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The End of an Era for the World’s Most Famous Spy

by Sarah Soliman

It might be a foggy memory now, but back in 2005, the news that Daniel Craig had been cast as the next James Bond was met with not a small amount of antipathy. When Craig arrived by speedboat at the press conference announcing him as Bond, much was made of the fact that the actor was wearing a life jacket (an international super spy would never!). Craig was called too short, too unattractive, even too blond to successfully inhabit the role. Then Casino Royale came out — the Bond entry was so undeniably an instant classic that it silenced the naysayers, and reviews from publications all over the world sang Craig’s praises:

“Craig is also the best Bond in the franchise’s history.” (Time Out)

“Let’s say straight off that Craig is very good indeed: everything about his performance shows cunning and grace.” (Sight & Sound)

“Bond is back. Bond is beefy. And the new Bond is blond. Daniel Craig has comfortably slipped into the tuxedo, size 007, and left audiences shaken and stirred.” (Hindustan Times)

Seminal film critic Andrew Sarris said: “I consider Daniel Craig to be the most effective and appealing of the six actors who have played 007, and that includes even Sean Connery.”

Now, in 2021, Craig ends his Bond run as the actor with the longest tenure in the role. Casino Royale and 2011’s Skyfall are widely considered two of the best Bond films ever made. The first is as close to a Bond origin story as we’re ever likely to get. It features unforgettable performances from Eva Green as Vesper Lynd, the love who continues to haunt him throughout the rest of Craig’s bond films, and Mads Mikkelsen as the villain Le Chiffre. Skyfall introduces us to Ben Whishaw’s Q, Naomie Harris’ Moneypenny, and Javier Bardem (donning a wig as talked about as the one he wore for his Oscar-winning turn in No Country for Old Men) as a villain with a personal vendetta against M (Judi Dench).  

Your mileage may vary on the other Craig-era Bond films, Quantum of Solace and Spectre. Each has its fans and its detractors. On a recent rewatch of Quantum of Solace I found myself thinking it was ahead of its time, with a villain whose plan involved holding control over Bolivian water rights. It’s not flashy, but it speaks to very real concerns that have grown even more urgent in the years since the film’s release. Spectre offers one of the most memorable openings to any Bond film with its dazzling Día de Muertos parade that turns into a deadly rooftop set piece. The scene even impacted real Día de Muertos celebrations in Mexico City, where a Spectre-inspired parade for the holiday now takes place annually.  

No Time to Die is Craig’s final film in the franchise, and reviews seem to agree that it’s a tribute to the end of this particular Bond era, a send-off for Craig that recognizes his enormous influence in ushering Bond into the 21st century. Craig’s final Bond film, the 25th in the series, is one of the films — perhaps the film —  we’ve most eagerly anticipated since it was pushed back in the spring of 2020. It’s a momentous movie-going occasion, and we hope you’ll spend it with us at The Picture House.