With the whole #SelfIsolation still in place, I have found myself in a binge watching phase. Of course that had to mean I would revisit the James Bond series. So, I have decided to blog about my rankings to the official 007 films. Of course I am disappointed that No Time to Die has been pushed back to November, but at least we know it’s ready to go. (To listen to my Top 20 Bond Themes, click HERE.)
- The Spy Who Loved Me – It really was hard to pick a single favorite. The top 3 could have gone in any order, but I am picking this entry as my all-time favorite for a few reasons. In no particular order, the story was exciting, the villains were as cold-blooded as they get, the Bond girl wasn’t just some helpless damsel but was also a secret agent herself, and finally Roger Moore was at his best (and was still young enough to be believable as 007). I’m also a huge fan of the Jaws character, and he played a pivotal role in this film (and the irony that Jaws killed a shark was not lost on me).
- Goldfinger – This was Sean Connery at his absolute best in the 007 role. He handled both the villains and the ladies to perfection. The character of Goldfinger along with his henchman, Oddjob, were outstanding adversaries, and two of the best over the history of the series. This movie also included one of the most memorable deaths in film history with the gold painted girl, and Pussy Galore is a name that no other serious film would ever be able to get away with.
- Skyfall – This film is what made me a believer in Daniel Craig as 007. From beginning to end, Skyfall had all the elements that has made James Bond the icon he continues to be. Unlike his first two films as Bond, Craig and co. begin with a new storyline involving a supreme plot to take down MI6 by a former rogue agent named Silva. The opening sequence was phenomenal, with Bond seemingly shot dead. The remainder of the film told a wonderful story, and the characters were well developed.
- For Your Eyes Only – This film has long been one of my favorites in the series. Roger Moore dispatching Blofeld (although they weren’t allowed to call him that) at the beginning after visiting his wife’s grave) was a nice way to tie him in with the Connery films. The story was again solid, with Bond looking to retrieve an Automatic Targeting Attack Communicator before anyone else can get their hands on it. There was a long line of villains Bond had to dispatch to finally get to the top guy (a smuggler named Kristatos).
- Goldeneye – Pierce Brosnan’s best Bond performance was by far his first. Several years after the franchise’s worst entry, the filmmakers scored in a major way. The turning of former British Agent 006, Alec Trevelyan, made a compelling villain and equaled Bond’s own skillset. Brosnan showed the fans what they had been missing out on for the previous decade by giving a true Bond performance filled with action, drama, comedy, and romance (or whatever it is Bond does for the ladies).
- Casino Royale – With Brosnan’s contract up, the filmmakers felt it was time for a new face of the franchise. Enter Daniel Craig, who did not look the part of Bond but had the personality and the swagger to possibly make it work. This film is actually a reboot to the entire series, as we see the origins of how Bond became 007. I liked the return of Judi Dench as “M” as it did somewhat connect the films. The story is good even if the ending was somewhat tragic.
- Spectre – In what looks to be the second to last Bond portrayal by Daniel Craig, all previous films in the Bond reboot era are brought together masterfully in this action packed trip to the past, as we are reintroduced to not only the international crime syndicate Spectre, but it’s leader Ernst Blofeld. He also now has a backstory involving Bond as a child. As Blofeld does not die at the end, it becomes rather obvious that the character will return again.
- You Only Live Twice – One of my favorites in the Connery era is also one that is often panned by other fans of the series. I understand that Bond’s Japanese transformation was a bit odd and didn’t lend much to the overall story, but I still enjoyed the plot and its characters. This film was also the first on-screen appearance of Blofeld, and as a fan of Halloween, I of course enjoyed Donald Pleasance in the role (the only time he’d portray the character).
- On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – If there is one thing that I don’t get from this film, it’s that Bond and Blofeld seem to meet for the first time, but for the second time. Other than that (and the obvious fact that George Lazenby is not Sean Connery), the film is solid, albeit with the saddest ending of any Bond movie. Lazenby, though, was a bit of a pompous ass according to some and decided to leave the franchise after only one film, thus making way for the brief return of Connery.
- The Man With the Golden Gun – Roger Moore’s second attempt at Bond was not well received and even looked to be a possible death knell to the series. Personally, I liked the film. It strayed a bit from the normal Bond formula by having 007 duped into tracking down a paid assassin and not trying to foil a plot for world domination. Overall, though, it was an exciting movie and one I’ve watched numerous times.
- Live and Let Die – Roger Moore put on a good performance in his initial go as 007, even if this entry was a little off from the usual formula. Bond chasing a drug kingpin around the world is not what we normally see, but it was still entertaining. The villains were brutal, and the fortune teller was a nice touch.
- Tomorrow Never Dies – Pierce Brosnan’s second go around as 007 had him trying to stop a media mogul from initiating a world war for TV ratings. It was an interesting storyline and makes you wonder how much power some people in the media actually wield. Brosnan was superb, and Teri Hatcher was a nice touch as the “tragic” Bond girl of the film. It was not as good as Goldeneye, but it’s still one to watch if you are a fan of the series.
- Octopussy – How can a film that begins with the murder of a clown be bad at all? In actuality, the clown was 009 and was killed on assignment. Enter Bond, who has to take over the case and track down the killers. There are some fine action scenes, and the circus background was entertaining as well. Moore is showing his age, but he still delivers a strong performance as Bond.
- Thunderball – Connery is on a role, following the success of Goldfinger. This fourth entry to the series brings back Spectre in a major way, and we even get another tease at “Number 1” (Blofeld). This may have been the film that inspired many of the ransom sequences in the Austin Powers films, with the campy threats by Blofeld to destroy cities around the world if their ransoms are not met. There are some neat gadget scenes, and Connery has clearly settled into the role by this point in the series.
- The World is Not Enough – Pierce Brosnan returns for round three in yet another exciting film that begins with a bang (literally). The story was good, even if it was not the best in the series. Sadly, this was the final film for the original Q (Desmond Llewelyn) who passed away shortly after the film’s debut. One misfire for this entry was the casting of Denise Richards as the Bond girl, whose name in the film (Christmas Jones) isn’t in the least bit clever. While a total knockout, she just isn’t believable as a nuclear physicist. I did like the return of Robbie Coltrane as Zukovsky, and the villain Renard, who couldn’t feel pain, was an interesting touch to go along with the female co-villain, Elektra King.
- The Living Daylights – Originally set to be Brosnan’s gig, a last minute renewal of Remington Steele forced him out of the role. Enter Timothy Dalton, whose Bond was way too serious, without the humor of Connery and Moore before him. Honestly though, Dalton was dealt a bad hand. He is responsible for being Bond during a very unmemorable time period when Roger Moore had ridden off into the sunset and fans were set on Brosnan. The film isn’t terrible, but it’s also not very memorable either. The only thing I can say for Dalton, is at least this film was better than License to Kill, which was by far the worst Bond film of all time.
- From Russia With Love – I will probably get some brushback for putting this entry so low on the list, but the fact is, I’m not the biggest fan of films in the 1960s. Not to mention, this one just didn’t do much to keep my interest. That’s not to say that Connery was bad in the role, I just don’t see what others may see in the second film of the franchise. Interesting about this one, though, is that it is a bit of a sequel to Dr. No and not just another entry in the series. This does not happen much.
- Moonraker – Growing up, this was one of my favorite Bond films. As an adult, however, I have come to see how goofy it truly was. I did like the returning Jaws, and ‘Bond in space’ was an interesting scenario, but looking back, it is not one to be taken all that seriously. The main Bond girl was anything but memorable (although her name always gives me a chuckle), the lead villain (Drax) was stale, and the overall plot was pretty far-fetched even for a James Bond story.
- Diamonds are Forever – After giving the ‘I’ll never play Bond again’ speech, Connery returned for one more (official) run as 007. For the third straight film, Bond is tracking Blofeld (who apparently discovered the Hair Club for Men since the last movie) and appears to finally put the evil mastermind to rest (although he would unofficially appear at the beginning of For Your Eyes Only to be finished off by Roger Moore’s Bond). I had a hard time getting into this one, perhaps because Blofeld’s persona had changed so much.
- Quantum of Solace – Not since the Blofeld days has there been such a direct sequel to the previous Bond film. QOS picks up immediately after Casino Royale and continues to focus on characters from that film. This one misses for me, though, as the characters are somewhat depressing and not all that engaged in what is going on around them. Daniel Craig was not as interesting either (but that would soon change).
- Dr. No – The original Bond film that started it all. Unfortunately for me, it was done in 1962, and films from that era usually don’t keep my interest for too long (although there are some exceptions). Sean Connery was great, though, and would go on to do six official (and one unofficial) Bond films.
- A View to a Kill – Roger Moore’s age was on full display in his final run as Bond. He just didn’t seem like he wanted to be in the film, and looked as if his time had long passed. Add to that a very horrible acting job by many of the supporting cast members (Grace Jones was fine until she started talking), and you have one of the more disappointing films in the series.
- Die Another Day – Pierce Brosnan deserved a better ending to his run as 007 than this film. There is not much I can say about this film that is positive (other than Brosnan who was still solid in the role). I did like the opening with Bond getting captured by the enemy and tortured. That was a different scenario than we had seen in the past. Unfortunately it was down hill from there.
- License to Kill – There is no doubt (in my opinion at least) that this film is the worst in the franchise. The storyline was terrible, it was too dark for a Bond film, and it just wasn’t entertaining. It lacked so many Bond-ian elements. Robert Davi seems like the perfect actor to play a Bond villain, but it just didn’t work for me.
Eric Woods resides in Springfield, Illinois and has been writing since grade school. The author of 10 full length stage plays, his first novel PUMMELED was published in June of 2018. He is in the process of finishing his second novel, the horror story DRAGON’S BLOOD which is scheduled for release in October 2019. Eric has been a local freelance writer since 2005, writing for such outlets as Springfield Business Journal Illinois and SO Magazine. He serves as a tour guide for the Lincoln Ghost Walk in Springfield and was a collegiate speech and debate coach for seven years. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in English and a Master’s Degree in Communication from the University of Illinois Springfield.
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