Best of Bond… and Worst.
Warning: Spoilers and likely controversy.
1. Skyfall: Adele’s song is great. Daniel Craig and Judi Dench are on top form and Javier Bardem is a genuinely unsettling villain. Finishes the Craig reboot and gives the series a fantastic new team of Bond, Q, Moneypenny and a new M. It goes for realism over gadgets, plot and script over action and effects and works brilliantly. The final hour is perfect. Glad the same director is returning for Spectre.
2. Goldfinger: The best villain. The best henchman. The most famous line. One of the better Felix Leiter actors. So many iconic scenes. If it wasn’t for the fact that Bond spends half the film captured not doing very much, and how overly-forceful/borderline rape he is with Pussy Galore (stupidest Bond girl name ever) it would come first. Connery at his best.
3. Casino Royale: The best opening film any of the Bond actors get. Eva Green is arguably my favourite Bond Girl and Mads Mikkelsen is a very memorable villain. Long gaps between action sequences but they’re always worth waiting for. The poker match between Le Chiffre and Bond is suitably tense. Daniel Craig is arguably the Bond closest to Ian Fleming’s original vision of the character. Judi Dench again impresses as M.
4. Licence to Kill: Dalton was basically Craig Mark 1. Licence to Kill could have easily been in the Craig era and i always consider it one of the most underated bond films. Q gets more screentime than usual, both Bond girls are good and the plot works very well as Bond goes rogue and infiltrates a drug ring to avenge his best friend Felix Leiter’s wife. Sanchez (Robert Davi) is one of the most believable villains in the series and the stunt-filled final truck chase is one of the series’ best action sequences. Michael Kamen’s film score is unusual but effective.
5. The World is Not Enough: Another film i consider massively underrated. Sophie Marceau is one of the best bond girls ever, Robert Carlyle is a credible threat to both the world and Bond as terrorist Renard and in my opinion this is Brosnan’s best performance. Q (Desmond Llewelyn) gets a touching farewell and Judi Dench gets a larger role in this film than any other Brosnan entry. Three standout actions sequences (the boat chase down the Thames, the fight at the caviar factory and Bond and Renard’s final battle in the submarine reactor) are the highlights. Accompanied by David Arnold’s best soundtrack for the Bond series.
(Goldeneye, The Spy Who Loved Me and Thunderball are all narrow misses for 5th place)
Worst Five (Never Say Never Again would be on here at second worst, as it really is pathetic, but i don’t count it as a true bond film). Moonraker narrowly misses the bottom 5, but only because of henchman Jaws.
5. Tomorrow Never Dies: Jonathan Pryce may be good, but he doesn’t make for a very threatening villain (it’s basically James Bond against Rupert Murdoch) and his henchmen are very forgettable. Redeeming features include Teri Hatcher as a bond girl and some decent vehicle chases, but nothing extraordinary. Sandwiched between the two best Brosnan films, this one disappoints but isn’t a failure – however it’s one of the most average and forgettable Bond films.
4. A View to a Kill: Roger Moore simply should have quit after Octopussy (where he was in his element). If this had been a Dalton film it could have worked. Moore is too old, especially compared to the various bond girls. The first hour and a half is very slow and not that interesting, despite having a good villain (Christopher Walken’s Max Zorin) and henchman (Grace Jones’ Mayday) combo for the first time since The Spy Who Loved Me. The last forty minutes however, are great, with Bond and Zorin’s final fight on the Golden Gate Bridge being perhaps the best Bond vs. Villain fight. If only the rest of the film had shaped up to it…
3. For Your Eyes Only: The grittest Roger Moore film with his version of Bond at his darkest, this should have been better. It’s overly slow pacing and a lack of screen time for Julian Glover as the villain hamstring it. Bond films shouldn’t be this boring. The Bond girls are very forgettable as well and the pre-credits sequence is very misguided. The soundtrack is experimental but doesn’t work. It’s climax and Moore’s performance are the only major plus points.
2. Diamonds are Forever: Connery should have never come back for this one. He’s visibly bored throughout and gives by far his worst and least endearing performance. Even a second Lazenby film would have worked better. It throws away the ‘Bond seeking vengeance for Blofeld’s murder of his wife’ plotline in it’s pre-credits sequence, and the smuggling plotline is very dull. Apart from John Barry’s excellent soundtrack and henchmen Wint and Kidd, i can’t think of anything i like about this film.
1. The Man with the Golden Gun: Rubbish, dull, with a terrible ending and a plot that isn’t remotely interesting, this is the Moore era at it’s worst. Christopher Lee deserved to be the villain in a much better bond film, the entire idea of Scaramanga and Bond being equals is entirely wasted. I could go on, but to sum up: nothing to recommend here. Nothing at all.
I’m sure they’ll be disagreements with this list. It’s merely my opinion, feel free to express your own top/worst 5 lists in the comments below.