Total Recall: Daniel Craig's Best Movies
We count down the best-reviewed work of the Skyfall star.
Blending sure-handed direction from one of the greats with reality-based high-stakes action, Steven Spielberg's Munich dramatizes the dreadful aftermath of the 1972 Olympic massacre that left 11 members of the Israeli delegation dead -- and prompted Israel's government to hire Mossad agent Avner Kaufman (played by Eric Bana) to lead a squad of assassins in retribution. Starring Craig in a supporting role as one of Kaufman's men (alongside Ciarán Hinds, Mathieu Amalric, and others), Munich used elements of historical fiction to pose some thought-provoking questions while delivering white-knuckle thrills -- and while some critics felt it ultimately didn't do a good enough job of answering those questions, most agreed with the Orlando Sentinel's Roger Moore, who wrote "this isn't a Middle Eastern tale that offers much hope. It's just bloodstained history. And if we don't remember that history, Spielberg says, we learn nothing."
4. Layer Cake
It sounds sweet, but Matthew Vaughn's Layer Cake is anything but -- it's actually a pitch-black morality play about the efforts of a successful drug dealer (played by Craig) to retire from the business without tipping off his powerful supplier (Kenneth Cranham). It's all for naught, of course, and he soon finds himself needing to stay one step ahead from a growing list of enemies intent on doing him in before he can walk away from the business. "Vaughn's film falls short of Goodfellas," argued Kyle Smith of the New York Post, "but thanks to his ability to organize a complex story and bold, color-drenched photography by Ben Davis, Layer Cake is a cocked fist of a movie, impossible to ignore."
For an actor, assuming the mantle of the Bond series means forever being associated with good-guy roles, but Craig is also pretty good at portraying unhinged evil -- and his performance in 2002's Road to Perdition, as the unpredictably violent mob scion Connor Rooney, is a case in point. Though Perdition is ultimately about the love between another mob enforcer (Tom Hanks) and his son (Tyler Hoechlin), the story is driven by another father-son bond -- specifically, the duty felt by the gang's boss, John Rooney (Paul Newman), to protect Connor, no matter how horrible his actions. As Carrie Rickey wrote for the Philadelphia Inquirer, "The evolving dynamic between the two sets of fathers and sons is as compelling as the kindred stories of parents and estranged children in American Beauty."
Hollywood's fondness for remaking foreign hits is an ongoing target of derision, but if you're going to film an American adaptation of an international bestseller that has already spawned a hit trilogy overseas, you might as well get yourself a talented director and a terrific cast -- and that's just what Sony did for its Stateside version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in 2011, hiring David Fincher to direct Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara in the leads. Even with $232 million in worldwide grosses, Tattoo was somehow regarded as a bit of a commercial disappointment, but it scored with critics like James Berardinelli of ReelViews, who argued, "This is what a movie adaptation should be: a film whose base narrative has its roots in the source material but whose soul can be identified through the images that unfold on screen."
By the time Die Another Day was released in 2002, the Bond film franchise seemed a little haggard -- it had produced 20 movies in 40 years, and more than a few people wondered if maybe the adventures of 007 had run their course. When Pierce Brosnan was relieved of his license to kill and swapped out for Daniel Craig, there was plenty of disbelief and even a little outrage, but few seemed to think he'd make a good fit for the character -- until they saw Martin Campbell's Casino Royale. Taking Bond back to the beginning of his story and portraying him less as a suave quipster and more as a troubled instrument of destruction, Royale breathed new life into a series that had grown rote and repetitive. Audiences responded, rewarding it with nearly $600 million in worldwide grosses -- the franchise's highest numbers to date -- and so did critics like Roger Ebert, who said it "has the answers to all my complaints about the 45-year-old James Bond series, and some I hadn't even thought of."
In case you were wondering, here are Craig's top 10 movies according RT users' scores:
1. Casino Royale -- 87%
2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo -- 87%
3. Layer Cake -- 83%
4. The Road to Perdition -- 81%
5. Munich -- 78%
6. The Adventures of Tintin -- 75%
7. Defiance -- 73%
8. The Jacket -- 70%
9. Quantum of Solace -- 62%
10. Lara Croft - Tomb Raider -- 60%
Finally, here's Mr. Craig and a fellow celebrity in a little skit that ran before a big sporting even recently: