Best James Bond Movies: All Movies Ranked From Worst To Best
James Bond, also known as 007, began his life in a series of novels written by Ian Fleming. Probably the most famous fictional spy of all time has been adapted for film, television, radio, comic strip, and video games. Bond movies are the longest-running and one of the highest-grossing movie series of all time, starting back in the 1960s and lasting till these days. With the next James Bond movie, No Time To Die, coming on November 25, 2020, we decided to bring you a list of best James Bond movies ranked from worst to best.
Most movies in the James Bond series that are considered as a part of Bond cannon were produced by Eon Productions. There are 24 movies in total produced by Eon Productions with 25th, No Time To Die, set to arrive this November. And besides 007 movies from Eon Productions, there were also two unofficial Bond movies that aren’t considered as a part of the cannon – Casino Royale parody from 1967 which I don’t count and Never Say Never Again from 1983 with Sean Connery which was basically a remake of Thunderball. James Bond series is very popular with the audience and it grossed over US$7.040 billion on worldwide box office which makes it the sixth-highest-grossing movie series of all time. The most successful entry on box office, without adjusting for inflation, was Daniel Craig’s third adventure, Skyfall which earned $304.4 million in the United States and $1.111 billion worldwide.
Since 007 first appeared on the big screen back in 1962 in Dr. No, James Bond was played by six different actors, or seven if you count Casino Royale parody from 1967 which I don’t. These actors are Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig. As Sean Connery was the first actor to portray 007 on the big screen many are crediting him as the first actor that played 007. But did you know that Connery wasn’t the first actor to portray James Bond?
Series trademarks include exotic locations, fast sports cars (especially Aston Martin), opening musical credit sequence, over-the-top action, gadgets provided by Q branch, vodka martini, villains with an insidious plan bigger than life, menacing henchmen, and beautiful women. Known as “Bond girls”, they were mostly given blatantly obvious sexual names like Pussy Galore, Xenia Onatopp, Chew Mee, or Dr. Holly Goodhead. Bond movies were nominated for 14 Oscars during the years and won five – Skyfall won for best song and sound editing, Thunderball for visual effects, Goldfinger for sound editing, and Spectre for best song.
Best James Bond Movies Ranked From Worst To Best
Let’s remind ourselves, No Time To Die was originally scheduled for April 10, 2020, release but due to the ongoing pandemic was delayed. So while we wait for the latest adventure of 007, let’s refresh our memory and take a look at the best entries in the series.
#25. Diamonds Are Forever (1971) – The last official Sean Connery’s Bond
Director: Guy Hamilton (Goldfinger, Live and Let Die, The Man with the Golden Gun, Force 10 from Navarone, Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins)
Cast: Sean Connery, Jill St. John, Bernard Lee, Desmond Llewelyn, Charles Gray, Lana Wood
The less we speak about this one the better. Since leaving the role of 007 after You Only Live Twice in 1967. and skipping On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Connery returned to the role of 007 one more time in 1971 for Diamonds Are Forever. And it would be better if he didn’t as Diamonds Are Forever is not only the worst Connery’s James Bond film but also the worst Bond movie in the series. Interestingly, this one was directed by Guy Hamilton who also helmed the best Connery’s 007 movie, Goldfinger.
After killing Blofeld, Bond goes to Las Vegas due to a diamond smuggling investigation but uncovers a much bigger plot and discovers that man behind it is actually his archenemy Blofeld. Diamonds Are Forever is a barely watchable, poorly acted and written, dull, cheap mess of a movie that doesn’t even feel like a Bond movie with one of the worst villains in the history of cinema (Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd). Connery seems bored to death, action sequences are dull and mostly poorly made, and Charles Gray is the worst Blofeld in history of series. And Bond gives, what it looks like an atomic wedgie to one of the henchmen.
The only good thing in this movie is a theme song by Shirley Bassey which is one of the better James Bond songs of all time. And one of the Bond girls in this movie made our list of Bond girls with a funny name but that’s the only memorable thing about her. Just skip it.
#24 Die Another Day (2002) – That Bond movie with an invisible car
Director: Lee Tamahori (Once Were Warriors, Mulholland Falls, Along Came a Spider, The Edge, The Edge)
Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Halle Berry, Rosamund Pike, Toby Stephens, Judi Dench, John Cleese, Rick Yune, Michael Madsen
Die Another Day, or that Bond movie with an invisible car, is a 20th 007 movie in the series produced by Eon Productions and commercially the most successful entry in the series with Brosnan in the lead role. Brosnan was one of the best actors to play 007 so it’s a shame that his last mission as James Bond wasn’t in a better movie as Die Another Day is his worst Bond movie and one of the worst entries in the series.
In Die Another Day Bond is betrayed and captured by North Koreans while trying to stop Colonel Moon (Will Yun Lee) and his right-hand man Zao (Rick Yune). 14 months later 007 is released from North Korean prison as MI6 traded him for Zao. Now Bond must track him and discover what’s the connection between Zao and millionaire Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens). Soon he’ll uncover much bigger threat as Graves is in a possession of a satellite that can project a huge laser beam.
Almost nothing works in this movie. Plagued by a dumb plot, bad dialogs, awful music that doesn’t fit the Bond movie, too over-the-top action sequences, ludicrous gadgets, awful CGI, explosions, explosions, explosions, and some of the worst villains in the series, Die Another Day is Brosnan’s Diamonds Are Forever. The theme song performed by Madonna is probably the worst theme song in the series. The worst moments in this one include running from a giant laser beam followed by Bond surfing on a CGI tidal wave, an invisible car, Madonna as an instructor, and fistfight with lasers.
#23 Live and Let Die (1973) – The first one with Roger Moore
Director: Guy Hamilton (Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, The Man with the Golden Gun, Force 10 from Navarone, Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins)
Cast: Roger Moore, Yaphet Kotto, Jane Seymour, Bernard Lee, Desmond Llewelyn
Live and Let Die is a Roger Moore’s first James Bond movie and unfortunately one of the franchise’s worst entries. Directed by Bond veteran Guy Hamilton, who made Connery’s best (Goldfinger) and worst (Diamonds Are Forever) 007 movie, Live and Let Die proves that he got lucky with Goldfinger. This one follows Bond who is sent to New Orleans, to investigate the mysterious deaths of several British agents and discovers a dangerous drug lord is behind it.
Let’s get it out of the way – I was never a fan of Roger Moore as James Bond because he is completely unconvincing in the role. I mean, give him a wig and put a little makeup on him and the guy looks like someone’s aunt. Although I enjoyed some of Moore’s Bond movies, Live and Let Die isn’t one of them – actually after terrible Diamonds are Forever we got one more bad Bond movie. It’s unspectacular and boring without memorable villains and Moore can’t hold a candle to Connery.
The pre-credit scene is also one of the worst in the series and don’t get me started on redneck Sheriff Pepper who is one more annoying and badly acted character in the Bond series, who unfortunately also appears a year later in The Man with the Golden Gun. A very good theme song from Paul McCartney and Wings and speedboat chase through Louisiana bayou are some of the few good things about this movie. Like I said for its predecessor, Diamond Are Forever, just skip it.
#22 The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) – The one in Thailand with Scaramanga
Director: Guy Hamilton (Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, Let and Live Die, Force 10 from Navarone, Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins)
Cast: Roger Moore, Christopher Lee, Maud Adams, Britt Ekland, Hervé Villechaize, Bernard Lee, Desmond Llewelyn
Roger Moore’s second James Bond movie, directed by Bond veteran Guy Hamilton, is a little better than its predecessor, Live and Let Die, but that doesn’t mean it is a good film. In The Man with the Golden Gun, Bond must recover sensitive solar cell technology while being a target of a dangerous and capable assassin Scaramanga (Christopher Lee).
Scaramanga, played by Christopher Lee (Saruman from Lord Of The Rings trilogy), is actually a solid Bond villain. There are also some well-made car chases, exotic locations (Thailand), and some interesting sets like a trippy hall of mirrors and illusions. But unfortunately, The Man with the Golden Gun also features a weak story, badly choreographed kung-fu fights, ridiculous vehicles (Scaramanga’s car plane), some of the least memorable girls (Goodnight or Chew Mee who made our list of Bond girls with a funny name), and a stunt in which Bond does 360 degrees spin with a car, coupled with silly sound effect. And if that God awful character of Sheriff Pepper played by Clifton James (who reprises his role from Live and Let Die) wasn’t enough there is a Nick Nack, annoying Scaramanga’s midget henchmen who deserve his place on a list of worst Bond villains.
Swedish ex-model and actress Maud Adams who plays Scaramanga’s lover Andrea Anders, is the only actress to play two different Bond girls. She also plays the titular character in one more Roger Moore Bond movie, Octopussy.
#21 Moonraker (1979) – That Bond movie In space
Director: Lewis Gilbert (Alfie, You Only Live Twice, The Spy Who Loved Me)
Cast: Roger Moore, Lois Chiles, Michael Lonsdale, Richard Kiel, Bernard Lee, Desmond Llewelyn, Walter Gotell
Following The Spy Who Loved Me, which was the first truly successful James Bond movie for Roger Moore, Moonraker, or that Bond movie in space, is a completely ridiculous and dumb movie and a step down from its immediate predecessor. In this one, someone hijacks space shuttle in mid-air, and Bond is sent to find out who’s behind it. His investigation leads him to the rockets creators, Drax Industries and the head of that organization, Hugo Drax (Michael Lonsdale).
Influenced by the first Star Wars movie, Moonraker is the eleventh Bond movie in the series produced by Eon Production and the fourth 007 film for Roger Moore. Moonraker was the most expensive Bond movie at the time with a budget of $34 million. It received mixed reviews but was a big hit on the box office making it the highest-grossing James Bond movie at the time.
Each time I thought to myself that this movie isn’t that bad, Moonraker proved me wrong. The movie starts with one of the worst precredit scenes in the series and ends with a dull and terrible laser battle in space. And the stuff in the middle is a very mixed bag.
Moonraker features a plot so ludicrous and dumb, a terrible henchman in Jaws (who is the only henchman to appear in two Bond movies), speedboat hovercraft gondola with a pigeon doing a double-take, X-ray safe-cracking device, a completely illogical and unnecessary fight on a cable car, Jaws skydiving without a parachute and trying to fly like a bird, Jaws biting through the steel cable car wire, Jaws falling in love (actually each scene with Jaws), Bond wrestling a python, Bond dressed as a cowboy on a horse, and a huge space station in space which is somehow invisible from Earth. To its defense, Moonraker is mildly amusing, has some solid chase sequences and stunts, pretty girls, and attractive locations as Bond’s investigation leads him from California to Venice, Rio de Janeiro, the Amazon rainforest, and finally into space. You can skip this one.
#20 A View to a Kill (1985) – The last Bond movie with Roger Moore
Director: John Glen (For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, The Living Daylights, Licence to Kill)
Cast: Roger Moore, Christopher Walken, Grace Jones, Tanya Roberts, Desmond Llewelyn, Robert Brown
A View To Kill, or the one with Christopher Walken and Grace Jones, is the last Bond movie for Roger Moore and 14th movie in the series produced by Eon Production. Here Bond must confront Zorin (Christopher Walken), a lead French industrialist who wants to destroy Silicon Valley to ensure a monopoly on silicon. A View To Kill is one of the lowest-rated entries in the franchise. Although it was a commercial success, it received mixed reviews at best, and fans rank it in the bottom half. But actually it’s not that bad and is certainly not the worst entry in the series. However, it isn’t particularly good either.
The main problem with this one is that it’s a pretty generic and forgettable ’80s action movie. Moore was too old in the first movie and he’s definitely too old here. Walken is just ok as the main villain while Grace Jones can’t act and is one of the worst henchmen in the series. Additionally, this one has a really dumb premise, forgettable action sequences and stunts, and ridiculous moments like Bond driving in half of the car or snowboarding in a precredit scene that is spoiled with that awful Beach Boys song.
This was the last appearance for Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny. Dolph Lundgren makes a blink and you miss it cameo as General Gogol’s bodyguard. The only highlight is a theme song performed by Duran Duran which is one of the best theme songs in the series. You can skip this one.
#19 The World Is Not Enough (1999) – The one with Denise Richards as a nuclear physicist
Director: Michael Apted (Gorillas in the Mist, Class Action, Nell)
Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Robert Carlyle, Sophie Marceau, Denise Richards. Judi Dench, Desmond Llewelyn, Robbie Coltrane, John Cleese, Maria Grazia Cucinotta
The World Is Not Enough, or the one with Denise Richards as a nuclear physicist, is the third movie with Pierce Brosnan in the lead role and the 19th in the Bond series produced by Eon Productions. In this one, an oil tycoon and M’s friend Sir Robert King is murdered. Bond is sent to investigate who’s responsible and to protect his daughter Elektra King (Sophie Marceau). In the process, he’ll discover that a man behind it all is Renard (Robert Carlyle), who kidnapped Elektra years earlier. Renard is a terrorist who has a bullet in his head which is slowly killing him but as a side effect, he doesn’t feel pain. Along the way, 007 will discover a much sinister plot and that Elektra is not that innocent as she seems.
The World Is Not Enough is not the worst Bond movie in history but it is also a far cry from the best entries in the franchise. It has some decent action sequences and stunts, Brosnan and Dench are still excellent as 007 and M and the theme song by Garbage is one of the best theme songs in the franchise’s history. But it is bogged down by a plot, some bad acting, and mediocre writing. The final fight scene is anticlimatic and Denise Richards is maybe the worst Bond girl in franchise history. She just can’t act and is embarrassingly bad to watch. And as we said in our article James Bond Girls With Funniest Names we don’t know what’s funnier – the fact that Denise Richards is playing a nuclear physicist or the name of this Bond girl (Christmas Jones).
Desmond Llewelyn made his final appearance as Q and John Cleese, who plays R in The World Is Not Enough, will replace him in the next Bond movie, Die Another Day. And speaking of Q, The World Is Not Enough also has its share of ridiculous gadgets and vehicles – X-Ray Glasses, insulated ski-jacket, Omega Seamaster wristwatch with a grappling hook, Q boat and a helicopter with a circular saw.
#18 Spectre (2015) – The one with Christoph Waltz as Blofeld
Director: Sam Mendes (American Beauty, 1917, Road To Perdition, Jarhead, Skyfall)
Cast: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Dave Bautista, Naomie Harris, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Andrew Scott, Monica Bellucci, Jesper Christensen, Rory Kinnear
Spectre looked very promising. Sam Mendes, after helming the most successful Bond movie, was returning in director’s chair, same as Ben Wishaw as Q and Naomi Harris as Moneypenny, Ralph Fiennes took the role of M over Judi Dench, and additions of Christoph Waltz as the main baddie Ernst Stavro Blofeld, Dave Bautista as Oddjob-like henchman and Monica Bellucci as one of the Bond girls sounded like a great idea. Too bad the execution didn’t live up to its potential. In this one, Bond receives a message from late M and goes on a rogue mission which will lead him from Mexico City to Austria, Rome, and Tangier. During his investigation, he’ll discover the existence of the sinister organization known as S.P.E.C.T.R.E led by Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Waltz).
The main problem with Spectre is that it’s obvious this wasn’t a product with a clear vision from the start. It feels like filmmakers didn’t know how to exactly proceed after Skyfall and in the end, they gave us a movie that’s a mix between Daniel Craig’s movies and Bond movies of yesteryear. The second big problem is the script – it feels like they had written a couple of sequences and then tried to connect it without much sense. Most things that happen in Spectre are just not convincing and the story is plain dumb and reminded me of Austin Powers.
Most of the actors are just underutilized and their characters are badly written, from Dave Bautista’s Hinx, Monica Bellucci’s Lucia Sciarra who is nothing more than a damsel in distress, Léa Seydoux’s Madeleine who is the least interesting Bond girl from Craig’s movies to Christoph Waltz’s Blofeld. His introduction in Spectre looked promising but, in the end, he just wasn’t convincing or menacing enough as head of this super powerful and dangerous organization. He was just a bland villain. And maybe the worst part of this new Blofeld were motivations behind his actions which are just plain dumb.
I could go on for days. Even action sequences are not that good and pretty forgettable. Worst Daniel Craig’s Bond movie. Let’s hope No Time To Die will be better.
#17 Thunderball (1965) – The one with underwater battle
Director: Terence Young (Dr. No, From Russia with Love)
Cast: Sean Connery, Adolfo Celi, Claudine Auger, Luciana Paluzzi, Bernard Lee, Desmond Llewelyn
After sitting out on Goldfinger, Terence Young, a director of the first two Bond movies (Dr. No and From Russia with Love) returned for the fourth 007 big-screen adventure. Building on a template established by its predecessor (Goldfinger), Thunderball sees James Bond heading to the Bahamas to recover two nuclear warheads stolen by S.P.E.C.T.R.E. agent Emilio Largo (Adolfo Celi).
At the time of a release, it had a pretty innovative and well-made, although overlong, an underwater fight scene and it had one of the prettiest girls in Bond history. But unfortunately, those were the best things you can say about this 007 adventure, as Thunderball was a much worse movie than it’s predecessors. Thunderball was overlong, boring, without memorable villains, and featured some ridiculous scenes that felt like they were taken from Austin Powers movie. I mean, at the start of the movie Bond escapes bad guys with a jetpack.
Another WTF scene was that “torture” scene on a table. Was this supposed to be taken seriously? I mean, what’s going on here – is Bond humping a table, is a table humping Bond or is 007 raped by an invisible man? But at least my wife and I were laughing so hard watching this scene :).
#16 Never Say Never Again (1983) – Thunderball remake with older Sean Connery
Director: Irvin Kershner (Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back, RoboCop 2)
Cast: Sean Connery, Klaus Maria Brandauer, Max von Sydow, Kim Basinger, Rowan Atkinson, Barbara Carrera
Never Say Never Again, an “unofficial” Bond movie with Sean Connery, filmed during the Roger Moore era, is basically a remake of Thunderball. Unlike most Bond films, Never Say Never Again was not produced by Eon Productions. Kevin McClory, one of the original writers of the Thunderball, retained the filming rights of the novel after a long legal battle and in October 1983 Never Say Never Again was released by Warner Bros, the same year as Moore’s Octopussy. Connery was brought from retirement and although at 52 he was too old for this role, he was still 3 years younger than Roger Moore. The story follows an aging Bond who is brought back to investigate the theft of two nuclear warheads by SPECTRE.
Directed by The Empire Strikes Back director Irvin Kershner, Never Say Never Again had disaster written all over it. It was an unnecessary remake of one of the most successful Bond movies, Connery was too old for the role, and his last 007 movie, Diamonds Are Forever, was just terrible. It the end, the final product wasn’t bad at all. Never Say Never Again received positive reviews and was a commercial success.
Connery is too old here and unconvincing in action scenes but he still has a charm and charisma, the movie features some nice locations (filming locations included Bahamas, France, and Spain) and decent action sequences and Klaus Maria Brandauer’s Largo is a solid villain (and Brandauer gave a better performance than Adolfo Celi in Thunderball). A bond girl is played by Kim Basinger and Mr. Bean also made an appearance as Nigel Small-Fawcett from British Embassy.
#15 Licence To Kill (1989) – The last one with Timothy Dalton
Director: John Glen (For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, A View to a Kill, The Living Daylights)
Cast: Timothy Dalton, Carey Lowell, Robert Davi, Benicio Del Toro, Talisa Soto, Desmond Llewelyn, Robert Brown, Anthony Zerbe
Licence To Kill is a second Bond movie with Timothy Dalton in the main role. Directed by Bond veteran John Glen and produced by Eon Productions, Licence To Kill is a 16th movie in the series. This time Bond is on a personal mission and goes rogue to avenge his friends, Felix Leiter, and his wife. The man behind it is a powerful drug lord Franz Sanchez (Robert Davi). As Bond went rogue he doesn’t have the support of MI6 so good old Q secretly joins him on his mission, this time as a field agent.
Licence To Kill has the same problem as its predecessor. It’s more grounded than Moore’s adventures, Dalton is solid Bond and more convincing than Roger Moore, there are some solid action sequences but everything feels like a poor man Bond movie. Action is ok but nothing more than that. The same goes for villains. I mean they hired Robert fucking Davi (The Goonies, Die Hard) for the main villain – he isn’t an especially good actor so I’m not sure what producers expected from him. On the other hand, Benicio Del Toro is a very good actor with many memorable performances. Here he plays Sanchez’s henchman Dario and unfortunately, he’s not particularly good.
Carey Lowell, who plays Pam Bouvier, is a solid Bond girl while Talisa Soto is one of those pretty but forgettable Bond girls who love 007 after spending 10 minutes with him. Although it’s a more grounded Bond adventure, Licence To Kill has its share of ridiculous moments like Bond driving a truck on one side to avoid a missile. Oh, and Bond uses underwater manta ray cover to disguise himself as a Manta Ray to infiltrate a ship. One more disguise that earned its spot on our list of funniest James Bond disguises.
#14 You Only Live Twice (1967) – The One with Blofeld, secret volcano lair, and Bond transformation into Japanese
Director: Lewis Gilbert (Alfie, Moonraker, The Spy Who Loved Me)
Cast: Sean Connery, Donald Pleasence, Bernard Lee, Desmond Llewelyn, Tetsurô Tanba, Akiko Wakabayashi, Mie Hama
Directed by Bond newcomer Lewis Gilbert, who would later direct two Roger Moore’s Bond movies (Moonraker, The Spy Who Loved Me), You Only Live Twice introduced us to the Ernst Stavro Blofeld, a cat-stroking head of a global criminal organization called SPECTRE. This was the first time he was the main villain and first time meeting agent 007 face-to-face. Played by Donald Pleasence (Halloween, Cul-de-sac, THX 1138, All Quiet on the Western Front), Blofeld was a better antagonist than Largo from the previous Bond flick, Thunderball.
You Only Live Twice, the fifth movie in the Bond franchise is the first one not adapted from Ian Fleming’s source material. In this 007 movie, Bond goes to Japan to stop Blofeld and SPECTRE, who have been stealing American and Russian spacecrafts, from starting WWIII.
You Only Live Twice is a standard Bond flick – you got a villain with a nefarious plan, secret underground lair, exotic locations, over-the-top action and Bond seducing pretty women, although You Only Live Twice has some of the least interesting or memorable Bond girls. The only thing memorable about the main Bond girl here is her name. Called Kissy Suzuki, she earned a place on our list of Bond girls with funny names. And I think it’s better to forget Bond’s “transformation” into a Japanese man (I really don’t know what were they thinking). Sean Connery left after this film and the role of 007 was inherited by George Lazenby who played Bond only once in 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Connery returned in 1971 for Diamonds Are Forever before leaving Eon Productions for good. He’ll return to the role of 007 in 1983 in an unofficial Bond movie, called Never Say Never Again, which was basically a remake of Thunderball.
#13 Quantum Of Solace (2008) – That generic Bond adventure with Daniel Craig
Director: Marc Forster (Stranger Than Fiction, Monster’s Ball, World War Z, Finding Neverland, Christopher Robin)
Cast: Daniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko, Mathieu Amalric, Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright, Jesper Christensen, Giancarlo Giannini, David Harbour
Quantum of Solace, directed by Marc Forster, is the 22nd entry in the James Bond series and the second one for Daniel Craig. In this direct sequel to Casino Royale, Bond seeks revenge for the death of Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) and during his investigation, he’ll uncover a much bigger threat by the mysterious organization called Quantum. After Casino Royale successfully reintroduced James Bond to the audience and promised great things ahead, Quantum of Solace is, unfortunately, a step down from its immediate predecessor. The main problem with Quantum of Solace is that it feels like the filmmakers didn’t know exactly how to proceed after Casino Royale so they decided to give us this generic Bond adventure that at times doesn’t feel like a Bond movie.
Don’t get me wrong, Quantum of Solace is not a bad movie but a lot of things that were so good in Casino Royale making it the best Bond movie in history, are gone in Quantum of Solace. The story, characters, villains, Bond girl, and theme song, all these elements are not bad but are also not particularly good. Mathieu Amalric as the main baddie Dominic Greene and Olga Kurylenko as Bond girl Camille, are actually both solid in their roles, but nothing more.
And one of the biggest problems are actually action sequences. While director Marc Forster made some solid movies it’s evident he is not that experienced when it comes to action sequences. While some of them are actually pretty solid and exciting, like the opening car chase through Italy, most of them are not clearly executed, and with a lot of shaky-cam, you can’t tell what’s going on, who’s chasing who or who’s hitting who.
#12 The Living Daylights (1987) – The first one with Timothy Dalton
Director: John Glen (For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, A View to a Kill, Licence to Kill)
Cast: Timothy Dalton, Maryam d’Abo, Jeroen Krabbé, Joe Don Baker, Desmond Llewelyn, Robert Brown
The Living Daylights, directed by Bond veteran John Glen, is a fifteenth movie in the series produced by Eon Productions, and the first with Timothy Dalton as the agent 007. After silly Bond movies from Roger Moore’s era, this time around producers went for a darker tone than Moore’s entries in the series. Dalton was offered the role of 007 couple of times during the years before he accepted to star in The Living Daylights – first in 1969 for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (but he felt he was too young for the role), then in 1973 for Live and Let Die (this time Dalton refused as he didn’t want to be viewed as the actor who replaced Sean Connery) and in 1979 (turned the role down as he did not like the direction the series was taking).
Dalton is maybe not as charismatic and charming as Sean Connery or Pierce Brosnan and leaves that “poor’s man James Bond” impression, but he’s a certainly better actor than Lazenby and more convincing and dangerous than Roger Moore. He’s not the best actor that played James Bond but it’s definitely not the worst either and his Bond is one of the closest interpretations of 007 from Ian Fleming’s novels. As a more grounded Bond movie, The Living Daylights was a departure from silly Moore’s Bond movies that the audience was used to and that reflected on the box office as The Living Daylights and next Dalton’s entry Licence to Kill were among the lowest-grossing Bond movies.
But The Living Daylights is actually a solid Bond movie – as I said Dalton is more convincing in the role than Roger Moore, there are some well-made and exciting action sequences and attractive stunts but it’s a shame The Living Daylights doesn’t have a better story or more memorable villains.
#11 On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) – The one with George Lazenby
Director: Peter R. Hunt (Gulliver’s Travels)
Cast: George Lazenby, Diana Rigg, Telly Savalas Bernard Lee, Desmond Llewelyn
Sean Connery decided to retire from the role of 007 after You Only Live Twice (1967) and producers hired unknown Australian model George Lazenby as Connery’s successor for the next Bond adventure. Released in 1969, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is the sixth James Bond movie produced by Eon Productions and it is based on Ian Fleming’s 1963 novel of the same name. In this 007 film Bond goes undercover and faces Blofeld who wants to sterilize the world’s food supply. Along the way Bond meets a beautiful girl (Diana Rigg) but in this 007 movie, he falls in love and gets married although for a short time as his wife is killed by Blofeld at the end of the movie.
Directed by Peter R. Hunt, who previously worked as a film editor or second unit director on previous films in the series, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is one of the most faithful adaptations of source material and although it wasn’t as lucrative as its predecessors, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was still a solid hit and one of the highest-grossing movies of the year.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service tries a little more realistic and a different approach than his immediate predecessors, focusing more on telling an actual story instead on gadgets and action set pieces but unfortunately a final result is a mixed bag. It’s a solid Bond movie but Lazenby is no Sean Connery, a love story takes too much of running time and is not that interesting, Tracy, although hailed as one of the most interesting Bond girls, is, in my opinion, annoying spoiled brat (at least in the first half of the movie) and action sequences and stunts are well-made but not the best in the series. Telly Savalas (Kojak, Kelly’s Heroes) is pretty good as the main villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld. While not being the most popular entry in the series, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is a better Bond movie than it’s immediate predecessors and successors.
#10 The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) – The one with a submarine car and Jaws
Director: Lewis Gilbert (Alfie, You Only Live Twice, Moonraker)
Cast: Roger Moore, Barbara Bach, Curd Jürgens, Richard Kiel, Bernard Lee, Desmond Llewelyn, Walter Gotell
The Spy Who Loved Me or the one with a submarine car and Jaws, directed by Lewis Gilbert, is Roger Moore’s third James Bond movie and his first decent one. In this one, someone is hijacking British and Russian submarines carrying nuclear weapons, and Bond is sent to investigate who’s behind it. Russians also send their agent, Anya Amasova aka Agent XXX (Barbara Bach), who joins forces with 007 not knowing that Bond killed her lover who was also a spy.
They say third time is a charm and this proved correct in Roger Moore’s case – after a rough start with Live and Let Die and The Man With the Golden Gun, who were amongst the worst entries in the series, The Spy Who Loved Me was a first truly successful 007 movie for Roger Moore. And it is easy to see why. It had a solid villain with impressive underwater lair, submarine swallowing supertanker and ridiculous plan (basically to create a new Atlantis), one of the most recognizable and popular henchmen in Bond history (a metal-mouthed Jaws), attractive locations (Egypt, Italy), decent action sequences and stunts, some of the best set pieces in 007 movies from Roger Moore era and an interesting Bond girl who is like a female Russian counterpart to Bond.
It also featured some ridiculous scenes characteristic for the series, like Jaws tearing a van apart with his bare hands, grandpa Roger Moore fighting a super-strong guy like Jaws, Jaws fighting a shark and killing it with his metal teeth, Lotus Esprit which transforms into a submarine or a scene in which Lotus Esprit emerges on the beach from the sea. Oh, and Bond shows he is also a big fish expert. This 007 movie also introduces the character of Russian General Anatol Gogol (Walter Gotell), who will appear in several more movies in the franchise, and new Bond car – Lotus Esprit. Richard Kiel who plays Jaws was so well received that he returned for 1979’s Moonraker. Unfortunately, as I can’t stand the guy.
#9 Dr. No (1962) – The one that started it all
Director: Terence Young (From Russia with Love, Thunderball)
Cast: Sean Connery, Joseph Wiseman, Ursula Andress, Bernard Lee
A movie that started it all, Dr. No was the first appearance of agent 007 on the big screen. Directed by Terence Young and played for the first time by Sean Connery, Dr. No was a solid action thriller that introduced the audience to our favorite spy. In this one, Bond goes to Jamaica to investigate the disappearance of a fellow British agent and his investigation will lead him to the mysterious Dr. No (Wiseman).
Although it had some problems, there was more than one thing Dr. No does right. John Barry’s James Bond theme is one of the best and iconic music themes of all time; Connery is excellent as Bond and Joseph Wiseman, while not the best 007 antagonist, was a solid villain. Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder made an iconic entrance and set a standard for Bond girl. Although this was one of the more faithful adaptations and closer to the source material, this wasn’t a Bond we all know and love from the movies as most of the series trademarks, like Aston Martin, Q, gadgets, or opening musical credit sequence, were missing. Unfortunately, this one really feels outdated with poor and unconvincing action scenes. Connery’s third-best 007 movie.
You can read our full review here – Dr. No Review: James Bond Movie That Started It All.
#8 Octopussy (1983) – The one where Bond disguises himself as a clown to disarm a nuclear bomb
Director: John Glen (For Your Eyes Only, A View to a Kill, The Living Daylights, Licence to Kill)
Cast: Roger Moore, Maud Adams, Louis Jourdan, Steven Berkoff, Desmond Llewelyn, Robert Brown, Kabir Bedi
Octopussy is such a ridiculous, silly, and stupid movie that it should be one of the worst Bond movies in history and shouldn’t work at all but in some strange way, it does. This one was made by John Glen who previously directed best Roger Moore 007 movie, For Your Eyes Only, and finds Bond trying to uncover a jewel-smuggling operation, led by criminal Kamal Kham (Louis Jourdan) and a mysterious woman called Octopussy (Maud Adams), which is just a cover for a secret nuclear attack on N.A.T.O. forces by Russian General Orlov (Steven Berkoff).
The thirteenth James Bond movie and the sixth with Roger Moore as the agent 007 was released in the same year as Sean Connery’s non-official Bond movie, Never Say Never Again. Octopussy is one of the goofiest entries in the series. I mean in this one Bond disguises himself as a clown to disarm a nuclear bomb, wears a gorilla costume, uses a crocodile vessel as a disguise, fights bad guys on moving vehicles, runs from a tarantula, alligator, and snake, successfully orders a tiger to sit, burns a leech off his chest, swings through the air like Tarzan with dubbed Tarzan yell, chases a plane on a horse, slides down a staircase rail killing bad guys with an AK-47, infiltrates bad guy villa in a hot air balloon with a big British flag, escapes bad guys in a tuk-tuk, chases a train driving a Mercedes without tires on rails. And that’s not all – it also has knife fights, bad guys with Yo-yo saw, fight on a moving train, fight on a moving plane … Swedish ex-model and actress Maud Adams (Rollerball) who plays Octopussy, is the only actress to play two different Bond girls. Before this movie, she played the lover of assassin Scaramanga (Christopher Lee) in The Man with the Golden Gun in 1974.
Octopussy should be one of the worst 007 movies but in the end, it is actually a pretty good Bond movie because it embraces how silly it is. It’s an entertaining Bond adventure, it has solid villains and memorable henchmen’s, attractive locations, well-made and exciting fistfights, and chase sequences and exceptional stunts (Bond’s fight atop a moving plane or train).
#7 Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) – The one with a remote-controlled BMW
Director: Roger Spottiswoode (Under Fire, Air America, The 6th Day)
Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Jonathan Pryce, Michelle Yeoh, Teri Hatcher, Judi Dench, Desmond Llewelyn, Götz Otto
Made two years after Brosnan’s debut as agent 007, Tomorrow Never Dies, or the one with a remote-controlled BMW, is the eighteenth movie in the series produced by Eon Productions and the first one after the longtime series producer Albert R. Broccoli died in 1996. In the second James Bond movie with Pierce Brosnan in the lead role, agent 007 must stop a powerful media tycoon Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce) from starting a war between U.K. and China which would lead to World War III. Although it wasn’t that well-received by critics and audience as GoldenEye, it was still a big hit on box office making almost the same amount of money as the previous movie in the franchise.
This one is actually an underrated Bond movie, in my humble opinion. Yes, it is a little by-the-numbers entry in the series. It doesn’t have the best villains, nor the most original plot or the most impressive sets. But it has exciting and well-made action sequences, like the motorcycle chase in Shangai or a precredit scene in which Bond steals a plane with nuclear missiles, one of the best and most capable Bond girls in history (Michelle Yeoh), amusing villain, and attractive locations (Vietnam, Hamburg, Shangai). Carver may not be the most dangerous or interesting Bond villain but Jonathan Pryce is having so much fun in the role and overacts that it feels like you’re watching a cartoon villain which makes him fun to watch.
Tomorrow Never Dies may be a little generic Bond movie but it’s a well-made and entertaining entry in the series. Unfortunately, this is also the last good Bond movie with Pierce Brosnan.
#6 Skyfall (2012) – The one with Javier Bardem
Director: Sam Mendes (American Beauty, 1917, Road To Perdition, Jarhead, Spectre)
Cast: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Judi Dench, Naomie Harris, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Bérénice Marlohe, Rory Kinnear
Skyfall, directed by Sam Mendes, is a 23rd movie in the Bond series and the third one with Daniel Craig as agent 007. Released on the 50th anniversary of the series, Skyfall received some of the best reviews in the series and it became the most successful Bond movie in history. Judi Dench plays M for the last time which is a shame but thankfully producers found a worthy successor in Ralph Fiennes who will take over the role of M in Spectre. Skyfall also sees the return of two familiar characters that were absent in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace – Q, played by Ben Whishaw, and Moneypenny, played by Naomie Harris.
After an attack on MI6 in London, Bond must investigate out who’s behind it and retrieve the list of undercover agents. His investigation will lead him from London to Shangai and Macau where he’ll learn that a man responsible for the attack is Raul Silva (Javier Bardem) who has a personal motive and his real target is actually M.
After mediocre and generic Quantum of Solace, Skyfall put a franchise back on the right track. And it’s not hard to see why when you take a look at all the players involved. Just like Casino Royale, Skyfall is a little different than your typical Bond movie. Director Sam Mendes masterfully blends big action sequences with more intimate moments and the relationship between Bond and M is developed even further. Action sequences are very well-done – they are clearly executed, entertaining, and thrilling. Visually, the movie is gorgeous– shot by great Roger Deakins, Skyfall is one of the best looking movies in the series. Bardem’s Silva is one of the best and most memorable villains in the series and Craig gives his second-best performance in the role of 007 after Casino Royale.
With all the talents involved it’s evident they didn’t intend to make an ordinary action movie. They wanted to make a more intelligent and serious action movie. And here we come to the biggest problem I have with this movie – the script. It’s actually pretty solid for most of the time but problems start in the second part of the movie when Silva’s plan starts to unravel. I’m sorry but it’s just unconvincing and plain stupid.
Skyfall won several awards, including two Academy Awards – for Sound Editing and Best Original Song performed by Adele.
#5 For Your Eyes Only (1981) – The most grounded from Roger Moore’s era
Director: John Glen (Octopussy, A View to a Kill, The Living Daylights, Licence to Kill)
Cast: Roger Moore, Carole Bouquet, Julian Glover, Topol, Desmond Llewelyn, Walter Gotell
Directed by Bond newcomer John Glenn, For Your Eyes Only is the 12th Bond movie and the fifth one for Roger Moore. Knows as the more grounded 007 movie from Roger Moore era, For Your Eyes Only is also the best Roger Moore’s Bond movie. After a British spy ship St Georges, equipped with a weapons encryption device ATAC (Automatic Targeting Attack Communicator), is sunk, Bond is sent to investigate who’s responsible and to retrieve ATAC from falling into the wrong hands.
Following The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker which had their shares of ridiculous moments, For Your Eyes Only is a less silly and more serious movie but don’t get me wrong – this is still a James Bond movie. But a good Bond movie. Although it doesn’t start promisingly with a just so-so pre-credit sequence in which Bond disposes of Blofeld with a helicopter followed by a title sequence with a cheesy theme song by Sheena Easton, the movie picks up quickly and what follows is a very entertaining action film.
Yes, it has a forgettable villain without impressive secret lair, henchmen that’s not the best in Bond’s history, some unnecessary characters like teenage figure skater Bibi Dahl but also features pretty well-made action sequences, exciting car chases and stunts, some of the best and most attractive locations and set pieces in the series, a capable Bond girl and is a consistently entertaining entry in the franchise. Funny and entertaining, For Your Eyes Only is an underrated Bond movie and the best one from the Roger Moore era.
#4 From Russia With Love (1963) – The one on the train
Director: Terence Young (Dr. No, Thunderball)
Cast: Sean Connery, Daniela Bianchi, Robert Shaw, Bernard Lee, Lotte Lenya, Desmond Llewelyn
Second James Bond movie to hit the big screen, From Russia With Love, is an improvement on every level from Dr. No. It was a first Bond film with the musical title sequence and featured the first appearances of Q (played by Desmond Llewelyn who will play this role 16 more times before his death in 1999) and Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the head of a global criminal organization called SPECTRE. Although it had a bigger budget than Dr. No, From Russia With Love is more of a Cold War thriller than a big-budget action spectacle.
Connery was as good as the first time, Tatiana Romanova played by Daniela Bianchi had a more believable romance with agent 007 and was a more interesting Bond girl than Honey Ryder in Dr. No. Menacing Russian operative Red Grant (Robert Shaw) was one of the better henchmen in Bond catalog and action sequences, while scarce, were thrilling and entertaining and an improvement from Dr. No. One of the lowest points of the movie was Lotte Lenya as a SPECTRE villain Rosa Klebb, who served as an inspiration for great Frau Farbissina in Austin Powers. Rosa Klebb was one of the worst villains to appear in 007 movies. Still, 1963’s From Russia with Love is Connery’s second-best Bond movie and one of the best Bond films of all time.
You can read our full review here – From Russia With Love Review: One Of The Best Bond Movies In The Series.
#3 GoldenEye (1995) – The first one with Pierce Brosnan
Director: Martin Campbell (Casino Royale, The Mask of Zorro, Vertical Limit, Edge of Darkness, Green Lantern)
Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Sean Bean, Izabella Scorupco, Famke Janssen, Judi Dench, Robbie Coltrane, Gottfried John, Desmond Llewelyn, Alan Cumming
GoldenEye, the first Bond movie with Pierce Brosnan as agent 007, is a 17th entry in the series and also the first one not based on Ian Fleming’s novel. After the release of Licence to Kill in 1989, pre-production started on a new Bond movie but due to legal problems between distributor Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Danjaq (the film rights owners), the 17th Bond movie entered development hell. The whole thing lasted a couple of years and Dalton’s original seven-year contract with Danjaq expired in 1993 so he was replaced by Pierce Brosnan. By the way, did you know that Brosnan was offered the role of 007 back in 1986 for The Living Daylights but had to turn it down?
In GoldenEye Bond must confront a secret organization called Janus who stole a Russian deadly satellite weapon system “GoldenEye” from Space Weapons Control Centre Severnaya. His investigation will lead him from France to Russia and Cuba and he’ll discover that a man behind it all is his former friend and 00 agent Alec Trevelyan (Sean Bean).
Back in the 1990’s GoldenEye wasn’t a sure bet. Following a six-year hiatus, the new Bond movie was released in a period that was much different than the one when Dalton last time played 007. Also, GoldenEye didn’t only have a new actor in the lead role but a completely new cast as only Desmond Llewelyn reprised his role of Q. But in the end, GoldenEye successfully reintroduced James Bond to the audience. It was a critical and commercial success earning mostly positive reviews and becoming one of the highest-grossing entries in the series.
And it wasn’t hard to see why. It had a decent story, memorable villains, thrilling action sequences, attractive locations, nice set pieces, some impressive stunts, and one of the best theme songs in the series (performed by Tina Turner). Pierce Brosnan was born for the role of 007 and with Sean Connery and Daniel Craig is the best actor who portrayed James Bond. He had the looks and physique for the role, he was charming, witty, charismatic and confident. Judi Dench, the first woman to portray M, was also an excellent casting choice, and probably the best M in the series.
GoldenEye is the first and best Pierce Brosnan James Bond movie – entertaining, exciting, funny and action-packed with some of the best villains in the series. And a little bit of trivia – director Martin Campbell is the only director in the series who successfully reintroduced new Bond to the audience twice. After GoldenEye he also directed Daniel Craig’s Casino Royale in 2006.
#2 Goldfinger (1964) – The one that set a template for the series
Director: Guy Hamilton (Live and Let Die, Diamonds Are Forever, The Man with the Golden Gun, Force 10 from Navarone, Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins)
Cast: Sean Connery, Gert Fröbe, Honor Blackman, Harold Sakata, Bernard Lee, Desmond Llewelyn
Goldfinger, third Connery’s Bond movie, improved on a formula from its predecessors, introduced all of the series trademarks and set a template for every future Bond movie. With a bigger budget than two previous movies in the Bond franchise, Goldfinger had it all – fast sports cars, exciting action sequences, gadgets, a memorable villain (Auric Goldfinger), striking and dangerous henchmen (Oddjob, with his razor-rimmed hat, is one of the best henchmen in Bond history), attractive locations and beautiful women with an obviously sexual name (Pussy Galore is still one of the funniest Bond girl names in the series and ended on our list of James Bond Girls With Funny Names).
This was also a first Bond movie to feature Aston Martin (of course, equipped with machine guns, spikes, and ejector seat), the first time Bond said his famous line “A martini. Shaken, not stirred.”, first one to feature a Bond theme song over the opening title sequence (Shirley Bassey’s Goldfinger is still one of the best James Bond songs), first with a pre-credits scene with no ties to the rest of the movie and the first to show Q-branch and various gadgets in development.
Almost every next Bond movie followed this template and is just an iteration of the themes and motives established with Goldfinger. Best 007 movie with Sean Connery and second-best in the series. Unfortunately, it was all downhill for Connery’s Bond movies from here culminating in a God awful Diamonds Are Forever, who was by the way directed by the same guy who helmed Goldfinger.
You can read our full review here – Goldfinger Review: The One That Set Template For The Series.
#1 Casino Royale (2006) – Simply, the best Bond movie in history
Director: Martin Campbell (GoldenEye, The Mask of Zorro, Vertical Limit, Edge of Darkness, Green Lantern)
Cast: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright, Jesper Christensen
Casino Royale, a third screen adaptation of Ian Fleming’s novel of the same name, is a first Bond movie with Daniel Craig in the lead role and the 21st entry in the series produced by Eon Productions. After terrible Die Another Day, Brosnan retired from the role, and producers decided that the next movie in the series should be a more realistic and more faithful adaptation of Ian Fleming’s original Bond novels instead of relying so much on CGI and high-tech gadgets. After an extensive search for a new actor and director, producers picked Martin Campbell, who also directed GoldenEye, as a director. Many actors were considered for the role of 007, but the producers picked English actor Daniel Craig. Fans were furious with casting choice threatening to boycott the film as blond Craig didn’t fit the image of the dark, charming, handsome, and charismatic man like James Bond.
Many were skeptical about Casino Royale but when it was finally released in 2006, filmmakers proved them wrong. Martin Campbell, after GoldenEye, once again successfully reintroduced the new James Bond to the audience. Casino Royale was a critical and commercial success earning some of the best reviews in the series and becoming the highest-grossing installment in the series until the release of Skyfall in 2012.
Casino Royale was a much-needed reinvention of 007. Filmmakers decided to start from the beginning and show the early days of James Bond. In Casino Royale, he is not an experienced 00 agent and After earning a license to kill, Bond goes on his first mission as a 007. His target is Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), a banker to the world’s terrorists. As the movie is focused on the beginnings of 007 many of his trademarks are missing – there are no cool gadgets, no Q, no Moneypenny, no megalomaniacs with secret lair, no menacing henchmen, and no vodka martini “shaken, not stirred”.
It’s not hard to see why this reinvention of 007 turned out so good. This time filmmakers went with a more serious and grounded approach which was different than any previous version of James Bond. This one tells an actual story, has well-written characters, a solid script and strong performances from the cast. Although Craig looks more like a Vladimir than James, he is one of the best actors who played James Bond. Also, he’s a real character here, who is vulnerable, makes mistakes, bleeds after the fight, and needs a drink after killing a man. The same goes for Le Chiffre who is much more believable than most of Bond’s villains. And Mads Mikkelsen is excellent in the role, making Le Chiffre one of the best Bond antagonists. Eva Green’s Vesper Lynd has real chemistry with 007 and is one of the best Bond girls in history.
Casino Royale is the best entry in the series and a very enjoyable action movie. It’s entertaining and interesting to watch, it has some excellent and thrilling action sequences, well-written and believable characters, solid script and story, nice locations, one of the best and most interesting Bond girls in the series, excellent villain and strong performances from the cast.
And we reached the end of our list. What is your opinion? Do you agree with us? What is your favorite Bond movie?
- 15 Famous Actors Who Almost Played James Bond
- James Bond Girls With Funniest Names
- Funniest James Bond Disguises