Updated: October 5, 2021 8:48:49 am
Daniel Craig’s 007 is no longer in Her Majesty’s Secret Service. He would have gotten off Bond duty earlier, had Covid-19 not pushed back the release of his fifth and final Bond film, No Time to Die, by over a year. Fifteen years ago, when Craig’s Casino Royale was released, the British actor seemed an unlikely candidate for the role of the secret agent — too sullen and unflamboyant, too working-class even compared to Sean Connery and Roger Moore, and a mite less toxic in his masculinity. But he will be remembered by Bond-lovers for giving the franchise what it desperately needed: An update.
By 2006, neither the unbelievable toys — cigarettes that launch rockets and cars that come front-loaded with machine guns — nor the high-adrenaline action were enough to hide the datedness, the sexist swagger, the emotional stunting and the apologia of being the empire’s “last super-hero” at the heart of the Bond myth. Craig dropped most of the gadgets, found some vulnerability. The films became slicker and better produced, the action less incredulous, even if the Aston Martin B5 still hung around. Agent 007 now had a back story — of being raised by a foster father, of having his heart broken by spirited women. Through the five films, Craig appeared to grow wearier and more sneering of the conventions of the franchise. In an interview to The New York Times, he has said he would be satisfied if he is remembered as the Grumpy Bond. Given the surprises in store in No Time to Die, he might be remembered for much more.
And so, the inevitable question: Who will be the next Bond? A section of the fandom is rooting for a woman or a black man as 007; others are shuddering in distaste at the thought of such subversions. Craig has an interesting suggestion, in keeping with the spirit of the time. “Don’t women and actors of colour deserve better roles than James Bond?”
This editorial first appeared in the print edition on October 5, 2021 under the title ‘Grumpy Bond’.
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