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This DVD Tuesday is
, which features the sixth official James Bond, suave
's refreshingly rough-edged replacement. Though I'm often perceived as contrarian, I'm 100 percent on board with the opinion that
is the best James Bond since
retired his license to kill all those years ago.
I don't think
is the best Bond film ever: I find
a thoroughly forgettable presence (albeit a relief from the prefabricated, anonymous likes of
), and I could have done without having to sit through
large-scale action sequences before the start of the story proper. Though to be fair, the
sequence is pretty spectacular I just wish it hadn't been stuck at the beginning as some kind of sop to people who can't imagine a James Bond movie without a mess of overblown stunt sequences. But overall, what I like best about
is how assiduously it strips away most of the things I've grown to dislike about the Bond franchise: the jokey quips, the CGI-assisted action set-pieces, the endless chase sequences and the preposterous, Dr. Evil-worthy plots. How great is it that Bond's mission is to take out a scummy financier by bankrupting him at the poker table? And I love that Daniel Craig not only finds the essence of Bond under the layer of mannerisms built up by five previous actors, but actually goes deeper. His Bond is a work in progress, a common thug reinventing himself as a wolf in roué's clothing. In fact, the scene in which Craig's Bond first tries on evening clothes and realizes how smooth he looks and how disarming that smoothness could be in a pinch is flat-out brilliant. As is the movie's take on the iconic shaken versus stirred issue: When Craig growls, "Do I look like I give a damn?" it makes you glad
not that bartender. Not to mention that Danish actor
is one hell of a Bond villain.
I've heard it said that people always have a soft spot for the first Bond they saw in a theater (as opposed to TV or DVD), but it wasn't that way for me:
Live and Let Die
(1973) was my first theatrical Bond, and I never cared for
in the role. By the end of his tenure I actively hated him as 007. I loved Connery, liked Brosnan (too light, but after Moore he seemed like a natural born killer), and thought
never had a real chance - he was stuck in subpar movies and hampered by that no-womanizing idea that blew over almost as fast as he did. I know some heretical Bond-philes think one-movie wonder
was the best of all, but I remain unconvinced: I'd rank Dalton around the same - interesting and promising, but there's not enough evidence to make a real call.
Anyway, all this is leading to my recommendation that if you haven't seen
yet, now is the time to do it.
Things to consider:
How did secret agent James Bond join the rarified ranks of fictional characters who entirely transcend the specific time and place that spawned them: Dracula, Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Frankenstein, the Phantom of the Opera etc?
What do you consider the best James Bond movie, and why? And who do you think was the best Bond,
if your pick for best actor isn't the star of your best-movie pick?
Where do you stand on the earlier incarnations of
- the 1954 TV version starring
as an American Bond and
as Le Chiffre, the 1967
, and the rogue
Never Say Never Again
(1983)? Are these movies part of the Bond canon, or are they apocrypha, as the makers of the "official" series like to claim?
For serious Bond-philes, which
book (or short story) do you think should be the next new Bond?
Previous DVD Tuesday blogs:
Kiss and Make Up
Kiss Me Deadly
The Long Good Friday
What Alice Found
The Devil's Backbone
The Devil Wears Prada
The Thief and the Cobbler
Panic in the Streets/Jack Palance Interview
The Pusher Trilogy
In Cold Blood
This week's new DVD releases