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Sean Connery to Daniel Craig: Here Are the Best Bond Movies of All Time

BY SAMUEL SPENCER ROXY SIMONS , ROB MINTO , REBECCA JOHNSON , JAMIE BURTON AND HARRISON ABBOTT ON 9/29/21 AT 10:33 AM EDT

 

The 007 movie franchise is about to hit its sixth decade, and James Bond has been through plenty of adventures in that time; he has taken on Colombian cartels, megalomaniacs and voodoo masters, in films that range from the relatively realistic Casino Royale to campfests like Octopussy.

Naturally, with so many titles and so many versions of Bond, everyone has their own preference. Some favor the Bourne-influenced 007 movies, while for others it is not a true Bond film unless Roger Moore is raising an eyebrow while driving a car disguised as a gondola.

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With opinions so split over what makes a perfect Bond movie, there is perhaps no definitive cream of the crop. But that won't stop fans from arguing their case - or us, for that matter!

 

As such, Newsweek asked a number of writers to make their case for why their favorite of the official franchise's 25 movies has a licence to thrill.

From Russia With Love (1963)

Sean Connery and Daniela Bianchi in a promotional still for "From Russia With Love." The film was the second ever Bond movie, released in 1963.GETTY

Sean Connery's second outing as Bond may not be as heralded as the next in the series, Goldfinger, but From Russia with Love is worthy of a place in the 007 pantheon.

 

The plot is twisty and the locations, including a stunning Cold War-era Istanbul and Venice, are perfect. Equally, the villains are just the right side of nuts - Rosa Klebb with her pointy shoes and the tough, smart assassin Grant.

From Russia with Love establishes several ideas that are now Bond staples: the brutal train fight and S.P.E.C.T.R.E.'s ruthless staff promotion system. It also features Q for the first time, kitting Bond out with a fabulous suitcase of tricks.

Dated, perhaps, but brilliant nonetheless.

- Rob Minto

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

The Spy Who Loved Me perfectly captured the mood of the '70s. Although arguably past his sex symbol days at 49, Roger Moore made up for it with laughs and rollicking adventure. Who could forget the quips between Bond and his steel-toothed nemesis Jaws, the opening scene with the Union Jack parachute, or that car chase ending with the Lotus Esprit submerged in water?

It also broke the mould, providing 007 with a female counterpart who was seen as a peer and not a mere object: the wonderful Barbara Bach.

As the first to deviate from author Ian Fleming's work, the movie not only got 007 back on top after its box office slump, it paved the way for future silliness and death-defying stunts, and has been hailed the best Bond film by Christopher Nolan - even Moore himself concurs (though, sure, he might be a tad biased).

Ultimately, nobody does it better than Moore.

- Rebecca Johnson

Licence to Kill (1989)

Timothy Dalton and Carey Lowell in "Licence to Kill." The movie was the second and final appearance of Timothy Dalton as James Bond – and the last Bond movie for six years.GETTY

Timothy Dalton's short stint as 007 was arguably ahead of its time. While contemporary audiences did not respond well to the actor's grittier take on Bond (having become accustomed to the playful lunacy of films like Moonraker and Octopussy), he was in many respects a prototype for Daniel Craig's more successful version of the character.

This is particularly evident in Licence to Kill, which sees Bond go rogue in pursuit of an emotional vendetta against a drug kingpin who violently maimed his friend. With the super spy stripped of all his MI6 resources and high-tech gadgetry, it is the kind of back-to-basics approach that was later celebrated in Casino Royale, and it feels a lot more faithful to Ian Fleming's original novels.

It's also distinctly edgier and more violent than any of the preceding 007 entries, which rubbed some people the wrong way at the time but works quite well in retrospect. To top it all off, you have some amazing stunts, a more personal storyline and a great henchman turn from then-newcomer Benicio Del Toro.

- Harrison Abbott

GoldenEye (1995)

Pierce Brosnan maybe had the hardest job of all when he inherited the role of Bond. 007 had been away six years, and was the prototypical Cold War figure.

GoldenEye had to redefine the franchise following the fall of the Berlin War. It totally succeeded in doing this, by taking the end of the period as its theme and running wild with it right from the title sequence, a glorious piece of Soviet kitsch featuring scantily-clad women taking sledgehammers to giant statues of Lenin.

The film perfectly waves goodbye to the Cold War era and introduces viewers to the then-upcoming 21st century. It moves from scenes in a Communist graveyard (symbolism, much?) to moments pointing at a new age, where oligarchs run the world and threats are global rather than hidden behind the Iron Curtain.

Combine that with one of the most amazingly absurd Bond Girls ever (Xenia Onatopp), Sean Bean's bad guy and Judi Dench's epic dressing down of Bond in her first scene as M, and you have an all-time great Bond movie.

It's just a shame that Brosnan's later adventures did not always live up to this high bar.

- Samuel Spencer

Casino Royale (2006)

Daniel Craig in "Casino Royale." Craig's first move as Bond, it was a critical high point for the franchise.MGM

Casino Royale totally rebooted 007 before reboots were cool.

After being written off by Bond fans before the movie was even released, Daniel Craig soon won them over by emerging from knee-high water in intimidatingly tight budgie smugglers.

The memorable opening parkour scene was culturally significant in the Noughties, with Bond demolishing his way through a Bahamas building site, chasing a bomb-maker played by Sébastien Foucan – the real life founder of freerunning.

Throughout Casino Royale Craig gives a gritty, subdued and occasionally manic performance (remember the ball scratching scene?).

But he isn't the only one who shines. Mads Mikkelsen plays the memorable, bloody-eyed villain Le Chiffre, while Eva Green's character Vesper Lynd was so impactful her legacy affected 007's behaviour in the following movies – no small feat for an actress cast in the often controversial Bond Girl role.

Casino Royale also managed to make poker look sexy, perhaps its greatest achievement of all.

- Jamie Burton

Skyfall (2012)

Skyfall has an exhilarating plot and is packed with amazing action sequences -- especially at Bond's Scottish home, when Dame Judi Dench gets to channel her inner Kevin McCallister and really shows off her skills.

Speaking of the icon herself, Skyfall was a wonderful swan song for her character because it highlighted her talent as the head of MI6. As wonderful as Ralph Fiennes is, no other actor can do M better than Dench.

Elsewhere, Javier Bardem made for a fantastic villain as Silva; he was menacing in all the right ways and he had unexpectedly great chemistry with Craig.

They should have left his Bond there, but, alas, we got Spectre instead – hopefully No Time to Die will make up for that!

- Roxy Simons

 

 

 

From Dr No to Spectre: ranking the James Bond movies from worst to best

By Garry Maddox

OCTOBER 1, 2021

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James Bond over the years. Clockwise from top left: Daniel Craig, George Lazenby, Sean Connery, Pierce Brosnan, Timothy Dalton and Roger Moore.CREDIT:

 

To rank the James Bond movies, the key question is how much you view them through modern eyes.

We wince now when Sean Connery slaps a woman, rips off a bikini top or holds her down until he can kiss her but audiences seemed to find this unremarkable behaviour for a British secret agent in the 1960s. The series recognised how much times had changed when Judi Dench’s M called 007 a “sexist, misogynist dinosaur” in 1995’s GoldenEye.

For almost six decades of “official” Bond movies, the formula has proven enduringly popular: action-packed spy adventures in exotic locations, spectacular stunts, glamorous women who usually fall into bed with 007, gadgets, explosions, fast cars and witty asides. But it has been reinvented repeatedly as Connery gave way to George Lazenby then Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig.

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With the release of the secret agent franchise's twenty-fifth film, No Time To Die, we take a look back at the over 50 years of James Bond films from Dr No to Spectre.

With No Time to Die finally opening in cinemas, here’s how the Bond movies rank.

24. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
Lazenby has been the only Australian 007 but he is, unfortunately, also the worst. One of the best stories of the series had Bond facing perennial villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Telly Savalas) over a plan to use his brainwashed henchwomen to destroy the world’s agriculture. But the movie suffers for Lazenby’s acting and the in-jokes. Iconic moments: the bobsled chase; Bond gets married.

George Lazenby in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.CREDIT:APIC/GETTY

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23. Quantum of Solace (2008)
The Matrix sequels of Bond movies. After Craig re-energised 007 in Casino Royale, the follow-up was frantic, cold and grim. Seeking revenge for Vesper’s death, Bond teamed up with Camille Montes (Olga Kurylenko), who was on her own revenge mission, for a fiery showdown at a desert hotel. As well as the worst title, it had a script that was badly affected by a writers’ strike. Iconic moment: the dogfight with Bond flying a DC-3.

22. Octopussy (1983)
The switch to comedy went too far when Bond (Moore) defused a nuclear warhead dressed as a clown after earlier hiding in a gorilla suit. Investigating the death of a British agent, 007 tracked an exiled Afghan prince (Louis Jourdan) and his jewel-smuggling associate Octopussy (Maud Adams) and discovered a plot to explode a warhead. Iconic moments: Bond flies a mini jet through a hangar; he and henchman Gobinda fight atop a plane.

21. You Only Live Twice (1967)
Bond (Connery) was dispatched to Japan to confront Blofeld (Donald Pleasence) at his volcano lair in a movie with hokey space scenes, badly dubbed Japanese actors, weak double entendres and 007 getting a makeover to supposedly look Japanese. Iconic moments: the helicopter picking up a car with a magnet; Little Nellie’s dogfight; death by piranha pool; and the liferaft containing Bond and Kissy (Mie Hama) being collected by a surfacing submarine.

20. A View to a Kill (1985)
In Moore’s final appearance, Bond faced crazed villain Max Zorin (Christopher Walken), who wanted to destroy Silicon Valley. It was a hit but Moore was showing his age at 57 and his love scene with Grace Jones as May Day was comically awful. Iconic moments: Duran Duran’s theme song; May Day parachuting from the Eiffel Tower; the climactic fight when Zorin’s airship crashed into the Golden Gate Bridge.

Roger Moore and Tanya Roberts in A View to a Kill. CREDIT:GETTY

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19. The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
Bond (Moore) tracked down villain Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee) who was using a stolen device to create a destructive solar energy cannon. While Lee classed up the movie, low points included Lulu’s theme song, Sumo wrestlers in Thailand, the bizarre reappearance of Sheriff J. W. Pepper, the clumsy product placement and Britt Ekland’s acting as agent Mary Goodnight. Iconic moments: the corkscrew car jump across a river; the flying car; the climactic shootout in Scaramanga’s fun palace.

18. Die Another Day (2002)
Things got wild for Brosnan’s final movie: Bond surfed a giant wave into North Korea, there was a hovercraft chase, Madonna was a fencing instructor, John Cleese was Q, a billionaire British businessman was really an exiled Korean terrorist in disguise, there was an invisible car and Bond kitesurfed another giant wave in Iceland. After 14 months of torture, 007 had to foil a plan to use a satellite’s laser power to unite the Korean Peninsula. Iconic moments: Bond being “saved by the bell”; Halle Berry as Jinx exiting the surf.

Pierce Brosnan in Die Another Day.CREDIT:TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX

17. The World Is Not Enough (1999)
While protecting an oil heiress (Sophie Marceau) from a Russian terrorist (Robert Carlyle), Bond uncovered a plot to destroy Istanbul with a nuclear explosion. Brosnan’s third movie, which also stars Denise Richards as nuclear physicist Christmas Jones, was briskly entertaining but a step down from his previous two. Iconic moments: the jetboat chase down the Thames; Q’s lethal bagpipes; defusing a bomb in a pipeline; Bond’s line “I thought Christmas only comes once a year.”

16. Live and Let Die (1973)
Investigating the death of three British agents, Bond (Moore in his debut) hunted down a drug dealer who turned out to be the dictator of a Caribbean island in a ham-fisted take on blaxploitation. Iconic moments: Paul McCartney’s theme song; Bond seducing the psychic Solitaire (Jane Seymour) with a stacked deck of tarot cards; using alligators as stepping stones and flying a speedboat over a road.

Gloria Hendry, Roger Moore and Jane Seymour in a publicity shot for Live and Let Die.CREDIT:TERRY O'NEILL/ICONIC IMAGES

15. For Your Eyes Only (1981)
In a colourful Mediterranean travelogue, Bond (Moore) hunted for a stolen missile command system while helping crossbow-wielding Melina Havelock (Carole Bouquet) get revenge for her parents’ murder. Iconic moments: Bond escaping on a ski jump then a bobsled run; Q’s identigraph machine; Bond climbing a sheer cliff face; and, at the end, being thanked by Maggie Thatcher.

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14. The Living Daylights (1987)
A new Bond (Dalton) teamed up with a Czech cellist (Maryam d’Abo) to investigate a KGB plan to kill British agents. The movie had a brooding darkness but little wit and arms dealer Brad Whitaker (Joe Don Baker) was a weak villain. Iconic moments: the snow chase on a cello case; Bond’s fight dangling off the back of a plane.

Timothy Dalton and Maryam d’Abo teamed up in The Living Daylights. CREDIT:UIP

13. Thunderball (1965)
Bond (Connery) headed to the Bahamas to track down two NATO atomic bombs stolen by Spectre. It was the biggest hit of the early Bond movies but now seems to have far too many underwater scuba-diving scenes. Iconic moments: Bond flying a jetpack; the plane hijack; the pool full of sharks; the foot chase during a Caribbean street parade; Bond and Domino (Claudine Auger) being hooked from a liferaft by a plane.

12. Licence to Kill (1989)
After the CIA’s Felix Leiter (David Hedison) had been dropped into a shark tank and his new wife killed, Bond (Dalton) went rogue to take down Colombian drug lord Franz Sanchez (Robert Davi), with help from DEA informant Pam Bouvier (Carey Lowell). Iconic moments: Bond and Leiter hook an escaping light plane to a helicopter; the helter-skelter truck chase.

Timothy Dalton and Carey Lowell starred in Licence To Kill.CREDIT:EON

11. From Russia with Love (1963)
Dispatched to Turkey for the defection of a Russian consulate staffer, Bond (Connery) discovered a plot by Spectre to avenge the killing of Dr No. With a McGuffin, a train scene and a chase in a field – it was all very Hitchcock. Iconic moments: Bond gets his first high-tech gadgets from Q; the first appearance by Blofeld (Anthony Dawson), villainously stroking a cat.

10. Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
Bond (Brosnan) had to take down a ruthless media tycoon (Jonathan Pryce) before a missile attack on Beijing. Michelle Yeoh impressed as sassy Chinese spy Colonel Wai Lin, who became 007’s ally. Iconic moments: a chase through a carpark with Bond driving remotely from the back seat; Bond and Wai Lin slide down a building on a tearing banner.

 

Pierce Brosnan in Tomorrow Never Dies.CREDIT:EON

9. Moonraker (1979)
Investigating the theft of a space shuttle, Bond (Moore) confronted an industrialist who wanted to repopulate the world with a master race. In a cheesy comical sci-fi adventure, the stunts stood out. Iconic moments: Bond being pushed out of a plane without a parachute; surviving being trapped in a centrifuge chamber; the gondola chase through Venice; the fight with Jaws in a cable car in Rio; Q’s droll line: “I think he’s attempting re-entry, sir”.

8. GoldenEye (1995)
Brosnan’s debut was the series’ first real blockbuster – with more action, comedy and gravitas with Dench playing M. Bond uncovered a plot to use a satellite to destroy London. While the movie revived the series, the product placement was over the top. Iconic moments: the spectacular attack on a chemical weapons facility; assassin Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen) crushes a target with her thighs; the climatic fight with 006 (Sean Bean) on a satellite dish.

7. The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
Bond (Moore) teamed up with Russian agent XXX (Barbara Bach) to track reclusive megalomaniac Karl Stromberg (Curd Jurgens) who was stealing British and Russian subs. In a return to form for the series, Bond was more English and smoother. Iconic moments: Carly Simon’s song Nobody Does It Better; the ski chase that ended with Bond opening a Union Jack parachute; henchman Jaws; Stromberg’s ocean lair; the Lotus Esprit that became a submarine.

Roger Moore and Barbara Bach in The Spy Who Loved Me.CREDIT:MICHAEL OCHS ARCHIVES/GETTY IMAGES

6. Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
Connery’s final movie as 007 – enticed back by a huge fee – had Bond uncover a plot by Blofeld (Charles Gray) to use smuggled diamonds in a space laser. While the plot took a long time to unfold, it was entertaining, colourful and witty. Iconic moments: Shirley Bassey’s theme song; camp assassins Mr Wint and Mr Kidd; Bond’s meeting with Plenty O’Toole; his near-cremation then later burial in a pipeline; the chase in a lunar buggy; Bond tilting a car to get through an alley; bodyguards Bambi and Thumper.

5. Dr No (1962)
For the first Bond movie, director Terence Young reputedly cast Connery, introduced him to his tailor and showed him how to walk, talk and eat as 007. Investigating the disappearance of MI6’s station chief in Jamaica, Bond confronted Dr No (Joseph Wiseman). Hokey, cartoonish, ridiculously sexist but still entertaining. Iconic moments: the famous Bond theme; the first “Bond, James Bond”, witty banter and trademark martini; 007 is nearly killed by a tarantula; sees Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress) emerging from the sea; and, at the end, kisses her in a boat.

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Sean Connery in Dr No.CREDIT:DANJAQ, LLC AND UNITED ARTISTS

4. Spectre (2015)
Bond (Craig in his fourth movie) tracked a secret organisation and came face-to-face with Blofeld (Christoph Waltz) who wanted access to the world’s official surveillance. Dramatically gripping, well acted and with a contemporary theme, it only suffered for the unconvincing links to Bond’s childhood and multiple endings. Iconic moments: the Day of the Dead opening scene; Sam Smith’s theme song; the Aston Martin DB10 chase through Rome; Bond crashing a plane in the snow; Blofeld drilling into Bond’s head.

Daniel Craig in Spectre.CREDIT:EON

3. Skyfall (2012)
A broken-down Bond (Craig third time out) confronted flamboyant former MI6 agent Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem) who wanted revenge on M. It had dramatic intensity but not quite the wit and dynamism of Casino Royale or the iconic moments of Goldfinger. And two key female characters, Moneypenny and Severine, were wasted. Iconic moments: Adele’s theme song; the rooftop chase in Istanbul; Bond being shot; the train crashing through a Tube tunnel; Bond returning in the classic Aston Martin to his childhood home in Scotland.

2. Goldfinger (1964)
Bond (Connery) had to stop Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe) infiltrating Fort Knox. Iconic moments: the first great theme song by Shirley Bassey; Jill Masterson’s death by gold paint; manservant Oddjob throwing his deadly bowler hat; the modified Aston Martin DB5; the exchange “Do you expect me to talk?” – “No, Mr Bond, I expect you to die”; the introduction of Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman)and the bomb countdown that cut off at “007”.

Daniel Craig in Casino Royale.CREDIT:EON

 

The 17 movies we can’t wait to see on the big screen

1. Casino Royale (2006)
Craig’s debut as 007 is, without doubt, the best Bond movie to date. It had him confront one of the series’ great villains, blood-eyed banker to terrorist Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), in a masterfully shot card game. Iconic moments: the bathroom fight; the parkour chase; Bond being mistaken for a parking valet; Bond emerging from the surf; the witty banter between Bond and Vesper on the train; Bond self-defibrillating in his Aston Martin; the crash that had it rolling seven times; Le Chiffre torturing a naked Bond; Vesper’s drowning.

 

 

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