Tag Archives: James Bond

Sean Connery’s James Bond Movies Ranked

James Bond Sean Connery

This list will include Sean Connery’s 6 official James Bond movies from Dr. No to Diamonds Are Forever, as well as the unofficial Bond film Never Say Never Again which he starred in.

It was an interesting experience getting to rewatch the James Bond movies and ending them with the Sean Connery films instead of beginning with them. Like with Roger Moore’s James Bond, I liked Connery’s era as the iconic spy more than I thought I would, even if they aren’t some of my favourites in the franchise. I’m mixed on some of Connery’s films, I dislike one of them, and there’s only a couple that I would consider among the best in the franchise. With that said, they mostly worked for what they are.

7. Diamonds Are Forever

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Diamonds Are Forever is not only my least favourite Sean Connery James Bond movie, but my absolute least favourite James Bond movie (unless the 1960s Casino Royale ends up being worse). Right from the beginning it disappoints, as it doesn’t take advantage of the ending from its predecessor On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. It quickly establishes itself as going back to formula, and the events of the last movie aren’t mentioned at all. Even though Bond movies aren’t known for their continuity film to film, it was wasted potential. Even discounting that however, the plot itself just isn’t good. The story is convoluted, boring, drawn out and nonsensical and just jumps from one goofy set piece to another. Diamonds Are Forever also dials up the camp more than the previous movies, it gets so unbelievably silly and stupid to the point that I can’t even praise it for how over the top it gets. That being said, those absurd moments nor the sprinkle of genuinely funny moments like Bond driving around in a moon buggy can prevent the movie from being painfully dull. Even though he previously directed Goldfinger, Guy Hamilton’s work on DAF is disappointing. While the action scenes aren’t usually outright bad, they were boring and on autopilot. There’s also little to no energy throughout the movie, making for a sluggish viewing experience.

There are some bad supporting performances from cast, from the Bond girls to the villains, including the worst version of Ernst Stravo Blofeld. What sinks Diamonds Are Forever for me more than some of Bond’s other worst movies however is the fact that Sean Connery just wasn’t invested at all. Every other Bond actor at least looked like they were trying in their movies. Connery does have some charm to him, but otherwise his performance in DAF clearly indicated that this was a paycheck role for him. Not to say that there aren’t aspects of the movie that I don’t like. The setting of Vegas is different for Bond, if not as interesting, and the production design and technical elements are solid. John Barry’s score is decent, and there is a very good Bond song with the title track Diamonds Are Forever as sung by Shirley Bassey. There’s also a genuinely good scene in which Bond fights someone in an elevator, which is actually tense and effective. On the whole though, Diamonds Are Forever a terrible movie. It’s just as well that Sean Connery was in the movie because otherwise, the James Bond franchise really could’ve just ended here.

My review of Diamonds Are Forever

6. Thunderball

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Thunderball is a movie that I’m very mixed on, it felt particularly like a let-down after the rather solid first three films of Connery’s run. They certainly increased the scope and stakes of the movie after the immense success of Goldfinger, but you don’t really feel them. In fact, there’s a real sense of blandness to the story and characters, on the whole I wasn’t very engaged or excited with what was happening. The movie slowly moves with a sluggish pace, and it was a really underwhelming experience. It doesn’t help that hanging over the rest of the movie is that extended segment in the first act in a massage parlour, featuring a notably rapey James Bond who harasses and coerces a nurse, only serving to make the rest of the movie uncomfortable to sit through. Much of the cast are a mixed bag too. Sean Connery is confident and charming as usual, and Luciana Paluzzi made for a great henchwoman in Fiona Volpe. On the other hand, Claudine Auger as Bond girl Domino and the villain Largo played by Alfodo Celi were incredibly underwhelming and forgettable.

Thunderball is impressive on a technical level and makes use of the higher budget. It’s well shot, has a great production design and has technically great underwater sequences. With that said, the action is large but not thrilling, and the underwater scenes are rather boring to watch and hard to make out what is going on. All that aside, I don’t dislike Thunderball. There are some entertaining moments and some really good scenes. I liked the moments of camp, and it certainly has some memorable moments and aspects. Perhaps it’s not a popular opinion, but I just couldn’t get much out of Thunderball. Enjoyable moments and a couple of good performances in an otherwise disappointingly dull film. Lower tier James Bond for sure.

My review of A View to a Kill

5. Never Say Never Again

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I don’t know what is more controversial, having Never Say Never Again this high on the list, or placing it higher than Thunderball, the film it is based on. This is the infamous movie that was not only an unofficial Bond film, not only a remake of Thunderball, but also starring Sean Connery (the same year Roger Moore was James Bond in Octopussy mind you). As it is, the movie isn’t all that good, but I like it more than most people. The plot isn’t the movie’s strongest suit; it is similar to the original Thunderball, and knowing the general plot definitely takes away from the viewing experience as it goes through similar beats. The story is forgettable, not engaging, uneven and tonally off kilter, contributing to the story losing focus. It is more clunky and messy but it wasn’t that much worse than Thunderball’s story, I had more fun with NSNA at the very least. The movie was very over the top and silly, and was entertaining as such. It is fully self-aware and only benefits from that. It leans into camp, from Bond duelling Largo in a game of Space Invaders, to Bond ending a fight with a henchman by throwing a glass of his own urine in his face.

Sean Connery returns to play James Bond after a 12-year absence, and while there’s a lot here that would’ve been better had it been performed by Roger Moore instead, he is surprisingly sharp, and his charisma is back on display. He slips back into his role with ease, and ironically Never Say Never Again gives him a better sendoff compared to Diamonds are Forever. It also benefits from acknowledging Connery’s age and instead of trying to hide it, makes it a plot point in the movie. There’s a mix of decent or at least interesting performances, from Max von Sydow’s one scene appearance as Ernst Stravo Blofeld, to Barbara Carrera in a distinctly different and over the top maniacal version of Fiona Volpe from the original Thunderball. However, Klaus Maria Brandauer’s Largo was the standout, much better than the Largo in Thunderball. A menacing and unpredictable villain, who is also a delight to watch. Irvin Kershner’s work as director is fine, definitely lacking a lot of Bond trademarks including the Gunbarrel sequence in the opening. The technical level isn’t as strong as the other Bond movies and the visuals aren’t special. The action was entertaining enough though, and while the underwater sequences weren’t good, they were at least more fun to watch compared to the ones from Thunderball. Never Say Never Again is definitely in the bottom third of James Bond movies, and I’m not sure I can call it good. However I think I went into it with the right mindset and I enjoyed it for what it was.

My review of Never Say Never Again

4. You Only Live Twice

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This is the point where the series started leaning more into camp, in fact at this moment it was the goofiest point in the franchise. It was a less a political spy thriller and more a silly spy adventure with a light tone. I do think that it is quite entertaining in the absurdity, even if it borders on self-parody at many times. It does at least help that the movie is self-aware. I was generally enjoying it throughout, helped by the tight pacing and some creative and ambitious moments. Lewis Gilbert’s direction is quite good, there are some great locations, environments and set designs that are visually impressive, and the action set pieces are elaborate and fun to watch. You Only Live Twice also has the first on screen appearance of Ernst Stravo Blofeld, played here by Donald Pleasence. Over the top and cartoonish yet creepy, he’s one of the most memorable and iconic Bond villains.

YOLT has plenty of issues, however. The story is really lacking, especially when compared to most of the previous Bond films. There are plenty of memorable sequences and moments, but I don’t think the film is memorable overall. Sean Connery is once again enjoyable as Bond, but he does seem a little bored and worn down here, not one of his best performances in the franchise. You Only Live Twice is definitely one of the most problematic James Bond movies too, and that’s really saying something. There are weird undercurrents with its racial and gender politics. Even by Bond standards there is a notable air of sexism throughout. As for the racial politics, all I need to say is that it is the movie that has Bond donning yellowface to pretend to be Japanese, definitely one of the most embarrassing moments in the franchise. YOLT is not one of the best movies in the series by any means, but it is still enjoyable to watch.

My review of You Only Live Twice

3. Dr No

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Dr No is where the James Bond franchise all started. Released 60 years ago, it is definitely dated when going back to it, yet it managed to be better than I expected. At the very least it was interesting to see how everything started. It hadn’t quite gotten into the Bond formula we know today, it doesn’t have many of its trademarks like Q, the gadgets, etc. It is a proper espionage spy thriller, with more emphasis on intrigue than spectacle. It is not overly campy, in fact its surprisingly low key and simple while having a 60s old school charm to it. Terence Young’s direction is pretty good, and while the movie is definitely lower budget, they pull of quite a lot with what they have considering it’s a movie from 1962, and there are also some quite impressive set pieces. However, it is of course Sean Connery who is the standout, hitting it out of the park as he debuts as James Bond and making a very strong impression. He’s suave and witty, yet very believable as a dark and cold-blooded killer. Connery is front and centre throughout much of the movie, and it only benefits from that.

Not to say it doesn’t have its issues. The plot itself isn’t that interesting, it meanders a lot and its pacing is all over the place, the middle section of the movie is particularly boring. Even the climax is disappointing. The villains are also pretty underwhelming. Problematic casting and yellowface aside, Dr No as the main villain is disappointing, he appears only in the third act and doesn’t leave much of an impression. I wouldn’t call Dr No one of the best Bond movies overall but it is definitely important, and it was interesting to watch at the very least.

My review of Dr No

2. Goldfinger

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Goldfinger is one of the most iconic and impactful James Bond movies, in fact many have called it the all-time best. While I wouldn’t go that far, I do think it is good and amongst the best in the franchise. Sean Connery’s third Bond movie is where the franchise finally came into its own, fully establishing the formula that most of the films would follow, from 007 being given elaborate and clever gadgets from Q, to even having the introduction of the Aston Martin. It has a good cast with memorable characters with some of the most iconic Bond villains in Auric Goldfinger and his henchman Oddjob. It also has a comparatively lighter tone and is very aware of its own absurdity, while not venturing into campy Roger Moore territory. Guy Hamilton’s direction takes Bond on a larger scale, the technical elements from the sets to the action sequences are strong.

Not that it doesn’t have its issues. Goldfinger is outdated in many ways even beyond on a technical level, and some scenes haven’t aged well to say the least. The script is a bit expository, and the pacing can drag, especially in the second half. Also, while Sean Connery is once again good and capable as Bond, he’s not as interesting to watch here, especially as Bond doesn’t have much to do from the halfway point. There are better films in the franchise than Goldfinger and I don’t quite love it, but I do think it is really good.

My review of Goldfinger

1. From Russia with Love

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Goldfinger might’ve been where the franchise really took off and started the ball rolling. However for me, From Russia with Love is the better James Bond movie. From Russia with Love like Dr No is an espionage spy thriller but is better in so many ways. Whereas parts of Dr No’s story could be shaky, From Russia with Love feels confident from beginning to end. They upped the scope and scale here and they expand on it in many ways, from having no gadgets to having a suitcase full of tricks, the movie takes Bond to many different locations, and it has larger set pieces. The slow burn plot is more interesting, mysterious and intriguing, it could be even Hitchcockian in parts with tense sequences. Sean Connery was great as James Bond in Dr No and is even better here, feeling a lot more confident. There’s also a better cast of characters, Daniela Bianchi was good as Bond girl Tatiana Romonova who works well with Connery. It even featured the introduction of Desmond Llewelyn’s Q. Even though the villains aren’t always present throughout the film, they’re quite memorable.

Terence Young’s direction is stronger here than in Dr No, the action scenes are grander and more fleshed out, particularly the fight on a train which is one of the best fights in the series. Plotwise, From Russia with Love can be a little convoluted, even then it is still well constructed. It also has its outdated moments as to be expected with it being a 60s Bond movie. Otherwise, From Russia with Love is an improvement over Dr No in pretty much every way, from the writing, to the directing performances and characters. It’s Sean Connery’s best Bond movie and also one of the best James Bond movies.

My review of From Russia With Love

What do you think of Sean Connery’s run as James Bond? How would you rank his movies?

Diamonds Are Forever (1971) Review

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Diamonds Are Forever

Time: 97 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Sean Connery as James Bond
Jill St. John as Tiffany Case
Charles Gray as Ernst Stavro Blofeld
Lana Wood as Plenty O’Toole
Jimmy Dean as Willard Whyte
Bruce Cabot as Albert R. ‘Bert’ Saxby
Director: Guy Hamilton

James Bond masquerades as Peter Franks to uncover a diamond smuggling conspiracy. He must also deal with his old rival, who wants to use the diamonds to build a giant laser.

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Diamonds Are Forever follows on from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, which quickly became one of my favourite Bond movies. Going into my rewatch of Diamonds of Forever I did hear some things about it, first of all that Sean Connery returned to play Bond, and second of all that it was one of the worst films in the series. Before my rewatches of Bond, I didn’t remember much of the movies, so I was curious to see what made this film particularly terrible. So I watched it again and I quickly found out.

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Notably, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service ended with James Bond’s wife Tracy being killed by SPECTRE on their wedding day, so you’d think that the movie would immediately follow on from that. Diamonds Are Forever opens with an over-the-top scene where Bond roughly interrogating people, demanding to know where Blofeld is. This silly cold open seems to serve the purpose of just getting that whole business dealt with immediately, concluding with Bond supposedly killing Blofeld (even though it is so obvious that he’s not dead). However, Tracy is not mentioned once throughout DAF, nor the events of OHMSS, so you really could’ve jumped into the movie after watching You Only Live Twice and not realise there was a movie in between. I get that this is par for the course for Bond in terms of feeling loosely connected. However, it feels like wasted potential that they didn’t capitalise on the events on the last movie. The plot itself was boring, drawn out and nonsensical. This incredibly convoluted story has Bond trying to uncover a diamond smuggling ring. After the opening, scene the first thirty minutes seemed promising, but any hope for it being good gradually fades away. At times it is pretty clear that the plot is not the main focus, as it jumps from one goofy setpiece to another silly setpiece in which hijinks ensue. James Bond is no stranger to camp elements but Diamonds Are Forever dials it all the way up, it particularly stands out when you compare it to OHMSS. Diamonds Are Forever is definitely one of the most over the top and silly Bond movies, continuing in the direction that You Only Live Twice was moving. However here, its at the point where it feels like it is parodying itself. It feels like they tried to put some form gag into almost every scene, even the puns and one liners were bad. In some of the worst Bond movies, I wished that they leant more into its silliness so it could at least be fun to watch. DAF definitely did this but to the point where it made the movie worse, even occasionally painful to watch. Despite all that, those moments aren’t enough to prevent the plot from being dreadfully dull. There are some fun moments, including when Connery is driving around a moon buggy. I also think that the setting of Vegas is at least different for James Bond, if not as interesting. However on the whole, the writing is just really bad, surprising considering that it’s the same people who worked on the previous movies.

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Following George Lazenby’s departure from the role of James Bond, Sean Connery played his iconic character once more. Reportedly he was paid a large sum of money ($1.25 million) to return, and you can definitely see that, in the sense that this was really clearly a paycheck role. In all the other Bond movies, you can at least see the Bond actors putting a lot of effort into their performances, even Roger Moore in the later movies was at least trying. But Connery does not feel like his Bond from years ago. He really phones it in despite having some charm to him. It really is a shame because this is his last official outing as James Bond. I will say this though, had they not cast Connery, it really could’ve been the end of James Bond as a franchise considering the overall film. Diamonds of Forever has some of the worst Bond girls in the franchise, the main one being Jill St. John as Tiffany Case who feels really out of place here. Really though, the female characters are all terrible here, and in fact just about all the characters are bad. The role of Ernst Stravo Blofeld as previously played by Donald Pleasence in You Only Live Twice and Telly Savalas in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was recast yet again. The next person to play the head of SPECTRE is Charles Gray, who interestingly already played a Bond ally in You Only Live Twice. This is very much a campy version of Blofeld and quite possibly the worst version of the character, really not adding anything at all. However he is occasionally funny in a over the top way. I guess he does briefly disguise himself in drag at once point, you can’t say that the other Blofelds ever did that. There’s a duo of random hitmen that the film keeps cutting to named Mr. Kidd and Mr. Wint as played by Putter Smith and Bruce Glover, who are heavily implied to be gay. I feel like they might’ve worked better in a Roger Moore movie. While they are at least unique and memorable, they aren’t good here. All their scenes feel like an unwanted detour and distraction, just another unfunny gag.

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Diamonds Are Forever is directed by Guy Hamilton, who made Goldfinger. This should inspire confidence, it’s just a shame that his work here is disappointing. Much of the production design and similar technical elements are solid. However, there’s just a lack of energy throughout. The action scenes aren’t necessarily bad but are boring, lazy and on autopilot, as if it was just going through the similar motions of the previous movies. Even the car chase scene in Vegas and another chase scene involving a moon buggy somehow manage to feel devoid of energy. I will give props to one legitimately good scene in which Bond fights someone in an elevator, that was actually well done. As far as other technical praises go, the John Barry score is decent and the title track Diamonds Are Forever as sung by Shirley Bassey is really good, among the best songs in the franchise.

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Diamonds Are Forever is easily the worst film of the Bond series. There are moments of enjoyment, some of the over-the-top scenes can be fun to watch, and there are some genuinely good aspects like the elevator fight or the title song. However, its just all around bad on the whole. The writing is terrible with a dumb yet dull plot, incredibly goofy moments that rank amongst the franchise’s lowest points, and disappointing direction. While there have been other bad movies in the series’ Sean Connery’s phoned in performance as Bond is ultimately what cemented it for me as the absolute worst. It is honestly a miracle that the series just didn’t end here.

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) Review

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On Her Majesty's Secret Service

Time: 133 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence
Cast:
George Lazenby as James Bond
Diana Rigg as Countess Tracy di Vicenzo
Telly Savalas as Ernst Stavro Blofeld
Ilse Steppat as Irma Bunt
Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny
George Baker as Sir Hilary Bray
Bernard Lee as M
Director: Peter R. Hunt

James Bond sets out a mission to defeat Blofeld, who hypnotizes beautiful women to fulfil his evil motives. Meanwhile, he also falls in love with a crime lord’s daughter.

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Out of all the James Bond movies I was rewatching, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was one of the films I was most looking forward to. From its reputation, I had heard that it was very different for a Bond movie (even beyond it being the only George Lazenby Bond movie). Not only that, but the latest instalment No Time to Die apparently took a lot from this film, so I was curious to see the similarities. Having watched it, I can confirm that it is now one of my favourites in the series.

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The plot is engaging and suspenseful, and one of the best plots in the franchise; it really is one of the only instances in a Bond movie where the story is really the main focus and importance of the film. It does seem to shy away from some of the silliness and tropes of the previous Bond movies, especially considering that it is after one of the most outlandish instalments in You Only Live Twice. OHMSS feels more grounded at times, while having some of the over the top nature of the past movies. It still follows the formula and is in line with the past movies, yet is handled with a mature sensibility and with some interesting changes. There is a greater sense of emotional weight here, and it adds a surprising amount of depth to Bond. The writing does have its issues, there is a long section with Bond infiltrating Blofeld’s clinic which goes on for a bit too long. The film is paced steadily over the course of the film and while it won’t work for everyone, I liked it generally. That said, it does slow down at times, the Blofeld clinic section being an example. It is a long movie at 2 hours and 20 minutes and outside of a few moments like the aforementioned section, I do generally think it works. For all its starts and stops, the final hour of the movie is so great and satisfying. There’s also the ending which I won’t elaborate on for those who don’t know about it, but it is certainly one of the most unexpected endings for a Bond movie and is surprisingly impactful.

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In 1967, Sean Connery quit the role of James Bond, leading George Lazenby to be the next Bond. Being the next actor to play Bond following Connery is not easy by any means. It doesn’t help that this is Lazenby’s first acting role, and this is his first and only time playing Bond. A lot of people’s biggest issue with OHMSS is George Lazenby as Bond, with many finding him to be wooden. I can certainly see that, and there are definitely some issues with his performance. He’s not quite as charismatic as Connery, and while he’s great in some scenes, there’s definitely others where he comes across as rather stiff. That said, I still think Lazenby is good overall. At the very least he doesn’t try to do an impression of Connery, his take on the character is more relatable and sympathetic in comparison He does very well at the drama; he’s convincingly vulnerable and empathetic, yet suave. That’s not to say that Connery couldn’t pull off the more vulnerable scenes, but it is admittedly hard to imagine his Bond playing the more emotional scene, or indeed genuinely falling in love like Lazenby’s Bond does here. Additionally, I think he is even better than Connery with the action and fight scenes on a physical level. I’d probably place him as the worst actor who played Bond, but he’s not bad by any means. A great aspect of this movie is its Bond girl Tracy, as played by Diana Rigg. She’s not only one of the best Bond girls especially with how she’s written and her involvement in the plot, Rigg’s performance is great and really adds a lot to the character and movie. The romance between her and Bond is very believable and is a highlight. Another notable aspect of the movie is Blofeld, with Donald Pleasence not reprising his role after playing him in You Only Live Twice, instead casting Telly Savalas in the part. It does make sense however since Blofeld is very physical and hands on in this movie, so it required a more physically capable actor. While I might be in the minority on this, I think this is the best version of Blofeld. It is a little weird when you consider the general portrayal of the character, here Blofeld even repurposed himself as a count. However, he is formidable and threatening despite his absurd plan, and I thought he was great.

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Peter R. Hunt directs OHMSS and his work here is strong, the style is very different to the other movies in the franchise in a great way. It is one of the best-looking Bond films, at the very least it is the absolute best looking up to this point in the series. The action sequences are exciting, featuring some of the best fight scenes in the series up to that point. The ski chase scenes have a sense of scale and a lot of energy. The stunts are great, and the climax is very satisfying. As usual, John Barry’s score is excellent. The main theme is particularly great, which plays over the opening credits. Also the use of Louis Armstrong’s “We Have All The Time In The World” was incredibly effective.

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On Her Majesty’s Secret Service has its issues for sure. The middle act can be a little slow and while I think George Lazenby made for a good James Bond, there definitely was some room for improvement regarding his performance. Otherwise, I think it’s definitely one of the best James Bond movies, best Bond movie at that point in the series at the very least. The more personal and emotional take with the story and characters, the direction and action all comes together to form a very satisfying and unique Bond film.

Dr. No (1962) Review

Dr. No

Dr. No

Time: 109 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] contains low level violence
Cast:
Sean Connery as James Bond
Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder
Joseph Wiseman as Dr. Julius No
Jack Lord as Felix Leiter
Bernard Lee as M
John Kitzmiller as Quarrel
Anthony Dawson as Professor R.J. Dent
Zena Marshall as Miss Taro
Eunice Gayson as Sylvia Trench
Director: Terence Young

Agent 007 decides to battle against an eccentric scientist, Dr No, who is determined to ruin the US space programme. For this purpose, he journeys to Jamaica to nip in the bud this megalomaniac peril.

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After No Time to Die I decided to rewatch the pre-Craig James Bond movies in the most illogical order, going backwards from Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan all the way back to Sean Connery and George Lazenby. Going to the Sean Connery movies was interesting, especially with seeing how the franchise started. The first film, Dr. No, is definitely very dated and I wouldn’t call it among the best Bond movies by any means. However it is pretty good and held up better than I expected.

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Having watched the post Connery Bond movies, it was interesting seeing how the Bond trademarks began on film. The James Bond movies are known for being over the top but Dr. No is not that overly campy. In fact, it is surprising how low key and simple its beginning is, Bond’s first movie is more of a proper espionage spy thriller more intrigue than large explosions. Many of the Bond trademarks aren’t here, no Q, no gadgets (outside of a gun), and no globetrotting (it takes place largely in Jamaica). As such, it was very interesting to watch. It also has a 60s old school charm to it which made it endearing to watch, even if it is outdated in many ways. I will admit that I wasn’t fully invested in the story. The pacing is all over the place, the plot can meander quite often, and the middle part of the movie is generally boring. Also, I found the conclusion to the movie to be rather disappointing.

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Sean Connery makes his debut as James Bond, he was the first actor to play him. He makes a strong impression; he is suave and delivers the witty lines excellently. At the same time, he is very believable as a dark character and cold blooded killer, being particularly realistic in the action scenes with his physicality. Connery also benefits from being front and centre in this movie. Generally, the rest of the cast are pretty good if underutilised. Ironically the weakest link is Dr. No himself, as played by Joseph Wiseman. Problematic casting and yellowface aside, the main villain shows up with 30 minutes left of the runtime. While those types of villains can work, Dr. No doesn’t leave much of an impression outside of having metal hands and apparently being really smart. Even some of the side villains like the assassins pretending to be blind are fairly weak as antagonists go.

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Terence Young directs Dr. No, and his work is pretty good. They definitely had a lower budget here compared to the later Bond movies, but they still pulled off a fair amount. Some of the technical elements still hold up well surprisingly. The green screen is definitely dated but otherwise it has good production designs and makes use of the locations in Jamacia. There are also some impressive set pieces with good action scenes. This movie also introduces the iconic James Bond theme by John Barry. The one problem is that the theme is used a bit too much throughout the movie, almost to the point of parody.

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I wouldn’t call Dr. No by any means one of the best Bond movies. It is definitely dated from a technical and writing perspective, and it can be pretty slow and boring at times, especially in the second act. However, it is definitely one of the most unique entries of James Bond considering its before it became a large and successful franchise. It’s interesting seeing it as a relatively gritty spy thriller with a focus on espionage. Additionally, it was directed well, and Sean Connery is great as James Bond.

Roger Moore’s James Bond Movies Ranked

James Bond Roger Moore

After rewatching the Daniel Craig, Pierce Brosnan and Timothy Dalton eras of James Bond, I went back to Roger Moore’s run as Bond. Moore’s Bond was clearly popular, with him being the actor in the most amount of official Bond movies (7 in total).

I knew going in that his movies were on the campy side, even if you ignored Moonraker, however I enjoyed Roger Moore as Bond a lot more than I thought I would. With that said, his movies are all over the place in terms of quality. With the exception of one film, his movies wouldn’t be among my favourite in the franchise, and there’s particularly a few of his films that rank among the worst in the franchise.

With that being said, I do enjoy most of these movies, and all of them have at least a couple of good aspects to them.

7. Octopussy

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I didn’t really know what to expect from Octopussy going in, but I expected something more. It started off well, establishing itself as being on the campy side of Bond but it gradually got worse over time. Yes, in its attempts to lean more towards camp it has some moments that were “a bit too much” such as Bond Tarzan swinging in the jungle, and most of the humour just wasn’t that funny. However that’s not the main issue that brings down the movie. The most surprisingly part is how dull it all felt. The script is muddled and confused, with the most needlessly convoluted plot in a James Bond movie which is very difficult to follow. There’s something about the movie that feels so thrown together, half baked and underdeveloped, as it lazily falls back into familiarity and old tropes. There’s no momentum in the plot and very little progression, making for a rather sluggish experience. Some aspects of the movie are outright bad for sure, including some of the franchise’s worse instances of racism and sexism, however it’s not like there’s any individual moments which make you give up on the movie by how outrageous it gets. Instead, it wears you down over time, and by the third act it becomes tedious to watch.

It’s unfortunate because there actually are some decent aspects to the film. Roger Moore was getting on in the years and he’s definitely had better performances as Bond, but he’s still effortlessly enjoyable to watch. Director John Glen had delivered better work with the previous film For Your Eyes Only, but he still delivers some good work here. The cinematography is solid, and while the action isn’t that thrilling and leans more into being camp, they are nonetheless quite impressive with really good stunt work. Overall Octopussy just felt incredibly boring and becomes a slog to sit through. Despite some strengths, the script just lets it all down. It’s that rare type of Bond film of being both incredibly dumb while being incredible dull. Even at their worst, its rare to see a Bond movie where it feels like a chore to sit through.

My review of Octopussy

6. A View to a Kill

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A View to a Kill is often regarded as one of the worst Bond movies. I don’t dislike it as much as a lot of other people, but I do at least agree that it’s at the lower end of the franchise. The plot feels rather routine and without many surprises, with parts that feel very tired. The first half of the movie is particularly dull, when you’re spending an hour watching James Bond investigating horse race fixing, you’re just wondering why we are here. It picks up in the second half, but only by a little. It doesn’t help that the movie is way too long at over 2 hours long, with that runtime being paced very unevenly and messily. Finally getting around to the elephant in the room: Roger Moore is too old to play James Bond at this point. Moore has come across as being on the older side since For Your Eyes Only but it’s incredibly distracting here. The worst part is how they try to convince us that he’s in his prime, while taking every opportunity to replace him with a stunt double. He comes across as tired, much like the movie he’s in. The reliance of stunt doubles for Moore is felt here more strongly than ever, this negatively affects many of the scenes (especially the action), and it just comes across like the film is trying to film and cut around him, and that’s not a particularly good feeling to have.

So the question is, why do I like it more than Octopussy? For one, the plot is considerably more comprehensible. While it’s dull and far from good, I wouldn’t call the story terrible. It works fine enough and is at least better tuned than the last film’s plot. It also has a fair number of memorable scenes, for better and for worse. Even the dragging first half still had some enjoyable aspects that kept me willing to sit through the movie to see what would happen next. Also as I said earlier, the second half does pick up when the setting changes to San Francisco, and there’s some fun to be had there. Also while both Octopussy and A View to a Kill are both campy, something about the 80s cheese feel of the latter makes it more enjoyable and tolerable. While you wouldn’t rank them among Bond’s best action scenes, the action does have its moments in spite of all the Roger Moore stunt doubles. They’re not all memorable, but some moments like a car chase in Paris, a chase in a fire truck, and a scene involving a blimp near the Golden Gate Bridge nonetheless stand out. The villains as played by Christopher Walken and Grace Jones are very entertaining and memorable, the film picks up every time they appear on screen. Walken is oddly restrained and not peak Walken like he is in the 90s, but he nonetheless shines as one of the most outwardly psychopathic Bond villains, and Grace Jones is entertaining in her role and a great physical presence. A View to a Kill is definitely one of the worst films in the whole franchise but it has its enjoyable aspects. It definitely ended Moore’s run as James Bond on a whimper, but for what its worth, it’s at least better than Octopussy.

My review of A View to a Kill

5. Live and Let Die

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From my rewatches of all of these James Bond movies, Live and Let Die was the most disappointing film. I certainly expected it to be campy, however I didn’t expect it to be boring. Live and Let Die does have an initially interesting premise, but the plot on the whole was mostly boring to watch, not helped by some rather poor and inconsistent pacing. The movie makes the interesting decision to take advantage of the blaxploitation films of the 70s, but it only uses this as a framework for the movie, and the racial politics are distractingly outdated and questionable at times. As for the campiness, it wasn’t nearly silly as I thought it would be, and the campiness itself was hit or miss. Sometimes it would be downright annoying, such as a chase scene on a boat with Bond and henchmen mostly focusing on following a sheriff named J.W. Pepper, who is now firmly one of my least favourite characters in a movie ever. However the biggest disappointment of all was Roger Moore as James Bond, especially as this is his debut as the character. He’s serviceable in the part, he’s charismatic and can deliver the one-liners, but he’s bland and doesn’t leave much of an impression.

That’s not to say there aren’t some good parts to it. The villains are underutilised to a degree but are nonetheless performed well and are very memorable characters. Guy Hamilton’s direction is also solid, there are some good action set pieces and stunt chorography, and it makes great use of the locations. It is certainly a memorable film, from the iconic main theme from Wings, to the enjoyably silly moments like Bond escaping from crocodiles. There are certainly some good elements in the film, and I do want to revisit it to see if it improves on a repeat viewing. However, for now I’ll say that its one of my least favourite Bond films.

My review of Live and Let Die

4. The Man with the Golden Gun

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I’ve seen people call The Man with the Golden Gun one of the worst movie in the franchise. While I can see why and I think its definitely in the bottom half, I still enjoyed it. However I openly admit that a lot of my enjoyment was after being very let down after Live and Let Die, and I was hoping for a silly Bond movie. I certainly got that, and I enjoyed my time watching it. However in retrospect, it has to be one of the most confused and messy Bond entries I’ve seen. The movie does have an interesting premise initially, and there’s potential in a cat and mouse game between spy and assassin (Bond and the main antagonist played by Christopher Lee). While the villain thankfully does have a presence throughout, the film still should’ve taken advantage of that setup more than it actually did. There really isn’t much of a story outside of the first and third acts, it drags in the middle with a lot of padding. Also, even with the increased camp, the tone is just all over the place. It would go from having some of the cheesiest and most absurd moments in the whole franchise, to attempting to be harder edged, and the combination just don’t really work. The biggest examples were any scene between Maud Adams and Roger Moore, which only served to make the scenes more uncomfortable to watch.

The increased silliness and camp could go too far at points (really could’ve done without Sheriff J.W. Pepper returning yet again), but it is kind of entertaining for that. Despite the plot being padded out, it is fairly straightforward. It’s clear that the producers were still figuring out what direction they were going to take Roger Moore’s James Bond, and the harder edged moments only served to make him come across as needlessly mean in this film. That aside, it does show improvement over Live and Let Die, and Moore did fare better as the character. Christopher Lee is the best part of the movie as the main villain Scaramanga. The writing for his character wasn’t particularly strong, but Lee thoroughly elevated the role and he’s compelling whenever he’s on screen. Guy Hamilton’s direction is also decent despite a few questionable decisions, with some good cinematography and action. I’m confident that if I was to go back to rewatch The Man with the Golden Gun again, I would see it in a more unfavourable light. Its definitely a messy movie but I nonetheless enjoyed my last viewing of it.

My review of The Man with the Golden Gun

3. Moonraker

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From this point in the ranking it really picks up, as we get into what I call Roger Moore’s middle peak trilogy, the 3 movies in the middle of Moore’s run as Bond which were his best films in the franchise. Today, Moonraker is often looked at as a joke, given that it’s the moment where Bond goes straight into self-parody by going into space. Despite its bad reputation, I actually enjoyed it quite a lot. Its definitely not without its issues, the pacing can be a little slow at times, especially in the first half where not much happens. It does lean more into humour than the previous film The Spy Who Loved Me, but it isn’t overblown, despite having the odd moment like the double taking pigeon.  It doesn’t have one of the strongest Bond plots, but the movie is a lot of fun, and the story is outlandish and silly even before Bond goes into space. When that final happens in the third act, it becomes a real joy to watch as it essentially becomes a B-rate Star Wars movie.

Roger Moore as usual is charismatic and entertaining as Bond, and helps to ground the movie with his passive self-awareness and reactions to the absurdity all around him. Moonraker is also elevated by some memorable villains. Along with the return of Richard Kiel’s Jaws as henchman from The Spy Who Loved Me, there’s the lead villain in Hugo Drax. While he’s similar to the villain in the previous movie (Stromberg in The Spy Who Loved Me), the mix of an absurdly over the top character with a serious and straight faced performance and delivery goes a long way to make him both menacing and hilarious to watch (in a good way). Lewis Gilbert’s work here as director is solid, there’s some very good cinematography with great locations and amazing set design. There’s a lot of fun and over the top action scenes that are well done and entertaining with terrific stunts. When it does get into space, it’s not much like Bond but it’s nonetheless a blast to watch. One could say that Moonraker isn’t silly or goofy enough given that this movie is where the franchise reached peak ridiculousness, but there’s nonetheless a lot of fun to be had with it.

My review of Moonraker

2. For Your Eyes Only

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After reaching peak ridiculousness with Moonraker, the next Bond film would be by far Roger Moore’s most grounded and serious movie. The gadgeteer is reducing, making Bond more vulnerable and forcing him to rely more on his own skills. Even the campiness is downplayed, while still having its fair share of cheesy moments. The plot was more complicated than the average Bond film, but refreshingly so despite some convoluted moments. This is John Glen’s first Bond movie as director, and this is the best of his Moore-led films. For Your Eyes Only is really a globetrotting spy film, it’s very well shot and takes advantages of its locations. The action is one of the highlights of the film, with memorable set pieces, from a chase involving skis, motorbikes and bobsleds, to Bond climbing on the face of a cliff. Roger Moore is also great once again here as a slightly more ruthless James Bond and surprisingly delivers on those harder edged moments very well.

Not to say that there aren’t some notable issues with the movie. The pacing was a bit inconsistent and the plot isn’t always engaging, although it picks up in the much stronger second half. While half the supporting cast and characters are good with the likes of Carole Bouquet and Chaim Tolpi in their parts, the other half don’t work quite as well. The movie has one of the most irritating characters in a Bond film in of Bibi Conti, whose addition is one of the most bizarre decisions in a Bond film (and that’s saying something), and the villains are rather forgettable, with Julian Glover making for a very boring if passable Bond villain. There are also some strange choices made, like the opening having the death of an unofficial Blofeld-like character, and the ending featuring a talking parrot and Margaret Thatcher. With all that said, I do think that For Your Eyes Only is one of the most underrated Bond entries and would’ve been the perfect movie to end Moore’s Bond-run on.

My review of For Your Eyes Only

1. The Spy Who Loved Me

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The third of Roger Moore’s Bond movies, The Spy Who Loved Me is widely known as one of the best Bond movies, and it’s easy to see why. After two very disappointing Bond movies with Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun, the filmmakers made a genuinely great Roger Moore James Bond movie. Compared to the last movie, The Spy Who Loved Me is tonally consistent, with a balance between the spy and espionage as well as the campiness and light-hearted elements. The comedy and gags are well executed and genuinely funny. At the same time, the story is great and keeps you riveted, with never a dull moment. The plot is predictable and follows the Bond formula for sure, but it nonetheless delivers it really well.

This is also finally the movie where they figured out what take they wanted for this version of James Bond. Moore nails the charisma and humour and is witty and charming, while being serious when he needs to be. Both this and For Your Eyes Only are his best performances as Bond. The direction from Lewis Gilbert is strong and polished. It’s large scale, greatly shot and stunning to watch. There are also plenty of memorable action sequences throughout, and the practical stunts and special effects work are great. The only lacklustre aspect is the main villain in Stromberg, while his big plan is memorable, he’s rather dull and lacklustre by the end of the film. However, in a way this issue made up by the iconic henchman Jaws, who is sprinkled throughout the movie to provide an intimidating physical antagonist for Bond to struggle against. Overall, The Spy Who Loved Me is one of my favourite James Bond movies, and it’s by far my favourite of the Roger Moore era.

My review of The Spy Who Loved Me

What do you think of Roger Moore’s run as James Bond? How would you rank his movies?

Octopussy (1983) Review

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Octopussy

Time: 131 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1]
Cast:
Roger Moore as James Bond
Maud Adams as Octopussy
Louis Jourdan as Kamal Khan
Kristina Wayborn as Magda
Kabir Bedi as Gobinda
Director: John Glen

James Bond (Roger Moore) sets out to foil a nuclear attack on the NATO. However, in order to do so, he must enlist the help of a circus group and its obscure leader, Octopussy.

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Roger Moore’s previous Bond movie For Your Eyes Only ended up being quite a surprise, one of the more underrated entries in the franchise. The next Bond movie for me to revisit was Octopussy, another Bond movie I have a very limited memory of. I went in open minded but unfortunately I found the film rather lacking. It’s not only silly and badly done in parts, it’s just dull to sit through.

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Octopussy starts off well. Right from the get-go, it’s very clear that after the last Bond being relatively serious, the producers wanted to get back to campy Bond. It’s fun and hilarious, if not very original for a Bond opening. Even the initial premise started out pretty interesting. I was expecting some campiness and I certainly got that. There were parts of it I liked, such as when it gets to the circus and Bond dons Bond dons clown makeup. However there are also some parts where it gets a bit too much, like when Bond does a Tarzan yell as he’s swinging through the jungle. On the whole, it does border into being a bit too stupid and juvenile in parts, and it wasn’t even funny for most of it. When you look at some of the things that happen in this movie, it sounds interesting or at least entertaining. Unfortunately, its surprising dull despite its ridiculous moments. To put it bluntly, I was bored through much of the movie. The script is very muddled and confused. The plot involves Faberge eggs and somehow connects to nuclear weapons and a Russian general, and at a certain point I stopped trying to follow what was happening because the story was incomprehensible. Its surprisingly complicated and hard to follow, and not in a top tier espionage spy thriller way. The story felt half-baked, underdeveloped, formulaic and familiar, even lazy as it falls back on old tropes. It might be strange to say but this movie has just about no narrative momentum. Things definitely happen in the movie, but none of it builds on each other. Individual scenes are fine to watch on their own, but there’s no connection holding them all together and it makes for a very uneven experience. The pacing itself is rather sluggish too, and my patience really only lasted as long as the first act.

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Roger Moore plays James Bond once again, and he’s definitely had better performances as the character. He is sleepwalking at times but he’s effortlessly charming and fun to watch. With that said he’s definitely on the older side, and this should’ve been his final Bond movie (or more preferably For Your Eyes Only). Maud Adams plays the role of Octopussy, and all of her memorable aspects of that character begin and end with her name. While it makes for a title that not’s easy to forget, I do wonder why its named after her considering that the character doesn’t have much to do here. I feel like even Adams’s considerably smaller part in earlier Moore film The Man with the Golden Gun left more of an impression than in here. The main antagonists are quite weak, not terrible but forgettable. The Bond villain Kamal Khan is played well by Louis Jourdan but isn’t threatening at all. Kabir Bedi fairs a little better as Khan’s bodyguard.

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John Glen returns as director after For Your Eyes Only. The direction in this movie is mostly fine, if not as impressive. However there are definitely some good aspects here. The cinematography is solid, the camera makes great use of the locations (especially in India), and it captures the action very well. The action sequences aren’t as thrilling compared to For Your Eyes Only, but here’s still some solid stunt works and impressive work here. There’s fights, plenty of shootouts, chases, and more, the highlight being a long sequence on trains in the third act. The action isn’t that thrilling and leans more into camp, but there’s good work there.

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I was taken off guard by how little I enjoyed Octopussy. I’ve seen Bond movies that are absurdly silly, I’ve seen Bond movies that are boring, but I haven’t seen a Bond movie that’s depressingly both. It’s not without its strong points, Roger Moore has been better in other movies but is charismatic as always, and some of the technical work and action is solid. However the script drags everything down, uneven, unfocused, dull, and tedious to watch. Very likely the worst of Moore’s Bond films and is one of the worst Bond movies in general.

Pierce Brosnan’s James Bond Movies Ranked

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After the release No Time to Die, I decided to watch through the James Bond movies in reverse Bond actor order. I also decided to rank each actor’s Bond films, excluding Timothy Dalton and George Lazenby of course given that they made 2 movies max.

Pierce Brosnan was the James Bond actor right before Daniel Craig, and had a 4 movie run as Bond in GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World is Not Enough, and Die Another Day. In some ways, Brosnan’s run as James Bond is a little disappointing. He was a perfect fit for the role, he has the charisma and smoothness, he can deliver the one liners, he is believable in the action, and he is convincing as a cold blooded assassin. However, the movies were a little mixed and some of the movies underserved Bond and Brosnan’s performances. It certainly didn’t help that Brosnan’s run was at an unfortunate point where the Bond series needed to reinvent itself.

With that being said, I do find stuff to enjoy in all of them, and even though the non-GoldenEye films don’t have the best of reputations from most people, generally I enjoy them all.

4. Die Another Day

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Unsurprisingly, Die Another Day makes it at the bottom of the list. It’s definitely known as one of the worst Bond movies, and for good reason. The plot is absurd and goes to new ridiculous heights, even by Bond standards. Essentially the premise of DAD is about Bond going up against Graves, who’s really a Korean colonel who changed himself into a white British billionaire, from using his diamond encrusted satellite which shoots out a solar laser beam. That sounds like it has a lot of potential to be cheesy fun from beginning to end. However the most disappointing part is how dull the movie feels on the whole. It does have some cheesy one liners and dumb moments like the previous films, but there’s something that’s so lazy and low effort in this. The acting is also mostly not the best, mostly ranging from disappointing (Halle Berry) to bad (Toby Stephens). Even Pierce Brosnan suffers from it, he does have his moments but he’s not got the best material to work with, especially when compared to the previous three movies. So much of the direction is poor, with 2000s editing with an overuse of slow-motion and bad CGI which haven’t aged well. Throughout the film is just full of bad decisions.

With that being said, I won’t lie and say I dislike the movie. As bad as Die Another Day is, there’s still some enjoyment to be had with it. The opening is good with a much darker tone  and a good idea, even if the rest of the film doesn’t take advantage of it. Most of the acting isn’t that good but there’s a few performers that work, Judi Dench is once again great as M, John Cleese makes a decent Q in his 1-2 film appearances, and Rosamund Pike and Rick Yune made for decent supporting villains. As messily directed as many of the action sequences are, you can’t deny that they are memorable and entertaining in a way. The battle over ice with cars with weapons, the hand to hand fight dodging lasers spinning around, the sword fight at the duelling club, the action in the other worst Bond films aren’t this memorable. The silliness can be entertaining, even if it’s at the film’s expense. The poor decisions, the goofiness of the villain and plot can have some enjoyment in it. Again though, I get the issues. It is entertaining in parts but not on the whole. It is disappointing that this is essentially the film that stopped Brosnan from reaching his ideal Bond film.

My review of Die Another Day

3. The World is Not Enough

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The World is Not Enough is definitely not the worst of the 4 Pierce Brosnan movies, but it is the most frustrating. It really had a lot of potential to be one of the best Bond films, let alone Brosnan’s best. Despite all that, by the end it just ends up being a formulaic action flick, with a MacGuffin in the form of a nuclear weapon. It’s also quite forgettable compared to the other movies, from the plot, to some of the characters, to the action. Despite its attempts at a darker story for this version of James Bond, the movie feels over the top and silly, and as a result it felt very tonally inconsistent. The particularly bad one liners, the aspect of the villain being strong and impervious to pain because of a bullet lodged into his brain, they all feel very out of place within the story. And yes, Denise Richards plays the least convincing nuclear physicist as Christmas Jones but she’s not the reason why the movie underwhelms.

With all that being said, I still think that The World is Not Enough is decent on the whole. Aside from some one-liners and bad attempts at humour (and yes, Christmas Jones), there aren’t many outright bad things about the film. The plot had me intrigued for at least the first half, I liked some of the ideas they had, and I was always entertained in some way. Sophia Macreau as Elektra King was also not only the most interesting character in this movie, but also one of the most interesting characters of the 4 Brosnan movies. While the movie doesn’t utilise the character the best, it’s a good performance and character which definitely elevated the film. While most of the action scenes aren’t as memorable compared to the other 3 movies, they are still generally well filmed and were entertaining. Also I think that this is probably Pierce Brosnan’s best performance as James Bond, if only because he’s given the most emotional material to work with here. I would not call The World is Not Enough one of the best Bond films by any means, but it’s not one of the worst either, there’s still some good stuff here.

My review of The World is Not Enough

2. GoldenEye

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The most controversial opinion in this list is that I don’t consider GoldenEye to be Pierce Brosnan’s best Bond film, nor do I consider it one of the all-time best Bond films. For a while I hadn’t been able to pinpoint why but I think I figured it out with my most recent viewing. The plot is simple enough, but I don’t find it to be that great or interesting really, which might be the biggest problem for me. Outside of the action scenes, I don’t find myself very invested with what’s happening with the story or characters. Even GoldenEye seems to suffer from tonal inconsistency, a problem that most of Brosnan’s movies seem to suffer from (more on that later). For context, it was in the awkward phase of moving Bond from the Cold War of the 80s into the 90s. The film tries to have some of the grittiness of the Timothy Dalton Bond films but isn’t grounded enough to do that, and it also tries to be on the more over the top silly side (leaning towards Roger Moore Bond) at points but is too serious to achieve that. Not that it isn’t possible to find a happy medium between the two, but the end result in this film feels a little messy.

With all that being said, I do understand a lot of the praise that GoldenEye receives. The biggest strength for me was the direction by Martin Campbell, specifically with the action. From the opening sequence in the 80s, the tank battle, to the third act climax, the action is filmed and put together really well. That’s something that GoldenEye has over the other Brosnan Bond films, all the action is great. The actors are also quite good in their parts, Sean Bean and Famke Janssen make for memorable villains, Judi Dench made her first appearance as M here, and although Pierce Brosnan would have better performances as James Bond, he is solid here. While I don’t consider GoldenEye to be amongst the best Bond films, it is good overall.

My review of GoldenEye

1. Tomorrow Never Dies

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Tomorrow Never Dies is often regarded as the second best of Pierce Brosnan’s Bond movies, but it’s my favourite of his. I do understand the criticisms for sure. It is very goofy and over the top at times, and it does lose itself in its overblown climax. They also could’ve done much more with its unique central concept with the media, they don’t execute it in the best way. Parts of the direction do feel a little lacklustre, especially after Martin Campbell’s direction of GoldenEye.

With all that being said, I couldn’t help but thoroughly enjoy this movie from beginning to end, despite its faults. One of the biggest praises I have is the tone, rather how consistent it is. Instead of wavering between silly and gritty like GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies leans in with the 90s action cheese and makes for a thoroughly entertaining film. The aforementioned plot concept involving the media is also quite unique, and while the film doesn’t make use of this idea fully, it still makes for a memorable film. Pierce Brosnan had a better showing as Bond compared to GoldenEye, Michelle Yeoh was a scene stealer and overshadows Brosnan at points, and Jonathan Pryce is scene chewingly enjoyable as the villain. The action is overblown but thoroughly entertaining. While there are certainly better movies in the franchise, Tomorrow Never Dies is one of the most entertaining Bond movies for me.

My review of Tomorrow Never Dies

What do you think of Pierce Brosnan’s James Bond? What did you think of his movies?

Die Another Day (2002) Review

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Die Another Day

Time: 133 minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Pierce Brosnan as James Bond
Halle Berry as Jinx Johnson
Toby Stephens as Gustav Graves
Rosamund Pike as Miranda Frost
Rick Yune as Tang Ling Zao
Judi Dench as M
John Cleese as Q
Michael Madsen as Damian Falco
Director: Lee Tamahori

James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) is sent to investigate the connection between a North Korean terrorist and a diamond mogul, who is funding the development of an international space weapon.

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I reached the end of my rewatches of Pierce Brosnan’s Bond movies with Die Another Day. It is widely known regarded one of the worst Bond movies, if not the worst. However I remember watching it a lot when I was younger, so I was curious whether my opinion would change sharply, or if I’d be more lenient on it. In a way, both happened. I definitely don’t hate it like a lot of people do, I do find parts of it I enjoy, even when most of it is ludicrously silly. However, it’s not a very good movie, it has a ton of issues and easily ranks as one of the worst Bond films.

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The strangest part of Die Another Day is that it starts off pretty good, at least the first 20 minutes or so. James Bond is on a mission in North Korea, and the opening set piece is entertaining (if darkly lit), and even goes to some dark places. Bond is captured, tortured and interrogated before being released. The opening was new ground for Bond and the tone seemed like it was where Brosnan wanted to take Bond for the longest time. Even with some weird inclusions such as a CGI bullet flying towards the screen in the opening Gunbarrel sequence and the Madonna opening song, it had a good start. You really notice a change from the point where Bond escapes from the hospital by faking a cardiac arrest by lowering his heart rate by will. This dark tone and opportunities from the start of the movie aren’t capitalised on at all, any potential given by the start of the movie fizzles out quickly. MI6 and M initially don’t trust Bond after he’s released, believing him to have given up vital information during the torture. However that doesn’t last for long and soon enough he’s back on a mission with them. The opening being that dark is very strange considering that on the whole it is one of the silliest Bond movies. The plot is straight out of a Roger Moore Bond movie, especially with the inclusion of a solar laser beam being shot out by a diamond encrusted satellite. There’s even a plot point where the main villain played by Toby Stephens (a British white guy) turned out to be a Korean guy who used gene therapy (ironically this isn’t even the most racist moment in Bond’s film history). Being silly isn’t going to bother me, many of the Moore movies are absurd and people mostly gave those a pass. Die Another Day would make for an enjoyable campy Bond movie if they were aiming for that. Unfortunately it is not self aware, in fact it takes itself pretty seriously, which makes things tonally strange. Also despite the very silly things that happens, on the whole it feels strangely dull with not a whole lot of energy. The attempts at humour are bad but somehow also feel low effort, and the plot is rather predictable. So while there are individual moments that are goofy, its not the kind that keeps you endlessly entertained throughout the entire runtime.

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The acting is a bit of a mixed bag. Pierce Brosnan has been gradually been improving as James Bond with every subsequent film but his work here is rather disappointing, feeling a little lazy and on autopilot. The opening with the torture in North Korea certainly provided an opportunity for a much darker journey for the character but unfortunately the film didn’t take advantage of that. However I wouldn’t call it a bad performance, Brosnan is still charming and fun to watch, and effortlessly delivers the (mostly cheesy and bad) one-liners written for him. Halle Berry plays the main Bond girl named Jinx. Berry was disappointingly underutilised and forgettable, delivering a rather boring performance and having basically no chemistry with Brosnan. Toby Stephens plays the villain, and the character is rather silly given that his name is Gustav Graves. The character is rather boring, however Stephens seems to be acting so hard to be the villain that he’s kind of entertaining. He is just sneering throughout the last half of the movie as he tries to be menacing, and as that he’s kind of fun to watch. Still, he’s a strong contender for the worst Bond villain. Rosamund Pike is in this movie in an early role for her. While there are issues with the writing of her character, she leaves a strong enough impression (more than Berry or the main villain), and is overall one of the film’s stronger performers. Rick Yune also made for a decent henchman, working better than the main villain too. John Cleese is the new Q after his introduction in The World is Not Enough. He’s decent enough but a bit underutilised, definitely not as memorable or effective as Desmond Llewyn or Ben Whishaw. Michael Madsen is very out of place in this movie as the head of the NSA, and it feels like he should be in a completely different movie, he’s not believable at all in his part.

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Lee Tamahori is the director of Die Another Day, and in the nicest possible terms, his work is a bit mixed. It’s one of the three Bond movies released in the 2000s, but DAD is the only one which really feels dated and very much in the 2000s. Specifically, the style uses a lot of slow motion and shots being sped up, especially in the action scenes. It’s like it was trying to imitate John Woo’s style from Mission Impossible 2, but even that movie seemed to have some level of energy, while Die Another Day has none. There’s also an overreliance on CGI and green screen, more so than most of the past Bond movies, and the CGI just looks clunky today. The gadgets in the Bond films have never been what you’d call realistic at the best of times, but this film takes it to a new level. The biggest example that everyone points to is an invisible car, and while that is firmly a step into the sci-fi territory, given the other stuff that also happens in the movie I would not call it the most silly part of the movie. The action scenes are ridiculous, there is a chase scene between two cars on ice, and most infamously there’s a scene where Bond windsurfs, making use of horrible green screen and an obvious stunt double. However there’s still fun to be had with some of the action. There’s a fight scene that makes use of multiple laser beams spinning all over the place and its just so absurd and hilarious for it. There’s also a fight scene between Bond and the main villain in their first encounter in a duelling club where they fight with swords, that was entertaining too. The production design is solid, the ice palace in the middle of Iceland particularly makes for a memorable setting for a Bond film, and not necessarily in a bad way. I don’t usually mention Bond songs in reviews but Madonna’s song for Die Another Day is so atrocious I don’t know how it ended up being used. The title sequence actually advances the story showing Bond’s torture, but it feels very out of place that Madonna’s song is played during this. Speaking of Madonna, she has a cameo in this, and somehow is even more out of place than Michael Madsen was, which is rather impressive. There are also some weird song choices, like how they literally needledrop “London Calling” by The Clash as James Bond is travelling to London. However I will give great praise to David Arnold’s score, which is really the only consistently good/great part of the movie.

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While I’d say that Die Another Day is definitely one of the worst Bond movies, I don’t dislike it that much, at the very least not as much as other people. It is certainly memorable, even if it’s for the wrong reasons. However it’s just as well that after DAD they rebooted the franchise, and that if anything is the film’s greatest contribution, as it would result in the Daniel Craig Bond era. The most disappointing thing about this movie is that you could swap out the Bond name and it would’ve fitted alongside other generic action flicks around that time. There are certainly some fun moments but the movie on the whole is surprisingly dull. As bad as it is, if you watched the first three Pierce Brosnan Bond films you might as well watch this one too, even just for completion.

The World is Not Enough (1999) Review

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The World is Not Enough

Time: 128 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Low level violence
Cast:
Pierce Brosnan as James Bond
Sophie Marceau as Elektra King
Robert Carlyle as Victor “Renard” Zokas
Denise Richards as Dr. Christmas Jones
Robbie Coltrane as Valentin Zukovsky
Desmond Llewelyn as Q
Judi Dench as M
Director: Michael Apted

James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) is entrusted with the responsibility of protecting the daughter of an oil tycoon. While on his mission, he learns about an even more dangerous plot.

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Continuing my rewatches of the James Bond movies, I now move onto The World is Not Enough, one of the latter Pierce Brosnan films. Despite it being one of the more recent Bond films, I only remember some aspects like the characters and certain moments. I did notice that a lot of people didn’t really like it, so I was curious as to how I’d feel about it. As it turns out, I am now one of the people who does like it, however its probably the most frustrating Brosnan Bond film. It comes so close to greatness but it really misses out on that.

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The World is Not Enough starts off pretty good with a solid (if strangely overlong) opening. It did have me in the first half despite some stumbles, with an intriguing plot and characters. I’d say its nearly great, with lots of potential and especially with the character of Elektra King (Sophie Marceau). It also looked like an emotional journey for Bond, so I was liking where it was going. However, it eventually loses momentum. By the time it gets to the second half, I started to lose track about what was happening with the plot. Even after the movie ended, I found it to be quickly forgettable. This movie is still packed with some pretty good stuff with some twists and turns of its own, and I appreciate some of the directions they went in. However it does feel like a story with wasted potential, and resolves its plotlines and characters in unsatisfying or generic ways. It even feels a little formulaic, ultimately the big MacGuffin of this film is another nuclear weapon. Despite attempts at grounding itself and attempting to go for a darker story, the film still feels over the top silly, and as a result it does feel very tonally inconsistent. This is the movie where one of the villains has a bullet lodged in his brain and as a result he is impervious to pain. It also did feel like there were an increase of jokes and innuendos over even Tomorrow Never Dies and GoldenEye, they don’t really hit at all and feel more distracting than in those movies.

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This might be Pierce Brosnan’s best performance as Bond given this is the most emotional that his version of the character has gotten. There are tons of emotional moments for Brosnan to act out. I also feel like this is the closest that Brosnan’s Bond has come to being fully realised as a character, which is a shame because his character still has issues in this film. In this movie he keeps delivering goofy one liners, and I feel like Brosnan wasn’t able to go all the way with his portrayal. Sophie Marceau as Elektra King was the most interesting character in the movie. I won’t get into her character for those who don’t know about her part in the story, but she was quite good and shared an interesting dynamic with Brosnan’s Bond. I just wished that they went further with her character and was utilised a lot better. Judi Dench gets to have a lot more screentime as M compared to the past two Brosnan Bond films, I liked that she actually plays a notable part in the plot. Robert Carlyle plays a Bond villain role quite well however I did wish there was more to him. He is said to be dangerous and while he has something of a presence, he doesn’t really feel like a threat. So he’s not that memorable overall. Denise Richards has been widely criticized for her performance in The World is Not Enough, so I didn’t want to rag on her even more since a lot of people had already been down on her acting. Unfortunately, I have to say that the criticism is understandable. She really seems out of place in this movie, and although it would be too far to say she brings the movie down (the movie has enough problems without her), she is very distracting whenever she’s on screen. Her role is to be a nuclear physicist, deliver exposition dumps, and to have something of a romance with Bond, and she isn’t convincing at any of those. On top of that, her character’s name is Christmas Jones, and of course that’s only so that Bond can deliver a really bad one-liner at the end of the film. This performance and character is one of the only unambiguously bad things in this movie, but isn’t the source of all of its problems.

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The World is Not Enough is directed by Michael Apted and his work is mostly good here. There are some fun set pieces, though they seem to oscillate between being genuinely good to absolutely ludicrous. Also they aren’t really as memorable as the other Brosnan Bond action. It doesn’t help that Bond never really feels like he’s in danger, Tomorrow Never Dies had this issue too. David Arnold returns as composer from Tomorrow Never Dies and again does a good job here.

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I find myself in the minority of people who actually quite enjoyed The World is Not Enough but there are definitely some issues holding it back. It does feel very conflicted, it tries to have the more darker and emotional aspects, but it also tries to have the one liners and jokes that are out of place. It’s probably the most disappointing of Brosnan’s run as Bond because there are some great ideas that had potential to make for one of the best Bond films ever. What we are left with however is a decent enough yet forgettable action flick with a mix of great and terrible aspects. With all that being said, if you’ve watched some of the other Bond movies, I do think it is worth a look. It still has some very good parts to it.

Daniel Craig’s James Bond Movies Ranked

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With No Time to Die out in cinemas now, I decided to rank the 5 movies in Daniel Craig’s 15 year run as James Bond.

I will admit that although I like most of the movies, I’m not a massive fan of James Bond. My favourite version of Bond however was always Daniel Craig’s. While there’s only three of the five movies that I love, I just really liked this version of Bond, both the approach to the character and Craig’s performance.

This list is going to contain some minor spoilers, since these movies link into each other.

5. Quantum of Solace

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For the longest time I was trying to decide which I considered to be worse, Quantum of Solace or Spectre. They are both flawed for incredibly different reasons, but I gave Quantum the edge, if only for its messiness. With that said, I surprisingly liked the movie noticeably more upon recent rewatch of it in the lead up to No Time to Die. It’s quite a different James Bond movie, with it acting as the first direct sequel to the last Bond movie, and does try to be more of a political thriller taking inspiration from real world events. Its known at this point that this movie was made during the writer’s strike and was heavily affected by it, and you can really feel it. The writing felt like it needed more work and fleshing out. With that said, I did like the attempt at grounding itself even more in reality, and although the story is lacklustre compared to Casino Royale’s, I was interested in where it was going. I especially liked the portrayal of James Bond being a ruthless loose cannon, as he’s searching for revenge. The villain in Dominic Greene is underwhelming and doesn’t feel like a real threat compared to many of the other Bond villains, but I think he worked well enough for this story, and the performance was good. The action is also a mixed bag. Aside from a scene involving a plane, all the action has a lot of quick cut editing, making some of them hard to follow. For whatever reason I also enjoyed these more on the more recent viewing. I definitely feel like they could’ve laid off the quick cuts, but I like how gritty and brutal the action was.

I thought the acting was all quite solid. Daniel Craig again puts everything into the role of Bond, and he’s especially great here. The supporting cast, both returning (Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright) and new (Olga Kurylenko) did solid jobs in their part too. I also liked the direction of the movie on the whole, there are some genuinely great moments, such as a sequence taking place at an opera. Overall, I wouldn’t call this one of the best Bond movies by any means. However there’s something about this chaotic, brutal and angry mess of a movie that I genuinely enjoy. At the very least, there’s a lot of this movie I appreciate and admire, even if it’s by no means anywhere to being close to the level of its predecessor.

My review of Quantum of Solace

4. Spectre

Spectre might not be the worst of the Daniel Craig Bond films, but it is the most frustrating of the 5. Director Sam Mendes and co. did such incredible work with Skyfall that it’s quite disappointing to see that their follow up didn’t come anywhere close to being as good. With that said, my more recent rewatch did put things in perspective for me. For the most part, Spectre is a solid film that just happens to not work as well as Skyfall. Skyfall did such a good job at paying tribute to the older Bond films, while making it work on its own. Spectre on the other hand was all over the place with what it wanted to do. It tried to tie together all the other Craig Bond films and trying to go into Bond’s past, while also trying to throw back to the classic Bond films, with over the top scenes, and ‘classic’ Bond moments. The two tones just didn’t work together at all. The plot is intriguing and solid, though it’s a little predictable and could’ve been better. Despite the long runtime, a lot of the plot and characters could’ve been fleshed out more. The cast are decent, especially with the returning actors like Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris and Ben Whishaw, and some of the newer additions like Lea Seydoux. However, some actors like Monica Bellucci, Andrew Scott and Christoph Waltz don’t really get to do much in their parts. The action is generally well filmed and entertaining, although missing a level of intensity that was present in the previous 3 movies. However, the opening action sequence and the fight between Bond and Dave Bautista’s henchman on a train were genuinely great. In fact, the film is quite good on a technical level, visually stunning, well edited, and greatly put together.

Where the film starts to go downhill is when it enters into its third act, specifically once it gets to Christoph Waltz’s second onscreen appearance. While the prospect of Waltz as a Bond villain sounded exciting, his character and his writing just didn’t work all that well for the story. Had it not been for Waltz’s appearance in No Time to Die, I think that even Dominic Greene from Quantum of Solace would’ve been better. Not only that, but trying to tie all the previous Bond movies together in Spectre just felt misguided. Then it moves into its rather baffling and underwhelming climax. It manages to be silly yet boring at the same time. From the Sony email leaks it seems that the filmmakers didn’t know what to do for the end, and it certainly showed on screen. It is borderline terrible and definitely brought the movie down for me significantly. Spectre is good for the most part, but there’s also a lot here that doesn’t work. I do rank Spectre higher than Quantum of Solace if only for consistency in quality for the first two acts, before it collapses in the last act.

My review of Spectre

My retrospective review of Spectre

These next three are very close together and are interchangeable.

3. No Time to Die

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The most recent film on this list, No Time to Die is the latest James Bond film and the conclusion of Daniel Craig’s run as James Bond. At a whopping 2 hours and 45 minutes there was a lot to take in with this film, especially from the one viewing I had of it. However, I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end. The story itself is the closest to a classic Bond movie with some of the tropes and aspects you’d expect, an over-the-top villain with a plan that affects the whole world, gadgets, cheesy one liners, you name it. It was quite an entertaining ride and despite the length, it never really dragged for me. It also has an emotional core, and worked in tying up all the characters and storylines, better than Spectre did at least. It even made some of the elements from Spectre work better retroactively. Cary Fukunaga’s direction was great, delivering an energetic, well-paced, and vibrant film. The action was great and memorable, very well shot, and definitely rivals the best action scenes from the previous 4 films.

Everyone in this ensemble cast is great, from the returning actors like Lea Seydoux and Ralph Fiennes, to newer actors including Lashana Lynch, Ana de Armas and Rami Malek. However, it all comes down to Daniel Craig, and while he’s great in all of these movies, this is his best work as James Bond. He delivers the one-liners and the action, but also gives his most emotional performance as the character. Despite the global stakes involving a dangerous weapon, No Time to Die’s main story is Bond’s story and above all else, it gives him a great sendoff. Again, the film was a lot to take in, so I will need to watch it again. However at the moment, I’m prepared to say that I loved it.

My review of No Time to Die

2. Casino Royale

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The James Bond franchise rebooted yet again after 2002’s Die Another Day, with GoldenEye director Martin Campbell releasing Casino Royale in 2006. This is where Daniel Craig’s James Bond was introduced, focussing on a Bond who just became a double 0 agent. By James Bond standards, it stays relatively grounded, with the lead character never relying on gadgets. It’s a comparatively refined and mature Bond film, and everything from the intriguing story to the well-developed characters are all on point. It’s quite something watching Casino Royale again 15 years after its release, it still holds up really well.

Daniel Craig gave his own take on Bond, with his incarnation being the best version of the character to date. Both his performance and the writing provided to him is very strong and for made for him being more human and a more interesting character. The supporting cast is also strong, with the likes of Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi Dench and others playing their parts greatly. Martin Campbell’s work as a director is also excellent and helped the film succeed as well as it did, especially when it comes to the outstanding action sequences. Nearly a decade and a half later, Casino Royale still holds up very well as a James Bond movie, an action movie, and a movie in general.

My review of Casino Royale

1. Skyfall

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It was pretty hard deciding between Skyfall and Casino Royale as my favourite Craig-era Bond film, ultimately I gave Skyfall the edge. After the first two movies being more grounded and Bourne-esque, Skyfall brings it closer to more what people picture when they think of Bond, while also delivering a personal and emotional story for the character. Both elements are balanced incredibly well, delivering an intriguing and riveting film. Despite it being closer to classic Bond than the previous 2 movies, whether it be a hacker villain, gadgets, larger action scenes and the like, the stakes are smaller and personal. The climax is particularly strong on both an entertainment and emotional level, and one that’s very different for a Bond film. While the first half is definitely strong, it’s the second half which really solidified it as my favourite of Craig’s run.

The characters and acting were also great, Daniel Craig delivers as Bond as always, but it was many of the supporting actors that stood out. The new interpretations of Q and Moneypenny with Ben Whishaw and Naomie Harris, along with the eventual next M in Ralph Fiennes, were all welcome additions. Javier Bardem ranks among the best Bond villains, with a very memorable performance and character. And of course, there’s Judi Dench’s last performance as M, who gets to shine the most here out of all her Bond film appearances. Sam Mendes directs Skyfall, and his work here is fantastic. From the fantastic cinematography from Roger Deakins, to the phenomenal score from Thomas Newman, and the outstanding action, its so great on a technical level. Skyfall has held up incredibly well over the past near decade it’s been released, and still remains my favourite Daniel Craig James Bond film.

My review of Skyfall

How would you rank Daniel Craig’s James Bond films?