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My James Bond Film Rankings

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My ranking of all EON-produced James Bond films. The list does not include Never Say Never Again as it was a non-EON production.

List items

  • A deconstruction of the character of Bond that brought him to his elemental core while also grounding him in a modern context. Top notch production throughout.

  • Featuring who I consider to be the best Bond, this brought the character back from farce and far closer to what Fleming had originally envisioned for the character. Though Koskov and Whitaker aren't quite as memorable as other villains in the series, Bond has rarely felt more honestly tested and pushed to his capabilities.

  • The film that cemented Connery as an icon and the dangerous yet debonair qualities of Bond. Without a doubt, if Connery could only have made one film as Bond, this would be the one to keep.

  • The film that first showed off the deeper side and softer underbelly of Bond. Lazenby is the one weak link in the film, but there's so much working around him that you let it slide. For the first time, true tragedy -- an actual hallmark of the makeup of the character -- strikes Bond on film.

  • The best of Brosnan's Bonds was his first outing, and it should be noted that the Bond he plays here is decidedly different than the one that would feature in his three following films. Taking over from Dalton after the legal mess and the long hiatus, Brosnan's Bond as written has some of the darker aspects of Dalton's but a return to the charm that marked most of Moore's outings. Not only does the character feel relevant amidst all talk that he died with the Cold War, but he plays as a competent modern action star as well. This, with 'Casino Royale,' proves Martin Campbell might be Bond's best director.

  • This is the film most would point to as the one that clinched James Bond's place in pop culture history. After the relatively straightforward adventures of the first two films, this introduces the concept of the larger-than-life main villain, outlandish plots, cavernous lairs, and many other of the trademarks elements that have come to be associated with the character. 'Goldfinger' is the best of the films that feature these things.

  • Still, technically, the most successful of the Bond films when adjusted for currency value, inflation, and for profit, this film took the 'Goldfinger' formula and ramped it up to silly levels. This was the point where Bond became more comic book fantasy than spy adventure, rightfully taking the credit as much as the blame. The film is dorky but charming and fun.

  • The first film in the series still ranks high, even if Connery's take on Bond isn't quite what Fleming had in mind. Still, you can't escape Connery's charisma and the introduction of a number of elements that would come to feature in the best of the films. The Caribbean setting also gives the film a distinctive flair.

  • The elements of Moore's character that had struggled to find a hold on-screen through three films finally come together in the best turn for the man who held on to the role the longest (so far). Moore is his most charming and effective here.

  • An earnest but ultimately underwhelming attempt to delve into the psychology of the character of James Bond. Bardem's villain is very modern and weird, in addition to being the best part of a film that is as much about M and her reign over MI6 as it is about Bond. Craig's cold, lithe, brutal take on the character appears in fits and starts but gets lost in a plot that feels like it's trying to be more Le Carre or Ludlum than Fleming at many points. The movie is good; it just doesn't necessarily feel like a Bond story.

  • Following the wonderful 'The Spy Who Loves Me' with the very regrettable 'Moonraker' proved to be a big mistake, and this film feels like a minor return to what worked about 'TSWLM'. This would prove to be the last good Bond film Moore would appear in.

  • More or less an epilogue to the story in 'Casino Royale,' this first true sequel is shortchanged by Forster's direction and a lackluster story. Still, Craig is in top form and the bits that connect emotionally to the previous film play very well. The film also effectively introduces the concept of a multinational group behind the shady plots that has been sorely missing from the franchise since SPECTRE was excised from it. This film is actually one of the more underrated of the series.

  • The concepts behind the movie are quite compelling, even if it is one of the most blatantly racist of the series. Bond faking his death as a means to infiltrate the enemy off their radar was engrossing stuff for the time. Still, to think Connery could ever pass for "a Japanese" was ludicrous and the set-up for that will have you cringing.

  • Suffering from a problem that seemed to plague all three of the Brosnan films following 'GoldenEye,' 'TWINE' never really fleshes out an interesting plot and compelling set-up. By this point already devolving into the ridiculous, farcical elements that marred and defined Moore's era -- not to mention naming a character Christmas simply to set up a groaner of a double entendre joke -- the movie wastes an interesting relationship between Bond and Elektra and a villain with a condition that could've earned an iconic place amongst the best.

  • Dalton is still spot-on as Bond, but the threat comes off like low-rent 'Miami Vice'. Something stronger could've been done with Bond facing off against a drug cartel, especially with such a personal attack in Bond's life, as well as Bond resolving to quit the service on a personal vendetta. Unfortunately, it all comes off vicious without much heft, though the stunts and setpieces are captivating.

  • Probably the most wasted premise of all of the films. Something could really be done with a media magnate who wants to play tyrant and manipulate world events for his own gain and sense of control. This movie sadly doesn't explore the premise all that well. Brosnan shifts to a more surface Bond, even with a bit of a disturbing anger streak, though they include a past love that was worth exploring more.

  • A disappointment given the set-up and the return of SPECTRE to Bond after 40 years. Thoroughly gorgeous, yet interminably long and boring, there were so many stretches that felt like a tone poem trying to evoke mood. Comes off pretentious rather than sophisticated. And the key twist is a boneheaded decision that drags down the film and all of the Craig Bond films in the process. Mendes just isn't a fit for Bond and the franchise would be better off if bowed out from ever doing another.

  • Moore's first turn in the role attempts to reinvent the character by removing a lot of the familiar elements and adding a flair of whimsy that would be his medium in the part. There are good bits, but it's mostly too silly to invest in, with broad characters and rather unfortunate racial stereotypes.

  • Another interesting concept wasted in execution. Seeing Bond square off with a man who is considered one of the best marksman in the world (with the ego to boot) could make for a taut thriller but here is a kitschy mess.

  • Admittedly a bit of a guilty pleasure at points, the auction scene from 'The Property of a Lady' is wasted by a thoroughly silly plot and a series of setpieces that seem designed to give Moore something new to do rather than being a cohesive story.

  • Connery should not have come back for this, and it can be felt on-screen. Lifeless and listless, the series felt like it had run its course and was offering yet another Blofeld plot that just came across as tired. The film feels like a parody of Connery's time in the part.

  • The "...and the kitchen sink" of all the films. In an effort to prove Bond relevant during the Brosnan era, his films become increasingly more and more ridiculous, chocked full of explosions and action untethered from reality, and Bond more comic book superhero than spy. The movie attempts to honor 40 years of the series' history with cheap callouts to elements of the previous 19 films. It also has nowhere to go but "bigger," resulting in scenes of invisible cars, parasailing a tsunami, and a satellite using the sun as a laser weapon. It's embarrassing and rightfully ended the Brosnan era.

  • What I would consider the most boring of all the films. The microchip plot lays flat throughout and Moore's age works against him at every turn. The pairing of Moore's Bond and Grace Jones in bed reads desperate rather than organic and Walken's villain never hits. Even an appearance by Patrick Macnee does nothing to help the film.

  • James Bond should never be in space. End of story.