Did Daniel Craig save the James Bond franchise?

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Spectre, the latest installment in the James Bond franchise, has just been released on DVD.

The rumours abound that this marks Daniel Craig’s final appearance as the world’s most famous spy even though he is reportedly contracted for one more film.

The rumours have some basis. Craig’s friend, and the godfather of his oldest son, Mark Strong has said that he thinks Craig is finished. Craig himself was the catalyst for the rumours by making statements like “I don’t know, I really don’t know. Honestly. I’m not trying to be coy. At the moment I can’t even conceive it” when asked about his return as 007 during Spectre press tours.

The Daniel Craig Bond films have been among the most financially successful in the franchise’s long history and most fans are hopeful that he will return for at least one more film. The next film would likely be released in 2017, the 55th anniversary of Dr. No’s release and would be a fitting finale for the actor who is arguably the best Bond since Sean Connery.

Dr No James Bond Sean Connery

Sean Connery brought Bond to life and was no doubt a close match for the way Ian Fleming envisioned a British secret agent in the 1960’s. He was debonair, appreciated the finer things in life, had the swagger and confidence that made him incredibly appealing to the women, was a bit ruthless, and had a number of vices including smoking, drinking and gambling. Moore, Dalton, and Bronson turned Bond into more of a comic book character, making him somewhat out of step with the times.

Craig will be remembered for portraying Bond as a character of our times. His ruthlessness is the more line with what one would expect for someone with a license to kill. His loyalty is unquestioned. His sense of right and wrong is clear cut. His disrespect for the rules is what we expect from someone whose job description is to operate on the fringes society.

Even his “vices” are up to date.

Previous Bonds drink of choice was the iconic shaken not stirred vodka martini. Craig’s Bond answered the shaken not stirred question with an appropriate “do I look like I care?”

Casino Royale  James Bond Daniel Craig

The first time audiences saw Bond was in Dr. No in a scene that has become iconic. The setting is a baccarat table, with one player losing heavily. When she finally addresses the player across the table from her, who is the banker for the game, the camera pans to Connery who lights a cigarette and introduces himself as “Bond, James Bond.” Both the baccarat table and the introduction became trademarks of the Bond films from that moment on.

Craig’s Bond plays the game that is most fitting for a modern day spy, poker. Bond proves himself to be a poker maestro in both tournament and cash games. Baccarat was a logical choice for the earlier incarnations of Bond. Poker has only recently become a wide spread and high stakes game. Previously the only game which allowed the player to compete directly against another player was baccarat. The rules of baccarat are fairly strict. Poker is far more suited to someone who enjoys direct competition and is confident is his decision making abilities and wishes to compete on a more personal level.

Hopefully Craig will return for the next installment in the Bond saga. If not at least he will always be credited as the Bond that most likely saved a British cinematic institution.