Daniel Craig is the seventh actor to play James Bond. Since taking the role in 2006, Craig’s films have received a steady stream of critically-acclaimed reviews. Below is a list of his best performances.
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The History of the James Bond Franchise
The James Bond franchise is one of the most emblematic in film history. The MI6 agent is known for mixing business with pleasure, from his affairs with mysterious women to his impressive card playing skills.
Based on Ian Fleming’s novels, the James Bond films have explored various themes and genres over the years, including espionage, comedy, and action. By the time the 2000s came around, Bond needed to be revamped, so the writers analyzed Flemings’ novels to create a profound, psychologically complex Bond. To portray this new 007, Craig was the man for the job.
Throughout Craig’s five installments, critics have repeatedly praised him for his performance. Out of the entire franchise, audiences agree that Craig has delivered the most emotionally riveting interpretations of the MI6 agent.
Now that Craig’s reign as Bond has ended, producers deliberate on who will be the next 007. In the meantime, fans have been revisiting their favorite Craig-as-Bond films. Below is a list of his performances, ranked best to worst.
Casino Royale (2006)
Casino Royale was Craig’s first and best performance as Bond. The film holds high reviews with overwhelming praise from critics and commercial audiences.
In this film, Bond must capture the poker master, Le Chiffre, played by Mads Mikkelson. The two meet for a card game in what is now considered one of cinematic history’s most fascinating card-playing scenes.
But it’s not the first time Bond has made waves at the casino. In Licence to Kill, Bond ruffles feathers by playing high roller blackjack to get his enemy’s attention. High roller blackjack, one of the title’s several variations, requires high buy-ins, which many afficionados consider VIP level playing. Knowing Bond’s taste for elegance, fans will agree high roller is certainly his style.
However, Craig delivers a subtler, more nuanced version of the usual risk-taker that fans know Bond to be. In a climactic 30-minute scene towards the end of Casino Royale, the blond actor tells all with a single smirk. Bond calls Le Chiffre’s bluff, which defines some key plot points later in the film, including Vesper Lynd’s untimely death.
Skyfall is the third and highest grossing Bond film featuring Craig, raking in over one billion dollars at the box office. The story follows Bond investigating a cyber-terrorist attack on MI6. Bond’s target, Patrice, leads him to Shanghai, where he encounters the true mastermind, Raoul Silva.
In a whirlwind of high-tech sleights of hand, Silva manages to escape Bond’s reach and wreak havoc on MI6. Bond realizes he must beat Silva at his game and plants an electric paper trail as bait. Bond then leads Silva to Skyfall, his childhood home, in order to trap him for good.
No Time to Die (2021)
No Time to Die, the latest installment of the Bond franchise, ties up the emotional ending to Craig’s legacy as 007. The film features big names like Rami Malek and Lea Seydoux, but audiences complained that there was not enough screen time for their favorite actors.
Like most films tasked to tie up loose ends, critics claim that No Time to Die doesn’t do Craig justice. Since there are so many storylines to resolve, Bond often takes a backseat so the plot can flow.
Despite its mixed reviews, No Time to Die ends with a shocking twist that audiences still talk about a year after the film’s release. Without revealing any major spoilers, it will change the Bond franchise forever.
After Skyfall’s fast-paced, engaging plot, audiences expected the same exciting story from Spectre, but the film didn’t measure up to par.
The film begins in Mexico City on the Day of the Dead, where Bond stops a bombing from happening. He kills the gang leader and steals his ring, which he later notices features an octopus. Bond discovers that the octopus is an emblem of a stateless organization to which his previous enemies belong. He seeks to learn more about Spectre, its mission, and how to stop them.
While Spectre’s plot might have been underwhelming, the film exuded spectacular visual elements from cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema.
Quantum of Solace (2008)
Quantum of Solace is the sequel to the blockbuster hit Casino Royale and, like Spectre, struggled to match its predecessor’s hype. Audiences were ready for a ruthless revenge story after Vesper’s death, but were disappointed by a shoddy plot.
The story follows Bond, who seeks vengeance for Vesper Lynd’s death. Like For Your Eyes Only, a young woman, Camille, joins Bond on his mission because she is looking for her family’s murderer. Their quest leads them to a member of the organized crime syndicate known as Quantum.
Craig has mentioned that Quantum of Solace flopped due to the 2007 writer’s strike. Craig, his fellow cast members, and the director made changes on set to save the script as best they could.