The name is different for everyone. For some, Sean Connery is the Bond, the real James Bond. While for others, it is Timothy Dalton. For some, Pierce Brosnan with his lovable rogue act, flowing seamlessly from Remington Steele on TV, epitomizes him. And then there are those, for whom Daniel Craig is Bond.
I have to say, that this last category is the one I belong to. Daniel Craig is not the character as it was written, and he didn’t play it as it was written. He added layers, whereas earlier there was merely panache, stunts and the gadgets. He is not brunette as Bond is supposed to be, he is not suave, more rough hewn bordering on deadly. And, to put it in the words of someone who hated the idea of Daniel Craig as 007, a complete sob.
Well, surprisingly, though it was meant as a put down, turns out that is the greatest compliment. The character itself is so one dimensional, unrealistic, totally unconnected to reality, that Mike Myers adds more dimensions to it, with his caricature of it as Austin Powers. And actually deconstructs the franchise, right from the plot, the suits, the girls, the guns, the cars, gadgets and widgets and of course, the grand opening Bond theme. Which is always firmly nestled in the same saptak of the musical scale and almost always has the same musical arrangement. I say almost, because the one in Casino Royale, Craig’s debut as Bond is slightly different.
The graph that Bond charts right from Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, to Spectre is interesting. The basics are all there, the two leading ladies, the robber’s moll and the good girl, the ‘thrills’, the plot following one villain through all four movies. The faces of evil may be different, but are employed by one mastermind, who is revealed in Spectre. A ghost, from Bond’s past.
Starting off, with a man who gets the shakes after making his first mark, or kill, Bond in Spectre is the picture of nonchalance strolling on a high parapet, putting a gun together, plugging his earpiece in, as the day of the dead carries on in the street below, on his way to a kill. It’s business as usual, finally, for Mr. Bond.
And when that happens, the character is ready to leave the life. As Bond does with a lush blond and Aston Martin in tow. Since by now, it’s business as usual for Craig as well, who has deciphered that there is nothing to the character, of it’s own or imbued by him, he has decided to call it quits, too. Spectre is his last Bond film and it shows. All the “Bond” movie staples are in view. Craig, who was not seen bare bodied or with females in any of the opening sequences, appears doing just that. There are plane stunts, cars stunts, and impossible escapes, all of which is what prompted the character of Q (Ben Whishaw) to quip in Skyfall, that people don’t really go for an exploding pen, anymore. But, they are all back, and that is exactly why, Spectre fails spectacularly. I saw the movie, with seven people on a week day at an afternoon show. The litmus test, if you will, but you can’t fake box office reactions.