Looking back at Daniel Craig’s James Bond
Let’s start with the lyrics to the Bond theme from Casino Royale – written by Chris Connell
If you take a life-- do you know what you'll give?
Odds are you won't like what it is.
When the storm arrives would you be seen with me?
By the merciless eyes I've deceived?
I've seen angels fall from blinding heights-
But you yourself are nothing so divine-
Just next in line!
Arm yourself because no one else here will save you,
The odds will betray you,
And I will replace you.
You can't deny the prize it may never fulfill you.
It longs to kill you, are you willing to die?
The coldest blood runs through my veins-
You know my name!
That is who Daniel Craig is when we meet him – he’s next in line for a 00 designation and nothing so divine as the other movie incarnations with that 007 number. He is portrayed as vulnerable and replaceable who seeks a prize he may never obtain – which hints at the ever elusive sense of happiness and normalcy that keeps getting presented to him but dies in the end.
He is presented as the first James Bond – working to earn the 00 designation in the opening of Casino Royale. Judy Dench as M is offered as a movie goers gift of familiarity and seemingly not to be treated as anything more.
Or is it?
In the third movie Skyfall – we catch a glimpse of Craig’s Bond’s family backstory and with it – somehow comes the Austin Martin DB5. For some unknown and unexplained reason Craig’s Bond has ownership of this vehicle. The very vehicle Sean Connery 007 had and used in the movie Goldfinger. Could that Austin Martin DB5 be a gift or inheritance from an elder colleague who served MI6? So, is this a hint that there does exist prior 007’s? Specifically, Sean Connery’s version? It seems to be a real possibility.
Continuity between No Time to Die and the prior films is presented by portraits on the wall.
“While Craig's Bond takes a shot at M, criticizing how his office looks more or less like it used to, the hallway leading in actually commemorates all the actors who played the MI6 boss prior to Fiennes, including Bernard Lee, Robert Brown, and Dame Judi Dench herself, whose M tragically perished at the end of 2012's Skyfall.” (https://www.cbr.com/no-time-to-die-easter-eggs-missed/ Egg #4) [Though I only spotted Judi Dench and I thought I spotted Bernard Lee’s portrait on my first viewing of the film and then on my second I thought I spotted Robert Brown’s portrait and not Bernard Lee’s.]
“Where the multiple Bond theory picks up steam is the fact we also see a painting of Bernard Lee’s M in No Time To Die.” (https://www.radiotimes.com/movies/no-time-to-die-james-bond-codename-theory/)
What all this would mean that if all the prior actors who portrayed M are part of MI6 history – then so are all the varying actors who played ‘James Bond’. With all the prior movies part of the current MI6 historical continuity. This of course also means that the name ‘Moneypenny’ and ‘Felix Leiter’ were also code names – given that these names were used by prior people in the prior movies.
It is a messy concept. With no satisfactory logical grounding to hold onto. However, if we abandon literal logic and just go with the implied concept then we can now conclude that Sean Connery’s 007 was indeed part of the background of MI6 and that Daniel Craig has the Austin Martin DB5 due to that family/past (?) connection.
In the opening credits to No Time To Die we see the brilliant colored dots on the screen in that early part of the sequence. This is an homage to the opening credits created by Maurice Binder of Connery’s Dr No. Once again acknowledging Connery as part of Craig’s MI6. Also seen in these opening creates are homages to Casino Royale and Skyfall.
In No Time To Die we hear the song We Have All the Time in the World repeatedly. This should bring to mind George Lazenby’s appearance in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – where that 007 finds the love of his life only to lose her in tragedy. In that movie and Fleming’s book – she is killed by Bond’s enemy – Ernst Stavro Blofeld. In the very next book, Fleming’s Bond falls from his prior heights and is sent on a suicide mission to a mysterious island off of Japan where there is a poisonous garden of death – created by Bond’s new enemy and target – who turns out to be Ernst Stavro Blofeld. In No Time to Die – Bond coming off of a tragic love relationship also finds himself heading to a mysterious island off of Japan with a poisonous garden of death. Once again, the heritage and the history of 007 is brought into play as motifs for Craig’s tenure as Bond.
We now have within these movies a subtle background Retcon going on – whereby Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, and Pierce Brosnan all prior 007’s – could they even be earlier ‘James Bond’s?’ Have we really come into an acceptance of an idea put forth in the theme song from the British TV spy series Danger Man – or as it was known in the States as Secret Agent Man, the lyrics were by Johnny Rivers. The song describes the life of a British secret service agent, such as 007.
There's a man who leads a life of danger
To everyone he meets he stays a stranger
With every move he makes, another chance he takes
Odds are he won't live to see tomorrow
Secret agent man, secret agent man
They've given you a number and taken away your name
Thus, were the prior ‘James Bond’s’ or even Daniel Craig’s James Bond – just been MI6’s way of taking away his prior identity and giving him a new name and new number?
Could this hint at the future of the James Bond franchise?
At the very end of No Time To Die, there appears on the screen the famous words: James Bond Will Return.
But how? Craig was James Bond, wasn’t he? Or was he just next in line for that name and that number? Was he the truly the ‘real’ and first ‘James Bond’? Or are we being told that he and all of them were being Retconned as prior James Bond 007?
We know that the movie portrayal of Bond does not match Fleming’s creation. Fleming’s Bond was adequate as a marksman, adequate as a fighter, knew his way around vehicles, had specific taste in food and drink – but was no connoisseur of either. He was a ladies’ man thought he could and did fall in love – he married and lost his wife, the Contessa Teresa di Vincenzo played by Diana Rigg, in the novel On His Majesties Secret Service. Fleming’s Bond was loyal, tenacious, had a remarkable threshold to withstand pain and was just amazingly lucky. He was more of an average guy doing an extra-ordinary job. A far cry from the super suave debonair super connoisseur and jack of all trades that was the movie portrayal of the character.
Nor does the movie plots adhere to the book plots – the Roger Moore era was notorious for just creating out of whole cloth the plot after borrowing a Fleming stories’ title. So, you can’t really expect that the movie Bond had much in common with the Fleming version once you left the three early Connery movies. You Only Live Twice begins the movie’s just using a title and maybe a location and jettisoning the rest of the Fleming story.
What has been going on with the Bond movies is that the hero exists in an ‘eternal’ now as a fictional character repeatedly dropped into ‘today’ to play out a variation of his exploits with no attempt at continuity.
With the Craig era starting with Casino Royale we had the first attempt at a true reboot – telling our hero’s tale from his beginning as a 00. Thus, with Craig we have been given a complete set, series that is unique to the movie franchise.
Where do they go from there? Since as it said at the last frame of the film of No Time To Die: James Bond Will Return.
What to do with James Bond can be seen through the lens of how another immortal British iconic hero has been handled. I am speaking of Sherlock Holmes.
There have been two approaches with Holmes.
If they go with option #3, they could just ignore the lack of logical consistency of how to deal with the past movies and just move forward with the idea of assigning all new 007 the name James Bond. Therefore, giving a straightforward continuity with Daniel Craig era and into the future. Leaving the past films as a murky unspecified somehow prior history of MI6. The added benefits to this is that they can have ‘Bond’ be truly threatened in the films. The person holding that name is no longer guaranteed to survive even one film let alone multiple ones. Each new ‘Bond’ can have his own back story and prior baggage. They could pair the new ‘Bond’ up with Nomi, played by Lashana Lynch who was the active 007 while Craig’s Bond was either dead or MIA in No Time To Die. Perhaps she could be designated as 008?
Gary Jaron's musings.
In my High School Art Department someone had made an ornate sign on hung it on the wall that read: 'Ignore this sign completely.' A paradox couched in sarcasm and irony. This blog is for random musings on anything and everything that comes into my head.