Daniel Craig is my favorite actor to play James Bond. If you just heard the sound of glass breaking, that’s because a brick was thrown through my window on behalf of Sean Connery. This is where I’m supposed to say “with all due respect,” and then throw a backhanded insult at Connery’s portrayal of Bond. But that’s not going to happen. Connery provided the blueprint for 007: charming, sophisticated, and an elite spy. He’s second-best in my book.
I compare the Connery vs. Craig debate to the exhausting argument over Jordan vs. LeBron as the GOAT in basketball. If you grew up with and experienced Jordan at the peak of his powers, then you’re going to say Jordan is the GOAT. The same argument can be applied to LeBron with the younger generation. Appreciate the greatness of both instead of tearing the other down to make a point.
Craig’s version of a gritty and troubled Bond who still retained his charm and elegance won me over from Day 1. Many forget that Craig’s casting as the seventh actor to take over this prestigious character was met with a lot of hatred. Craig wasn’t a star by any means. He was a classically trained actor known primarily for his work in the theater. Plus, he had blonde hair, and that pissed A LOT of people off. Guess who supported the decision to cast Craig? Sean Connery!
Ahead of No Time to Die, I revisited Craig’s previous four films. Two are excellent, one is solid, and one just doesn’t belong with the rest. Here are my rankings.
4. Quantum of Solace
One of these things is not like the other, and that’s Quantum of Solace. It’s not bad in the grand scheme of things, but it’s a movie that couldn’t decide what it wanted to be. The central theme is revenge as Bond sets out to find those responsible for the death of his lover, Vesper Lynd. 007 as a bat-out-of-hell, killing all those in his path to avenge his girlfriend is a solid premise, but it’s not exactly a James Bond movie. Revenge is a good theme, but the final mission somehow turns into stopping Dominic Greene from controlling the water supply in Bolivia. Is this a revenge movie or a statement about environmentalism? I left the film with more questions than answers. Craig is still good, and Olga Kurylenko was a badass that deserved better in this franchise. I don’t see myself revisiting this film for a long time.
Solid is the word I keep returning to when describing 2015’s Spectre. The opening scene is spectacular and one of the best Bond openers ever. Casting Christoph Waltz to play the villain was an excellent decision because of his work as the main antagonist in Inglourious Basterds. However, his use in the film was more of a letdown than a high point. Craig and Waltz barely shared the screen together for the first half of the movie. The showdown between the hero and villain at the end didn’t provide the spark to generate excitement for future films. Essentially, Waltz set a trap and tried to escape before being foiled by Bond. I needed more in the final battle. Overall, Spectre is entertaining, but it could’ve been better.
2. Casino Royale
There are Internet stans, and then there are the stans who believe Casino Royale is the best James Bond film of all time. These fans won’t accept any other Bond argument if Casino Royale is not number one in the power rankings. I respect their ability to stand up and fight for what they believe in. Casino Royale is an excellent film and the second-greatest debut for a Bond actor behind Connery’s Dr. No. It was a return to form for the franchise, and the introduction of a darker, grimmer version of Bond. Craig vs. Mads Mikkelsen is some of the best Bond vs. the villain scenes in the entire franchise. Make no doubt about it, Casino Royale is a classic.
There’s only one right answer for Craig’s best Bond film and it’s Skyfall. This film rules from start to finish. It’s a 143-minute thrill ride that never allows the audience to catch its breath. It’s a Bond film at heart, but the story and characters can stand on their own. It’s a complete story with a satisfying conclusion.
Skyfall pulled out all the stops, bringing in the big guns to better the film. Academy Award-winning director Sam Mendes was brought in to direct. Javier Bardem played one of the best villains of the 21st century, Raoul Silva. There is no excuse as to why Bardem didn’t receive an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. The Academy held the fact that Bardem previously won as a villain in No Country for Old Men against this performance. Adele wrote and sang the spectacular theme song, “Skyfall,” which won Best Orginal Song. Frankly, Skyfall was good enough to receive a Best Picture nomination.
With the best director, villain, song, and Bond, Skyfall is the easy winner.
What is your favorite James Bond film from Daniel Craig? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.