All 5 of Daniel Craig’s James Bond Movies, Ranked

The James Bond films have been a major cinematic event ever since Sean Connery first appeared as 007 in the franchise’s cinematic origin Dr. No way back in 1962. Across the 60+ years since then, there have been 27 Bond films starring six different actors as the titular spy, spanning from Connery’s distinguished and dapper gentleman spy to George Lazenby‘s striking one-off appearance in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Roger Moore‘s more campy take on the MI6 operative through the 70s and 80s, Timothy Dalton‘s decisively gritty iteration, and to Pierce Brosnan‘s traditional and refined, yet enjoyably modern take on Bond in the 90s and early 2000s. In 2006, the responsibility of playing James Bond fell to Daniel Craig, who played the spy with a license to kill on five occasions across 15 years.


Catapulting the character and the franchise into the 21st century, the Craig era started in fine form with Casino Royale marking a distinct shift for the brand, one which was more in touch with its audiences’ interests and tastes, and more willing to make daring decisions, a necessity considering the Bond franchise was in the process of being overrun by other spy thrillers like The Bourne Identity and its sequels, and the Mission: Impossible films. Upon reflection, Daniel Craig’s tenure as Bond can mount a strong case as being the best of any actor’s in the franchise so far, with his films not only seeing the franchise finally restored to its former glory as the pinnacle of the genre, but launching a great many possibilities for what it can be in the future as well. With Craig’s Bond being well-supported by an extensive and brilliant supporting cast, great spy blockbuster narratives, and plenty of awe-inspiring action sequences, his Bond movies make up some of the best the franchise has ever seen, with a couple even being viewed among the greatest action movies of all time.


5 ‘Quantum of Solace’ (2008)

Directed by Marc Forster

Daniel Craig as James Bond and Olga Kurylenko as Camille walking in the desert in 'Quantum of Solace'
Image via Sony Pictures Releasing

In addition to facing the almighty challenge of following up what had been the most refreshing and accomplished Bond movie in decades, Quantum of Solace was also one of the many films in 2007-08 that were hampered by the Writer’s Strike which transpired at the time. Given the circumstances, the film could have been a hell of a lot worse than it was, but even with its extensive budget and the sturdy platform set by Casino Royale, it struggled to find a distinct place in the grander scope of action blockbusters like all of Daniel Craig’s other Bond installments did with ease.

Picking up not long after Casino Royale ended, with the devious Mr. White (Jesper Christensen) captured and in the boot of Bond’s Aston Martin, it opens with a frantic and brutal car chase which, while heart-racing, proves to be quite difficult to follow in any detail. Sadly, this ended up being a metaphoric precursor of the film to come, with Quantum of Solace seeing Bond clash with environmentalist entrepreneur Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric) while striving to infiltrate a larger criminal organization known as Quantum. Teaming up with Greene’s former lover, Camille Montes (Olga Kurylenko), Bond is able to uncover Greene’s scheme to monopolize Bolivia’s water supply. Despite having some interesting thematic ideas concerning profiteering off climate disasters, Quantum of Solace never quite gelled the way it otherwise could have, standing as not only the weakest of Daniel Craig’s Bond movies, but the most forgettable as well.

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Quantum of Solace

Release Date
October 31, 2008

Director
Marc Forster

Runtime
106

Rent on Apple TV

4 ‘Spectre’ (2015)

Directed by Sam Mendes

Daniel Craig as James Bond holding a gun in a snowy mountain in the film Spectre.
Image via Sony Pictures Releasing

The Daniel Craig Bond movies were unique in that they had a vested interest in having one continuous story carry on throughout the five films concerning Bond’s evolution as a character, the impact his love interests had on him, and the toll his villains exacted on his journey. As the fourth film in Craig’s era, Spectre was the point at which this idea went from being a secondary detail to taking center stage. With director Sam Mendes returning to follow up his success with Skyfall, the film follows 007 as he receives a cryptic message from his past which sets him on a personal mission to uncover a powerful criminal organization known as SPECTRE. Needing help from the daughter of an old nemesis, Bond ventures to find her and gain more information about his enigmatic enemy before he treks through the Sahara to infiltrate SPECTRE’s headquarters and confront the group’s lead, the villainous mastermind Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Christoph Waltz).

While the decision to cast Waltz was an inspired one, the famous Bond villain was ironically where Spectre‘s biggest problems began. The choice to tie every other Daniel Craig Bond film together by effectively retconning all the previous villains as agents working under the dastardly secret crime society wasn’t handled gracefully and became a baffling plot development more so than an intriguing and exciting twist. Likewise, the decision to make Blofeld Bond’s foster brother was too great a stretch to be anything more than distracting. Still, Spectre did have some exceptional saving graces, with the chemistry between Craig and Léa Seydoux working a treat, while Andrew Scott‘s villainous outing as “C,” the smarmy bureaucrat wanting to dismantle the Double-O program, was enjoyably wicked as well. It also boasted a jaw-dropping opening sequence set amid a Day of the Dead festival in Mexico City and an equally stunning scene containing a helicopter on a snowy mountainside to provide plenty of action thrills. Despite being met with only lukewarm reviews from critics, Spectre went on to become the second highest-grossing film in the Bond franchise’s history.

spectre-james-bond-movie-poster

Spectre

Release Date
October 26, 2015

Director
Sam Mendes

Runtime
145

Watch on Fubo

3 ‘No Time to Die’ (2021)

Directed by Cary Fukunaga

James Bond stands in a tuxedo in a busy party, looking around suspiciously as a spotlight picks him out.
Image via Sony Pictures Releasing

With the longest runtime of any Bond movie thus far, Daniel Craig’s swan song as 007 was dedicated to honoring the actor’s tenure in the role and largely did so to satisfying effect, with the 163-minute duration packing in plenty of rewarding character moments, intense action sequences, and maintaining a strong focus on Bond’s relationship with Madeleine Swann, with Seydoux becoming the first ever Bond girl to reprise her part as a major character in back-to-back films. It starts strong, with a flashback prologue to Swann’s childhood, where she and her mother are attacked by a masked gunman. It then leaps into a segment where Bond and Swann venture to Italy together only for their romance to come to an abrupt ending as James leaves Madeleine after coming to the false impression that she had betrayed him before thrusting himself into a self-imposed isolation in Jamaica.

Bond is then lured back into action when CIA operative Felix Leiter (Jeremy Wright) approaches him five years later hoping to recruit his help in extracting a kidnapped scientist from Cuba. This leads Bond to team up with Paloma (a far too briefly used Ana de Armas) to infiltrate a soirée in Havana where he snares a lead on terrorist mastermind Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek) and his plot to use DNA-targeting nanobots against the world. No Time to Die isn’t without its flaws, but it had some franchise-first triumphs as well, such as Lashana Lynch‘s Nomi standing as the new 007 operative after Bond’s initial retirement, Bond’s somber farewell which saw the character die for the first time in cinematic history, and the presentation of James Bond having a family, even if it was only relatively brief.

no-time-to-die-poster-james-bond

No Time to Die

Release Date
September 29, 2021

Director
Cary Fukunaga

Runtime
167

Watch on Amazon Prime

2 ‘Skyfall’ (2012)

Directed by Sam Mendes

James Bond and M stand together in the misty Scottish countryside with 007's famous Aston Martin behind them.
Image via Sony Pictures Releasing

A triumphant success to reassure those who had their doubts in the wake of Quantum of Solace, Skyfall saw the James Bond formula receive another much-needed shake-up without compromising on any of the franchise’s action extravagance. Marking Sam Mendes’ debut in the franchise, the film opens in captivating fashion with Bond and a new field agent, Eve – later revealed to be Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) – in pursuit of a stolen hard drive containing the identities of every undercover NATO agent. When the mission ends in disaster with Bond shot and presumed dead, he takes to the Caribbean to nurse his wounded pride, but a bombing at MI6 headquarters prompts him to return to active service. Sent to Shanghai to figure out who was behind the attack, Bond uncovers vengeful former MI6 agent turned cyber-terrorist Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem) and learns of his vendetta against M (Judi Dench).

Skyfall contains so much of what defined the greatness of Daniel Craig’s James Bond movies, from the action thrills and espionage intensity to the more introspective look at Bond as a character plagued by a horrible past. Delving into his backstory, revealing a deep-seated childhood trauma that 007 has never even begun to address, the movie capitalizes on Casino Royale‘s commitment to modernizing the character, with its bold character decisions allowing Bond to be much more than just a slick and stylish male fantasy of a bygone era. In this pursuit, Mendes strikes a perfect balance between exploring new territory for the character and honoring franchise tropes with a respectful grace. Culminating in one of the franchise’s most emotionally loaded action sequences when Silva attacks Bond and M at the hollowed-out Scottish manor which stood as Bond’s childhood home, Skyfall excels at hitting every dramatic beat it intended to and stands as one of the best Bond movies, as well as one of the most impressive action movies of the 21st century thus far.

skyfall-james-bond-movie-poster

Skyfall

Release Date
October 25, 2012

Director
Sam Mendes

Runtime
143

Watch on Max

1 ‘Casino Royale’ (2006)

Directed by Martin Campbell

James Bond with his hands together looking intently at something off-camera in Casino Royale.
Image via Sony Pictures Releasing

A strong case could be mounted to suggest that Casino Royale is the greatest Bond movie of all time, and while many would argue with that claim, few could deny that it also stands as the single most important entry in the saga to define its current success and status. The film which saw the franchise pivot in a completely new direction, Casino Royale stripped back the camp and excessive elements that had come to define Bond movies and envisioned a more grounded story. This approach replaced an emphasis on gadgetry, corny lines, and comfortable standby characters with gritty action, a more brutal (and, controversially, blond) James Bond, and a narrative more in touch with the state of the modern world.

With GoldenEye director Martin Campbell returning to re-launch a whole new Bond era (again), and being accompanied by the equally astute retention of Judi Dench as M, Casino Royale hit the ground running with a decisively gritty opening sequence, showcasing the mission that earned Bond his Double-O status as he assassinates a traitor in the British Embassy in Prague. The bulk of the story from there follows Bond as he works to prevent Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), the banker for many of the world’s most powerful criminal and terrorist organizations, from winning a high-stakes game of poker with help from the powerful Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), who marks one of the greatest female characters to have appeared in the franchise. All in all, Casino Royale marked a daring new chapter in the Bond franchise, one which was rich with the saga’s penchant for style and action, and it remains just as fresh and exciting today as it did when it was released.

Watch on Amazon Prime

NEXT: Every Sean Connery James Bond Movie, Ranked

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