On August 15th Daniel Craig made it official. He will be returning as James Bond at least one more time. In the last few years his vacillation regarding that decision has been reported on numerous occasions, begging the question, what the hell is he so confused about?
Look, I get it. As an actor Craig is probably tired of trying to find new ways to breathe life into a fifty five plus year old character. He’s done an admirable job of it so far. His Bond has been a compelling blend of menace, intelligence and duty allowing him a depth that was not always present in his predecessors. I don’t recall watching him and feeling that he communicated the distracting self awareness that was something of a hallmark in prior interpretations of the role. Still, I can understand that there are only so many ways for him to do this and I’m sympathetic to the notion that he’s probably just over it. That having been said, I can’t imagine willingly giving up being James Bond.I realize that I’m more than a bit prone to idealizing the experience of being 007 but this is a life-long fascination which has been reinforced as I’ve made my way through the developmental process.
I first became obsessed with him the way any normal little boy would have. Secret agents have the best toys. He had a car with machine guns and ejector seats (Goldfinger), and a scuba tank with it’s own attached spear guns and headlight (Thunderball). I sat in the back seat of my mother’s Plymouth Valiant and carried my tuna sandwich and orange drink in a Banana Splits lunchbox. He had a fully weaponized briefcase, I had an army surplus backpack. Clearly 007 was better equipped than me which I came to believe was a big part of our relative “job” performance differential. He was regarded as legendary agent of MI6, rebellious but unbeatable in the service of the Queen. Mrs. Maidenbaum said I talked too much.
As I entered adolescence other things began to capture my attention. Saying this as politely as I can without actually being a Canadian citizen, James Bond seemed to have a much more active social calendar than I did. From Ursula Andress to Brit Ekland there was a conga line of stunning women happily making biblical acquaintance with the men who were fortunate enough to play the role of the ultimate spy. I wasn’t doing as well. It’s not that I was in danger of dying a virgin but it took a lot of effort just to be mediocre. Marty Goldberg needed to practice all day just to be a .250 hitter with warning track power. Bond showed up fifteen minutes before the first pitch and won the batting title. If that was the end of it I would have been more than envious. As time passed I realized that the whole thing was worse than I had first imagined. On those occasions when I was able to get something going with a member of the fairer sex I seemed to be something of a pre-requisite that they liked me. He didn’t appear to labor under any such restriction. Not only did a number of the women who bedded him not have any deep affection for him, some of them were not particularly shy about trying to kill him. He was doing better with gorgeous women who wanted him dead than I was with ordinary girls who thought I was funny.
All that’s in the past now. I have a vehicle I like, an unnecessarily large HDTV and the enhanced sounds of a Bose stereo. I’m fortunate enough to have met and married a woman I’ve never stopped being crazy about. Still, I wish I was 007. As I sit here at fifty four years of age he still has something I look at with unadulterated envy. James Bond looks like he’s having a lot of fun at work. This guy never has a mundane, nine to five, who took the whiteout moment. M’s doing the paperwork, Q’s counting the cost and our boy is joyfully beating the shit out of whoever he doesn’t fuck. Someone’s in his way, he removes them (every movie). Money shortage, he makes it happen at the baccarat table (almost every movie). Stuck in traffic, he’ll just trample every thing in sight with a stolen tank (GoldenEye). Slow elevators, balky air conditioners, horse shit office politics; not part of his world. He’s never had to park in “the other” lot, never lost a promotion to a creepy kiss ass, never been screwed on overtime. I know he has bad days but they’re bad days that have some weight to them. Life and death, fate of the free world. Not a shitty commute or a blown lunch order.
There it is. Three phases of life, three reasons to want to be him. I suppose it’ll give me something to think about when I go to work tomorrow, which is nice because the construction on the bridge isn’t finished yet and it going to be a tough drive in.