Welcome to Nick Picks, a regular column by Nick Spake. There are countless important questions regarding the current state of cinema and I’m here to answer them.
James Bond is an immortal character in every conceivable way. The fact that Spectre has already made roughly $300 million worldwide just goes to show that the 007 franchise will always have mass appeal. As a result, Eon Productions will be making these movies until the end of time. Seeing how one man can’t play James Bond forever, though, several actors have assumed the iconic role over the past 53 years. Daniel Craig’s owned this character for almost a decade now and Spectre may be the most appropriate way for him to gracefully bow out.
When Craig was initially cast as Mr. Bond, many people had their doubts. “A blonde Bond? Seriously?!?” Much like Heath Ledger as the Joker or Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdene, however, this turned out to be one of the most brilliant casting choices of modern times. Rather than just winking at the camera and going through the motions like so many of his predecessors, Craig crafted the darkest and most mysterious James Bond to date. Upon making his debut in Casino Royale, many were even saying that Craig was the best James Bond since Sean Connery, if not better.
Of course after Quantum of Solace came out two years later, a lot of people felt that they might have overhyped Craig’s performance a little. He still made for a decent Bond, but just wasn’t given much depth to work with. Fortunately, Craig was allowed to shine once again in Skyfall, which became the highest-grossing 007 picture ever – and for good reason. Not only did Skyfall have the best action set pieces, villain, and title song the series had seen in years, but it also took the most chances with James Bond as a character.
After Skyfall raised the bar, a lot of people were eager to see what Craig and director Sam Mendes would deliver in the follow-up. Most audiences would agree, though, that Spectre isn’t up there with the all-time great James Bond movies. Part of that’s because the film isn’t 100% confident in itself. There are basically two types of James Bond fan: those who prefer old school Bond, and those who prefer the new, grittier Bond. Spectre tries to bring together elements of both the old and new James Bond with somewhat mixed results. The film has some great references to previous Bond pictures, most notably the opening homage to Live and Let Die. Much of the time, however, it can feel like the film is rehashing a familiar formula without really updating it.
Spectre isn’t the best Bond movie to star Craig. It’s not even the best Bond movie to come out in 2015 – Kingsman: The Secret Service and Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation both felt like the awesome James Bond movies MGM and Eon Productions never made. Despite its shortcomings, though, this was a worthy Bond picture with some stellar action and cinematography. What’s more, the story was pretty clever in how it tied together all the subsequent movies from the Craig era. Without giving too much away, Spectre brings everything full circle and leaves Mr. Bond on a fitting final note. With that said, should this be Craig’s last outing as 007?
Craig has stated that if he did another Bond movie, “it would only be for the money.” While Craig seems to be leaning towards leaving his most famous role behind, it wouldn’t be surprising if he signed up for one more mission. From a career standpoint, it may be smart for Craig to stick with the franchise. Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton both had trouble reinventing themselves after walking away from James Bond. Even Sean Connery went through an identity crisis when he initially tried to move on.
Personally, I think Craig has at least one more Bond movie in him. If Spectre is the end of Craig’s run, however, it at least wraps up all lose ends and sends his interpretation of Bond riding off into the sunset. It may not be a glorious ride off into the sunset, but it would be a respectable, suitable final curtain for Craig. Plus, am I the only one who really wants to see Idris Elba in this role? Since the Bond franchise has some studio distribution details to sort out, we likely won’t know if Craig will be back for a while. Until then, let’s raise our shaken martinis to Craig for bringing James Bond into the 21st century.