Astute observation, David_M: Craig and Moore acting alike, only with a scowl instead of a smirk!
Astute observation, David_M: Craig and Moore acting alike, only with a scowl instead of a smirk!
I think there’s more to Craig’s take on Bond than that. If you look at CASINO ROYALE, he’s fairly playful throughout that film. Sure, there’s the pouting seriousness as well, but there are quite a few moments where he’s showing more range than simply scowling. There’s the fear of the stairwell fight, his playfulness throughout the torture sequence (in addition to a healthy dose of fear once he realizes the “big picture”), a mischievous side to him when he parks the German man’s car at the club and then beats him later in poker, and then of course his lighter scenes with Vesper.
There’s less of that in QUANTUM OF SOLACE, but there are moments there as well. The opera scene, where he interrupts the Quantum meeting and photographs the members fleeing is a fairly old-school type of Bond moment where he’s clearly having fun screwing with the bad guys. I’m sure there are a few other moments sprinkled in there as well, but I’d have to go back and watch it again as it’s been a while.
Well, I didn’t mean to denigrate Craig. My point is that the character of James Bond isn’t built for the kind of extreme displays that characterize “great acting” in the Oscar-seeking tradition. As a general rule, no matter who’s playing him, Bond doesn’t burst into gales of laughter, collapse in racking sobs, deliver impassioned soliloquies about his core beliefs, or greatest fears, or biggest regrets, or childhood trauma, etc etc etc. He isn’t paralyzed by self-doubt, he doesn’t experience much in the way of “catharsis” from a film’s beginning to its end (He’s pretty much the same unstoppable killing machine in the first scene of CR that he is in the last). There’s only so far you can go with Bond before you break him as a macho role model (or if you prefer, a prototypical British “stiff upper lip” type). He needs to be rock-solid at all times, even if we suspect that fissures on the inside may at some point cleave that rock beyond repair.
And that’s the character I’m talking about, not the actor. Connery’s Bond isn’t notably emotional, Moore is often criticized for being too unflappable even by Bond standards. Lazenby has a great moment when he’s strangling the enemy skiier and seems genuinely terrified of discovery, but it’s fleeting. Dalton gets angrier than the others, but “anger” isn’t a “risky” emotion for a macho hero.
If you have a character who can’t go very far or very deep with emotion, then you have a couple of choices: either present him with a series of challenges with high physical stakes but no emotional stakes (like most of the “Classic” Bond entries) or try to milk a modicum of drama out of increasingly extreme psychological stressors. Will this be the thing that breaks the unbreakable hero? I think they’ve gone about as far with the latter as they can, regardless of who plays him. But given that Craig’s forte is (IMO) maintaining an outer cool while falling apart on the inside, the temptation is to keep giving him more and more of that.
I didn’t mean to imply that you were denigrating Craig. For the most part, I would tend to agree, but I think that if they were to actually put Fleming’s Bond on the screen, or do some different things with the character as they’ve done with Craig’s tenure, that it does lend the character a bit more to “acting” than what we saw from the character and the films from late Connery on through Brosnan.
But, those moments should be spaced out, I would say. We shouldn’t be getting major moments like that each film, as it takes away from their impact. Like you said earlier, the one major canonical moment in the franchise pre-Craig was Tracy, and that was a powerful moment in large part because it was a one-off, something unexpected because Bond hadn’t been the type of character to be caught up in such situations prior to that and not all that much after that, until the “this time…it’s personal” business caught hold of the producers.
My take on Craig is that his intensity is more aggressive than Dalton´s.
Dalton gave a more melancholy portrait of Bond and still was capable of changing gears to be amused and tongue-in-cheek-ish, especially in TLD.
Craig really nails the dangerous side of Bond. But his amusement and enjoyment are often tinged with that aggressiveness, too. And I don´t think that´s a good idea. When you watch Craig during interviews he does come across as someone who enjoys silliness and laughter. He seems to have chosen LOGAN LUCKY to show off that particular side of him as well.
Maybe Craig just needs a director to encourage him to bring more of that to Bond, too.
Sir Roger managed to bring all of that (yes, even danger) in one effortless seeming package. Connery had that, too. This is the gold standard for Bond actors, IMHO.
I think with Dalton we had a Bond that was closer to the end of his career than to the beginning, with that melancholy quality you mentioned coming from being somewhat burnt out with the job. I imagine that, in the early part of Dalton’s career, he was perhaps quite a bit like Craig’s Bond, but has become worn down and cynical about all of it by the time we actually catch up with him in THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS.
I expect after Craig Bond will be located in the middle of his career again, not at the start or end. I doubt there is demand for another origin story - at least not for a decade or three - and we’ve seen what happens when you go down the route of the ageing spy past his prime, a trope Craig tackled far too soon.
Yes, it does seem strange, after at least a couple of films (and the non-official NSNA) struggled with how to handle an older Bond because they were committed to an aging actor, to go out of their way to craft another story about an older, “past it” Bond starring an actor who hadn’t even got there, yet.
But then, I confess I don’t understand a lot of the choices that have been made in the last 20 years or so. Which is why I’m a bad one to ask what they’re going to do next.
I can - I think - understand in theory how they arrived at some decisions: there is no ‘fixed’ masterplan for Bond in Eon’s vaults, no precise vision as to how Bond should be and which way to take there. Everything is mostly played by ear - and the success proved them right more often than not.
That’s why chronology with Fleming never was a pressing concern; staying hip was much more important. They are not afraid to contradict themselves since they can be sure few will notice and less will care.
So the reboot with Craig was tackled like everything else: because it sounded like a good idea at the time. And when it wasn’t deemed opportune any more it was largely dropped again. Only to raise its head once more to tie all of Craig’s films together.
They are making things up as they go along, trying to emulate each film from the parts of its predecessors. And never…no, hardly ever do they think of future films. Freshman Bond turns Burnt-out Bond in a blink.
And so they ponder one day their options and somebody suggests ‘Wouldn’t that be cool if we had a big, a really BIG reveal? If all of Daniel’s adventures had just been pieces of a much larger picture?’
And somebody else nods enthusiastically and things happen…
I suspect that the “Bond is burnt out”-idea derived from a certain arrogance towards the character which permeated the media during the “Bourne”-heyday.
Again and again the question was raised: is Bond still relevant? And Mendes was attracted to that idea especially, making SKYFALL a constant rumination on that topic.
In my mind, Bond never stopped being relevant since he is a timeless character. Ironically, Bourne is the one who lost his relevance very quickly because he is such a one-note idea.
That’s another one of the tropes that they need to get away from, this idea of questioning the relevance of both Bond and the Double-oh Section. Both that and the personal angle have been done to death at this point, although I suspect that we’ll see one or both of those tropes return in BOND 25, especially if we have a new Bond as we’ll have to spend the entire film ruminating on the idea of whether or not he’s up to snuff.
It would be so refreshing and revolutionary to see the next Bond just step in, feeling absolutely confident, not doubting himself or his superiors.
Moreover, it would be great to see him immersed entirely in the case, not into the whole Whitehall/SIS shenanigans. Let him follow the trace from A to Z without intervention/supervision from the ‘home team’. Yes, that’s tough on Whishaw, Fiennes, Harris and Kinnear. But Bond shouldn’t be a team player the whole time. It had some justification in SF - the SIS and M were under attack - but it already felt largely wrong in SPECTRE. Keep these good folks, but keep them to a minimum.
I had the same feeling - in SKYFALL, okay, M,Moneypenny and Q were involved and needed/featured in just the right doses.
But SPECTRE already showed the strain to justify them getting more than the expositional scenes - and it still underserved them.
I fear, however, that the high profile casting will permit to reduce them to the one or two scenes that were needed in classic Bond films.
If they don´t continue on that path for BOND 25 I would definitely suggest re-casting these roles in order to cut these characters down to their original sizes.
Bond definitely needs to retreat from being the team player where he’s essentially Ethan Hunt to the IMF team of Harris, Whishaw, and Fiennes. He needs to go back to being the lone wolf out in the field, facing down the bad guys on his own rather than being on a constant leash. In addition, this would make those scenes, the ones where he does have to use an earpiece or other such equipment to communicate with home base all the more urgent and suspenseful, as you’d know the stakes are really being raised if Bond has to bring in help beyond someone like Felix or the film’s Bond girl.
I agree with the current discussion. Have Bond arrive at the office, banter with Moneypenny, get the brief from M, maybe a stop at Q-branch, then get on the case, fully untethered.
Glad to see others are put off by the “team” approach. I don’t even like it that Bond goes around with an earpiece getting intel and instructions from helpers back in London, let alone at his elbow. I get the whole “whiz-bang technology” thing, but something is definitely lost when Bond’s no longer flying solo and surviving by his wits but merely taking cues from a remote puppeteer with all the answers.
This is the point where technology lessens the fun rather than adding to it. Is it impressive that spy agencies can now know where all their agents are, what they’re saying and doing, what’s waiting in that room they have yet to enter, etc? Yes, but it kills anything like suspense or excitement, which is more vital to spy fiction than gadgetry, IMHO.
I’m not really a fan of the earpiece thing either. I think it would be best left as a device for them to use every once in a while that really conveys that whatever Bond is up against at that moment is so serious and threatening that he needs to pool the resources of MI6 together to help him solve it. If used right, even a simple earpiece like that could really help raise the stakes in a Bond film.
As something that’s featured quite a bit, and definitely in conjunction with M, Q, and Moneypenny practically being field agents, I have to say that it really doesn’t work for me either.
The earpiece, for me, only worked in QOS when Bond used it to infiltrate Quantum. That´s how Bond should use technology: appropriate it for his own way to disturb the villains.
For me, the most tense feeling I get in movies is when someone enters a room to do some snooping, and the threat of being caught is eminent. Sure, the music and cut-scenes add to it, but the very action of being on forbidden grounds always gets my adrenaline going. Perhaps it is a cookie-jar-syndrome, lol.