Should Daniel Craig stay or should he go?

Daniel Craig in 2012 during filming of Skyfall.

Daniel Craig in 2012 during filming of Skyfall.

By Nicolás Suszczyk, Guest Writer

Should he stay or should he go?

It seems like yesterday when Pierce Brosnan was dismissed from the role of James Bond, Martin Campbell announced as the director of Bond 21 aka (the official version of) Casino Royale and the thousands of candidates tipped by the press to replace him: Heath Ledger, Ewan McGregor, Henry Cavill and Daniel Craig.

It also seems like yesterday when Daniel Craig was finally announced to the doubtful worldwide press as “The New James Bond.”

I was 15 then. I can even recall a newsflash in Argentina reading, “Doubts, many doubts” when showing the footage of the Chester-born actor, posing next to producers Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli for a photo call that seemed to say it all without a single caption describing it.

In 10 years that passed as 10 seconds, Craig seems to be leaving the role.

I don’t know if he will and I don’t believe in the gossip British and American tabloids, whose headlines are almost copied-pasted throughout the rest of the world, where the James Bond phenomenon has expanded since 1962. But, I have to admit, when people such as Graham Rye, the 007 Magazine editor, provides information on the subject, I may actually think about it.

So, without saying if he stays or if he goes (because I clearly don’t have that information, and maybe very few people do) or the real reasons on why he’s leaving or has been ditched, according to the sources we’ve heard, I want to offer my opinion on his future. And it’s going to be a very heartfelt opinion, because Craig was the Bond of my teens and adult life.

I want him to come back, but I think he should leave.

I’m not too much convinced on the tipped “replacements” and, of course, Craig can do one more Bond film at 48.

He still looks the part and showed a cool side of Ian Fleming’s spy: tough and brutal, but still fresh and humorous. But I honestly think he gave us all he had to give and “his” Bond found what he was looking for.

CinemaSins jokingly said that none of Craig’s Bond films can get over Casino Royale in their “sin count” of SPECTRE, and beyond the puns intended, that is indeed true. Because the 2006 film presents us the main conflict of the character: his emotions shattered after the induced suicide of the girl he loved, his purpose to avenge her (yes, to go behind the man “who held the whip” but with a slight desire of settling the score) and the need of getting over her and run away from that world of violence he belongs to because, apparently, it was “better than the priesthood.”

In Casino Royale, Craig/Bond loses Vesper; in Quantum of Solace, he finds a way to make justice; in Skyfall, an apparently “unrelated” story arc movie, he fails to protect Judi Dench’s M, who dies in his arms; and in SPECTRE we learn everything was connected to his foster brother Ernst Stavro Blofeld who operated from the shadows to make him lose the ones he loved.

007 defeats the villain, but instead of shooting him at point blank he decides to leave him to MI6 and sign off for a better life next to his new love, Madeleine Swann.

The end of the movie is a bit reminiscent to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, where Bond and his new wife Tracy left on an Aston Martin and then she was shot dead by a machine gun attack led by Blofeld and his henchwoman Irma Bunt. Even the last sentence of the 1969 film was, at one point, in SPECTRE’s script: “We have all the time in the world.”

In the finished film, the line was dropped and a smiling James Bond drove the DB5 next to Madeleine right through the London streets as Monty Norman’s trademark theme sounded.

I was incredibly happy when I saw that scene and I immediately thought it’s the best farewell Craig’s Bond could have.

Incredibly enough, after my first watching, a friend told me: “Hey, but she’s going to die in the next one,” connecting that scene to the tragic climax of the only 007 movie starring George Lazenby.

I wouldn’t like that again for two reasons: one, it would be way too repetitive that Bond loses two women close to his heart in four movies. It would be expected. It would be repeating a past, an exclusive past that is not compared to have many villains plotting WWIII or extravagant liars.

SPECTRE poster

SPECTRE poster

Two, Craig’s portrayal of the role has been so special, unique and different to the other five actors (the whole creative process for this era was different and continuity, in a way or another, mattered) that I feel he deserves this happy ending.

It’s a far cry for Connery/Bond next to a hussy Tiffany Case asking for the diamond-made satellite in the sky, Moore/Bond taking a shower with the clingy Stacey Sutton, a tuxedo-clad Dalton/Bond kissing the self-reliant Pam Bouvier in a swimming pool or Brosnan/Bond throwing diamonds on NSA agent Jinx’s belly during lovemaking.

Only George Lazenby’s final scene as Bond had the tragic ending of the hero crying over the dead body of his bride.

And SPECTRE’s ending is the perfect “revenge” to that scene: James Bond finally gets to be happy with the girl he loves and not with a fling, and they can have a happy future: a future that will not be known to us.

How could Bond and Madeleine fell for each other so quickly is still a subject of debate and I agree the relationship needed more development. Yet Léa Seydoux’s character can make a judgment call on 007 and make him throw the gun away right before he shoots Blofeld dead.

Minutes before, the villain lured Bond into the soon-to-be-demolished ruined MI6 building, now decorated with photos of Vesper and M. “This is what left of your world, everything you stood for, everything you believed in, are in ruins.”

When 007 opts not to kill his “brother,” he embraces Madeleine. They kiss and walk away of the crowded Westminster street where a wounded Blofeld lies before being arrested. Bond walks out of that world of violence and destruction the mastermind wanted for him.

The film’s proper ending is a Bondian epitaph for the Daniel Craig era. He is now the James Bond we all know and love, he’s there again, but keep “being Bond” would mean the end of his happy life: another Vesper. So, he says goodbye.

In 1615, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra decided to kill of Don Quixote so that no other author could continue writing about him, because he wanted to “own” him. The same should happen to this version of James Bond, because Daniel Craig “owned” the character, from that brutal black and white bathroom fight (at the start of Casino Royale) to the stylish Aston Martin ride with a girl.

So, to summarize this article – or extensive dilemma– should Daniel Craig’s James Bond stay or go? I want him to stay, I would love him to stay.

But he should go.

UPDATE (June 23): “Versión en español en Bond en Argentina” (to read a version in Spanish on the website Bond en Argentina), CLICK HERE.

 

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8 Responses

  1. I began with Dr. No. I’ve seen all but OHMSS. Daniel Craig is the best JB. Partly due to him, partly due to the new gritty, sophisticated writing; similar to why Christian Bale is the best Batman. I hate to see him go.

  2. We lost a fifth, and possible sixth Daniel Craig 007 film because Eon dicked around with production schedules: FOUR YEARS between “QOS” and “Skyfall”, and another three between that and “SPECTRE”. Now our ‘new’, ‘young’ screen James Bond is approaching age 50, with his hair considerably grayed, and his chin beginning to head south. And that with only three missions under his belt. Our (arguably) best screen Bond since the original 1960s model has had his tenure badly handled by his bosses. I think we’ll look back on the Daniel Craig era as a series of squandered opportunities and wasted time. At least Craig can go out on a reasonably high note (again, arguably), faring better than Connery, Moore, and Brosnan. Daniel, we hardly knew ye.

  3. He must stay and as many films they make, he must accept it. He is a good Bond figure. And I have seen them all. He is a good actor. Please let him stay for these Bond movies.

  4. @Paul – I agree at some points, but I know Bond films are hard to make now. I mean, they have more competitors (Bourne, Ethan Hunt) that while they’re less stylish and special as 007 is, they can reach him in terms of popularity. Making a Bond film now is a tough business: girls are not just to please the audience but they have a strong tie to Bond/the story; villains have to be behind the threats we’re all afraid NOW (great twist by making Blofeld control the worldwide spy network).

    @Charles, I get your point and I enjoyed his era as much as you do, but as I exposed in the article, I think he has reached “an end”. If countinuity wasn’t so important like in the old days, he could return and no matter what happened to Madeleine. But now, if he returns, we’ll have another QOS like revenge plot and another story arc and the Craig films would start repeating themselves and get uninteresting as it happened before.

  5. Martin Campbell said, to paraphrase, that the conclusion of Bond’s psychological journey was in CR. The end of QUANTUM suggested as much and ditto SPECTRE. They kept bringing up Bond’s self doubts and had him go rogue in every picture in this “Craig era”.

  6. As for the matter of Craig departing, I think it’s about time he should take a walk to wipe the slate clean of the emotional baggage. Now is the time for a more self assured hero that we have been denied a little to long. I enjoyed CR and SF warts and all but I have become a little sick of the sad orphan.

  7. I’m done with Daniel Craig. I would be glad to know “officially” he has left the franchise. I’m ready for a new actor in the 007 role. An actor with moral values and high standards would be fine with me. I really did not enjoy Daniel Craig in Spectre (2015) and I couldn’t wait for the film to end. Craig is getting too big for his britches and “flipping the birdie” at photographers is not a nice Public Relations thing to do.
    His fans will see him on television and other movies I am sure. It is not good-bye to his acting.
    Let’s have a new beginning in the James Bond movies now with a new 007 actor for 2018 or 2019. I don’t want to wait until 2022 for a new actor.

  8. Nice piece…And I can agree with a lot, but on a heart ruling the head level ,it is a film ,fiction adventure and that’s where we are ,I want my tough ,brutal Bond ,at the moment Craig was evolving nicely ….I got the impression from the books , which I haven’t read in many a year ,but will address that ,as I’ve just read the SPECTRE trilogy as i’m away in Macau, on my Kindle ,gawd bless it!…But they were surprisingly good , but it seemed Bond didn’t lose that many women through death and violence ,but mainly the relationship wasn’t able to keep ‘that level’ and they parted. A little imagination and we can move on .Actually how about Madelline getting killed and it could almost be ,not a sequal ,but show how Bond recovered from Tracey’s death in OHMSS…that’d be great material for Craig!

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