With the final trailer for No Time To Die having been released, we’re finally on the cusp of Daniel Craig’s grand finale as James Bond. It’s been a long and mostly successful run for Craig, with the upcoming release set to be his fifth film in the franchise.
As the anticipation builds, now seems as good a time as any to look back on Craig’s work to date and rank his best films as 007.
4. SPECTRE (2015)
Spectre is a film that attempts to tied Craig’s previous three installments together and explain them in a way they perhaps don’t need to be explained. The plot is somewhat convoluted, but it essentially revolves around Bond discovering that his recent misfortunes and the villains that brought them to pass can all be traced back to the criminal organisation SPECTRE. SPECTRE is run by Ernst Blofeld (Christoph Waltz), and Bond ultimately teams up with one Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) to attempt to bring the organization down.
The film looks wonderful. The opening sequence in which Bond thwarts an attack at the Mexican Day Of The Dead festival (albeit with plenty of collateral damage) is breathtaking. Moreover, additional sets and action sequences meet that bar throughout the film. Unfortunately, plot cohesion and character development are lacking. SPECTRE’s involvement seems too convenient and its motivations are poorly explained. Waltz is more or less the same compelling eccentric he’s been in other films. And Seydoux’s Madeleine Swann is a pale imitation of Eva Green’s Vesper Lynd from Casino Royale. She’s built up as a deadly but alluring femme fatale, yet winds up neither as capable nor as sympathetic as Lynd.
The end result is a film that’s very easy on the eyes but is ultimately, as one review aptly labeled it, a forgettable journey, according to Movie Freak.
3. Quantum Of Solace (2008)
Quantum Of Solace is perhaps the strangest film from Craig’s run, in that it plays out almost like an add-on final act to Casino Royale. There’s a whole, bizarre plot concerning Bond’s takedown of the mysterious Quantum organisation. This begins with Mr. White (Jesper Christensen), whom Bond captured at the end of Casino Royale. And along the way it involves fresh villain Dominic Greene (Matheiu Amalric), new “Bond girl” Camille Montes (Olga Kurylenko), and struggles over Bolivian leadership, water supplies, and oil stockpiling. But in the end, when all of that is taken care of, Bond goes off on a solo mission to find a criminal con artist who had been Vesper Lynd’s lover. At that point it feels as if the whole film existed to get Bond to a place of closure over Lynd’s demise.
It’s actually a fairly intricate film that’s better on a second or third watch. It’s certainly not bad. But it feels almost unnecessary in the grand scheme of things, and there’s something just a little stylistically off about it that’s always difficult to pinpoint.
2. Casino Royale (2006)
Casino Royale was Craig’s debut, and it’s a masterful one at that. The film depicts a new beginning for Bond as 007, and — after a few early detours in the form of stunning action sequences — sees him tracking a terrorist financier named Le Chiffre (Madds Mikkelsen) across the globe. Along the way, for what seems like possibly the first time in the whole franchise, Bond legitimately falls in love with one Vesper Lynd, who accompanies him on his missions. And delightfully, Bond’s pursuit of Le Chiffre largely boils down to an ultra-high-stakes poker game.
Said poker game takes place at the titular Casino Royale in Montenegro, and it’s really what sets the film apart. The game is organised by Le Chiffre, and Bond is staked by M16 (and eventually the CIA) in order to enter with other high rollers — the idea being to defeat Le Chiffre and force him to seek refuge from the powers to which he is indebted. The scene, however, draws out for a fairly large portion of the film and makes for some of the best poker action we’ve seen on screen. The game itself is sophisticated enough that an understanding of Texas Hold’em is legitimately useful. The film shows Hold’em as it’s really played, trusting audiences’ knowledge, whereas many poker movies take a less sophisticated approach. And the staging of the game (from the layout of the table to the attire of the characters) is oozing with the richness that makes us want to live in Bond films.
Surround a scene and plot point like this with terrific action, a shockingly compelling debut by Craig, and a real romance, and you have one of the truly great Bond films.
1. Skyfall (2012)
Finally we have Skyfall — Craig’s third effort, and more or less an undisputed masterpiece. This film focuses on the idea that Bond is slipping, framing him as an agent in decline, only for MI6 to be targeted by another former 00 in Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem). In what feels like the most personal conflict yet in the franchise, an ongoing duel between Silva and Bond (as well as Judi Dench’s M) plays out all the way to Bond’s remote childhood home.
The only real negative thing that can be said about Skyfall is that it borrows heavily from a few other films — namely, The Dark Knight and Heat. But given that these are terrific films (and that director Sam Mendes has been open about the connections to The Dark Knight), it’s hard to be bothered! In its performances, action sequences, and sense of story, as well as its ability to make Bond something deeper than we’ve been before, Skyfall is a triumph.
Article by Janisa Blaken.