No Time to Die marks the end of Daniel Craig’s astonishing run as James Bond, which is absolutely wild.
Consider this, Craig is now the longest-running James Bond out of the actors who have played the famed superspy over the years. Craig’s 15-year stretch (2006-2021) outdoes Roger Moore’s previous 12-year record (1973-1985), unless you count Never Say Never Again as canon, in which case Sean Connery wins by a landslide with 21 years (1962-1983), but ranks behind Connery and Moore in terms of films produced — Moore wins that particular race with seven while Connery notched six Bond flicks (or seven depending on the aforementioned Never Say Never Again), followed by Craig (5), Pierce Brosnan (4), Timothy Dalton (2), and George Lazenby (1).
I only point this out because it feels like yesterday that Craig awkwardly rode up on a speedboat as the blond-haired weasel from Road to Perdition looking about as close to Bond as I am to Brad Pitt. Yet, now, 15 short years later, Craig is a legitimate superstar and widely ranked amongst the best actors to assume the 007 mantle.
At any rate, none of Craig’s films are bad. Some are worse than others, but his tenure as Bond has proven wildly successful. With No Time to Die, the actor goes out on a mighty high note.
So, put on a tux, grab a martini (shaken, not stirred), and read on for my personal rankings of Daniel Craig’s James Bond flicks.
RELATED: No Time to Die Review: Daniel Craig Thrills in Farewell James Bond Film
5) Quantum of Solace
Speaking of sticking the landing, following the enormous success of Casino Royale, audiences were hyped for the follow-up. Especially after that awesome teaser featured Daniel Craig walking slowly up a hill packing a rather large machine gun. Bond was bringing the heat!
Except, Quantum devolved into a rather routine affair weighed down by a confusing plot, uninteresting villain, hemorrhage-inducing camerawork — an ill-advised attempt to mimic the gritty style of the Bourne franchise — and a far too serious tone.
Still, Quantum of Solace has plenty of positives. Craig is more ruthless than ever, and some of the action beats, including a royal rumble atop and inside a bell tower (during which director Marc Forster continually cuts to a bullfight for no particular reason) and the most intense (or laughable) parachuting sequence of all time, actually pack quite the punch.
In the end, Bond does kinda sorta avenge Vesper in an epilogue that feels tacked on when it should have been the focal point of the story. We came to see Bond exact bloody vengeance and ended up watching him take down a random oil tycoon.
For exactly 90% of its runtime, Spectre is the best Bond film of all time. And while the last 15 or so minutes aren’t terrible, the big climax, in which Bond must rescue Léa Seydoux from a now-vacant MI6 headquarters before the villainous Blofeld (Christoph Waltz) — who somehow rigged the building with explosives overnight — blows it up, is still rushed, confusing and extremely underwhelming.
Still, up until that point, Spectre dazzles with larger-than-life set pieces (especially that opening Day of the Dead bit and that brutal train fight), strong performances from the cast, Thomas Newman’s moody score, and one of the more bizarre torture sequences you’ll ever see.
No, the Blofeld-Bond connection — ripped straight from the Austin Powers series, ironically enough — doesn’t quite work and Dave Bautista’s Hinx is criminally underused.
Returning director Sam Mendes swung big with this one and almost hit a Grand Slam.
3) No Time to Die
I might place Daniel Craig’s final go as 007 in the top spot after I’ve seen the pic a few more times and fully absorbed the emotional (and visceral) gut punch. As it stands, Cary Joji Fukunaga’s entry is a damned fine film with terrific performances, eye-popping action, a mesmerizing Hans Zimmer score, and plenty of delicious drama. Sure, the plot is a little convoluted, the villain’s motives never entirely clear, but who cares when the final product is this good?
Seriously, when No Time to Die is firing on all cylinders, which is often, it’s pure ecstasy. It helps to have a sprawling supporting cast led by Rami Malek, Léa Seydoux, Lashana Lynch, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Jeffrey Wright, Christoph Waltz, and Ana de Armas (who dazzles in the film’s best scene), along with any number of memorable set pieces, including a spectacular pre-credit sequence in which Bond battles a group of evil henchmen in Matera and — for the first time since Thunderball — deploys all the gadgets his Aston Martin DB5 has to offer; a wild shootout in Cuba and an intense third act set in a missile silo.
RELATED: Daniel Craig Gives Farewell Speech After Wrapping No Time to Die
These scenes pop because Fukunaga never allows the spectacle to overshadow the drama, and instead keeps his characters front and center. The stakes are higher than ever this go round — you truly feel the emotional and physical turmoil Bond endures as he battles to protect those he cares about.
This is really good stuff.
The ending may not satisfy purists, but for me, it was absolutely perfect. Of the 27 Bond movies produced, Craig’s were the only ones that felt like pieces of a much larger story. No Time to Die neatly tidies up dangling plot threads, wipes the slate clean, and ensures the next Bond can start completely fresh. While Craig’s sendoff is indeed bittersweet, his final scene as 007 will likely go down as one of the classic James Bond moments.
No Time to Die, like Craig’s tenure as Bond, is a phenomenal cinematic achievement.
2) Casino Royale
After Die Another Day, I wasn’t expecting much from Casino Royale. How do you reverse the horrifying image of Pierce Brosnan surfing atop some really bad early 2000’s CGI? Answer: by rebooting the whole franchise via an origin story, as many studios were prone to do at the time.
As such, my brother and I reluctantly watched the flick on opening weekend in a near-empty theater (for some reason) and came away genuinely surprised. Dazzled even. Actually, we were thrilled! The action was stunning, the drama heartbreaking … and Daniel Craig absolutely knocked his first go as James Bond out of the got-darned park. To say nothing of the lovely Eva Green whose role and performance redefined the prototypical Bond girl.
I don’t have any justifiable reason for ranking Casino Royale below Skyfall. Really, it just comes down to personal preference. I’ve seen Casino Royale at least a hundred times, but I’ve probably watched Skyfall at least once or twice more.
Put it this way: if Skyfall is JIF Peanut Butter, then Casino Royale is Skippy. I love them both for different reasons but prefer to dunk my Graham Crackers in the former if that makes any sense at all.
As much as I love Casino Royale — and I mean love — I always find myself returning to Skyfall more because, well, it’s near-perfect entertainment. Seriously, while many elements in the film are completely outrageous, Skyfall is such a spectacular bit of pop culture that such flaws can more or less be disregarded.
Yeah, Sam Mendes’ first Bond film more or less rips off Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight right down to Javier Bardem’s Joker impersonation, but even if the results aren’t quite as fresh, they’re still damned impressive.
Previous Bond entries On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Casino Royale explored Bond’s emotional core via tragic love stories, Casino Royale is the one film that unearths the super spy’s obscure past and transports us back to his roots — both figuratively and literally. We don’t learn everything, but we understand the man, the myth, the legend a little more.
In his third outing, Craig fits the role like a glove. More than in previous films, the actor looks like he’s having a blast portraying the renowned hero as a broken alcoholic who remains loyal to MI6 despite the organization’s emotionless, pragmatic, even antiquated (though very necessary) methods.
Other high notes include that explosive finale, Judi Dench’s emotional (and final) performance as M, Bardem’s unique turn as a disgruntled former agent, Thomas Newman’s electrifying score, Roger Deakins’ stunning cinematography … the list goes on! All of these elements mesh together to create one helluva experience.
Skyfall isn’t just a great Bond film, it’s a great film. Period.
The post Shaken, Not Stirred: Daniel Craig’s Bond Films Ranked appeared first on ComingSoon.net.