On with the rankings:
O-ver Ra-ted! I do not understand all the love for this movie. Sure, it looked great and had some nice action—but so did “Quantum of Solace” and a bunch of the others listed beneath it here. The plot had gaping holes, the villain succeeds at every single thing he wants to accomplish, the last reel of the film is actually dull, and the time frame for the character is impossible to pin down. (He’s early in his career! No, wait! He’s the aged, grizzled spy, nearly washed up! No—wait! Etc.) It gets bogged down in the zillion nods to previous films and everything that happens in the first three-fourths seems clumsily contrived to set up the situation the producers desired at the end. Not a favorite by any means.
12. Diamonds are Forever
It hasn’t aged well at all, it rehashes previously-used storylines, and parts of it don’t make a lick of sense after repeated viewings. Even so, while not greater than the sum of its parts, it does contain some fantastic parts. In particular you have to love the two assassins and the sublime Charles Gray as Blofeld. And above all we get Connery back for one last go-round in the Eon series. Dumb but fun.
11. For Your Eyes Only
The other particularly watchable Roger Moore Bond film (besides "Live and Let Die.") The bit with him romancing the teen-aged skater is a bit creepy, as he’s starting to show his age by this time. But the more straight-ahead spy story is a welcome relief after the last few entries. And the crossbow-wielding leading lady is terrific.
10. Dr. No
Crude—nobody associated with the production had quite found their footing yet—and it looks like it was filmed on a budget of about seventeen dollars. But it's undeniably fun, and the DNA for the entire rest of the series is on display here, though it hadn’t quite gelled yet.
9. Tomorrow Never Dies
I have a soft spot in my heart for this one because it was the second in Pierce Brosnan’s run, and he’s my favorite Bond of all; and because it features the great Michelle Yeoh as a Chinese agent to rival Bond himself. I would pay good money to watch a movie series or read a book series featuring Yeoh’s solo adventures—or Tiger Tanaka’s. It’s also fun that the villain is a sort of Ted Turner/Rupert Murdoch mashup.
8. Live and Let Die
The first and best of the Roger Moore run. The voodoo stuff is genuinely frightening—certainly it was to this kid back in the Seventies!—and the iconic moments like the jazzy Bourbon Street funeral and the rotating bar booth remain pleasant memories. And Moore was still young enough to seem plausible in the role.
The Connery films were starting to seem a bit similar at this point, but the underwater stuff was new at the time and the villain was about as fun as any before him—though setting him on a ship and giving him an eyepatch might have been a bit much.
6. Casino Royale
Daniel Craig exploded onto the screen as one of the best Bonds of all, in one of the absolute best movies. Parts were confusing to me at first; a lot happens in this movie. Ultimately, though, it’s dark and intense and so much fun.
5. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
George Lazenby is underrated, in my view, while the film itself is somewhat overrated by Bond aficionados, in my view. The whole bit in the allergy clinic in the middle gets a little sillier with repeated viewings, rivaling the worst of Moore’s excesses later on. But it's a really good spy story and there’s no denying the power of the ending.
My favorite Bond actor in his best Bond film. I love nearly everything about this movie. We’d waited so long for Brosnan to play the part. When it came out, it represented a (you’ll pardon the expression) quantum leap forward in the sheer “epic-ness” of the series, back to what they’d been able to achieve (for far less money) in Connery’s heyday. It sports a supporting cast, including Alan Cummings and Sean Bean, as good as any film in the series.
So there you have my numbers 13-4. Next time we'll look at the three best James Bond films of all, in my estimation.
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