As anyone who visits my blog a lot will know, James Bond is something of a cinematic hero of mine. There is something special about the Bond movies and watching them change over a now fifty year mark. From the action to the ladies, the style and the villains, there’s simply nothing quite like Bond. So I thought it was high time I did a personal ranking of all 24 movies in the series, from weakest to strongest. Before I begin, I would like to say that this list is my own opinion and not stone cold fact. Many may disagree with my choices, but I am more than happy to discuss Bond movies with all of you as I welcome healthy debate and conversations with fellow bloggers. So now I’ll begin my ranking.
24. Die Another Day
Kicking off my list is Die Another Day, my choice for the worst Bond movie. The Bond movies are known for being outlandish and outrageous, but with this abysmal entry they do a leap-frog over that and stretch credibility until there’s nothing left( I shudder to think of that invisible car). There is action, like in any Bond movie but a lot of it just feels like padding as the film has nothing else to offer. The theme song as provided by Madonna is shocking and wholly out-of-place in a Bond movie. Halle Berry and Rosamund Pike are both gorgeous and talented ladies who do their best, but Toby Stephens as the main villain is nothing particularly memorable. Pierce Brosnan in his final outing as 007 is sadly given a dud of a swan song that is best left forgotten.
23. A View to a Kill
Roger Moore completed his last outing as everyone’s favourite spy in the overly campy and largely forgettable A View to a Kill. By this time, Roger Moore was too old for the role of Bond and it really showed in this entry of the long-running franchise. Don’t get me wrong, I really liked Roger Moore’s tenure as 007 but he really should have hung up the gun instead of doing this film. Tanya Roberts as the Bond girl Stacey Sutton is an annoyance with her constant screaming. On the plus side, Christopher Walken and Grace Jones make for a bizarre but arresting duo of crazed villains, enlivening a tired film. And John Barry supplies a superlative score. Yet even with these positives, A View to a Kill is a decidedly weak Bond adventure. What is it with weak final outings in the Bond films?
22. Diamonds Are Forever
Sean Connery returned after a one film absence to star as Bond, unluckily it wasn’t a very intriguing or fun affair in the less than glowing form of Diamonds Are Forever. A film that alternates between slapstick to dull, it’s not Bond’s finest hour. The last thing you want with a Bond movie is an uninteresting story and boy does Diamonds let the side down with a story that memory fails to remember because of its huge flaws. Charles Grey is an amusing Blofeld, though some of the things he does are utterly absurd. Jill St John is saddled with a role that has attitude at the start but then descends into silliness thanks to unclear writing. The direction of this film is what makes it rank so low as it can’t make its mind up of what kind of movie it wants to be. Some good can be gleaned through the sexy title song, sung by Shirley Bassey and the Las Vegas location.
21. Quantum of Solace
Following on from the success of Casino Royale was going to be hard, which was discovered in the follow-up movie Quantum of Solace. Now don’t get me wrong, I like the whole serious Bond who is wounded after betrayal and wants revenge angle. But the fact of the matter is, it isn’t in a film that can provide that. Instead we get a movie that tries way too hard to make the Bond formula super serious, yet comes off as confused and muddled. The main gripe I have is the shaky cam effect that seems to run through the film and produces a major headache. I didn’t go into this film expecting to see James Bourne, I went in to see Bond. A poor villain with a yawn-inducing scheme is drab to say the very least. Some respite can be taken as Daniel Craig gives it his all in the film and Olga Kurylenko is equally as strong, despite the boredom that sets in.
I know I’m going to get some flack for putting Moonraker higher than most, but it has a kitsch quality that allows it to be a guilty pleasure even if it’s ludicrous. You can see that Moonraker got on the band wagon of the Stars Wars craze that was booming at the time. Goofy is probably the best choice of word to describe this film as it really plays up the overt humour. It’s a bloated exercise, but I can’t help but enjoy parts of it,despite knowing that it takes Roger Moore’s Bond into the realm of near cartoon. Michael Lonsdale is a cultured and well-spoken villain with a strange plot, while Lois Chiles provides some attitude to her underwritten Bond girl. A Bond guilty pleasure is the order of the day with Moonraker, which doesn’t add up to the sum of its parts as it blasts 007 literally into space, but is entertaining anyway.
19. The Man with the Golden Gun
Roger Moore strapped on the tuxedo for a second time as 007 in the largely underwhelming The Man with the Golden Gun. This film has something of a tired feeling to it, which shows broadly throughout the film with the overuse of comedy and repetition. Britt Ekland is one gorgeous girl, but her character is a bumbling agent who is incompetent and clueless at almost every task put her way. Weaknesses aside, Golden Gun delivers on some levels thankfully. Roger Moore has the suaveness and that classic eyebrow raise for the part, yet this isn’t his best performance as Bond. Christopher Lee makes for a formidable adversary in Scaramanga and is perfect casting, applause must go to the casting as Lee is inspired. Thailand provides a beautiful backdrop for the villain’s lair and is as exotic as they come. Shame then that the film goes overboard on the comedy then.
My relationship with Thunderball has been a complicated one. On the one hand, it does have some gorgeous locations and thrills, but then it quite often overblown in the extreme. I’ll settle at saying that it is a mixed offering. Thunderball is mainly dragged down, despite the high action quota by a lagging pace that uses too many underwater scenes that last for what seems like an eternity. Sean Connery still rocks it as 007 with his rugged looks and urban charm that could impress any lady who passes by. Emilio Largo as a villain is somewhat underrated despite the good portrayal from Adolfo Celi and I believe he deserves a bit more credit. He’s not going to rival Blofeld, but then again, can anyone? The vixen Fiona Volpe is sexy and deliciously evil as probably the first bad to the bone Bond girl and charged with killing Bond, whereas on the other end of the spectrum is the morose and caged Domino. Not vintage Bond, but explosive enough.
17.Tomorrow Never Dies
In Pierce Brosnan’s second outing as Bond, Tomorrow Never Dies juggles action and something of a topical story line with the theme of media manipulation. Some of this technological edge is very accomplished along with an electronic score. Yet the villain, as well as Jonathan Pryce plays him, is not really that memorable as his scheme is a bit much(even for a Bond movie). Still, there is the martial arts and kick ass specialties of Michelle Yeoh as agent Wai Lin to be witnessed. She’s one of the most independent and strong women in the franchise and a high point of this film as she clearly doesn’t need any protection from anyone, least of all Bond. The action quota is very high and a motorbike chase through Saigon is a fast-paced delight. And some of the nifty gadgets from Q are cool as hell, especially the car that you can control from a key pad. As strong Bond film, Tomorrow Never Dies hits the required spots.
16. The World Is Not Enough
A well mounted and more character driven Bond film that marked the third appearance of Pierce Brosnan, The World Is Not Enough is impressively made, though occasional wrinkles set in. The addition of more character development is impressively drawn, particularly in regards to the complex character of Elektra King. She is one of the most intriguing Bond girls in the series and her many deceptive facets are played perfectly by Sophie Marceau. It was also refreshing to see M get more to do and stretch her legs more in the world of espionage. And it would be a sin to not mention the boat chase along the Thames that kicks the film off in classic style. This film is somewhat underrated in many quarters though it gets the job done efficiently, yet with a few missteps. While the drama of the piece is good, it gets a bit muddled at various stages. A big flaw comes in the casting of Denise Richards as a nuclear physicist. Not only is it ludicrous but it just gets very hard to swallow that her character is at all bright or really useful within the scope of things. Not a classic Bond film, The World Is Not Enough is definitely still an intriguing and sometimes undervalued entry into the large series. And I am partial to the slinky title song from Garbage.
The latest Bond movie and Daniel Craig’s fourth, Spectre was a very enjoyable affair that had an old-fashioned feeling to it. The opening sequence amid the carnivals of Mexico was audacious and dazzling. I enjoyed the bringing back of older elements of the series and got a major kick out of it. The continuing into Bond’s past was a very good stroke that added more layers to the character. Léa Seydoux made for a cool and intelligent Bond girl, who was quite the match for 007. Villainy was supplied by the talented Christoph Waltz who was very cool casting and someone I’d thought for a long time should be a villain in the Bond universe. I found some parts of this one a bit corny and overly jokey, but the rest of the story was adventurous and thrilling enough. I would have preferred if Monica Bellucci had a bigger role, but she was glamorous enough as the mafia widow. It doesn’t live up to the phenomenal Skyfall, but Spectre gets the job done with panache and some cool set pieces.
14. For Your Eyes Only
A strong Roger Moore entry, For Your Eyes Only brought Bond back to earth after the extravagance of Moonraker. This was a wise move that allowed a superb spy story rooted in the real world play out for Bond. The focus on seriousness paid off well here. The villain was subdued but cultured, setting him apart from over top maniacs that came before. Carole Bouquet is electrifying and moving as the vengeful Melina, out for revenge on those who killed her parents and armed to the hilt with a crossbow. She has a striking maturity and classic beauty about her as well as considerable acting ability in the well-written role. Stellar support comes from Topol as a roguish ally for Bond. A misstep is in the casting of Lynn-Holly Johnson as a naive ice skater smitten with Bond. Her character is ridiculous and completely pointless within the scope of the movie. Some lovely locations such as Greece and Cortina, Italy provided stunning views against which the plot unfolded. A largely smaller scale Bond than most are used to, the return to genuine espionage and danger greatly benefited this film.
13. You Only Live Twice
It has its share of cartoonish moments in it, but the sheer outrageousness of You Only Live Twice is what makes a lot of it watchable. Sean Connery, despite lagging interest in continuing to play Bond, still displays the devilish and dapper charm that the part needs. An exotic nature hangs over this film, through locations and beautiful music from the unbeatable John Barry. We finally glimpse the previously unseen Blofeld and he is played by the wonderful Donald Pleasence( who is still my favourite actor to take the part of the arch-villain). His appearance would become an iconic one for the franchise and spoofed in many parodies. His lair of the hollowed out volcano is a triumph of production design that sets the scene for the climactic battle. Nancy Sinatra’s haunting theme song is sublimely orchestrated and filled with mystery. The Japanese locations are awe-inspiring and majestic, some of the best for a Bond movie. One major flaw is when Bond is made to look Japanese as part of a cover. Not only is it ridiculous, it’s very offensive too. With that flaw aside, You Only Live Twice boasts enough striking moments of greatness to warrant may viewings.
12. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
George Lazenby’s solo outing as Bond is one that often divides the 007 community, but over time it has gathered much deserved recognition. Lazenby is credible enough if a little stiff in the role of Bond. The biggest strength of this film is the relationship between him and Tracy( played wonderfully and formidably by Diana Rigg). It’s the first time that Bond genuinely falls in love with a woman and the tragic end of the film really rips your heart out. The lovely Diana Rigg carves Tracy into a layered Bond girl who lingers in the memory. Blofeld is portrayed well by Telly Savalas, who shows a Blofeld that really isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty and take Bond on himself. The gorgeous mountains of Switzerland provide the wintry feel of the film and are used for some exciting chases. Louis Armstrong and his trademark gravelly voice imbue ‘We Have All The Time in The World’ with deep romanticism and smoothness that cause it to stand out as a gorgeous song. John Barry’s score is an accomplished achievement and his contribution to the sound of Bond is incomparable. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service successfully incorporates clarity and emotion into the series allowing for some touching moments.
11. The Living Daylights
Timothy Dalton’s first Bond movie had him bringing out a grittier side to 007 that many felt was needed after the campy and tongue-in-cheek Roger Moore. He provides Bond with a ruthless wit and capable fighting ability, while nailing the required charm. The Living Daylights takes it cues from a more old-fashioned style of spy film and is all the better for it. The feeling of the Cold War is very much present throughout The Living Daylights, concocting a gripping spy yarn that continues Bond’s globetrotting to gorgeous locales. Balancing the intrigue with action, the film boasts some spectacular scenes: my personal favourite being an attack on a base in Afghanistan against the treacherous villains. Speaking of the villains, the main two are passable enough but the real menace is generated from the imposing Necros. Maryam d’Abo competently plays the sweet Kara, who doesn’t realise what she’s been put into but shows her mettle later on. John Barry signed off as main Bond composer with this film and boy was a good one to do so with.
10. Dr. No
The movie that started it all, Dr. No holds up remarkably well even today thanks to it setting the excitement and adventure bar high and introducing us to the staples of the series. Sean Connery(my favourite James Bond) announced himself as a suave yet cunning incarnation of the role and set a big task for those who followed. The film practically overflows with iconic moments, such as the classic “Bond.. James Bond” , the gun barrel sequence and the rising of Honey Ryder from the sea in that white bikini. I still get a kick out of hearing the Bond theme in this film, blasting through the screen and into my ears. It has it’s share of dated parts but putting them aside, Dr. No is still a good ride and a cracking starting off point.
9. Licence to Kill
Licence to Kill is without a doubt the most savage and violent Bond film in the canon. Timothy Dalton’s last outing as Bond was a good one, but I would have liked to have seen him play the character more than just in two films. Thankfully his delivery of Bond as brooding and angry brought a jolt of seriousness to the franchise and it especially shows in the dark Licence to Kill. Instead of a world domination plot, we have a much more realistic scenario of revenge as Bond takes down the vicious drug lord Sanchez( played with chilling menace and charisma by Robert Davi). Violence plays a large part in this Bond movie and whereas before violence was there, here it’s presented in a much more savage and bruising way. Carey Lowell supplies proceedings with sex appeal and hard as nails attitude, while Talisa Soto is credible as the much abused girlfriend of Sanchez. Also look for a young Benicio Del Toro as a psychopathic henchman. A hugely underrated Bond, Licence to Kill brings the action but a welcome brutality to the series that seemed needed to establish the agent as something different.
8. From Russia with Love
The second Bond movie is a largely down to Earth thriller with a real sense of dangerous atmosphere and international intrigue. We see Bond as a flesh and blood spy using his wits and smarts to survive rather than later gadget laden entries( which I love,but it’s interesting to see Bond without a reliance on them). Sean Connery continued to grow as Bond with his mix of assurance and virility making him a cool spy and hero. From Russia with Love is a definite Cold War thriller with a feel of Hitchcock to it. This was before Bond became a global phenomena and the often realistic plot which feels old school is a delightfully concocted web of deceit and diabolical plans. Robert Shaw is chillingly effective as the well-built homicidal Red Grant who dukes it out with Bond aboard the Orient Express in a vicious fight scene that continues to be a remembered moment throughout the Bond universe. There’s also Rosa Klebb, the evil colonel with a poison tipped shoe to contend with. A seductive beauty who is used as a pawn in a game of cat and mouse, Daniela Bianchi is suitably gorgeous and despite at the time having no real acting experience acquits herself well in the part of Tatiana. Kerim Bey is one of Bond’s best allies in the series and his wolfish demeanor is a definite delight as he plays off Bond wonderfully and provides a lot of support to the agent. A gloriously old-school Bond film, From Russia with Love proudly takes its place in my top 10.
Possibly the most exotic of the Bond films, Octopussy is in my view one of Roger Moore’s best. An intriguing and convoluted plot is played out against the lush beauty of India, which makes for a dream location of palaces and splendour. Genuine suspense is generated in many scenes, and the action is quick and packed to the rafters with danger. Maud Adams as the eponymous character has sublime chemistry with Moore and adds maturity and independence to the powerful woman. Louis Jourdan has oiliness to burn as the silken-voiced villain of the piece. The humour is dialed down a bit, only allowing a few embarrassing parts to make their way in. John Barry’s score is simply gorgeous and matches the opulence and unusualness of the film with romantic panache. Silliness and complexity aside, Octopussy stands as a breathtaking spy adventure yarn.
6. Live and Let Die
As the first Bond movie I ever saw, I had to include Live and Let Die in my top 10. Roger Moore’s debut is an action packed thriller that takes cues from the blaxploitation genre and incorporates voodoo into the proceedings. Moore is a dapper 007 who while never shying away from a fight, is more silver-tongued and tongue in cheek than Sean Connery. The glamour emits from beautiful Jane Seymour playing the card reader Solitaire, who Bond snatches from the clutches of the main villain. The boat chase through the bayous of New Orleans is a cracker of a set piece along with the creepy shadow of the mystical Baron Samedi who supposedly can not die and Bond’s daring escape on an alligator farm. And not forgetting the barnstorming title song that kicks things into high gear.
5. The Spy Who Loved Me
The best of the Roger Moore era, The Spy Who Loved Me brims with wit, stellar action and interesting characters. Roger Moore seems very at ease with the role of Bond and his charming sophistication stands him in good stead. The Bond Girl of Anya is a credible match for 007 in almost every department. Added depth and tension is given to the character as she has her own personal vendetta with Bond to settle, despite being assigned to help him on his latest mission. Then we have the menacing giant Jaws, who has steel teeth that he utilizes when killing others and also his brute strength. This movie also contains one of my favourite scenes. In it, Bond escapes from a band of goons in the snowy mountains and jumps off a nearby cliff. As he falls further and nail-biting suspense sets in, he opens up a Union Jack parachute as the theme music blares. It is a moment of genius in the franchise that still impresses. A disco flavoured score is just the ticket as well as the stunning ‘Nobody Does It Better” which perfectly describes the durable hero and his irresistible ways. The Spy Who Loved Me thrills from beginning to end.
Bond came back after a long absence with a corker of a film in the wonderous shape of GoldenEye. The first and best of the Brosnan era, GoldenEye stormed into people’s thoughts by announcing that Bond was just as relevant as ever before and stylish as hell. 007 is now in a changed world, best shown by the backdrop of the Soviet Union falling and the fact that the new M is played by the excellent Judi Dench. Brosnan slips into the shoes of Bond and combines effortless charm, masculinity and physicality to the part in considerable fashion. Sean Bean makes a mark as the baddie Alec Trevelyan, who is an agent gone rogue and once good friends with Bond. This underlying estrangement and feelings of betrayal give another layer of depth to GoldenEye as they face off violently and memorably. The two Bond girls are both excellently played in different ways by Izabella Scorupco and Famke Janssen: who provide both help and danger for Bond. Scorupco as the talented computer programmer and survivor Natalya is a good heroine for this kind of Bond film, while Famke Janssen is seductively perverse and lethally evil as Xenia Onatopp, who likes to crush victims between her steely thighs. Then there is the talented Judi Dench making her first appearance as M, who is adept at putting Bond in his place when needed. Action set pieces and fiery showdowns colour GoldenEye with adventure and adrenaline. from the start to the finish. GoldenEye showed everyone’s favourite secret agent had lost none of his ability to charm and thrill.
Daniel Craig’s third Bond movie was released in the year that the series passed the fifty years mark and every stop was pulled out to make this a cracking anniversary Bond. Skyfall ticks all the required boxes and then some, by delving into more drama of the character’s backstories but never short-changing the audience when it comes to audacious action and glamour. The direction from Sam Mendes is exquisite and he really takes the franchise to excellent heights while honoring the hallmarks of the canon. He pervaded the movie with some deep emotion that highly suited this kind of entry and the cinematography from Roger Deakins was some of the best seen in a Bond flick. Daniel Craig still had the serious edge to the character, but managed to inject some of the quick-witted traits from older Bond. Javier Bardem was perfect casting as the revenge obsessed baddie Silva, playing the guy with flamboyance and eccentricity. Naomie Harris and Berenice Marlohe add sophisticated glamour, but the woman who really stands out is Judi Dench in her best performance as M. The whole plot of the film largely hinges on her character and Dench provides intelligence, authority and emotion in every scene. Adele contributed a soulful throwback song that had tons of power. An intelligent as well as gripping Bond film, this was the anniversary present of a lifetime.
2. Casino Royale
Daniel Craig’s debut as 007 took Bond back to the beginning of his career with an emotion driven reboot that was just what the doctor ordered. Craig imbued Bond with a taciturn approach that is also capable of feeling deep emotions, but later learns to trust absolutely no one in the spy game. Possibly my favourite Bond Girl is Vesper Lynd, who is embodied with pathos and mystery by Eva Green. Tension positively drips from Casino Royale. Take the opening scenes where Bond acquires the kills to make him 007, shot in noir like black and white. Or the card playing that takes up a large chunk of the film, who knew cards could be such a dangerous and nail-biting activity? These things help up the sense of creeping danger as Bond is on his first real mission and still has quite a bit to learn. The violence is higher here, including a wince-inducing torture scene that hark back to the original Ian Fleming blue print for the character. I appreciated the showing of Bond as sometimes vulnerable while also brutal, performed by Daniel Craig. Mads Mikkelsen as Le Chiffre was ideal casting; he managed to be both creepy and strangely sympathetic as he was under command from a higher power of deceit. Casino Royale proved that going back to basics can do wonders for a long-running franchise. Stripped back and physical, Casino Royale is an absolute must for Bond fans.
Finally we reach my favourite Bond film and I knew it had to be Goldfinger. It’s the movie where all the formula that the public loves came together seamlessly and turned 007 into a pop culture as well as cinematic icon. I simply can’t wax lyrical enough about the greatness and iconic status of Goldfinger, but I’ll try to pick out why the film is so great. Boasting an array of gadgets and stylish cars, which would become hallmarks of later ventures, Goldfinger sets an exciting template that cemented the series as something to be reckoned with. Sean Connery does his best work as 007; witty, dashing and a capable match in a battle. Goldfinger is an outstanding and bizarre villain, complimented by loyal henchman Oddjob and his neck-breaking bowler hat. Honor Blackman emerges as one of the best Bond girls in the series with one of the most memorably naughty names, Pussy Galore. Everything in the film looks so sharp and slick and there is no shortage of outstanding moments that burn into the memory, particularly the girl painted gold. A bombastic score, heavy on the brass and under the command of John Barry gets across the signature sound of 007. And of course there is the belter of a title song, from the incomparable Shirley Bassey. This movie fills me with such enthusiasm due to the constant moments of greatness within the plot, style and overall production. All I have left to say is, Goldfinger is an undisputed classic of the Bond franchise and my top pick.
So that ladies and gentlemen is my completed personal ranking of the many James Bond movies. I hope you all enjoyed reading my take on the iconic franchise that for me never gets old and remains evergreen.