Sunday, 24 March 2013

Best Bond: Daniel Craig in Casino Royale

Daniel Craig became the sixth man to play James Bond in Casino Royale and actually was nominated for a Bafta.

Casino Royale is one of the very best Bond films and possibly my favorite of them all.

Well here we are with the sixth and current Bond actor Daniel Craig. Pierce Brosnan went on for four films and something strange happened with his films. Although GoldenEye managed to find a proper tone for the series again it was lost by the end of Brosnan's run with Die Another Day where Bond spent some time driving around in an invisible car it became so silly even Roger Moore thought it went too far. Anyway there was a four year hiatus between that film and this one and again there was a great deal of retooling that occurred, an even greater retooling than even between License to Kill and GoldenEye.

In the old Bond films the changing actor was never a fresh start for Bond. For example in License to Kill with Timothy Dalton it mentions Bond's marriage that went all the way back to On Her Majesty's Secret Service, and in GoldenEye Bond mentions the old M suggesting that he worked with the M found in the previous films. He apparently was the same character through all even though that really did not make sense for the performances of the Bonds which could be quite different. This film though makes it clear that this is not the same Bond as it takes place in present day yet this Bond at the very beginning of the film is just completing his first task as a 00 agent.

Daniel Craig like Pierce Brosnan takes an approach to Bond similar to another actor in the role. His approach being closest to that of Timothy Dalton's Bond the emphasized the government killer aspect of the character. Like Brosnan who did not just copy or rip off Connery, Craig takes on a similar style but never tries to replicate what Dalton did in the role. Craig is quite helped in his task as a darker Bond by the fact that the film is taking this approach whereas Timothy Dalton seemed to be trying to take Bond to different places well the film wanted him to stay put in the Roger Moore era. Craig's Bond is not a burnt out Bond that was Dalton's instead his is one of youthful inexperience.

Craig plays Bond as again a man with a great deal of confidence but this confidence is different from every other Bond. Craig actually plays it to a certain degree as overconfidence. To a certain extent he makes this Bond a Bond who acts the part of the perfect super spy even though he might not be that super spy just yet. Now Craig is not all bluster in his performance by any means. He establishes well a quiet intelligence in his characterization of Bond, and where the overconfidence lies quite interestingly in his manner of being a dispassionate killer while being a suave man on the outside. It is quite a fascinating dynamic Craig makes which is that of an efficient spy but not a perfect man by any means.

Early on in the film Craig plays Bond very coldly as he goes about his mission and accentuates the hit man. Craig is very effective taking this approach particularly in the early scenes as he goes about his mission efficiently and brutally. Craig finds just the right tone not going too far, yet going pretty far with the intensity of his portrayal of Bond. It is an interesting take on the character as we see Bond as brutal agent he is when he goes dealing with a threat by quickly moving, deciphering, killing and even quickly seducing to deal with what he has. He makes this Bond absolutely believable and it excellent the way he gets across the cold fashion that Bond uses to complete his mission.

Craig plays his action scenes differently from every other actor in the Bond role. Craig plays them as a fight to the death, and even infuses more of the violence of the situation. When his Bond kills him you see the killer in his eyes as he sticks the knife in. What I find quite incredible about his Bond though is even with this approach which he does quite intensely he does not fail to bring in the lighter quality should have. Yes it is far more muted here than most and his quips are sort of there but never in the way they were in the previous films not even the way the quips were in GoldenEye. Craig still manages to bring so low key humor and a certain degree of joy to the proceedings to still make him Bond.

The key to his Bond is his vulnerability in this one as he is not only poisoned close to death, but as well almost tortured to death. Craig is quite excellent though because he manages to go to these darker points of the film while without compromising the nature of Bond as a character. The crux of this film is that his Bond has quite the learning experience as he ends up falling in love with the film's bond girl Vesper Lynn. Craig is terrific in portraying Bond losing his the dispassionate quality in Bond in his scenes with her, but the great thing about this performance at the end is he goes back to the proper agent by the end of it. Craig is terrific though because he does not show him just go back to the same man at the end but subtly suggests Bond as now to a pain from his troubled experience.

Daniel Craig is a terrific Bond and my personal favorite scene of his has to be when he is tortured by Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen). He and Mikkelsen are outstanding in their scene together as they make it a particularly brutal scene yet strangely comic when Bond attempts to laugh off the pain, or when Le Chiffre sees that Bond really won't give him the information he wants, both Craig's and Mikkelsen's reaction in this scene are just brilliant. Craig has a great scenes throughout the film and he delivers an original and memorable performance as James Bond. Craig is of course the current Bond and has been consistent through his three films so far. It will be interesting to see if Daniel Craig can deliver a total of five times as Bond.

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