Joe Knows

Connery. Moore. Brosnan. Nearly two weeks from the premiere of the newest Bond movie two weeks removed from Global James Bond day celebrating the 50th anniversary since the Bond’s first movie, “Dr. No,” we still recognize 007 as the ultimate in thrills and international intrigue.

From Sean Connery’s physical performances and thick Scottish brogue to Roger Moore’s stiff upper lip, Bond has established himself as a savvy, hard-nosed yet campy and charming chap. At least he used to be.

For those of us who had made it a custom of living a couple hours of excitement and wit vicariously through 007 every three years, these days are likely over.

Instead, we must deal with a brooding Daniel Craig sulking for 2 1/2 hours.

“Skyfall,” the 23rd and newest installment portraying novelist Ian Fleming’s spy extraordinaire, is set to debut in the United Kingdom Tuesday and Nov. 6 in the States.

While it will be an instant hit and will probably remain No. 1 at the box office for several weeks, I am likely to be among the absent. And the reason is largely Craig.

While Craig’s humorless portrayal of the British secret agent has been nearly unanimously praised by critics and may be the closest thing to Fleming’s Bond yet, it flies in the face of the Bonds played by Connery and Moore.

They took meager resources and created a powerful brand. Craig has taken that brand and made it dull.

The fact is that “Skyfall,” which boasts a lineup that includes big names such as Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Albert Finney, Naomie Harris, Javier Bardem as the villain and a theme by Adele to boot, presents itself as little more than an ensemble cast—an orgy of self-service. Bond has never been a vehicle for A-List actors to get their names on another marquee.

This indulgence reflects the series’ increased corporate feel.

In fact, it has been reported that “Skyfall” is raking in $45 million in revenue from product placement — more than twice the previous record set by “Minority Report” in 2002. This insatiable quest for all things green even goes so far that, according to TMZ, at one point Bond ditches his iconic vodka martini for…

Take a guess?

That’s right, a Heineken.

Not only is 007 losing his legendary suave persona, but as a Heineken drinker, his credibility in beating up bad guys, as well.

Then again, something has to pay for all the tawdry explosions, predictable car chases and inane fight scenes that end with a bloodied Craig scowl that now make Bond indistinguishable from the Bourne movies.

Craig, himself, has addressed the shameless plugs, saying, “The simple fact is that, without them, we couldn’t do it. It’s unfortunate but that’s how it is.”

While I wish not making this or any future Craig-as-Bond films was an option, the reality is that the 44-year-old is signed on for making five more following “Skyfall.”

After a few more, I may be the one falling from the sky.

Take note, Mr. Craig. I, unlike your version of James Bond, am not beneath making bad puns.

 

JOE CUNEO

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