Daniel Craig as James Bond – Was he a Good Bond?

daniel craig as james bond

When Daniel Craig took the role of James Bond he was met with a lukewarm reception. Instead of the suave dark-haired dashing hero, Craig presented a blonde and rugged Bond that many fans were unsure of.

Then Casino Royale was released and the criticism of Craig as Bond subsided. Five films later he had his final outing as James Bond in No Time to Die allowing us to evaluate where he sits among the other actors who have played the iconic spy.

Unfortunately for Daniel Craig, his legacy as Bond is not going to be as one of the greats. I suspect he will be considered a ‘good’ Bond. Which is a shame, as it is through no fault of his own.

Evaluating Daniel Craig as James Bond

When first evaluating an actor taking on a role that has been played before, it is good to compare him to his immediate predecessor. In this case, Peirce Brosnan.

The similarities between the two actors on their Bond Journey is surprisingly similar. For both, their first film outing as Bond was their best film with and the second film disappointed.

With Peirce Brosnan, Goldeneye was a tight and action-packed film that remains his highest rated (IMDB) Bond movie. The headlines at the time read ‘Bond is Back’ and he certainly was. This created a lot of hype and anticipation around Tomorrow Never Dies as fans were expecting a Goldeneye 2.0.

Instead, they were gifted a mundane Bond movie that lacked much plot or substance. The same happened with Quantum of Solace after Casino Royale. Both Tomorrow Never Dies and Quantum of Solace hold mediocre 6.5 ratings.

Daniel Craig vs Pierce Brosnan

Ultimately, this will come down to preference, and both actors played Bond very well. The type of movies they appeared in as Bond were wildly different in style and substance.

I suspect of the two, Brosnan may fair the better as his Bond movies were more watchable, with shorter runtimes and tighter plotting.

That doesn’t mean Brosnan was the better Bond, he was just let down less compared to Daniel Craig by the Bond production team.

Problems with Direction and Writing for James Bond

In the case of Quantum of Solace, production was hampered significantly by the Writer’s Strike and although the team had a basic script, it wasn’t finished, and it certainly wasn’t screen ready.

The resulting film was poor plot-wise but salvaged by Craig who carried the script.

The idea had been to follow up on the success of Casino Royale and flesh out a more linear Bond storyline that could be carried over several films. If they had stuck to this idea and had the writers to work on the film, Quantum of Solace could have been an amazing sequel.

After the lacklustre reviews of Quantum of Solace, the production team made a fatal error. Instead of hiring a writing team to pick up the ball and complete a new script in the Casino Royale series, they opted to deviate and created Skyfall.

Skyfall is widely considered a good Bond film, but I suspect over time people will begin to realise how bad it actually is and the ratings for the movie will drop.

Why is Skyfall a Bad Movie?

The Bond production team went from no writers to throwing as many writers as possible at Skyfall. They clearly felt Quantum of Solace had suffered due to the writing and the solution was to write the best possible Bond script.

The problem is Skyfall is an absolute mess. The writing and plot lines don’t add up and if you cast even the slightest critical eye over the film, it falls to pieces.

Crucially, James Bond is supposed to be recovering a stolen list of Mi6 agent’s names for most of the first half of the film – then that plot thread is forgotten entirely. The villain takes forever to show up and by the end of the film you don’t really understand what you just watched except you know for some reason Bond is in the middle of Scotland under attack.

Quantum of Solace with its limited writing team was far more cogent than Skyfall. Where Skyfall manages to pull the wool over people’s eyes is the memorable eye-catching moments.

The Final Two Daniel Craig James Bond Films

Skyfall for its numerous faults, was well received at the box office and with most critics. I suspect this is largely because it was so divergent from the poor Quantum of Solace.

This reinforced a few things in the Bond production team’s minds:

  • Longer runtimes are better,
  • Plots don’t need to make sense if there are enough highlights,
  • The Casino Royale storyline should be abandoned entirely.

If Skyfall was bad, Spectre was awful – in my opinion much worse than Quantum of Solace.

The Bond production team decided to embrace woke ideology and create Bond movies to the woke tune. The key problem here is the very essence of Bond is diametrically opposed to wokeness. There is no moral virtue in being a spy – there never has been and there never will be.

Real spies do whatever is necessary to achieve their ends and morality rarely features in the equation.

This new radical direction created friction within the production team. They had a hero they hated. Bond is the antithesis of wokeness.

So, what could they do but kill him?

Legacy of Daniel Craig as Bond

If Daniel Craig had made five Casino Royale Bond movies (by that I mean in that fashion) he would be considered as good as Sean Connery – perhaps even being considered as better.

With that in mind it is clear Daniel Craig was an excellent James Bond as far as the character is concerned. His portrayal of Bond resonated with the public and instantly reversed nay-sayers opinions in the first film.

But Daniel Craig didn’t make five Casino Royales. He made one great Bond movie, and four poor Bond movies. It wasn’t his fault that happened, the blame lies squarely on the shoulders of the filmmakers behind James Bond.

However, you cut that though, it relegates Daniel Craig to the fair to middling quadrant of Bond actors. He didn’t have the material to shine, and he made the mistake of committing to Bond movies that were never going to serve him well as James Bond.

In many ways, Daniel Craig became the face of a James Bond that had no time to live. After Casino Royale he presided over the decline of the hero we used to so dearly love.

james bond life magazine cover

Jon Logan

Jon Logan is an editorial consultant and author that loves living life without boundaries.

Over the past 5 years, his content at Immortal Wordsmith has helped thousands of readers gain new perspectives and discover interesting stories.

Jon holds several professional qualifications and is financially qualified in the UK. He left the humdrum world of financial advice to pursue a career in writing – his lifelong passion. He has partnered with local and global brands to help them grow their businesses and audiences through insightful and innovative content strategy.

Jon specialises in creating inspirational and thought-provoking writing that challenges readers to look beyond the confines of “the norm.” He uses dynamic writing styles to convey messages to diverse audiences from all walks of life. He is an avid explorer and loves sharing the world through his unique eyes with his readers.

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