Pierce Brosnan would make his last appearance as Bond in 2002's Die Another Day, and it would be four years before Daniel Craig starred in 2006's Casino Royale.
From the beginning, there was controversy surrounding Craig as Bond. Many people thought he wasn't handsome enough. Others thought he lacked experience. I think it's safe to say that he proved them all wrong, and his own series of Bond films has enjoyed both critical and commercial success.
And while I think that Brosnan was better as Bond, it is two of Craig's movies - Skyfall and Casino Royale - that are my favorites. When all is said and done, there is a tortured aspect to Craig's Bond that really sets those two movies apart.
The remaining Bond movies are: Die Another Day (2002), Casino Royale (2006), Quantum of Solace (2009), Skyfall (2012), and the newest entry, Spectre (2015).
Which is better, Casino Royale or Skyfall? I'd have to pick Skyfall. Javier Bardem's performance is astonishing, and I love the way most of the action devolves back toward M, not Bond. It creates a sense of suspense that the other 007 films lack.
Not that Casino Royale is a bad movie. The plot is excellent, the villain is great, and the stakes are very high. More than anything, there is a freshness to that film that very few other films in the series can match. That chase scene in Madagascar is like seeing Sean Connery first appear in Dr. No, all over again.
Spectre has problems, but the opening scene in Mexico City is EPIC, and Cristoph Waltz was almost a good villain. I only wish his character had been written better, and that his character's connection to Bond was less tenuous.
Die Another Day is Bond at his silliest. The first half of this movie is actually pretty good, but by the time the ice hotel is melting and the satellite is burning through the demilitarized zone it has left reality far, far behind. I'd be hard pressed to say which movie is sillier, this one or Moonraker, but if Moonraker is Star Wars, Die Another Day is Ghost in the Shell.
Quantum of Solace is much better than Die Another Day, but it was still a letdown after the excellent Casino Royale. Like Brosnan's Tomorrow Never Dies, it retreats back into formula.
I found Spectre a disappointing film. But perhaps that sense of disappointment is/was partly my fault. Skyfall was such an amazing movie, and there was no conceivable way they were going to top that.
Is that Madonna singing the theme to Die Another Day? Why yes it is, but her voice is so heavily treated that you probably won't notice at first. She also turns up in the movie itself.
If, sometime in the 90s, you had told me that Chris Cornell would be singing the theme to Bond film, I probably would have thought you were crazy. Nevertheless, he did sing the theme to Casino Royale, and the results are... underwhelming. Perhaps it would have been better with more guitar?
Jack White and Alicia Keys' theme for Quantum of Solace is forgettable.
Adele's turn on Skyfall is one of the best Bond themes ever. I had that playing in my car for months.
Sam Smith sings the theme to Spectre. It's not great, but it's not bad. Who is Sam Smith anyway? I have no idea.
Halle Berry plays Jinx, an NSA agent who assists Bond in Die Another Day. She may have won the Academy Award around that time, but she isn't very good in Die Another Day.
Eva Green. Damn that woman is fine. I guess the other woman in Casino Royale is also fine, but in the presence of Eva Green I am unable to remember her. I love that scene where she psychoanalyzes Bond on the train.
Olga Kurylenko is one of the most memorable things about Quantum of Solace. Her character in that film is more interesting than James Bond.
None of the women in Skyfall did anything for me, but that movie is so good it doesn't matter.
Spectre is the one case where I was excited about the Bond girl before I saw the movie. I have been a fan of Monica Bellucci for a long, long time. Unfortunately she was wasted on that film.
Where Does Bond Go?
Starting with Casino Royale and ending with Spectre, Bond goes from Madagascar, to London, to the Bahamas, to the USA, to the Bahamas (again), to Montenegro, to Italy, to London (again), to Austria, to Italy (again), to Bolivia, to Russia, to Turkey, to London (again), to Shanghai, to Macau, to London (again), to Scotland, to London (again), to Mexico City, to London (again), to Italy (again), to Austria (again), to Morocco, and back to London (again).
..and I have omitted Bond's travels in Die Another Day from the above list. Why? Because Casino Royale rebooted the franchise.
You know, if you removed the U.K., the U.S.A., and the Bahamas from Bond's travels, he hasn't been to all that many countries!
And in Conclusion...
It's here! Read on in Bond: The Conclusion!
Other Bond Entries:
Bond: The 1960s
Bond: The 1970s
Bond: The 1980s
Bond: The 1990s
Bond: The Conclusion!