An Unorthodox Rating of All 23 James Bond Films

BondI’ve been a James Bond fan all my life, which can sometimes be a tough love situation. Loosely based on Ian Fleming’s callous and amoral British  spy, the amorphous film series has gone through six actors in the lead role and five decades of imitating whatever is popular at the time, including Shaft-style blaxploitation (Live and Let Die), Star Wars space opera (Moonraker), Bourne-style shaky cam (Quantum of Solace), and whatever the hell Die Another Day was trying to be. Check out my own personal (and somewhat unorthodox) ranking of the 23 official James Bond flicks after the jump.

23. Die Another Day (2002)

die-another-day-01Awful to its core. Not even fun as a guilty pleasure.

22. Moonraker (1979)

moonraker-01More Roger Moore tomfoolery. This time in space!

21. The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)

the_man_with_the_golden_gunAn amazing Christopher Lee villain is squandered in Moore’s lame second outing.

20. Diamonds are Forever (1971)

diamonds-are-foreverThe goofy nadir of the Connery era commits the sin of FORGETTING ALL ABOUT HIS DEAD WIFE. The revenge film that should have followed On Her Majesty’s Secret Service would not arrive until 1989.

19. Quantum of Solace (2008)

quantumofsolaceThe name’s Bourne. James Bourne. Seriously, fuck this movie. Snooty Marc Forster has never seen an action film in his life and should have never been given the reigns. It’s a stain on Daniel Craig’s otherwise solid tenure.

18. A View to Kill (1985)

view-to-a-kill2Underrated entry that features Christopher Walken as a Nazi test tube baby, Grace Jones as a dominatrix, and a bunch of other crazy shit.

17. Live and Let Die (1973)

live-and-let-die-04Roger Moore’s debut is kind of a mess, but it has the distinction of being the only blaxploitation Bond.

16. Octopussy (1983)

octopussy-750007 dresses as a clown, swings on a vine while yodeling like Tarzan, and wears a gorilla costume. It’s actually pretty fun as far as the Roger Moore era goes.

15. Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

tomorrow-never-dies-03Brosnan’s fine as Bond, but the entire third act feels like a level from the GoldenEye game for N64.

14. The World is Not Enough (1999)

the-world-is-not-enough-02Michael Apted gives an extra dimension to this entertaining but bland Brosnan outing.

13. For Your Eyes Only (1981)

for-your-eyes-only-01An earnest attempt to make Roger Moore into a more serious Bond is mostly successful.

12. Thunderball (1965)

thunderball-07It’s a bit of a Goldfinger hangover, but still has its moments.

11. Skyfall (2012)

james-bond-007-skyfall-fondo-6Doesn’t hold a candle to Casino Royale, but Craig’s third go-round is solid entertainment, with some of the best cinematography of the franchise.

10. You Only Live Twice (1967)

bond3An over-the-top goofball parade of future Austin Powers gags. A lot of fun though.

9. Dr. No (1962)

461x259xdr-no-007.jpg.pagespeed.ic.Lrer0mHA_AThe first Bond film is pretty dry at times, but Sean Connery is a badass and the Jamaica setting proves for a great third act.

8. GoldenEye (1995)

goldeneyePierce Brosnan gets a grand debut with one of the strongest entries of the series. Pity his tenure went the way of Roger Moore’s.

7. The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

JawsEasily Roger Moore’s best entry, this is an incredibly memorable Bond picture, with Jaws taking the cake (and throat and shark and chain) as one of the best baddies of the franchise.

6. Goldfinger (1964)

Goldfinger_Golden-girlThe most famous 007 film is also responsible for much of the silliness that followed in the Roger Moore era. Classic it is though, so I give the devil his due with a #6 ranking.

5. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)

DI-On-Her-Majestys-Secret-Service-9-DI-to-L10If Sean Connery starred in this one, it would universally be considered the best installment of the franchise. Unfortunately, Aussie George Lazenby was in the tux (and kilt!) this time around, and he’s clearly the weakest of the Bonds. The film, however, is based on the best of the Fleming books and is outstanding in every other regard.

4. The Living Daylights (1987)

017-the-living-daylights-wallpapers-007Returning the series to its original promise, Dalton’s debut is a strong Cold War thriller, complimented by John Barry’s final Bond score and a totally underrated title song by aha.

3. Casino Royale (2006)

casino_royale_poster_by_jeffachBy 2006, audiences were finally ready for a more somber Dalton-style Bond, and newcomer Daniel Craig fills the suit with confidence. Close to perfection.

2. From Russia With Love

From Russia With Love 3The best of the classic Bonds.

1. Licence to Kill (1989)

affiche-permis-de-tuer-licence-to-kill-1989-4Sorry, Connery purists. Timothy Dalton IS James Bond, the cold-hearted bastard that Ian Fleming always intended. ‘Licence to Kill’ sees 007 on a blood-soaked Yojimbo style quest of pitting bad guys against each other to topple the drug empire that raped and murdered his friend’s wife on her wedding day. It’s dark, brooding stuff, and the sole masterpiece of the James Bond franchise.

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Categories: Best Of Lists, Features

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  1. FILM CORPS: Best of the Bonds – Part 2: Ride into Obsession | Goats in the Machine - February 4, 2014

    […] An Unorthodox Rating of All 23 James Bonds Films […]

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