Daniel Craig’s 007: An Introspective Retrospective of a Converted Fan

I’m writing this first bit before ever even watching it. But here I am, looking at the screen, with a burning sense of urgency to transcribe my thoughts and feelings. It’s 11:00pm, and I am waiting for my wife to finish getting ready for bed, so that we may view “Being James Bond: The Daniel Craig Story.”

As I wait, and stare eagerly at the cover imagery of this documentary, I was startingly hit with a wave of memories and emotion regarding the Daniel Craig era. So much has changed in the world since 2006, and the release of Casino Royale. In these 15 years, I have gone through some of the most formative years of my life. I’ve courted, married, and began my career. And yet here still is Craig’s 007. In elementary school I wanted little to do with the man. I remember distinctly carrying about some piece of paper, with Bondian art on it, that I had pulled out of one of my first ever James Bond DVDs. I grew up on Connery’s Bond you see—and was quite the loyalist at age 9-10. The girls in school struck up conversation when they heard me talking to my friends about James Bond—and this is one of those random memories that sticks with you forever, for seemingly no reason at all—these girls simply adored Daniel Craig, calling him cute, etc.

Even at this young age I was incredibly willing to speak my case (no matter who—if anyone—was listening) and went to bat for Connery’s Bond—insisting that he was the real 007. I remember watching Casino Royale around that same time with the boys who lived just behind us. I didn’t understand the film then, it didn’t have the awe inspiring thrills of Goldfinger. There were few quips, and while the DB5 was around, I missed the machine guns desperately. No, I knew who James Bond was, and it certainly wasn’t this man.

Enter: Skyfall.

(from here forward, you’re hearing from me just a day after seeing No Time to Die in the theater for the first time).

Let’s fast-forward to 2012. Skyfall. My first ever big screen Bond experience. This film completely restructured my viewpoint on the series and on Daniel Craig’s Bond. In 2012 I was a freshman in high school, and seeing this movie on screen, watching the bold choices made in the storyline, it was amazing. This movie quickly became a favorite of mine, and honestly topped my personal list for a very long time.

When 2015 came around, I watched SPECTRE with friends, including Emma—now my wife—but then, just the girl that I desperately wanted to date. It was her first ever Bond movie, period. Craig was her primary exposure to Bond, and so was SPECTRE. Both became her favorites for a long time forward. I remember driving her back from a holiday weekend once from college, just before we started dating (finally) and she borrowed my phone to borrow my digital copy of SPECTRE and fell asleep in her seat watching it. That’s a happy memory.

Bringing another Bond to Life

Now, so many years further, we’re freshly married, and Craig’s final outing is finally here. Daniel’s character has had such a profound influence on my life. From his specific input Bond’s wardrobe, to 007’s daily carry items. The Craig era has given me most of my daily staples. What really makes the wardrobing especially impactful for me is the direct input Daniel has had in the franchise on such matters. He really belongs in those items because he selected so many of them. I am a massive fan of minimalist, yet impactful styling. From the Levi’s and polo in Quantum to the absolutely stunning tuxedo in Skyfall, and so much more, I am an avid collector of homages to this incredible looks.

Between SPECTRE and No Time to Die, I finally got the girl of my dreams, we got engaged, and even managed to get married prior to the release, even with a long engagement, thanks to countless delays. That makes this bookend to the series so much more meaningful to me. No Time to Die isn’t just the next Bond movie. It’s a celebration of everything that has transpired from 2006 to today. This movie is the final page and back cover to the story started with Casino Royale.

I grew up loving Connery for so many reasons. He perfectly encapsulates the Bond of the early novels. The man without fear, who could conquer any obstacle. A cold blooded, sardonic man who takes his blows, wins the fight, and gets the girl.

What his Bond never did was bring to life the later Fleming works. From OHMSS onward, we meet a Bond with real emotion, whose mental wounds rattle him far longer than the last page of the previous adventure. Fleming seemed to hold off until his last three novels to add this layer to the character, and Daniel strived so much to never let that side of 007 be forgotten. This was the character that Daniel Craig perfectly mastered. Through his five movies we meet the early Bond, the one that Connery really embodied so phenomenally. But we also meet the man who carries those emotional scars, and wards off their continued pain with a sardonic grin and a drink. We watch him love and experience heartbreak. We see him battle the loss of loved ones again and again. Each time, we see him continue to fight. His character is such an inspiration to us all.

The End of the Long & Winding Road

On September 28, 2021 I had the unique opportunity to attend a private screening of No Time to Die in Chicago. This was due to the generosity of my dear friend David Zartisky of The Bond Experience, who graciously gifted me a ticket to this premiere. What made it so special was that it was timed to start simultaneously with the Royal Albert Hall premiere that so many of my dear friends attended. I was part of a small fraternity that was able to attend thanks to David’s kindness within the United States, and while we didn’t get to see the movie together physically, I really did feel their presence with me as the final Daniel Craig adventure began. It was even more exciting to immediately hop on a three way call with my friends Luke and Lorenzo, from Blunt Instruments (@bondsapartment & @omegabondwatches respectively on social) to discuss the raw emotions we all had witnessing the end of the Craig era. We weren’t together in person, but we worked so hard to ensure we were celebrating it together all the same.

I had such an amazing day on the 28th. I live in Kansas City, and therefore had to fly in and out of Chicago on the same day to make my showing without impacting my workflow. So, at 4am, my alarm sounded, I showered, shaved, and suited up. Emma dropped me at the airport with a kiss and with Tilly in tow, and off I went.

Documenting this day and it’s real magic doesn’t really feel right with just words. However, I’ve assembled a small gallery of images to share with you all. In honor of the beautiful Greg Williams BTS imagery from this film, I’ve selected to share each image in black and white. You can view it here.

I think the most important thing I can say in this piece is that in the time it took for us to experience all of the Craig era in its totality, I went from a dumb kid to someone who has nothing but the upmost respect and admiration for what this man has done for our community. My life certainly would not be the same without his rendition of Bond. I’m so thankful for this community, my friends, and the adventures I’ve had so far. We have all the time in the world to have so many more, and I eagerly await the next one.

 

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