Okay, I admit, I’ve been seeing too many movies over the holiday weekend, but really, I have to pay tribute to Daniel Craig who’s re-invented James Bond and made him relevant to me. No longer a Bon(d) vivant, he’s an icon for the suffering soul of the age. Seriously! The film is full of chases but it’s all about faces, Daniel Craig’s faces of doubt, regret, sorrow, disilusion, betrayal, and above all lost love. It’s the best performance by a male actor I’ve seen all year (possible second: Tommy Lee Jones in In the Valley of Elah.
So what if A Quantum of Solace is a Bond franchise flick, Daniel Craig gives it a dimension beyond the appealingly confident-turned pathetically camp Sean Connery and successors. He walks, flails, flies leaps and bounds through a world of hurt and ridiculous plotting and gives it a dignity that only a great actor can. Only a great actor could give a Bond film a touch of Sophocles.
I went thinking I’d walk out after a chase or two just for the hell of it, because I live next to a multiplex and like to keep in touch. I’m not a fan of the action–the chases–in action flicks but I found these exhilirating perhaps because they were given weight by the ever-deepening lines in Craig’s face. The obscure wound that he bears–his secret knowledge his lost love betrayed him–makes Craig’s Bond like a painfully self aware version of a Graham Greene sufferer.
The great difference of course is that Connery’s Bond and his successors were never conceivably, believably in love. No harm in that, everyone likes a playful seducer. But their Bonds were bonds of gold and glitter. This Bond is bound by chains of love.
I recently saw a screening of The Reader the oh-so literary film made from the meretricious novel of Nazis and sex (see my essay on that subject here. And poor Ralph acts so, so sweatily hard trying to be oh-so-deep, clearly playing for the Oscar for super seriousness for the befuddled Academy voters who don’t realize what a sham the novel and film are. But Craig’s Bond leaves Fiennes’ emoting in the dust. He’ll never get an Oscaar because it’s a Bond film and the Acadmey voters like to show they know how to read (though you wouldn’t guess it from the films they make) but, damn it, Daniel Craig deserves it more.