Daniel Craig’s Had a Bad Week

You’d think that once you were named successor to a role formerly occupied by the likes of Sean Connery, Roger Moore, and Pierce Brosnan, which doesn’t have much complexity beyond drinking martinis, driving fast cars, and seducing beautiful women, you’d have it made.

Think again.

In a moment of unfortunate serendipity, new James Bond Daniel Craig got punched in the face both metaphorically and physically this week. First he lost two front teeth during the filming of his first fight scene in the upcoming adaptation of Ian Fleming’s original Bond novel, Casino Royale. Dark Horizons reports:

As the shaken star staggered backwards clutching his bleeding mouth, cameramen thought it was a brilliant piece of acting. His injuries were so bad local dentistry experts could not treat him. So Craig’s dentist was flown out from London for emergency surgery in the Czech capital Prague.

As if emergency dental surgery in the Czech Republic isn’t bad enough, at around the same time a website calling for Craig’s dismissal from the role began making the rounds. An excerpt:

How can a short, blond actor with the rough face of a professional boxer and a penchant for playing killers, cranks, cads and gigolos pull off the role of a tall, dark, handsome and suave secret agent?

Look, the guy got two teeth knocked out and went right back to work. You think you can hurt him with the Interweb? If it were Brosnan, maybe. I heard he cried on the set of After the Sunset because of a paper cut.* Sadly, that wasn’t the first or last time a project involving Brett Ratner has ended in tears.

The best rebuttal to the anti-Craig party that I’ve seen comes from Moriarty over at AICN, whose sentiments I agree with wholeheartedly:

If you really want to be outraged about something, how about finally growing a pair of balls and calling for the removal of Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson as producers of the Bond franchise? Casting doesn’t matter, and will NEVER matter, until the franchise is finally in the hands of someone with respect for the source material and the character that Ian Fleming created. Bitching because Daniel Craig has the wrong hair color or because he’s not a pretty boy demonstrates to me that you have no idea what made James Bond an icon in the first place. You want to work up a head of steam? How about being pissed that they’re finally going to adapt one of the best books Fleming wrote, and they’ve decided to rape it the way they’ve always raped his work?
How about getting upset that once again product placement seems more important than creating a product worth watching?

The Bond we’ve seen on film has always been very different from the Bond we’ve read about in the books. While I liked Brosnan in the role, the attempts they kept making to bring in darker aspects to the franchise didn’t quite cut it. They reeked of last-minute, slapdash changes intended to make the series edgier, but instead just made audiences edge towards the exits.

Last year, I mourned that the controllers of the property were missing out on the full potential of Bond. While my choice for the role, Adrian Lester, was nowhere near the short list, I later heard that a black British actor was actually considered. I wonder if these so-called “lifelong Bond fans” would have still have protested in that case. It would have been funny to see them try (and, you have to admit, salmonnotbond.com is a much more surreal URL).

What I find most amusing about the complainants is that they seem to be upset that the man is an actor. If you look over the breakdown of all of the previous Bonds on their site, you’ll notice that they mention prominently that Connery, Lazenby, and Roger Moore were all male models. Craig has range as an actor, and yes, I’m glad they got someone with “a penchant for playing killers, cranks, cads and gigolos.” When you get right down to it, Bond’s a little bit of all of those things.

But Moriarty’s comments are spot on. There was a chance that we could have had Quentin Tarantino’s Casino Royale, and, love Tarantino or hate him, it would have definitely been interesting. Instead, in an attempt to salvage the “golden years” of Brosnan’s stewardship, we get director Martin Campbell, a man whose sequels can’t quite recapture the magic of the original (see: Zorro), and whose standalone credits include the oh-no-Chris-O’Donnell-and-Bill-Paxton-are-stuck-on-a mountain epic Vertical Limit and Angelina-Jolie-as-a-relief-worker? flick Beyond Borders. Screenwriter Paul Haggis is up for an Oscar for Crash and was nominated for Million Dollar Baby last year, but early script reviews have brought into question his feel for the material. Replacing baccarat with poker? Why not have Bond drink a Zima while you’re at it? At least earlier reports that his car of choice would be Fiat Panda (about which I think I’ve said all I ought to) seem to be false.

When all is said and done, it’s just a movie. If it’s bad, we’ll forget about it a few days after we leave the theater. If it’s good, we may remember it until the next film comes along and wipes it from our mind. I’m sure we’ve all had our fill of spy dramas anyway.

*Blatantly, blatantly untrue.