Tag Archives: Cowboys and Aliens

The Torturous Career of Daniel Craig

3 Jul

My wife loves Daniel Craig. She talks about how good-looking he is and about how he is her favorite actor. I respond with my admiration for the acting abilities and other aspects of Olivia Wilde. However, I also respond by talking about Daniel’s acting abilities.Daniel Craig

All actors have a specialty within their craft. Some can disappear into a character. Others are better in action sequences. Some work better in the brooding role of an art house film. Others are better at comedy than at drama. A few can do both. Obviously, actors are versatile, but they still have some things that they are better at doing.

Daniel Craig has been in historical dramas, spy thrillers, westerns and many other types of films. However, his specialty is playing a tortured person. I am not talking about having a tortured soul of someone who has had a life of misfortune. I am talking about someone who is getting flayed, beaten, whipped and any other torturous act that comes to mind.

He must be good at playing a tortured person because there is a recurring theme to his movies. Daniel Craig is always finding himself in these situations.

I first remember seeing Daniel in Elizabeth, the 1998 movie about the early reign of Elizabeth I. Many powerful people did not want her on the throne, and Daniel Craig was sent to stir up rebellion and assassinate her. He was not very good at his job because he got caught. In one of the films most dramatic scenes, Geoffrey Rush has Daniel hung from the rafters with blood dripping to the floor. He is being tortured until he spills the beans on the other conspirators.

He ended up talking, and Elizabeth’s reign is saved.

Daniel continued acting in some forgettable movies until he hit the big time in 2006. That is when he debuted as James Bond in Casino Royale. Honestly, I never thought any Bond movie could be as good as Goldfinger, but this may be the best of the bunch. It definitely pumped new life into an old franchise.

It also showed Daniel at his best. Not when he was chasing bad guys. Not when he was wooing a woman. It happened when he was being tortured by the villain. This was a great scene because of its simplicity. In most movies, a torture scene involves a bunch of elaborate ways to hurt someone and get them to talk. In this case, the bad guy says:

You know, I never understood all these elaborate tortures. It’s the simplest thing… to cause more pain than a man can possibly endure.Torture

Then, he hit Daniel in a place that made every guy in the theater cringe.

With his career in high gear, Daniel had his choice of roles. There were a few missteps. Then, he delved into a genre that I love but that Hollywood deems risky. In 2011, he made a western but not just any western. This one was called Cowboys & Aliens and also starred Olivia Wilde. In our house, this may have been the best movie ever made. That is mostly due to the scene where Olivia Wilde walks out of the fire.Olivia

It is also a movie where Daniel went back to his comfort zone. In a flashback scene, he gets abducted onto an alien spaceship and gets tortured. More accurately, they are going to experiment on him, but that seems like torture to me.

Once again, Daniel shows his acting chops by struggling and sweating as someone tries to cause him great pain.

That same year, Daniel starred in a greatly anticipated movie called The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Based on the book and the foreign film, which was better than this one, he plays a disgraced journalists who is hired to solve an old mystery. He gets help from a young computer hacker who has a ton of issues along with a tattoo of a dragon.

Many people criticize the book and the movie for its apparent hatred toward women. It is true that violence and disregard for women is all over the place. In the most famous scene, the title character is brutally raped while handcuffed to the bed.

However, not all of the violence is directed toward women. As Daniel closes in on the culprit, he finds himself bound in the serial killers basement of horrors. As Daniel hangs by chains, the bad guy suffocates him and runs knife blades across his chest. It is obvious that this guy is going to do things to Daniel that Geoffrey Rush, the Bond villain and the alien would never dream of doing. Luckily for Daniel, the bad guy ended up looking like this.Dead

Obviously, Daniel Craig is a successful actor who has obtained on of the iconic roles in movie history. He has also tried his hand at other genres. However, he has also tended to revert back to his comfort zone, and that seems to be in the torture chamber.

 

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Into the Sunset

1 Apr

It’s a cliché of the western movie genre. The hero has lived through some adventure, and, when it’s over, he gets on his horse and rides into the sunset. I have watched that scene dozens of times, and it fascinates me every time.

What happens when they disappear over the horizon? What happens after the “The End” placard covers the screen? Does the hero take time off before finding another adventure? Does he die of wounds suffered during the movie? Does he live happily ever after in some frontier town?

All of those questions go through my mind because I have to know the rest of the story. It doesn’t matter how bad the movie is. I still want to know what happens after the credits roll. However, something else goes through my mind, as well. The “into the sunset” scene isn’t always the same.

One of the greatest “into the sunset” scenes doesn’t even have a horse. In The Searchers, Ethan Edwards spends years attempting to rescue his niece from her Comanche captors. When he returns with her, everyone goes into the house except for him. He turns and walks into the desert as the door closes behind him.The Searchers

Where did Edwards go? Did he leave because most of his family was dead? Did he wander because there was no purpose in his life? All of the wars were over. Or, did he think back over the past years before turning around and coming back?

John Wayne walked away in The Searchers, but Clint Eastwood could be the king of “into the sunset” rides. In The Outlaw Josey Wales, he is bleeding as he rides away. Does he live? If so, then does he go back to the friends that he has gained throughout the movie? Or, does he disappear from history?

Sometimes, he completely disappears because we really don’t know what he is. In Pale Rider, Eastwood evaporates from the scene. Is he some kind of spirit or is he just a mysterious gunman?

Those were great, but my favorite Eastwood ending comes from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Blondie leaves Tuco with a noose around his neck and gold at his feet. After an impossible rifle shot to save Tuco, Blondie rides away to one of the greatest movie scores of all time.

A more recent western has an “into the sunset” scene at the end. The difference is the adventure that precedes it. In Cowboys and Aliens, James Bond defeats aliens with the help of Indiana Jones. Oh, Boyd Crowder helps out, too. This time the hero is truly a loner. His wife is dead. His alien love interest is dead. He is considered dead. Heck, the dog doesn’t even go with him. In this one, the hero probably went somewhere and cried.

The cool thing about “into the sunset” scenes is that they are no longer reserved for westerns only. Remember what happened at the end of The Dark Knight? He agrees to be the fall guy and live life as a villain. Then, he hops on his jacked out motorcycle and rides into a tunnel. There is no sunset, but there is a cool speech and some kind of light up ahead. I hope it’s not a train.The Dark Knight

Everybody knows what happened to him after that because we have sequels now. There should not have been a sequel to this one. Wondering what happened to Batman was a lot better than knowing that he faked his death and ended up with Catwoman.

Ok, so John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, James Bond and Batman all have had great scenes to end movies. However my favorite “into the sunset” scene comes from a movie that isn’t very good. At the end of Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man, Don Johnson, as Marlboro, goes back to his roots and enters a rodeo. At the same time, Mickey Rourke, as Harley, rides his motorcycle into the sunset with an 80s vixen on the back and Black Eyed Susan playing in the background.Harley Ending

Why is that my favorite? Because it’s the only one that seems like a happy ending. He’s not alone. He’s not wounded. And, there is no doubt that something good is going to happen further down the road.