To celebrate the release of SPECTRE (in UK cinemas today!), here is the 2nd James Bond special. This weeks post is brought to you by the awesome Matt Buddery!
Matt is a massive fan of James Bond, and has an encyclopedic knowledge of all things 007. He is also a big Star Wars fan, and loves American sports. If you spot the family resemblance, that is no coincidence…he is also my brother! You can find Matt on Twitter here: @matt246.
SPECTRE is the 24th outing for everyone’s favourite secret agent; in this post Matt looks at all of the Bond films so far and ranks them from worst to best!
- A View to A Kill (1985)
Oh dear, well where to start? Ok, Roger Moore is 57 in this film, and to be honest he looked 67! Grace Jones is terrible as May Day, Tanya Roberts plays the implausible Bond girl (she is 28 years his junior), who spends most of the film yelling “JAAAAAAAAAMES”. The one redeeming feature is Christopher Walken who is good as the villain, Max Zorin. But the whole plot falls apart when you realise that Zorin’s plan to monopolise the Microchip production by causing an earthquake to flood Silicon Valley is perfectly fine, except Microchips weren’t actually manufactured in Silicon Valley in 1985 at all. Still, nice try.
- Die Another Day (2002)
James Bond has never been particularly known for its realism but still there are limits and Die Another Day doesn’t just cross that line it drives an invisible car about 200 miles over it. Halle Berry could well walk away with the worst Bond girl of all time; her delivery of dialogue is at best abysmal. Madonna makes an unnecessary and frankly dreadful cameo as well as singing the theme tune, which is in itself an abomination. Genuinely I struggle to think of anything good about this film. Judi Dench is good I guess, but that’s probably it. Don’t even get me started on the invisible car.
- Moonraker (1979)
James Bond is at its worst when it’s reactionary to what’s happening at the time; Moonraker is the prime example of this. Star Wars took the world by storm in 1977 and wanting to cash in, the producers decided to send James Bond into space. Yep that’s right; James Bond in space. There’s not too much to add to this really, Jaws makes an ill-advised return after his successful performance in The Spy Who Loved Me and goes from menacing to cartoon character. Oh and it also features possibly the worst shot in Bond history; “pigeon double-take”.
- The Man With the Golden Gun (1974)
I’m not a fan of the Moore era, as is probably already clear, and this film is probably the epitome of the reasons why. Too camp, played for laughs and the plot is ludicrous. Christopher Lee is the one redeeming feature and plays the iconic Scaramanga, although he does have the infamous line “Nick Nack TOBASCO”. The film also features one of the greatest car stunts on film completely ruined by the worst sound effect in movie history. J.W. “Seeeecret agent?!?” Pepper, who wasn’t funny in Live and Let Die (more on that in a bit), makes a return for some inexplicable reason! A lot of people love this film, but I fail to see why, sorry.
- Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
If you want the definition of “phoning it in” then look no further than Sean Connery’s performance in Diamonds Are Forever. The series hit a bit of a brick wall commercially with On Her Majesty’s Secret Service failing to be a successful box-office draw. The producers paid Sean Connery £1,000,000, to reprise his role as James Bond, which he admirably donated to charity. There are few positives in this film but the elevator fight is excellent and one of the best action sequences in the series. It also features two of the most bizarre yet compelling henchmen; Mr Wint and Mr Kidd, who are also lovers. Quite a bold move from the producers in 1971! But the film really suffers from poor writing and even poorer acting. Borderline unwatchable!
- Octopussy (1983)
“Meh” is probably the best way to describe Octopussy. It’s a film I really struggle to watch all the way through, Bond goes to India, but there’s really nothing too interesting here. Fun fact: Octopussy is the last film to feature a cold-opening that doesn’t relate to the main plot of the film; see there is something interesting!
- The World Is Not Enough (1999)
The World is Not Enough is mostly terrible, but there are some good points; Sophie Marceau and Robert Carlyle are both excellent as the villains Elektra King and Renard respectively. However the bad definitely outweighs the good; a bloated opening sequence lengthens the film, and as a result the pace suffers. The avalanche jacket has to be the most reverse-engineered gadget in the series. The worst thing of all has to be the casting of Denise Richards as the nuclear physicist, Dr Christmas Jones. Dear God what were they thinking, her acting ranges from awful to dire! Oh and then we have to suffer possibly the worst pun in the series; after Bond makes love to Jones he delivers the line “And I thought Christmas only came once a year”. Eugh.
- For Your Eyes Only (1981)
Another very mediocre film. A bizarre opening sequence involving a wheel-chaired villain implied to be Ernst Stavro Blofeld but never confirmed; spoiler it almost certainly is. It’s not a terrible film and there’s some good action sequences but it feels very much like Bond by numbers.
- Licence To Kill (1989)
I like Timothy Dalton but unfortunately his films suffer from some pretty poor writing. This film just feels off, there’s nothing particularly bad about it, but conversely it’s hard to find anything particularly good about it. Also Felix Leiter at the end of the film is far too happy for someone whose wife was brutally murdered earlier in the film. Oh and the ending song is so unbelievably bad. Click that link at your peril!
- Live and Let Die (1973)
One of the better Moore films but this film lays the foundations for what was, in my opinion the worst era in the films history. It features possibly the worst character in the entire series, Sheriff J.W. Pepper, the character is an abomination, “seeecret agent?!? On whoooo’s siiiide?!?”. Oh and it is almost certainly racist.
- The Living Daylights (1987)
Timothy Dalton plays Bond brilliantly in this film and is probably the closest to Fleming’s intended portrayal of Bond. The film also has some excellent action pieces, I particularly like the car/cello chase and the opening act is also good. However the film really suffers from lack of clarity as to who the main villain is and also how to end the film; there are at least 3 endings!
- Thunderball (1965)
I have a soft spot for Thunderball, this was the first Bond film I ever saw. This was the film that got me into the series, which is surprising when re-watching this film but something must’ve clicked with the 12 year old me! The films major problem is its setting, which is largely underwater, which makes for some excruciatingly slow action sequences! The first misstep in the Bond series.
- Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
Pierce Brosnan’s second outing, and the second Bond film I saw. It’s an enjoyable film without ever being anything better than between ok and good. Jonathan Pryce plays the massively over the top villain who surely would never be taken seriously in real life as he is clearly mental! He also clearly hadn’t heard of a thing called the Internet when putting together his plan for mass media domination!
- Quantum of Solace (2008)
A lot of people slate this film and rightly so. It makes little to no sense on its own and sort of plods its way through its 106 minute run time (the shortest Bond film to date) without much of note happening. So why do I rank it here and not lower? Well watch it straight after Casino Royale and it makes for a fairly enjoyable direct sequel. It’s still not great but it’s much better than watching it in isolation!
- The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
The best of the Moore era by some way. It gets the balance just right with the amount of comedy. Jaws is an excellent henchman, the reveal of him at pyramids is particularly brilliant. The opening is brilliant (and is even better when narrated by Alan Partridge), climaxing with the brilliant skiing off the cliff, before pulling the parachute chord. Watch how close one of the skis was to slicing through the stuntman’s parachute though!
- You Only Live Twice (1967)
There was a time when I had this film ranked somewhere near the top, but I like it less and less with repeated viewings. It’s still a good film and the portrayal of Blofeld by Donald Pleasance is still my favourite. However the fact that Bond, in order to go undercover in Japan, goes through a procedure to make himself look Japenese, can’t be anything other than racist!
- Dr. No (1962)
The film that started it all and it still holds up pretty well today. However the pacing is almost as terrible as Felix Leiter’s lady shades, and we get too much of Bond walking to places. The Ursula Andress emerging from the water scene remains one of the most iconic in the series.
- On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
The most misunderstood film in the series. Ok let’s get the bad out of the way, George Lazenby is not a great actor (he was a model), nor a great Bond, and the film is too long. However the storyline is probably the strongest in the series and the ending is simply fantastic and utterly heartbreaking. James Bond falling in love with Tracy is written and shot brilliantly, the character of Tracy is also very complex and is superbly acted by Diana Rigg. I also love the pursuit of Bond by Irma Bunt when he escapes from Piz Gloria. If any film in the series needs to be remade it is this one!
- Skyfall (2012)
Quantum of Solace was a misstep in the Craig series, but this film gets back on track in spectacular fashion! It feels much more of a “Bond film” than his previous two, with Javier Bardem excellent as the over-the-top villain, Silva. There’s not too much to dislike, however the plot is completely ripped off from The Dark Knight!
- Goldfinger (1964)
A lot of people’s favourite and the film is without doubt a classic. The SPECTRE storyline of the first two films is put on hold and we get a standalone film that is truly excellent. The reason why it’s a classic are obvious. Jill Masterson murdered by being painted head to toe in gold paint, the laserbeam scene, the assault of Fort Knox. However even by early Bond standards it’s incredibly misogynistic, the “turning” of Pussy Galore from lesbian to straight by Bond is a low point!
- Goldeneye (1995)
The one real bright spot in Brosnan’s pretty awful tenure as Bond, Goldeneye is an excellent film, with a great storyline and some spectacular action sequences. I love the final act of the film with the showdown between Bond and Alec Trevelyan (Sean Bean). The only bad point, is the soundtrack, which is an absolute travesty and is possibly one of the worst in film history; the music cue during the Aston Martin v Ferrari car chase sounds like something out of an 80’s adult movie, just bizarre!
- Casino Royale (2006)
I absolutely hated this when I saw it at the cinema. I thought, “what have they done with Bond? Where are the gadgets? Where is Q?” But my word how wrong I was when I re-watched it. Simply put this isn’t just a great Bond film, it’s a great film full stop. Possibly my favourite moment in the film is the “parkour” scene where Bond is chasing Mollaka, through a building site and where Mollaka jumps, dives and slides his way through, Bond just runs straight through a dry-wall; brilliant! The one negative is the shameless product placement!
- From Russia With Love (1963)
And here it is, number one on the list! The perfect Bond film and its secret is in its simplicity. The plot isn’t complicated, the villain is believable and the henchman is fantastic. This film really set the mould for the whole franchise. The train fight between Red Grant and Bond is possibly the best in the whole series. Perfect!
Agree with Matt’s ranking? Let me know your favourites, and the ones you loathe, in the comments below! Don’t forget to share with your friends as well.