Dennis suggests Casino Royale (in Action). Bond, Bond, Bond…let’s review, shall we:
Connery. The only Bond, as far as most people are concerned, the then-unknown Scot had a twinkly comic thing to go along with an imposing physicality (meaning he looked like he could actually kick a little SPECTRE ass). Never had much range, here or anywhere else, but gets by on seemingly effortless charisma. Best film: From Russia With Love (beats out the more famous Goldfinger and Dr. No with a superior villain in Robert Shaw and some unexpected dramatic weight). Worst: Diamonds Are Forever.
Lazenby. Poor Aussie bastard never stood a chance replacing Connery, but didn’t acquit himself all that well in any case; looks and acts weirdly like he was cloned from Connery DNA by the world’s 3rd-best scientist. No match for the series’ best actress Diana Rigg, who blows him off the screen. Best, worst and only film: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (with a better Bond, this would be remembered as the best of the bunch; tight, exciting action, a tragic love story, Rigg. Too bad about the stiff).
Moore. Lightweight TV star became Bond for an entire generation and presided over the series degeneration into a gimmicky, jokey bore. Moore (and his stuntperson army) threw flabby, ineffective punches, tossed off smarmy, groanworthy one-liners and stiffly smooched some of the dullest actresses in the world. The series, consequently, becomes unbelievably popular. Best film: The Spy Who Loved Me (some good action, sexy Barbara Bach makes an engaging, competent Bond Girl, and, of course, Richard Kiel’s Jaws is a lot of fun). Worst film: Jesus, pick one. In a close race, I pick the abominable Moonraker.
Dalton: Eh. Good actor. Very dull Bond. Funny in the recent Hot Fuzz. Best film/Worst film: Can’t muster up the enthusiasm to say.
Brosnan: Another TV star-turned-Bond, but what a difference talent makes. He’s got the suave down, but with a touch of gravitas and sense of humor to back it up. Not the most imposing physical specimen around (in fact, he looks a bit breakable), but game, and willing to get his hair mussed once in a while. Sabotaged by increasingly awful scripts. Best film: Goldeneye (taut, exciting, and fun). Worst film: all the rest, which blend together in a sea of terrible female leads (except Michelle Yeoh), Moore-quality one-liners, product placement, and flabby direction.
And now Craig: this is more like it. Taking it back to the beginning, Casino Royale shows Bond on his first “licensed to kill” mission, with him still rough around the edges, a little unsure of himself, and more realistically dangerous. Genuinely physically-imposing, with more than a little of the thug about him, Craig’s lumpy-faced Bond has, obviously, kicked a lot of ass in his time, has a nice mix of cockiness and insecurity, and, as played by a real actor, actually creates, for the first time, something of a human being. Few gadgets, no lame jokes, an opening chase sequence equal to Raiders of the Lost Ark’s, and an all-around revelation to a moribund franchise. Proposed tagline: Bond’s back…and this time he’s got talent.