Film and TV

Cinema Slap Fight: James Bond Vs. James Bond...Times Three

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Character Counts: When giving final consideration to the question at hand, I place a great deal of weight on what author Ian Fleming initially intended for the character. The James Bond of Fleming's books is cold, ruthless and efficient at his job, which -- not to put too fine a point on it -- is to kill people. He has government sanction to murder in the name of national security, and questions of good or evil are ultimately ephemeral. All dependent on, in the words of Dr. No, "points on a compass."

I think Craig, Connery and Dalton all understood this. In a world where The Dark Knight grosses $1 billion, gritty trumps goofy, which has made it easy for Craig to be the darkest Bond to date. Dalton's a close second, though we'll never know how his interpretation might have evolved. Connery gets points for the early movies, but certainly not for Diamonds Are Forever (in spite of the presence of Plenty O'Toole).

The Verdict; Ordinarily, I'd do something ca-razy here and declare Timothy Dalton the winner. And in some respects, he is. He's a better mix of 007's dark and light sides, but without veering too far either way, unlike, respectively, Craig and Moore. Problem is, we never got a good sense of where his character was going. The latest efforts with Daniel Craig have a defined arc that carries across multiple films, which is unique to the franchise (not counting using Blofeld as a repeat villain or successive appearances by "Jaws") and interesting to watch. If Craig can recover from the (minor) stumble of Quantum of Solace, I may be prepared to crown him in a few years.

Still, it's really hard to look past Connery's body of work. Hell, he made one of the best Bond movies (even if it wasn't "official") 15 years after his preceding one. Jetpacks and Japanese ninja schoolgirls aside, he's still what many people consider the archetypal 007.

But you know what? Given time, I think Dalton could've taken him. Because he was truest to the literary character, because he was seasoned without being ridiculously old, because I'm taking future potential into consideration, and because this is an arbitrary and capricious process. I'm calling it for Dalton. Hate on, haters.

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar