IS DANIEL CRAIG RIGHT TO COME BACK AS JAMES BOND?
The actor is officially returning for Bond 25, but should we be glad he’s taking that licence to kill for one last spin?
SO, THE WORST-KEPT secret in movies is out. Daniel Craig is back as Bond for a fifth and, it seems, final time with Bond 25 (a name I’d be delighted if they kept, if only to imagine Adele singing, “Bond Twenty-fiiiiiiiiive!” at the Oscars).
From production company Eon’s point of view, keeping Craig on the team makes sense. As with Skyfall and the 50th anniversary, the 25th Bond will be kind of a big deal, and breaking in a new 007 might be more hassle than it’s worth.
There could be any number of reasons behind Craig’s decision to stick around. It might be the notion of becoming the longest-serving Bond when the film is released in 2019, pipping Sir Roger Moore by days. And he doubtless received an offer with lots of zeroes (and, I hope, a 007 after the decimal point). But the reason he’s given is the same reason I’m happy — excited, even — to see him return. “I want to go out on a high note,” he said, an acknowledgement that
Spectre wasn’t the victory march he’d hoped for. It starts strongly, but the second Christoph Waltz shows up, it monologues itself into a coma.
And that’s just it. No Bond actor has received the glorious ride into the sunset they deserve. Sean Connery’s last film was Diamonds Are
Forever, a performance so phoned-in Cubby Broccoli should have refused to accept the charges. Many love On Her Majesty’s Secret
Service, but it’s George Lazenby’s only Bond film. Roger Moore went out creaking with A View To
A Kill. Pierce Brosnan finished with Die Another Day, the worst of all Bonds. Only Timothy Dalton passes the quality test with the underrated
Licence To Kill, and he didn’t receive a send-off as nobody knew it would be his last.
So Craig deserves one last chance to ensure future conversations about the best Bond don’t become, “Daniel Craig was good, but…” His hit rate as Bond is 50 per cent, with two crackers and two stinkers. Bond 25 could make it 60 per cent, commendable for any franchise, and a high note worthy of Adele. But to do so, Craig — like Dalton, an Actor first, Movie Star second, who has highfalutin ideas about turning Bond into an actual character — needs to forget all that, and have fun. Good, old-fashioned, keeping-thebritish-end-up fun. If his Bond goes out with a smile, there’s a chance the rest of us will follow. THE MOST BAFFLING element of Daniel Craig’s announcement on Stephen Colbert’s The Late Show — that he will be returning as Bond — wasn’t that it had taken so long coming, or why
he’d changed his mind after he’d previously said he’d rather slash his wrists than play 007 again — it was the whoops and cheers from the studio audience. Is this really good news?
It’s understandable that Craig would want to return (and it’s not for the vast sums of money). He said it himself: he’d like to “go out on a high”. With the benefit of distance, it’s easier to see Spectre for what it was — the weakest film of the Craig era, a bit like Quantum
Of Solace, only an hour longer. And despite the finale seeming like it was written with a view to killing off that iteration of the character, you can understand why he suddenly wants another crack at it.
But when Craig took on the role, part of the appeal was his youth. We hadn’t had a Bond under 40 years old since George Lazenby, and his physicality enabled him to take the character where no previous Bond could go. Watch the opening of Casino Royale again and imagine even Sean Connery pulling it off. But Craig will be 51 by the time the movie comes out, assuming a 2019 release. In the Eon films, only Roger Moore was older when he played Bond. Craig will surely do his training regime and look mighty fine should he be required to smoulder in a pair of blue trunks, but 13 years on, that same raw athleticism won’t be there. And those crane chases can be hellish on the knees.
Much of Casino Royale’s success came from how fresh and exciting it was, a Bond rebirth. Craig has been a fine 007 but it can’t last forever, and with Spectre it felt like his time had come to a natural end. Except, now it hasn’t. Compare it with Doctor Who, another long-running series that regularly recasts it main character. Peter Capaldi is a popular Doctor — dark but comedic, with an unpredictable streak — but he decided not to outstay his welcome. Just look at the excitement generated by the news that Jodie Whittaker would be taking over the part.
That could be Bond right now. We could be debating what a new actor would bring to the role, and in what direction their casting suggested the franchise was being taken. Instead, that will have to wait. Daniel Craig will return in Bond 25. A safe bet, but hardly a thrilling one. It really was time to say, “Never again.”
Daniel Craig raised the roof in Skyfall.