O.K., I have to admit it, when I was 12 years old, I wanted to be James Bond. My first grownup movie experience was “Goldfinger.” I was amazed by the story and special effects, and I loved that movie. I then began to read all of the Ian Fleming novels, and short stories. They were great stories, and I loved them. As I continued to watch each succeeding movie, they strayed further and further from the books that I had read. Nothing wrong with that, they were fun to watch, and they all had style, but they weren’t the stories that we had read.
When they said Daniel Craig was going to be the next Bond, I was totally depressed. I still had Sean Connery in my head, and that was my Bond. Sure Roger Moore carried the flame, but he wasn’t really James Bond. He was the actor in movies that lived and died by double entendre, and special effects. Harmless pieces of fluff, fun to watch, great date night movies, but not Ian Fleming’s Bond. We aren’t even going to discuss George Lazenby, he’s in the same league as Peter Niven, footnotes in the Bond timeline.
Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan came much closer to the Fleming character, but still too suave and debonair, not the cold hearted, slightly unbalanced, tortured, blunt instrument of the books. I never bonded with these Bonds. They were overcome by special effects and easy quips; they were a sanitized version of the real Bond.
Daniel Craig is the real deal. I don’t care about the blond hair, or blue eyes, I don’t even miss the “comma of black hair that hung over his forehead”, according to Fleming. Craig sends the cold, heartless romantic cripple that Fleming wrote out on the screen. I forgot he is an actor, and I see him as the character without any problem. The writers have gotten rid of the bloated scripts based on effects and have given the actors real stories to work with. Craig has brought a lethal feeling to the role, he’s rough, he’s troubled, and he’s the blunt instrument of Fleming’s novels.
Judi Dench has also nailed “M”, I realize that “M” in the books, was “the old man,” a beloved Admiral of the Royal Navy. But the words and actions of Dench, match the writings of Fleming. Of course, I’m a great believer in the fact that great casting can overcome a less than stellar script, and I believe that the last two Bond scripts were much more complicated, and convoluted than they needed to be. Paul Haggis always seems to want to impress people with how intelligent he is, and he tends to overwrite his scripts, in my opinion. But, as I said, the casting of Bond, ”M”, and even Felix Leiter are pitch perfect, and they leap off the screen and take the audience by the hand on the journey. The last two movies are good movies that happen to be about James Bond, not James Bond movies that happen to be good. There is a real difference between the two types of movies.
As I said, I realize that the Roger Moore, Bond fans will never buy Daniel Craig, but that’s O.K. I believe that these movies will stand on their own because of great actors and a good script.