The James Bond franchise experienced its first identity crisis when Sean Connery stepped down in 1971 after Diamonds are Forever. Luckily, Roger Moore proved more than capable of filling the shoes, and suits of 007 through the 1970’s and 1980’s. The second challenge came when Moore handed in his license to kill following 1985’s A View to a Kill. Though Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan would provide acceptable placeholders for Bond from 1987 through 2002, neither owned the role the way Connery and Moore did and their films did less than stellar at the box office.
In 2005, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Sony Pictures announced that Daniel Craig would be the sixth actor to play James Bond. What followed was nothing short of fan revolt as many Bond enthusiasts decried the decision citing Craig’s lack of traditional Bond characteristics. But, the higher-ups realized that times had changed and reprising another Connery was not going to further the franchise. With the success of The Bourne Identity in 2002, the spy genre took a dark and moody twist and Craig was, in fact, the perfect choice to give Bond a necessary edge for a new age of evil.
Craig, shorter than other Bond’s, but more muscular and stoic, ushered in the post-9/11 Bond, a time when spies were no longer cheery and charismatic, but men who had to operate in a shadowy world where things were not black and white. Connery and Moore had the clear lines of the Cold War to guide their paths. Craig had to continue serving the Crown with boundaries that were not clear-cut and enemies who were sometimes allies and vice-versa.
To date, Craig has appeared in four Bond films: Casino Royale (2006), Quantum of Solace (2008), Skyfall (2012) and Spectre (2015. He is scheduled to appear in one more, Bond 25, though a release date has not been established. During these films, Bond experiences a character transition, going from the self-assured dandy to a troubled, but still stylish ‘half-monk/half-hitman’. He is doubted by his superiors, almost killed by his own team and briefly loses faith in his own resolve. Like Jason Bourne, Bond begins to question what his missions are for. We finally see Bond’s vulnerability and though it may be hard to watch, it tells us more about the consistent conflict men in organizations like the MI6 face. And while some critics just won’t go for the blonde-haired, blue-eyed Bond, Craig deserves credit for what he’s accomplished.
Though Craig didn’t fit the typical Bond profile (ordering a Heineken instead of a martini was considered sacrilege in some circles) he kept the style on-point and mixed casual with formal to present a more serious but no less fashionable super-spy. Dressing it up with Tom Ford Windsor tuxedo jackets and grey pinstripe suits and then sporting it down with Barbour Beacon Heritage sports jacket and Matchless suede jacket, Craig was just as comfortable playing poker at the casino table as he was fighting thugs on the top of trains and high-rise buildings.
To show off Craig’s powerful build, costume designers found perfect matches with John Varvatos suede racer jackets, N. Peal fine gauge mock turtlenecks and, perhaps most revealing, the La Perla blue swimming trunks Craig wears when emerging from the sea in Casino Royale.
Accessories were also a fine detail of Craig’s Bond and close attention was paid to the range of Persol and Tom Ford sunglasses, S.T. Dupont cufflinks, Dougless Pell money clip, the ZERO Halliburton special edition Q4-PS suitcase, and the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150 Limited Edition watch Craig fashions in his globe-trotting adventures.
Just as Moore helped bridge Bond through the swinging 70’s, Craig was the right choice for the 2000’s. There will always be those who pine for a consistent Connery, but for Bond to evolve it takes growing pains (aka the Dalton and Bronson years) before finding the right fit. Say what you will about Craig’s stature and solemn demeanor, but when it comes to style and furthering the story of James Bond, his approach is as accurate as his aim. And when he escorted Queen Elizabeth for a skydive during the opening ceremonies at the 2012 London Olympics, few could doubt that Craig finally did what only Connery and Moore had done; owned James Bond.