With No Time To Die being the swan song of Daniel Craig as James Bond, a role that, believe it or not, he’s played for fifteen years in five films (Roger Moore was Bond for twelve years but did seven films), it’s time to look back his offerings as the iconic secret agent. The four previous films in which he plays the super spy have often been considered a mixed bag, but if what critics are saying about No Time To Die is true, Craig could be going out on top.
Craig was brought in to reinvigorate the franchise after well-meaning Pierce Brosnan’s era came down crashing and burning with the campy and over the top dud, Die Another Day. Inspired by the precedent set by Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, Daniel Craig’s Bond would take place at the beginning of his career and introduce a darker, edgier Bond without all the quips audiences were used to. The plan worked and audiences believed Craig’s hard edged Bond was the best since Connery, and closer to what author Ian Fleming originally envisioned. However, after Casino Royale, the subsequent films would prove to be controversial, with some being considered some of the best Bond films ever and some being the worst. Here are the four Daniel Craig James Bond adventures, ranked.
Similar to the way Quantum Of Solace tried to capitalize on Casino Royale‘s success, Spectre tried to use Skyfall’s formula. Ultimately, however, the end result was disappointing. Initially, Spectre looked destined to be a great movie; it retained Skyfall’s director Sam Mendes, and after a long legal battle, the producers were able to use the character of Ernst Stavros Blofeld and the classic evil organization, ‘Spectre’. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out so well.
Spectre being part of the story seems forced as, back when they didn’t have the rights, Quantum had already been introduced as the secret organization. So, there are two secret organizations?
Christoph Waltz seemed like the perfect actor to play the iconic Blofeld however, by this time, he had played so many villain roles, his performance didn’t make an impression on viewers. Audiences also felt Bond lacked any chemistry with the love interest Madelyn Swann even though the movie sets her up to be his great love, and their scenes pale in comparison to his scenes with Eva Green’s Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale. Even Pierce Brosnan commented that the story was weak.
Producers tried to add a little more of Bond’s trademarks like humor but balancing the tone with the overall seriousness didn’t work this time. Some might say Quantum Of Solace is a worse movie, but Spectre is the Daniel Craig Bond adventure that tried the hardest and failed the hardest. Originally, Spectre was to be Craig’s swan song, however, he was coaxed back into being Bond one more time for No Time To Die which, as reports suggest, will be a satisfying conclusion to his tenure.
3. Quantum Of Solace
Everyone wanted another Daniel Craig Bond adventure following Casino Royale’s critical and commercial success. However, Quantum Of Solace had a troubled production as a writer’s strike caused the film to begin shooting without a script, forcing Craig and director Marc Forster to write scenes on the spot.
The result is the closest Bond has ever had at having a direct sequel. The film takes place moments after Casino Royale, however as an addendum to the previous film, it lacks a much needed punch and feels more like an afterthought than a well-crafted story. At the time, the Jason Bourne movies were popular and the film has much more of a Bourne, handheld aesthetic. Solace is also one of the shorter Bond films. While it moves like a bullet, the story itself is weak and ultimately forgettable.
After a disappointing follow up, James Bond rebounded with Skyfall, directed by American Beauty’s Sam Mendes. With Skyfall, Bond producers infused the serious tone set by Casino Royale but, this time, with some of the trademarks fans of the franchise loved and missed like Q. Boasting amazing cinematography by master Roger Deakins, Skyfall is also perhaps the best-looking Bond film ever made.
Skyfall makes up for Solace’s shortcomings by having a great premise, a scary villain, and even a brilliant theme song performed by Adele. The film fires on all cylinders, and with its mix of the old ways and the new ways, it makes for an extremely satisfying Bond adventure.
1. Casino Royale
Casino Royale marked Daniel Craig’s debut as 007. With its brutal, B&W prologue, he and the film quickly distance themselves from the franchsie’s previous, sillier entries.
Based on the book by Ian Fleming, Casino Royale takes a very different route than previous entries. Gone are the gadgets and the cheeky quips. Instead, Bond is tough and violent but still has an emotional side, and unlike most (if not all) the other Bond movies, he has an actual character arc. While some of Bond’s trademark aspects made the earlier film’s funner, Casino Royale is the rare James Bond film that plays it serious and tries to get under the skin of who he is.
While not what some fans of the franchise wanted, Casino Royale is probably the breathe of fresh air the franchise needed. Here’s hoping that whoever takes on Bond next has as good a first outing as this.