The James Bond Films Rated From Worst To Best (24-11)

In anticipation of SPECTRE, editor Jeppe Kleyngeld lists his favourite things about the James Bond series in 12 unique features. Enjoy!

24. Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
Director: Guy Hamilton
Written by: Richard Maibaum (screenplay), Tom Mankiewicz (screenplay), Ian Flemming (novel)
Cast: Sean Connery (James Bond), Jill St. John (Tiffany Case), Charles Gray (Blofeld), Lana Wood (Plenty O’Toole), Jimmy Dean (Willard Whyte)

Diamonds Are Forever 1

After actor George Lazenby left the franchise after ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE, producers Saltzman and Broccoli tested other actors, but the studio – United Artists – wanted Sean Connery back, paying a then-record 1.25 million dollar salary for his return. They also brought back director Guy Hamilton. Since he had turned GOLDFINGER into gold, they figured he could do the same with diamonds. His approach was the same; Shirley Bassey sings the title song and a criminal mastermind has a major blackmail scheme to carry out. Unfortunately, DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER turned out to be one of the worst Bond movies: definitely the worst with Connery. It is the campiest film of the bunch and the plot is full of loop holes. Also most of the action scenes fail to impress. A chase in a moon buggy is downright ludicrous. So is the Bambi and Thumper scene. More importantly, the characters fail to capture the imagination. This is especially the case with Charles Gray playing Blofeld and the Bond girls Plenty O’Toole and Tiffany Case. A positive point is that there is plenty of humour. Despite the quality issues, the film did very well at the box office.

Best Moment: Bond’s confrontation with Mr. Kidd and Mr. Wint at the end on the ocean cruiser is priceless. He sets Mr. Kidd on fire, who then jumps overboard. Mr. Wint follows with a bomb between his legs that explodes mid air. ‘He certainly left with his tail between his legs.’

23. Thunderball (1965)
Director: Terence Young
Written by: Richard Maibaum (screenplay), John Hopkins (screenplay), Jack Whittingham (original screenplay and story), Kevin McClory (story), Ian Flemming (original story)
Cast: Sean Connery (James Bond), Claudine Auger (Domino), Adolfo Celi (Emilio Largo), Luciana Paluzzi (Fiona), Rik van Nutter (Felix Leiter)

Thunderball 1

After a spectacular pre-credit and underwater title sequence (the first of Maurice Binder’s opening titles sequences created in the form that they would become most famous for), featuring Tom Jones singing ‘Thunderball’, we find main bad guy – the eye-patch wearing Emilio Largo (number 2) –entering a SPECTRE meeting. We learn that he is assigned to steal two atomic weapons and demand a large sum of money in return. Bond is send to Nassau (capital of the Bahamas) to find out where the weapons are kept and retrieve them. Apart from the spectacular opening, THUNDERBALL is probably the dullest and one of the least memorable Bond movies. It is overlong and most of the action takes place underwater, which is frankly not the most exciting concept in the world, despite its technical excellence. A shame because the budget for this Bond film was more than the combined budgets of the first three Bond films. Definitely a step back from the previous instalments.

Best Moment: Mr. Largo has a special pool for sharks in the garden of his mansion. Lovely creatures they are.

22. Moonraker (1979)
Director: Lewis Gilbert
Written by: Christopher Wood (screenplay), Ian Flemming (novel)
Cast: Roger Moore (James Bond), Lois Chiles (Dr. Holly Goodhead), Michael Lonsdale (Hugo Drax), Richard Kiel (Jaws), Corinne Cléry (Corinne Dufour)

Moonraker 1

After the success of science fiction classics STAR WARS and CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, the producers felt it was time for a Bond movie in space. The budget was two times higher than its brilliant predecessor THE SPY WHO LOVED ME (also directed by Lewis Gilbert), but the quality of this film is far less unfortunately. The plot is too absurd, and the comedy feels a bit forced and overplayed. There is plenty to enjoy however. Especially a series of memorable action scenes. When Bond and Dr. Goodhead are attacked in a cable car by Jaws at the top of Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro for instance. There is also a spectacular Amazon chase by speedboat, a water struggle between James and a deadly anaconda, and a climatic battle in space. The special effects are without a doubt very impressive. And as purely an escapist film, MOONRAKER succeeds gloriously.

Best Moment: The scene in which a baddie tries to assassinate James in a centrifuge chamber (used for astronaut training) is hard to watch. Very, very tense. Luckily James has armour piercing darts in his wrist shooter.

Diamonds Are Forever 2
Diamonds Are Forever

Thunderball 2

Moonraker 2

21. Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
Director: Roger Spottiswoode
Written by: Bruce Feirstein (screenplay), Ian Flemming (characters)
Cast: Pierce Brosnan (James Bond), Jonathan Pryce (Elliot Carver), Michelle Yeoh (Wai Lin), Teri Hatcher (Paris Carver), Ricky Jay (Henry Gupta)

Tommorow Never Dies 1

A media tycoon is creating his own headlines by attempting to cause a war between Britain and China. Bond has 48 hours to prevent World War III. After the spot on Bond translation to modern times GOLDENEYE, the makers had a difficult task with this one. Although it gets nowhere near that last movie, it still offers everything you can reasonably expect from Bond 2.0 in terms of action, humour and spectacular stunts. However – and maybe that’s fitting for an instalment about the media – it is somehow the most unbelievable story out of the series. The original title of the film was ‘Tomorrow Never Lies’, but a typo on an early script draft was adopted by the producers, and TOMORROW NEVER DIES became the title instead. The movie is dedicated to long time Bond producer Albert R. Broccoli, who died in 1996.

Best Moment: The love angle with Teri Hatcher is short, but does have strong emotional impact. It actually gives us some more insight in James’ way with woman.

20. Quantum of Solace (2008)
Director: Marc Forster
Written by: Paul Haggis (written by), Neal Purvis (written by), Robert Wade (written by)
Cast: Daniel Craig (James Bond), Olga Kurylenko (Camille), Mathieu Amalric (Dominic Greene), Judi Dench (M), Giancarlo Giannini (Rene Mathis)

Quantum of Solace 1

QUANTUM OF SOLACE opens where CASINO ROYALE ended. Bond kidnapped baddie Mr. White – who works for a mysterious crime syndicate – for interrogation. His employer seems to be way bigger than MI6 expected, and Bond has to go after one of the leaders. Under the cover of an environmental welfare group, this Dominic Greene is buying desert land in Bolivia, where he wants to exploit the water supply. QUANTUM OF SOLACE has a distinct look and feel to it, almost as though it is a Bourne movie. It is nowhere bad, but does not excel in anything either. Daniel Craig is once again fantastic as Bond though. As the first ever direct sequel in the series, Craig has commented: ‘We felt we needed to tie up the loose ends from CASINO ROYALE and make sure people realize we are back making Bond movies. For me it is about creating something that is going to stand alone but if you put the two films together, you are going to have an incredible experience because you will see one continuous story.’

Best Moment: The death of Rene Mathis is very tragic: ‘Forgive Vesper. She gave everything for you.’

19. The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
Director: Guy Hamilton
Written by: Richard Maibaum (screenplay), Tom Mankiewicz (screenplay), Ian Flemming (novel)
Cast: Roger Moore (James Bond), Christopher Lee (Francisco Scaramanga), Britt Ekland (Mary Goodnight), Maud Adams (Andrea Anders), Herve Villechaize (Nick Nack)

The Man With the Golden Gun 1

A dangerous hitman with three nipples is after Bond. Nobody knows what he looks like, so Bond traces the golden bullet that he used to kill agent 002 back to him. Then he discovers this hitman called Scaramanga, is the central player in a bold power move to take control of the global energy market. Not the usual Bond film in terms of plot and structure. The energy crisis storyline was inspired by media stories of such current events of the time. Elements of martial arts were added to the plot, because martial arts movies were extremely popular at the time. Therefore Bond has to face kung fu artists and sumo wrestlers. THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN especially scores points for the excellent supporting characters. Christopher Lee’s performance was praised and his Scaramanga has been called ‘the best characterised Bond villain yet’. There are also two remarkable Bond-girls: Britt Ekland and Maud Adams. It seems that the makers did not intend to make this the biggest and greatest Bond film ever, which works in its advantage. It’s very entertaining, pretty funny and reasonably suspenseful. And the locations in Thailand are to die for.

Best Moment: A scene you are not likely to forget is the cork-screw car jump. Terrific.

Tommorow Never Dies 2
Tomorrow Never Dies

Quantum of Solace 2
Quantum of Solace

The Man With the Golden Gun 2
The Man with the Golden Gun

18. Die Another Day (2002)
Director: Lee Tamahori
Written by: Neal Purvis (written by), Robert Wade (written by), Ian Flemming (characters)
Cast: Pierce Brosnan (James Bond), Halle Berry (Jinx Johnson), Toby Stephens (Gustav Graves), Rosamund Pike (Miranda Frost), Rick Yune (Zao)

Die Another Day 1

DIE ANOTHER DAY was released 40 years after the first Bond movie DR. NO and 50 years after the writing of the first James Bond novel by Ian Flemming: ‘Casino Royale’. It has quite an a-typical start for a Bond film. After a botched assassination attempt on a North Korean colonel, Bond is imprisoned in North Korea for two years. The bearded and skinny James is then traded for terrorist Zhao, much to the discontent of M. When his 00-status is revoked, Bond makes a deal with the Chinese secret service. They want him to go after terrorist Zao who killed three of their agents. Bond travels to Cuba where he meets, and immediately makes love to Jinx (Hale Berry). They both get involved in a plot involving gene-therapy, a new destructive super satellite, and an enemy from Bond’s past. DIE ANOTHER DAY looks too much like a videogame – with matching CGI – to feel like a real Bond movie. What is has going for it are two beautiful dames (besides Hale Berry, Rusamund Pike is delicious as Miranda Frost), stunning locations, and some great action.

Best Moment: Halle Berry’s character walking out of the ocean: a beautiful reference to Honey Rider doing the same in DR. NO 40 years earlier.

17. Octopussy (1983)
Director: John Glen
Written by: George MacDonald Fraser (screenplay), Richard Maibaum (screenplay), Michael G. Wilson (screenplay), Ian Flemming (stories)
Cast: Roger Moore (James Bond), Maud Adams (Octopussy), Louis Jourdan (Kamal Khan), Kristina Wayborn (Magda), Kabir Bedi (Gobinda)

Octopussy 1

A fake Fabergé egg and a fellow agent’s death lead James Bond to uncovering an international jewel smuggling operation, headed by the mysterious Octopussy. Bond discovers there is more to this plot than meets the eye. A power hungry Russian general plans to set off a nuclear bomb on an American army base in Berlin, that is supposed to cause nuclear disarmament in Europe, leaving Europe’s borders unprotected from Russian invasion. The film has a highly enjoyable start, but the story becomes a bit silly halfway. Not that a Bond-plot needs to be very believable, but there are limits to what the viewer’s mind can endure, and these limits are tested quite a lot here. The action however is A-grade. OCTOPUSSY, the 13th James Bond movie in the Eon Productions series, was released in the same year as the rival James Bond production NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN which showcased the return of Sean Connery to the role. OCTOPUSSY made 187 million dollars worldwide, NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN made 160 million dollars. Last Bond film to reveal the name of the next Bond film during the end credits, namely FROM A VIEW TO A KILL (the ‘From’ was later dropped from the title).

Best moment: The race against the clock to prevent a nuclear bomb from exploding at the end is maybe a cliché, but it is very well executed.

16. The World Is Not Enough (1999)
Director: Michael Apted
Written by: Neal Purvis (screenplay), Robert Wade (screenplay), Bruce Feirstein (screenplay), Ian Flemming (characters)
Cast: Pierce Brosnan (James Bond), Sophie Marceau (Elektra King), Robert Carlyle (Renard), Denise Richards (Dr. Christmas Jones), Robbie Coltrane (Valentin Zukovsky)

The World is Not Enough 1

THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH is an improvement over the previous instalment with Brosnan, although it is still a long way from GOLDENEYE. The film’s plot revolves around the assassination of oil magnate Sir Robert King by the terrorist Renard, and Bond’s subsequent assignment to protect King’s daughter Elektra, who has previously been held for ransom by Renard. During his assignment, Bond unravels a scheme to increase petroleum prices by triggering a nuclear explosion in the waters of Istanbul. The best thing about THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH are the Bond girls. Both Denise Richards and Sophie Marceau are delicious. The villain however, a madman who can’t feel pain, doesn’t really work. Tension is also lacking because cutting off the West’s major oil supply doesn’t seem such a terrible idea. Until the release of DIE ANOTHER DAY in 2002, this was the highest grossing Bond film of all time ($361,832,400).

Best moment: Bond killing Elektra King is a powerful scene. ‘I never miss’.

Die Another Day 2
Die Another Day

Octopussy 2

The World is Not Enough 2
The World Is Not Enough

15. The Living Daylights (1987)
Director: John Glen
Written by: Richard Maibaum (screenplay), Michael G. Wilson (screenplay), Ian Flemming (story)
Cast: Timothy Dalton (James Bond), Maryam d’Abo (Kara Milovy), Jeroen Krabbé (General Georgi Koskov), Joe Don Baker (Brad Whitaker), John Rhys-Davies (General Leonid Pushkin)

LIVING DAYLIGHTS, Timothy Dalton, (poster art), 1987

A new actor playing Bond: Timothy Dalton. He has the right looks, voice and charisma to play the role, and does a great job. The plot of THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS involves the supposedly turned KGB-agent Koskov (a hilarious Jeroen Krabbé) who seduces the British government to eliminate a Russian general through false information. Koskov’s real motivation for getting rid of the general is that he is interfering with his lucrative partnership with American arms dealer Brad Whitaker. Together these two men are supplying various wars of liberation. Bond, who is assigned to eliminate the general, smells something fishy, so he starts an investigation during which he meets Koskov’s attractive mistress Kara. Strong entry in the series and the last to feature a classic spy scenario involving the Russians. Interesting trivia: Pierce Brosnan and Sean Bean were both considered to play 007 in this film, but ended up in GOLDENEYE eight years later. Brosnan as Bond and Bean as 007’s opponent in that film Alec Trevelyan. Dalton would return one more time as Bond in LICENCE TO KILL.

Best moment: The Cello Case Chase.

14. Live and Let Die (1973)
Director: Guy Hamilton
Written by: Tom Mankiewicz (screenplay), Ian Flemming (novel)
Cast: Roger Moore (James Bond), Yaphet Kotto (Kananga / Mr. Big), Jane Seymour (Solitaire), Clifton James (Sheriff Pepper), Julius W. Harris (Tee Hee)

Live and Let Die 1

The first Bond starring Roger Moore is a very decent movie featuring beautiful dames, voodoo and plenty of action. Bond goes after Dr. Kananga, the scary prime minister of a Caribbean island whose plan is to set up a massive heroin trade to the USA. He wants to give two tons of the drugs away for free to double the number of addicts and then seize the opportunity to lead a heroin monopoly. Bond gets aid in his mission from his old CIA-pall Felix Leiter and psychic card reader Solitaire. Roger Moore turns out to be a formidable lady killer (‘Felix told me there would be moments like this’) and he plays the role a little lighter than his two predecessors with a lot of humour. This is the only James Bond movie to ever have a supernatural theme. Is also reminds of a typical 70’s blaxploitation film, especially the scenes shot in the city of New Orleans. Great Bond film and miles better than director Hamilton’s last one DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER.

Best moment: The trip to the crocodile farm is very memorable. This is the place where Tee Hee lost his hand and Bond makes a very narrow escape from the hungry monsters.

13. A View to a Kill (1985)
Director: John Glen
Written by: Richard Maibaum (screenplay), Michael G. Wilson (screenplay), Ian Flemming (story)
Cast: Roger Moore (James Bond), Christopher Walken (Max Zorin), Tanya Roberts (Stacey Sutton), Grace Jones (May Day), Patrick Macnee (Sir Godfrey Tibbett)

A View to a Kill 1

The final Roger Moore Bond is not the best, but certainly not the worst either, although Roger Moore disagrees. The plot has a lot of similarities with GOLDFINGER, since it is also about a stark mad industrialist who wants to disrupt a market (in this case the computer chip market) in order to profit from it. Christopher Walken is brilliant as Max Zorin, the evil business genius who plans to make a killing by flooding Silicon Valley. This entry has a lot of humour, a near perfect Roger Moore who can dream the role by now, and many classic images, such as Grace Jones (Zorin’s helping hand) base jumping from the Eiffel Tower. Roger Moore celebrated his 57th birthday during filming, making him the oldest actor to play Bond. Moore said that he decided to end his run as James Bond when he realized that co-star Tanya Roberts’s mother was younger than he was. This film itself was also intensely disliked by Moore. He did not consider this to be a real 007 movie. On the scene where Christopher Walken was machine-gunning hundreds of people, Moore said, ‘That wasn’t Bond, those weren’t Bond films. It stopped being what they were all about. You didn’t dwell on the blood and the brains spewing all over the place.’ He also said in his autobiography that he felt there was no chemistry between himself and Tanya Roberts, and he felt a genuine dislike of Grace Jones.

Best moment: The climax on top of the Golden Gate Bridge is very memorable.

The Living Daylights 2
The Living Daylights

Live and Let Die 2
Live and Let Die

A View to a Kill 2
A View to a Kill

12. You Only Live Twice (1967)
Director: Lewis Gilbert
Written by: Roald Dahl (screenplay), Harold Jack Bloom (additional story material), Ian Flemming (novel)
Cast: Sean Connery (James Bond), Akiko Wakabayashi (Aki), Mie Hama (Kissy), Tetsurô Tanba (Tiger Tanaka), Teru Shimada (Mr. Osato)

You Only Live Twice 1

Bond faces SPECTRE once again and this time he has to deal with its leader Blofeld (Donald Pleasence) directly. After the secret service faked Bond’s death to get his enemies off his back, he travels to Japan in order to find a hidden base. From there, a secret enemy is supposedly launching a space craft that is trying to provoke a war between Russia and the United States. In Japan, Bond makes a new friend – Tiger Tanaka – who introduces him to Japanese culture and woman.
YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE begins in rapid pace, delivering dynamic action, heroism and humour. Then it slows down a little to end in an all out action sequence. Some special effects are a little outdated, but the settings and scope of the film is still impressive by today’s standard. Connery totally nails the 007-part once again and Pleasence’s version of Blofeld – including the nasty facial scare – is genuinely chilling.

Best moment: The final battle in SPECTRE’s underground base is quite spectacular.

11. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
Director: Peter R. Hunt
Written by: Richard Maibaum (screenplay), Simon Raven (additional dialogue), Ian Flemming (novel)
Cast: George Lazenby (James Bond), Diana Rigg (Tracy), Telly Savalas (Blofeld), Gabriele Ferzetti (Draco), Ilse Steppat (Irma Bunt)

On Her Majesty's Secret Service 1

ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE attempts to take the James Bond series into a new direction. Following the decision of Sean Connery to retire from the role after his fifth Bond-movie YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE, Eon Productions selected the unknown actor and model George Lazenby for the part. The idea was to take a more realistic approach to the spy genre. As director they hired Peter R. Hunt, who had served as a film editor and Second Unit Director on previous films in the series. Producers Broccoli and Saltzman believed his quick cutting had set the style for the series. The story revolves around Bond frantically searching for his arch enemy Blofeld, who has been missing for two years. He gets help from a powerful industrialist, who in return want Bond to marry his troublesome daughter. Bond refuses, but does fall in love with the girl afterwards. He subsequently tracks down Blofeld (now played by ‘Kojak’ Telly Savalas) in Switzerland, where the evil leader of SPECTRE runs the Bluechamps Institute for allergy research, a cover for another one of his evil plans that involves sterilising the world’s entire food supply. A violent confrontation follows. The new approach to structure and story, as well as the different actors and even new theme music, give the movie a very different feel than we’re used to by now. This takes some getting used to, but the second half is non-stop entertainment. Lazenby misses Connery’s roguish charm, but he makes a sympathetic hero nonetheless. The famous climax of ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE is still shattering.

Best moment: Apart from the mountain pursuit and tragic ending, the invasion of Blofeld’s mansion and the following chase by bobsled deserves credit for the dynamically shot action.

You Only Live Twice 2
You Only Live Twice

On Her Majesty's Secret Service 2
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

Continue reading:

The James Bond Films Rated From Worst To Best (Top 10)
The James Bond Films Rated From Worst To Best (Top 10)

Read also:

10 Best Pre-Credit Sequences
James Bond: 10 Best Pre-Credit Scenes

Top 10 Vehicles
James Bond: Top 10 Vehicles

Top 10 Gadgets
James Bond: Top 10 Gadgets

8 Reacties op “The James Bond Films Rated From Worst To Best (24-11)

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