The 5 Best and 5 Worst ‘James Bond’ Movies
So we’ve reviewed every Bond film in the series, and obsessively compulsively put together a series of Case Files detailing the specifics of each film. But the real question (especially if you don’t want to read 22 reviews) is which Bond movies are the best. Since we’re dealing with a series consisting of 22 films the standard ‘Top 10’ would prove uninformative, so we have the Top 5 and Bottom 5!
The Five Worst 007 Movies
Whilst not completely terrible it is a movie that drops the ball more often than not. Following on from the grounded and realistic For Your Eyes Only – made in order to bring things back from the brink of silliness after Moonraker – it seems odd that they’d be so quick to go back to the silliness, especially as it was by the same director. Opening the movie with a dying clown throwing himself throw an embassy window clutching a Faberge Egg may have been something the film could recover from it it hadn’t descended further into silliness from that point. Crocodile disguises, a henchman who crushes dice to powder in his fist, Bond finding his contact when he plays the Bond theme music, a cameo from a tennis player who attacks people with a tennis racket – this is a movie that was needed more restraint.
Worst Bit: The yo-yo saw blade. It could’ve been awesome if he’d busted out some Go-Go Yubari moves, but the one time it’s used to attack someone they need three people holding him steady. Lame.
#4 – On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
There are many people out there who consider OMHSS to be among the best Bond movies for its faithfulness to the source material. When one remembers that accuracy in replicating the source material can have no effect whatsoever on whether or not a movie is good then OHMSS doesn’t hold up well at all. The blame mostly lies with the producers who seemed uncertain about whether they should sell Lazenbury as a new take on Bond or as a continuation of the same person. Lazenbury is easily the weakest of the Bonds, lacking the charisma of his colleagues, and putting him in a story that involves being under cover as a very un-Bond like character doesn’t give him the chance to find his feet. Finally, some of the technical aspects of the film or very poor, particular the sound mix during action scenes.
Worst Bit: “The never happened to the other fellow.” Just like that you ruined our ability to play along.
#3 – Moonraker
Ah, yes. Moonraker. This one is always mentioned in relation to poor Bond films. Flying into space is usually what most people get hung up on, but the reality is that the movie sucked well before they got to that point. Scenes like the dogs being sped up to eat fast, Hugo Drax trying to murder Bond for no reason at all, Jaws having a love interest, Jaws flapping his arms while circus music plays…it’s all terrible.
Worst Bit: Escaping from assassins in Venice in a gondola that transforms into a hovercraft. You’re supposed to be a spy!
#2 – A View to a Kill
Featuring the hammy as hell Christopher Walked wearing a tub of bleach on his head as a Nazi genetic experiment turned ex-KGB turned industrialist that MI6 have only just suspected is up to no good, pop star Grace Jones as a henchmen who can lift a man over head and assassinates people using a fake butterfly dangling from the end of a fishing line and escaping by hang-gliding from monuments and a plan to dominate the world’s microchip market by causing an earthquake. Stupid doesn’t begin to describe it.
Worst Bit: A toss up between hiding a zeppelin inside a rigged garden shed and trying to kill Bond with a booby trapped horse race.
#1 – Die Another Day
Stupid. Stupid stupid stupid. The plot is stupid. The characters are stupid. The gadgets are stupid. The dialogue is really bloody stupid. The theme song is awful, the effects look cheap, it has a car that turns invisible, Halle Berry has all the acting chops and charisma of a mannequin that sneaks into your room when you’re asleep and stares at you, the bad guys use ‘genetic replacement therapy’ to change from being Koran to being British…there’s no end the stupid. This movie was so awful that it prompted the most dramatic change in direction the series has ever seen.
Worst Bit: Bond surfing a tidal wave away from a space laser. The fuck?
The Five Best 007 Movies
#5 – You Only Live Twice
There were certainly a couple of movies of similar quality that could’ve taken this spot on the list. What separates out YOLT from the herd is the number of iconic tropes that would come to be associated with the franchise. Volcano lair, evil deformed bald man, rocket firing cigarette, ninjas, weapon packed vehicles and a needlessly over-the-top finale complete with a countdown. Although it does have plenty of goofy moments finally revealed Blofeld, brilliantly played by Donald Pleasence, and their confrontation is awesome.
Best Bit: Ninjas invade the hidden volcano base!
#4 – The Spy Who Loved Me
By the time Bond hit the 1970s it had cemented its formula. Gadgets, girls, car and crooks. And no film worked this formula as well as The Spy Who Loved Me. Bond getting paired with seductive Russian spy Anya Amasova aka Triple X as they both seek out a stolen microfilm, both unaware that Bond had killed her lover in his previous mission. We’ve got big set pieces on board the supertanker and in Egypt, the introduction of the gigantic Jaws, a base under the sea, the Lotus that turns into a submarine and the Union Jack parachute (because being stealthy is for suckers).
Best Bit: The Lotus zooming of the end of a pier only to transform into a submarine – classic.
#3 – Goldeneye
Just when the franchise was starting to flag Martin Campbell came along made it fun again. Goldeneye produces almost childlike glee at the mayhem and lunacy happening on screen, yet somehow it feels grounded enough to work. Sean Bean is on fine form of the villainous 006, Famke Janssen is crushing men to death with her thighs, there are gadget, stunts, set pieces…and Brosnan just looks like he’s having so much damn fun!
Best Bit: Certainly a tough call, but it might have to go to the world record breaking 640ft bungee jump which opens the movie.
#2 – Casino Royale
And when the series started to fall apart Martin Campbell is once again on hand to fix it, this time piling on layers of gritty realism. Casino Royale not only redefined modern action cinema. Stripping away the glamour and focusing on character is what people wanted to see. Brilliant dialogue, fantastic action and an immensely memorable ending this movie rebuild the character and his story from the ground up without it feeling like a different series.
Best Bit: The chase scene through a building site at the beginning. Parkour goodness.
#1 – Goldfinger
Goldfinger is the movie that set the bar of all future James Bond movies, and took the series into the realm of the legendary. Unusually for a series this third entry didn’t cap things off but elevated them to a whole new level. This is the movie that introduced many of the memorable elements that people expect to see when a new Bond movie opens. Desmond Llewelyn makes his debut as Q and introduces Bond to his first Aston Martin, complete with missiles, machine guns, spinning blades in the tires and an ejector seat. We have a memorable henchman with a gimmick – Oddjob and his infamous hat. We have an insane scheme that the villain is so cocky about he spells it out for Bond. We have the tough Bond girl with the bizarrely suggestive name. Stunts, gadgets, action, quips and everything else you want in a nice package. This is the blueprint for all 007 movies that followed.
Best Bit: Goldfinger straps Bond down to a table and leaves him at the mercy of a slow moving laser beam. Pure. Gold.