Re-framing a franchise.

The most recent series of James Bond films, starring Daniel Craig, did more than just reinvent the character for the 21st century, making him a little less foppish and a whole lot grittier, posing him as a reflection of current, real-world operatives instead of a Batman-like, gadget-dependent do-gooder; it also reinvented the look of James Bond films. All the earlier efforts were, with due respect, vehicles for action sequences, there was little to nothing dynamic about their cinematography otherwise, and even the action sequences were more dazzling for their production design than for the way they were shot.

But with Casino Royale, directed by Martin Campbell and shot by Phil Mehuex, the cinematography of the franchise leapt forward, becoming every bit as slick, stark, daring, and as fluidly brutal as the character whose adventures it captured. It was a pattern that continued through Quantum of Solace (dir. Marc Forster, DP Roberto Schaefer), Skyfall (dir. Sam Mendes, DP Roger Deakins), and Spectre (dir. Mendes, DP Hoyte Van Hoytema) and as a result the Craig-Bond-era has been uniquely successful for the historic franchise.

In the following supercut from Art of the Film, the best cinematography from the above-mentioned films has been given the spotlight, in part as a reminder that it wasn’t just the character who got an overhaul in this most recent iteration, it was the whole franchise, tip to tail.

More to Read: