We who have been watching James Bond movies more or less faithfully for the last fifty years may never relinquish the belief that Sean Connery is the real Bond, while all attempts by other actors to play him have fallen short. Those who have been fans of the character for less than ten years are likely to have a difficult time accepting anyone other than Daniel Craig in the role, and they have a closer understanding of the character than those who have been dragged through the decades of Roger Moore, George Lazenby, Pierce Brosnan, and Timothy Dalton. Throughout the four movies in which Craig has played Bond, the actor has perhaps come closer than any other to the character as written by author Ian Fleming.
In “Spectre,” Craig has brought 007 to his logical end, and I hope he doesn’t compromise this achievement by agreeing to perform in yet another installment of the series, which perhaps will outlast England herself. If those who own the franchise insist on continuing to milk it, the best thing they could do is to start over from the top, remaking each film in fidelity to the novels, and using Craig’s interpretation of the character as their model. I fear, however, they will go in the opposite direction, with more original scripts and a Bond that drifts further and further away from who Fleming described as “an extremely dull, uninteresting man to whom things happened.”
Before I mention a few of the things that urge the series to be put to bed for good, I’ll warn anyone who even has the word “spoiler” in their functioning vocabulary to stop reading at this point. First off, if Blofeld is resurrected one more time, he will become as ridiculous an adversarial gimmick as Lex Luther is in the Superman comics. Secondly, at the end of the film, Bond throws away his badge, just as did Inspector Callaghan at the end of “Dirty Harry.” Four sequels destroyed the brilliant ending of that film. Let’s not be forced to see the spectacular ending of “Spectre” ruined by Bond’s retaking of the badge. And if the show must continue, let it be with another Bond, so as to not compromise the closure given by the Craig cycle.
Despite my sentimental attachment to the first three Connery Bonds, those films were more about the sixties than the previous decade, in which the novels were set. “Spectre” achieves a complicated balance between the present day and the fifties era. While the earlier films sported far-fetched plots, disposable sex kittens, and comic-book villains, “Spectre” addresses such topical concerns as information monopolies and total surveillance grids. Our world of today is the science fiction world of yesterday, and both worlds are fused in the old-fashioned world of the government-sanctioned assassin. The character of James Bond is still as square-headed and strong-jawed as Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer, except he has developed a conscience over the decades of a world grown so increasingly dangerous that love has become too precious to throw away on casino romance and loyalty is serious business when it starts raining bullets. Her majesty’s secret service may think it has outgrown the double-0 program, but it is the double-0 operatives who have outgrown the secret service.
This is why “Spectre” would make such a perfect conclusion to the Bond adventure we have been latching onto for the last fifty years. Let the badge remain where he has thrown it, and allow the poor bastard to retire for once and for all.