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James Bond: Daniel Craig’s evolution from Casino Royale to No Time to Die

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007 No Time To Die 1 1203842

No Time To Die: a photo of the protagonist Daniel Craig

Agitated, not stirred“This has always been the way to prepare the classic Vodka Martini of James Bond in the films of the series. But, in the moment in which, in Casino Royale, we saw him drinking a random cocktail, and not yet his beloved drink, we realized that Daniel Craig’s 007 would be very different from the previous ones. But, after all, it also contains something of its predecessors. “Shaken and stirred“is precisely the formula of Agent 007 of the Daniel Craig era, which began with Casino Royale, and continued with Quantum Of Solace, Skyfall, Specter and which now ends with No Time To Die, which finally arrived in the room on September 30th. Agitated, because the writers of the last five films have managed to create in the character a series of traumas, pains, ghosts that have changed his nature, that of an invincible and unbreakable superhero. Mixed, because the writers and directors, as the saga continued, introduced or reintroduced some classic Bondian elements in a story that started 007’s exploits from scratch. Over the course of five films, Craig’s Bond, already original in itself, has grown and evolved.

Daniel Craig’s Bond: agitated and hurt

Daniel Craig in a scene from Casino Royale, the first film he played in the role of James Bond

Daniel Craig in a scene from Casino Royale, the first film he played in the role of James Bond

Craig’s new Bond has been agitated in its own way from the start. Ever since Casino Royale we’ve been used to seeing a wounded Bond. Craig’s first Bond was bleeding under the blows of Le Chiffre and his gang. We saw an offended Bond, even in his proverbial manhood, in the famous scene where he is hit by Le Chiffre in his private parts, while sitting naked in an open-bottomed chair. In Skyfall, in the film’s prologue, we see a Bond apparently shot dead by friendly fire on the roof of a train. Injuries, scratches, blows have become a constant in the five films with Daniel Craig. Casino Royale he had brought us back to the beginning of his story. In the first scene we had seen him kill a man in cold blood in a bathroom, and thus earn the qualification of “double zero“, which means license to kill. In the films with Daniel Craig, the nature of Bond is expressed, which is basically that of a murderer. In Casino Royale he is still a crude man, not yet the character we know from the famous films of the saga. In Quantum of Solace is defined as a crazy splinter, a man out of control, prey to passions.

No Time to Die, review: the spectacular end of the Daniel Craig era

Skyfall: Bond as La Valorosa Témériere

007 - Skyfall: Daniel Craig in a mysterious scene from the film

007 – Skyfall: Daniel Craig in a mysterious scene from the film

The 007 we see in later films, Skyfall and 007 Specter, is closer to the classic Bond, that of Sean Connery, while maintaining its muscular, angry, violent nature. The James Bond in a tuxedo with a white jacket sips his beloved shaken unmixed Vodka Martini with Madeleine Swann on the train in Specter it’s closest to the Bond icon we know. But the most important evolution we see in the third and fourth Craig movies is all psychological. The brilliant screenplay by Skyfall, by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, shows us a Bond wounded above all in pride because for the first time in a 007 film – invincible and unassailable hero – reference is made to his age, to his being inadequate to the new way of acting of the secret services, to the possibility of leaving his post to others. Let’s not forget that Bond, once back on duty, fails the tests to be reinstated. Q, the new procurer, in the famous scene at the National Gallery in London, compares Bond to a glorious battleship being decommissioned, depicted in William Turner’s famous painting, La Valorosa Témériere. He is finally a human Bond. And vulnerable about his past: Skyfall is the name of the estate where he grew up, and where he witnessed the death of his parents, a wound that never healed.

007 - Skyfall: Daniel Craig, in a scene from the new James Bond film

007 – Skyfall: Daniel Craig, in a scene from the new James Bond film

James Bond: an orphan like Bruce Wayne

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No Time to Die: An image from the trailer

This is another of the important elements introduced during Craig’s 007 mini-saga. James Bond is an orphan, just like Batman’s Bruce Wayne. Just like in the Nolan trilogy, Bond’s new course not only resets previous films and starts from scratch (Casino Royale is the Bond Begins), but it carries out a sort of demolition and reconstruction of the hero. Both series show us the weakness, the fallacy of our heroes. That is their humanity. As the Daniel Craig cycle progresses, then, we are dealing with an increasingly introspective, increasingly private, James Bond. And in No Time to Die this narrative choice reaches its peak. In Craig’s 007, more and more over the years, they tried to look at James Bond from the inside rather than the outside. From Skyfall to No Time To Dieabove all, they tried to find the danger, the pain, the ghosts inside James Bond, or in those close to him.

Skyfall, 5 years later: inside James Bond’s old wounded heart

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We no longer know who our enemies are

007 - Skyfall: Judi Dench in a scene from the film

007 – Skyfall: Judi Dench in a scene from the film

We no longer know who our enemies are. They are not traceable, they are not nations. They are invisible. It is in the shadows that we must seek“says M in Skyfall. In the new course we also tried to bring James Bond, a hero who more than any other seemed to live out of time, in the moment in which, every time, he was living. The secret agent who defied the Russians is grappling with the financiers of terrorist groups (Casino Royale), with lobbies wanting to control the water (Quantum Of Solace), with today’s faceless and flagless globalized terrorism (Skyfall) and with the advocates of technological warfare, made up of drones, intelligence and data, but also of total violation of privacy (Specter). Safin, the new villain of No Time To Die, has a fixed gaze, he speaks without looking at you: he is like a virus, which sows death and does not look anyone in the face. In No Time To Die death is something that, in order to spread, passes through the body of people, it can leave us alive but kill those who come into contact with us. It’s like a virus. It is also from these things that we see the relevance of the new Bond films. In this case, the prophecy, as Bond # 25 was written and filmed long before the pandemic broke out.

Daniel Craig with Eva Green in a scene from the movie Casino Royale

Daniel Craig with Eva Green in a scene from the movie Casino Royale

The Bond who loved women

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No Time to Die: An image from the trailer

And the evolution of James Bond in the Craig era, which began long before the #metoo, brings a hero who has always been, after all, a bit misogynist to find a new relationship with women. It all started long ago, but with No Time To Die the evolution has come to fruition. Already in Casino Royale with Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) Bond does not have sex, but makes love, falls in love, so much so that he pays dearly for this weakness. She seduces Solange (Caterina Murino), to leave her as soon as she has obtained information. Without consuming. Something old Bond never would have done. In Quantum Of Solace, Camille (Olga Kurylenko) doesn’t sleep with 007, but it’s her “mirror“, animated by the same feeling of revenge. Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux), in Specter, somehow manages to tell him no. And then to take his heart, to make him really fall in love, to make him change his life. In No Time To Die everything is more evident. Bond comes into contact with two women (Nomi and Paloma) who do not fall into his arms. Nomi and Paloma do not depend on him, they are not subjugated by him: they are at his level, they are next to him. Eve Moneypenny, discovered in Skyfall and returned in the next two films, she is a friend, an accomplice, without sentimental complications. In No Time To Die Madeleine is the only woman for Bond, and their relationship somehow takes it to the next level. It’s an interesting change of perspective, and it tells the times we are living in.

Bond 25: why Cary Fukunaga is the perfect director for 007

James Bond: mixed, between past and present

007 - Skyfall: Daniel Craig on the roof of a building

007 – Skyfall: Daniel Craig on the roof of a building

A final aspect of the evolution of Daniel Craig’s James Bond is precisely in its nature of being “mixed“Yes, because, after stripping 007 and bringing it back to its origins, the creators of the various films have gradually reintroduced the elements of the old Bonds, mixing them with the new ones. Quantum Of Solace it was more a quote of Goldfinger that a real element reported in the saga, from Skyfall onwards, has gradually brought the world of Bond back into the field, but without the new nature and the new reading of Agent 007 being affected. So the Aston Martin’s returned Goldfinger, Eve Moneypenny and M’s study with the padded door are back. The Specter is back, and with it Blofeld. The irony is back too. The ambition of Sam Mendes, director of Skyfall And Specter, was to shoot classics. And Cary Fukunaga, with No Time To Die, continued on that path. Agitated and mixed, Bond films with Daniel Craig are new classics.


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