One of the horror genre's "most widely read critics" (Rue Morgue # 68), "an accomplished film journalist" (Comic Buyer's Guide #1535), and the award-winning author of Horror Films of the 1980s (2007), The Rock and Roll Film Encyclopedia (2007) and Horror Films of the 1970s (2002), John Kenneth Muir, presents his blog on film, television and nostalgia, named one of the Top 100 Film Studies Blog on the Net.
Thursday, May 26, 2016
Ask JKM a Question: Rank all the 007 Movies and Choose the Next Bond?
friend and regular reader SGB writes a follow-up to the question I answered on Monday of this week:
I thoroughly enjoyed your "How would you rank the Bond movies by actor" post and agree with it with the exception ofMoonrakeronly because I am fond of the extensive use of the
NASA Space Shuttle Orbiters a.k.a. Moonrakers.
I do agree that it was not a reality-grounded
Bond film and thus the script was weaker. At the end of theThe Spy Who Loved Me(1977)it
stated in the credits the next Bond film was to beFor Your Eyes Onlyso
we knowMoonrakerwas made abruptly to exploit the
success ofStar Wars(1977).
My challenge is in two questions:
1-Rankallthe Bond movies mixed together from
best to worst fromDr.
. 2-If Daniel Craig departs the Bond role, then
which actors make your top ten list to be thenextOO7?
SGB, those are two great challenges, for
certain. Thank you for posing the
And by the way, I agree with
you about Moonraker (1979). I enjoy it as a post-Star Wars fantasy, but
not as a James Bond film if that makes any sense at all. I also loved seeing those shuttles launch,
dock, and carry troops into space.
So, my Bond movie rankings, top to bottom, eh? I will, but with the understanding that some of the titles in the middle of the pack may move up or down, based on re-watch, or my mood.
All right, here goes:
From Russia with Love (1963): Greatest fight in the series (Train Car); greatest soldier villain
(Red Grant), and Sean Connery at his most charming/fit.
Goldfinger (1964): Greatest villain (Auric Goldfinger), greatest car (Aston Martin),
great pre-title sequence prototype, great car (Aston Martin with ejector seat!),
great sacrificial lambs (Jill and Tilly Masterson), and greatest overall
leitmotif or organizing principle (gold).
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969): The most human Bond film. The first “re-grounding” effort in the
saga, and one that considers Bond as a person, not just an agent.
Greatest Bond Girl Ever: Diana Rigg’s Tracy Bond. Greatest ending in the
Casino Royale (2006): Another great “re-grounding” effort, after the ludicrous Die
Another Day (2002) gives us the most physically-fit, believable Bond in
Daniel Craig, and offers a solid villain (Mads Mikkelsen) and great Bond Girl,
to rival Tracy: Eva Green’s Vesper. In a way, a great “origin story,” and in the
20-something other films, we’ve never really had that.
5. Licence to
Kill (1989): Timothy Dalton’s final
film was only twenty-five years ahead of its time, giving us a bloody, serious,
tortured Bond on a mission of vengeance. Features one of the franchise’s
all-time great villains, the quasi-Shakespearean Sanchez (Robert Davi), and a
remarkable action scene involving trucks on a winding highway.
6. For Your Eyes
Only (1981): The Bond re-grounding
film -- following the excesses of Moonraker (1979) --
that proved Roger Moore can be a great James Bond. The film eschews fantasy,
and shows how resourceful Bond can be. The car chase with the junky old Citroen
proves it’s not the car mode itself that matters, it’s the man behind the
wheel. The film also features the most suspenseful action scene in all the
canon, with Moore’s 007 scaling a sheer mountainside as villains attempt to
send him plummeting to his doom. That scene is absolutely nail-baiting.
Skyfall (2012): Who knew Bond had a Mommy Complex? This film, in keeping with the
Craig Era, gives us more insight into the creation of Bond’s world, adding
flesh to the bones of Moneypenny, Q, and even the new M.
Dr. No (1962): The first Bond film, and the one to set the tone/style for the
series. Features a great villain, an amazing Bond girl (Ursula Andress), and made Sean Connery a
The Living Daylights (1987): Another re-grounding film (this time after A View
to a Kill), giving us a younger, more vigorous Bond in Timothy Dalton.
The film speaks meaningfully to then current events (the Reagan
Administrations’ shadowy arms deal with the Iranians), and gives the audience
the most human, flawed 007 since Lazenby’s in 1969.
Never Say Never Again (1983): Overall, this one gets high marks from me because the film
acknowledges that Bond (Sean Connery) has aged, and must now rely on his wits
and cunning. The film’s villains are of the 1980s “push button” age, playing
video games and remotely detonating bombs, but Bond is a moving human target,
relying on his instincts and physicality. Great antagonists here, too.
11. The Spy Who
Loved Me (1977): A veritable remake of You
Only Live Twice (1967), only with nuclear submarines instead of
rockets. But this movie features a great Bond car (the Lotus Esprit) and the
finest pre-title sequence of the saga, with Moore’s Bond skiing off a
mountainside and deploying a parachute.
12. Live and Let
Die (1973): This Bond, the first
starring Roger Moore, apes the Blaxploitation movie trend of the time period,
but still holds together well. Features the best title song of the
franchise, and one of the finest Bond girls, Jane Seymour’s Solitaire.
The presence of Baron Samedi – Death Himself – also adds a layer of visual and
thematic artistry to the affair.
Tomorrow Never Dies (1997): Brosnan’s best Bond; a rip-roaring social critique of the 24-hour
news cycle, and the rise of cable news at the turn of last century. Michelle
Yeoh is a fantastic ally for Bond, and Brosnan seems especially committed to
the proceedings, notably in his scenes with (sacrificial lamb) Teri Hatcher.
14. Goldeneye (1995): After the ahead-of-its-time Licence to Kill,
Pierce Brosnan’s first outing is a perfectly entertaining -- and perfectly bland
-- re-establishment of the series’ spectacular side. Unlike other
re-grounding Bond films, this one is all about re-establishing the series’
“big,” outrageous moments. One huge downside is the funeral dirge-like
soundtrack, which casts a pall over what should be a fun, buoyant, Bond film.
Quantum of Solace (2008): Craig’s sophomore outing in the 007 role is best enjoyed as the
second half of Casino Royale (2006). On that basis – as
well as its pastiche-style recycling of classic Bond images (girl in oil; girl
in gold; Quantum = SPECTRE) -- the film is worth revisiting.
Thunderball (1965): This Bond film is over-long, edited poorly, and features one of
the dullest villains ever: Largo. By this time, it’s also clear that Sean
Connery is also getting bored in the role of 007. This is the “tipping” Bond in
his era, the film that starts the descent towards utter crap (see: Diamonds
are Forever.) The fight scenes
lose their effectiveness too, by the over-use of fast-motion editing to make
them seem more pacey.
17. You Only
Live Twice (1967): Features a great villain
(Donald Pleasence), a great gadget (Little Nellie), and a great villain headquarters
(inside a volcano), but also feels bloated, and is weighted down by Connery’s
apparent disinterest in the whole enterprise. Also, there’s his terrible
The Man with the Golden Gun (1974): Roger Moore’s second film is fun but pretty unmemorable,
overall. A low point in the film is the return of Live and Let
Die’s bigoted Southern sheriff. A high point is Maude Adams.
Spectre (2015): After starting out with
real flair (and remarkable cinematography), this (final?) Craig effort peters
out quickly. A villain’s headquarters is shown briefly, and then literally
exploded with one well-placed shot. And
the retcon of Blofeld’s back-story is ludicrous, cringe-inducing and
wrong-headed on a near cosmic scale. The film’s most interesting female
character is played by Monica Bellucci and she gets almost no screen time. Craig is still impressive, however.
20. Octopussy (1983): Another disposable entry in the Moore Era. Not bad, but nothing
special either (except for the pre-title sequence with the AcroStar mini-jet).
Roger Moore looks old and disinterested, and the last thing the series needed
at this juncture was to feature his 007 dressed as a circus clown.
The World is Not Enough (1999): Sophie Marceau is fantastic in this film as Bond’s lover/nemesis,
but Denise Richards isn’t exactly cut out to be a nuclear physicist. More than
Brosnan’s first two Bond films, this one feels like little more than
re-shuffled elements (another boat chase, another ski chase, another submarine
Moonraker (1979): Pardon my schizophrenia. As a Star Wars kid
I love this film without reservation. As a Bond fan, this film is
low-points of source, made so by the campy, tongue-in-cheek approach and every
single scene featuring Jaws (Richard Kiel). That said, I could watch this
any day and be thoroughly entertained. Still,I could do without the pigeon
doing a double-take, and the gondola-turned hover-craft.
A View to a Kill (1985): I should look as good as Roger Moore does in this filmwhen I’m his
age. That said, he’s still way too old to be a convincing James Bond at this
point. The film is bloated and slow, and Tanya Robert’s Stacy Sutton is
the most annoying Bond Girl of the series. Christopher Walken, Grace
Jones, and Duran Duran are all “fresh” ingredients in the franchise that
nonetheless utterly fail to enliven this beached-whale of an epic.
Diamonds are Forever (1971): Terrible, awful, no-good effort that sees Connery’s retirement
from the role until 1983. The film’s steadfast refusal to connect itself to On
Her Majesty’s Secret Service is insulting, as is Blofeld’s death
scene. Overlong and with a confusing plot. The seventies lounge-lizard look hasn’t
exactly aged well, either.
Die Another Day (2002): The first twenty or so minutes of this Bond film -- which see 007
(Pierce Brosnan) captured, tortured, and humiliated in North Korea -- are
great; a fresh launching point for the saga. But then -- after a serious first
act -- the film devolves rapidly into fantasy excess: ice palaces, invisible
cars, power gloves, and Bond surfing CGI tsunamis. Excessive, stupid, and a sad
end for Brosnan’s era.
Now, who are my choices to be the next 007?
I have to break that down into answers,
If the goal is to go with a
non-traditional choice, as many fans and movie-goers seem to desire at this
point, my top choice is Gillian Anderson, and second: Idris Elba.
If we go the traditional route my top ten choices
are (in order):
Dalton (he looks fantastic, and has experience, right?)