Daniel Craig: ‘Goodbye Mister Bond’ - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Daniel Craig: ‘Goodbye Mister Bond’

Daniel Craig seems to have decided he is now too good to play James Bond. Even Sony management are upset with remarks made by the super sleuth, who in the coming film Spectre looks more like a middle-aged funeral director than an urbane British spy. His last casting effort should be a welcome event for lovers of the Bond tradition. They will finally be able to say, like Auric Goldfinger did, “Goodbye Mister Bond.”

James Bond started to become a global brand in 1962, with the release of Dr. No, named after a scientist of Chinese antecedents committed to destroying the NASA space exploration program. Since then, the Bond tradition and values have been maintained by Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, and Pierce Brosnan: pluck, Queen and country, grace under pressure, droll cynicism, and urbanity have been the norm. The Bond played by those actors seemed fundamentally happy with his mission, in spite of frequent hectoring by M, head of the British Secret Intelligence Service also known as MI6; Q, the armorer in charge of research and development of weapons and kit; and on occasion, even the minister of defense. The Bond of those days was secure enough to be foppish and display a schoolboy sense of humor. The world was decidedly bipolar then, with the rivalry between the West and the Soviet Union, and assorted villains working for SPECTRE or other causes who wanted to see war between the two or impose their own megalomaniacal designs.

But Craig is a different kind of Bond. He is downright surly. He could be a misanthrope. His facial expressions convey perpetual disgust with his handlers and his environment. He seems as though he would rather be somewhere else — one wonders why he does not apply to Barclays PLC to trade gilts. As I have noted earlier in these pages, Craig’s face is frequently covered with mud and blood, suggesting that he cannot be doing everything correctly as a clandestine operative. And as a waggish observer and man of letters once expressed to me, how can we deem successful a secret agent who has to restart his own heart with a gadget in the glove compartment of an Aston Martin DBS?

However the right question is not what do we say about Craig, but what does Craig say about us? First, from Fifth Avenue to Michigan Avenue to Rodeo Drive, grunge is in. And this is not an American phenomenon but a very global one which predates Craig’s film career as Bond. Craig himself is masterful at looking grungy, and even in black tie he looks oddly inappropriate, as if he would rather be seen not at Claridge’s, but in the gym in sweat kit from Old Navy or the Gap. Second, the seething Craig is long on “in your face” behavior and short on manners. Again, he is a symbol of our times, where traditional manners are out of vogue and even considered unmanly. Third, Craig resembles a robot. Stern and sour, he does not emote. The same can be said of much of a generation of so called tech-savvy millennials, who stare endlessly at tablets in coffee houses or are well-wired into handheld devices — transfixed, never bothering to engage in social intercourse.

Fourth, Craig is an inveterate cynic. He fits well in an era where government, the courts, the police, our school system, and the clergy are discredited or losing influence.

Fleming’s Bond is said to be modeled after the dapper and enigmatic Sidney Reilly, an early 20th century spy from the predecessor of MI6. Others believe that Fleming was influenced in his mind’s eye by William Stephenson, the gallant Canadian operative during World War II, a man for all seasons also known as “Intrepid.” The Bond that Ian Fleming created was an epicure. He knew his foie gras and caviar — and if his brandy had too much bon bois, referring to that part of France where some cognacs are produced. At times pedantic and condescending, Bond also projected wit. Above all, he was fundamentally good-natured and likable — and each actor up to Craig projected this.

Other than disagreeableness and a bad attitude, it is not clear what Craig projects. He needs to yield to the next generation, an actor who can restore the cheerful and debonair mystique of “Bond, James Bond.”

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