Top 10 James Bond Movies
With the release of the 23rd official Bond film, Skyfall, it’s time to rank my top ten favorite James Bond movies.
Any top ten list I write has a few rules and caveats up front. First, I’m only ranking “official” James Bond movies. Never Say Never Again and the original Casino Royale don’t count. Not that either one would have made the list anyway. Two, I am ranking these films based on my own personal enjoyment of them. So even though Thunderball is reversed as a classic by some, I find it bloated and kind of boring.
10. Tomorrow Never Dies –Pierce Brosnan’s second outing as 007 amps up the action to near ridiculous levels. Terri Hatcher takes a turn as a Bond girl but her role gets cut short. Tomorrow really comes alive when Bond spars and teams up with Wai Lin, a Chinese spy played by Michelle Yeoh. Each of Brosnan’s turns as Bond was a little more ridiculous than the last. Tomorrow Never Dies was the last Brosnan Bond that didn’t collapse under its own weight.
9. From Russia With Love – The Bond formula was not fully realized in the second Bond film. A lot of the prototypical elements are there. Robert Shaw makes a great henchmen. Rosa Klebb is a classic Cold War villain. And Daniela Bianchi as Russian agent Tatiana Romanova is a fetching Bond babe. The series hadn’t yet gone off into ridiculous flights of fancy that would later define it. The result was a Bond movie that was more of a spy thriller than the standard 007 action film.
8. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was the first and only James Bond film to star Australian model, George Lazenby. It’s got some great action scenes including one of the best skiing sequences in the series. Telly Savalas makes a terrific Bond villain as Blofeld. And Diana Rigg plays the love of Bond’s life, Contessa Teresa di Vicenzo. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service differs from every other Bond film. Lazenby’s Bond is far more sensitive than Connery ever was. The movie ends with the unthinkable, Bond getting married. Unfortunately, Lazenby lacked Connery’s charisma which sinks what would otherwise be one of the greatest Bond films of all times.
7. License to Kill – After years of Roger Moore’s increasingly silly James Bond, Timothy Dalton tried something new. A grim and serious Bond who fought (relatively) real world threats in the form of a killer drug dealer (Robert Davi). The film is basically Yojimbo as a Bond film. Bond leaves the secret service to avenge an attack on his friend, Felix Leiter. He infiltrates the organization of the drug dealer who fed his friend and his wife to a shark and brings him down largely by sowing seeds of mistrust among his men. License to Kill is better than most people give it credit for, although that Wayne Newton cameo is painful.
6. For Your Eyes Only – The Roger Moore Bonds became increasingly silly over the years. This trend reached its pinnacle with the dreadful Moonraker. Fortunately, the series went back to basics with For Your Eyes Only. This film features Moore at his most lethal. Slightly grittier than the usual Moore outing while still retaining all of the charm of Moore’s best films, For Your Eyes Only strikes a good balance between super spy action and fantastical silliness.
5. The Spy Who Loved Me – The Spy Who Loved Me is Roger Moore at his Roger Mooriest. It’s silly and cheesy. It featured a disco-tinged score by Marvin Hamlisch, introduced the world to Richard Kiel as Jaws and cast the future Mrs. Ringo Starr (Barbara Bach) as Russian agent, Triple X. I shouldn’t love The Spy Who Loved Me, but I do. The opening sequence with Bond skiing over a cliff and then parachuting with a giant Union Jack is one of the all time greats.
4. Goldeneye – After the Dalton years, the Bond franchise reinvented itself with Pierce Brosnan in the lead. Goldeneye features Sean Bean as Bond’s former partner gone bad and Famke Janssen as a Bond badgirl who kills men between her legs. The opening bungee jump was a stunner and the tank chase through St. Petersburg set a new bar for action scenes in Bond films. It’s a shame that every film Brosnan made after Goldeneye fell off a bit. Oh and the Nintendo 64 game was awesome!
3. Skyfall – This one may get adjusted on second viewing. But for now, I’m putting Daniel Craig’s third Bond film at #3. Rebounding from the so-so Quantum of Solace, Skyfall breaks the Bond formula to the point where it barely feels like a Bond film. Javier Bardem’s Silva is one of Bond’s creepiest and most memorable villains. And Judy Dench’s M gets to take a central role. Despite all the changes, Skyfall has just enough nods to Bond tradition to feel like 007 and not just an imitator.
2. Goldfinger – When I think of James Bond, I think of Goldfinger. It is the movie where all the pieces of the formula finally came together. It’s got everything. Great car, great villain, great henchmen, great gadgets and Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore. What more could you ask for from a Bond film? “Do you expect me to talk?” “No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die.” Classic!
1. Casino Royale – I have been reluctant to unseat Goldfinger as the #1 Bond movie. It’s a sentimental favorite. But Casino Royale expertly ushered in the Daniel Craig era of Bond. And with Skyfall legitimizing that era, I feel like Casino Royale can finally lay claim to that top spot. Hopefully future Craig Bonds will take as many chances as successfully as Casino Royale and Skyfall did. If so, Craig will no doubt be remembered as the best Bond. Something I would not have thought possible before Casino Royale cast him as a broody, thuggish government assassin.
I actually spread the love more than I expected to. 2 each for Connery, Moore, Craig and Brosnan and 1 each for Dalton and Lazenby. Every Bond made the list at least once.
Posted on November 13, 2012, in James Bond, Movies, Top Ten and tagged Bond, Daniel Craig, George Lazenby, James Bond, Roger Moore, Sean Connery, Skyfall, The Spy Who Loved Me, Timothy Dalton. Bookmark the permalink. 40 Comments.