not overtly similar — Casino Royale clearly having taken influence from action movie developments in the decade since GoldenEye. But they’re fun without being goofy and thrilling without being too self-serious. I want directors who understand action first and foremost. If they don’t get Campbell back, I’d like to suggest Doug Liman, but that’s a pitch for another day.

As for what can stay, I ask humbly, and for the love of all that is holy, can James just go on a mission? A singular mission. One that doesn’t try to tie things back to events from four movies ago. Or involve Bond going rogue. A mission that doesn’t involve a personal vendetta. I want to see Bond walk into M’s office for a debriefing on some baddie trying to hijack a satellite from the other side of the world. I then want to see him go stop said baddie. Is that too much to ask? 

What’s your favorite 007 movie so far? Least favorite?

Quantum Of Solace Oil Death

Bond Beginner:

Favorite: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Least favorite: You Only Live Twice

Bond Veteran:

Favorite: Casino Royale
Least favorite: Thunderball

The End…for now.

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Anna Swanson is a Senior Contributor who hails from Toronto. She can usually be found at the nearest rep screening of a Brian De Palma film.