Few would pick him, I know, and yes, there have been so many before me who’ve embarked on this topic, though most have done so in jest. Firstly, I am a very big fan of Daniel Craig, but for the sake of this article, I’ll regard his era as a sort of stand-alone franchise…
Let me dive right in as to why I think Timothy is the one; of all the pre-millennial bonds, he was probably the only one, apart from maybe Sean Connery, who could throw a legitimate punch. I say this because all the others looked very staged in their action sequences. I’ll give Sean the benefit of the doubt because for that time period it was acceptable – it seemed more about the ‘threat’ of violence than the actual partaking in it, and the style of filming was very different back then...
From a purely “agent-world” perspective, the lesser known Dalton provided the most legitimate turn, whereas the others were quite obviously actors playing a role. Connery had all the looks and swag to make the character iconic on the silver screen, but in terms of James Bond being an action man, agent and super spy, Dalton is the real deal. Let us not even touch on the farcical Roger Moore era (okay the early few were good, but he hung on – or they hung on to him – for far too long). Floating down a river in a fake crocodile – REALLY! Everything became too comical and spoof-like, and then there was his age: he just looked too old to do anything (believably) worthwhile fro Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
Can anyone confirm whether or not Lazenby’s Worchester Sauce is named after the actor?
Where Pierce Brosnan went wrong was in that scene in Tomorrow Never Dies, where he’s controlling his car with his mobile phone (though truth be told he could claim to be the victim of time appropriate script writing and the explosion of the technological age) – resulting in the Achilles heel of the story: an over reliance on technology and cliches. I actually enjoyed that film mind you, although Golden Eye was better (those were the best two of the Brosnan era – forget the other two where they took Bond to a new low with non-actresses Halle Berry and Denise Richards; great to look at, but seriously lacking talent wise). The thing of it was though, that Brosnan’s era suffered from a similar syndrome to that of the Moore era – getting caught up in unrealistic, sometimes farcical, and generally generic storyline habits. They’d find a formula and drone it out until there was nothing left to be had. (*even Brosnan has come out and said in hindsight he's somewhat embarrassed by some of his later turns, in light of Daniel Craig's steely version)
Getting back to Dalton though; Eva Green mistakenly claimed (in an interview for Casino Royale obviously) that it was the first time we would see blood on James Bond’s face. But of course Timothy Dalton’s Bond can lay a legitimate claim to that, although Craig is a lot grittier and dirty, I still think Dalton tried to do with Bond, what Craig is doing now… it’s just that his production crew weren’t on the same wave length.
So, the reason I say Dalton is the best, is because he was the first who attempted to draw closer to the character penned by Ian Fleming. After all, the reason many weren’t, or aren’t a fan of Timothy is because his was the atypical Bond, the first to wear a suit without a tie… it was brash, and perhaps a little too brazen for some of the fans of the more old fashioned ‘swirl your Martini and lean on the bar’ style. He was seen more in the company of the British SAS and has been referred to be R. Moore as hands-down the best actor (talent wise) to fill the role.
Although his two films had there faults, as many do, I believe, for these reasons above, that Timothy Dalton’s – his version at least – was the best Bond, preceding Daniel Craig – the first real hard edged/nosed agent, with just a dab of suave.