I recently saw the trailer for the newest Bond movie (“Quantum of Solace,” due out Nov. 14) and I, along with the rest of the world, am now eagerly awaiting its premier. Daniel Craig’s ascension to the throne heralds a new era in the series’ dynasty. His first film as 007, “Casino Royale” (2006), broke off from the increasingly fantastic Bonds of recent history.
Pierce Brosnan (“The Thomas Crown Affair”), for all his traditional dark-haired-and-handsome characteristics, fell victim to outrageous plot lines on more than one occasion. “Goldeneye” (1995), although regarded as an excellent Bond movie, also has its faults. In one particular chase scene, Bond manages to steal and pilot a T-55 tank. He then drives through walls and buildings as if they were Taco Bell establishments. Later, while trapped in an armored train with a beautiful girl and a ticking time bomb, he manages to cut through the floor with a fancy-pants watch laser. Cool gadgets serve an essential role in the arsenal of any action hero, but these high tech tools walk a thin line between practical and plain silly.
A 1999 release featured Bond yet again, with Brosnan leading in “The World is Not Enough.” The gadgets continued to steal the screen, aiding the double-O agent in more extraordinary deeds. A small rocket-powered speedboat propelled Brosnan for a good distance along the streets of London in the opening pursuit — a hop and a skip over the road might make sense, but this kind of thing is nothing short of ridiculous. Then, the lovable Q saved our hero and his girl from an avalanche by giving him an inflatable jacket with more airbags than can be in a compact car.
Yet, my intelligence had never been quite so insulted as when, in “Die Another Day” (2002), the audience watched the Aston-Martin Vanquish disappear. First of all, why would you want that stunning, sexy vehicle to disappear? Second, is the director serious? A disappearing car? I was more than willing to suspend my disbelief until the invisible Vanquish took the movie’s credibility right with it.
Brosnan was smooth and in control — no question about that — but at times it seemed his glance was a little too kind and his ways with love interests were too emotional. Daniel Craig, although fair-haired, reverts to a Bond truer to the original text. Ian Fleming published “Casino Royale” as the first James Bond novel. It is only appropriate that an actor should try to embody the original conception of Bond. Craig has already done this masterfully — his cold, blue gaze gives off a calculating, detached personality. The focus of the movie was not on the outlandish (if not outrageous) gadgets, but on the intriguing, almost villainous character of Bond himself.
“Casino Royale” was bitterly realistic. Our protagonist gathered intelligence, planned his moves, and combated his enemies both efficiently and without the aid of golden guns or belt grappling hooks. He struggled against Le Chiffre, a man who, if brought to his knees, could provide information to the British government. Le Chiffre sought not (for the first time in awhile) to acquire a nuclear bomb or cause a war in a sensitive region, but to acquire capital by means of disrepute. A much more believable plot with a much darker, more dynamic James Bond has left me excited for the sequel.
The brief, final clip of “Casino Royale” shows Bond, seeking revenge, catching up with an enemy; apparently leads directly, it also into “Quantum of Solace.” The new release will have Bond attempt to settle the score, regardless of where in the world it takes him or who stands in his way. The preview hints that 007 may even face his own organization, MI6. We can only wait, however impatiently, to see how Daniel Craig portrays the bitter, vengeful secret agent.