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Sunday, December 13, 2015

A Eulogy for Daniel Craig's 007, the Best Bond Ever

Daniel Craig as James Bond
Like many enduring creations of collective consciousness—Stone Age cave paintings or medieval cathedrals or the iPhone—the character of James Bond is the work of lots of hands. Under the guidance of nearly a hundred writers and directors and half a dozen actors of all appearances and levels of skill, Bond has taken 50 years to develop and lives as an amalgam of memory as much as a figure onscreen. Seeing him in Spectre (out November 6) is like having a reunion with a favorite grizzled uncle, an opportunity to once again face the question he has always posed: Whom do men want to be now? Spectre will almost certainly be the last time the question is answered by Daniel Craig, the man who has done more than anyone else to redeem the exhausted and often disgraceful figment of male fantasy we have given the name James Bond.
 
Bond was born not out of luxury but out of privation. Ian Fleming wrote him into existence in the England of the early 1950s, when war rationing had not yet ended and the British Empire was drifting into the complacent irrelevance it currently enjoys. Stories of a British spy became massively popular at the exact moment British spies no longer mattered. Accompanying the fantasy of power was a fantasy of permission—the license to kill—and an equally essential fantasy of consumption. Bond ate luxurious meals when his audiences could not. He smoked 60 custom-made cigarettes a day. He gambled. He traveled. He spent as much money as he could. The qualification for playing James Bond is to be the man of your generation who looks best in a Savile Row suit.

Bond is not just a character; he's also an adjective: Bond cars, Bond gear, Bond songs, Bond villains, Bond girls. The series' continuity, which makes it so easy to parody, is its chief selling point. The gadgets may change, but the love of gadgets is forever. All Bond villains serve the same function. The threat of global nuclear war, terrorism, technological change, even media conglomerates—in Bond films it turns out that they're all just guys with funny hair and slightly effeminate mannerisms. 
The Bond girls are the most distinctive feature of the franchise, of course—beautiful women with silly names (Honey Ryder, Sylvia Trench, Pussy Galore, Thumper, Mary Goodnight, Chew Mee, Holly Goodhead, Xenia Onatopp, Dr. Molly Warmflash, and my personal favorite, Kissy Suzuki). The best Bond movies—Goldfinger, From Russia with Love, and Casino Royale constitute a separate category—have the most complex, most assertive, most interesting women in them. But the overwhelming majority of the films have been too lazy for female characters who are not simply consumer products like the others. Interesting women are too unpredictable, and Bond sells predictability.

Change is inevitable, however, even in Bond movies, and the series, against its will, reflects history. Each Bond is an argument concerning how men felt about the masculine ideals of their period. In the early '60s, before and during the sexual revolution, Sean Connery exuded the supreme confidence of a man who has never questioned, nor been questioned about, his sense of his own manhood. Through the Roger Moore years, the '70s and '80s, Bond devolved into a relic of British gentility and louche nightclub sexuality until the movies veered dangerously close to being parodies of themselves, and sometimes crossed over—in Octopussy, 007 literally saves the world as a faded clown in a circus. 
Many years of confusion followed, during which Bond was little more than a branding opportunity, fulfilling, halfheartedly, a tired contract with fans: the woman in a bikini who utters "James" meltingly, the threat to the world, the capture, the improbable escape, "shaken, not stirred" as a joke somewhere in there. The portrait of male fantasy by way of James Bond was not flattering to men: a sometimes stupid, sometimes violent pompous joke addicted to cheap puns, executive toys, and vacuous women.

Then came Daniel Craig. He kept all the Bond clich├ęs in place while utterly reinventing all of them; he played Bond as a real character rather than as a cipher for adventure. He refused to take the man as a joke but was willing to laugh at him nonetheless; he helped create a kinder, more thoughtful Bond, who listens when women speak, but also a more dangerous and more selfish Bond, who knows he prefers adultery to sex with available women. You can sense the desperation in this 007. 

Self-consciously traditional, he believes in the decrepit loyalties to Britain but at the same time feels betrayed by his country and its institutions. In short, Craig is the PTSD Bond. He is the Bond for an era in which a million and a half American men and women, and a significant number of British and Canadian and Australian men and women, have been fighting actual shadow wars against actual madmen with actual dreams of global domination, and have drifted home from their encounters in various states of brokenness.

The fantasy of the Craig Bond is the existence of a real person behind the cloak of heroism—he is the Bond who has been willing to show his suffering and failure. Craig comes the closest, of all the film versions, to the Bond in the books—a character who emerged from deprivation and the enduring sacrifices of war. He has perfectly represented the past decade and the original story simultaneously. If he's not the greatest Bond, it's only because he wasn't the first.

The question "Who will be the next Bond?" is more than just Hollywood gossip or standard pop-culture speculation. It is the question of what is missing from the lives of men and who best fills the void. Bond has been a figure of confidence for an age of anxiety, a figure of glamour for an age of plastic, a figure of redemption for an age of degradation, a reliable man for unreliable times. Only one thing is certain about the Bond who comes next: We will need him, no matter whom he turns out to be.

9 of Daniel Craig’s sexiest James Bond moments ahead of his final 007 film, Spectre

As Daniel Craig prepares for his final outing as James Bond in new film Spectre, we celebrate his time as the (rather sexy) spy 
 Daniel Craig's best moments as James Bond
We can’t wait to see the new James Bond movie, Spectre, when it’s released next Monday – but we’re kinda sad that it’s going to be Daniel Craig‘s last outing as 007.

MORE! TEARS for Sam Smith as video for his Bond theme Writing’s On The Wall is (finally) released

SEE MORE PICTURE GALLERIES HERE

The actor is hanging up his gun after this, his fourth Bond movie, saying last week ‘I’d rather slash my wrists’ than reprise the role. Which is pretty final!

So, in honour of his final appearance as the suave spy, we’ve listed our nine favourite moments from Daniel’s oh-so-sexy portrayal of the character – check them out in the gallery above and below.

ENJOY.

1. When he rode a motorbike through the streets of Istanbul in Skyfall

Because Daniel Craig as James Bond tearing around on a motorbike = TOO HOT

2. All the times he wore a suit

Which, being Bond, was a LOT. Designer Tom Ford specially made many of Daniel’s suits for Quantum of Solace and Skyfall (and a fine job he did on them too), whilst Spectre will see the return of Bond’s ivory dinner jacket. #SWOON.

3. Every time he locked lips with a Bond girl

Because, rather than make us jealous, we simply pretended that it was our dress he was unzipping. Oh, James!

 Skyfall - 2012
4. This scene in Skyfall

…when we were reminded just how beautiful Daniel’s lovely blue eyes are. So intense.

5. When he looked all brooding and moody on the Scottish highlands next to his Aston Martin

Like a modern-day Heathcliffle *sighs*

6. Anytime he had a drink in his hand

Ooh, how we’d live to share a cocktail and get shaken and stirred with Daniel Craig’s Bond. Or even a load of tequila shots a la that scene in Skyfall (although we’ll pass on the scorpion, thanks).

7. When he parachuted into the Olympic Opening Ceremony with Queen Elizabeth

Need we say anymore?

8. When he was covered in blood and dirt

And somehow STILL managed to look gorgeous.

9. And finally – when he wore THOSE teeny tiny blue swimming trunks

You didn’t think we’d forgotten, did you? We’ll NEVER forget.
 
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