Is Daniel Craig Dalton Mk II? 

James Bond, Dalton
Unlike Bond nerds, the general public seem to either love a James Bond actor or completely forget about him. Connery, Moore and Brosnan were generally a hit with the casual filmgoer. Brosnan films were pratically bomb-proof for Eon. Mixed reviews seemed to make no difference to the box-office take, and each outing going on to rake in more money. As far as Lazenby and Dalton go, the pair of them have been more or less erased from the conciousness of the casual Bond consumer. How did this happen to Dalton and what are the implications for Craig?
It all started well for Timothy. When Roger Moore finally stood down Pierce Brosnan and Sam Neill both came within touching distance of the part but succumbed to a television contract and Cubby Broccoli's apathy respectively. Dalton was drafted in at the last minute and, by all accounts, Cubby and director John Glen were delighted. Not only was Dalton as darkly handsome as any other contender he was also a respected stage-actor. He was lean and athletic and the script of the new film was immediately tweaked to fit Dalton's style meaning a down to earth Bond film with a more human 007. The nineties were three years away and audiences apparently demanded a tougher and less jovial Bond. Where have you heard that recently?
Daniel Craig
The Living Daylights performed respectably at the box-office and Dalton earned excellent reviews. Starburst said Ian Fleming would have liked him best of all the previous Bonds and asked where he'd been hiding since Connery left the role. It looked like Timothy Dalton would take Bond well into the nineties and a second film was planned for 1989. This one would be specifically tailored for Dalton and truly cement him as the new Bond.
Licence To Kill was (for Bond) a radical step. Earning a 15 certificate in the UK,the film was a dark ,straight and sometimes voilent revenge mission. In North America the picture opened in the middle of 1989's summer of blockbusters and was eaten alive. With a $40 million take at the US box-office it was well below expectations and a bitter blow for Eon. Mixed reviews picked up on Dalton's apparent lack of humour and panache. In the space of one film Timothy seemed to have gone from bold new model 007 to the man who had killed the series. Tabloids suggested he was going to be replaced by Pierce Brosnan as litigation between Eon and the studio effectively ended any chance of a third Dalton film. By the time the next picture started pre-production, Dalton had stood down of his own accord and MGM were finally free to appoint Brosnan, in their eyes just about the only actor going ho could make Bond films viable again. Dalton, while liked by Bond fans, was now seen to have lacked broad appeal. He was cited as a prime example of why Bond should be represented by a dashing star with the ability to play the role with a nod and wink to the audience.
Which brings us to Craig and Casino Royale. Casino Royale is clearly going to have more in common with Licence To Kill than Moonraker. We can expect a straighter interpretation of the part with a tad more voilence than usual. Anyone familiar with Craig will know that humour is not his forte. Neither is charm for that matter. If they play to his strengths Casino Royale will be unlike any other Bond film. For hardcore fans that is either a good thing or a bad thing. For casual fans it may be a bit confusing. Anyone expecting a handsome know-it-all dispensing a few quips as he saves the world is liable to be in for a huge shock when they see Craig.
Eon have two advantages with Casino Royale that they didn't have with Licence To Kill. First of all Craig's film will open in the relatively barren wasteland of November 2006. Unless there is a sleeper lying in wait somewhere the competition won't be fierce. Secondly Sony will give this film a much bigger push and ad campaign than Licence To Kill got from MGM. There really will be no excuses. If Craig doesn't work out, Eon are going to look incredibly stupid for hiring him on top of the reboot. One of those decisions was iffy - to impose both is a tremendous gamble.
Time will tell if Craig joins Lazenby and Dalton as the forgotten Bonds; but it is hard to see someone like Craig wanting to nail himself to an action franchise for a great length of time. The criticism he has received is hardly likely to have changed this. For the record no one thinks Daniel Craig is too poor an actor to play James Bond. But more than a few people just think he doesn't look the part and that was one area in which Dalton held all the aces over Craig.
- Robert Fossil

c 2006 Alternative 007