The James Bond Movies Ranked

12. Thunderball (1965)

The fourth Bond, the third and final effort from director Terence Young, was perhaps the director’s most steady-handed product. There’s an allure and inventive nature of Young’s other two Bond films, which we’ll be exploring shortly, but Thunderball was the height of his (and Sean Connery’s) confidence in making a slick, crafty Bond adventure. It’s slow to pick up energy, but Thunderball eventually brings out gadgets and Connery’s rugged charm in equal doses. As well, Claudine Auger’s Domino and Luciana Paluzzi’s Fiona Volpe may be two of the most underrated femme fatales in franchise history. To date, it’s second only to Skyfall in its financial success (if you adjust for inflation) and was an Academy Award winner for Best Visual Effects. Of its era, it was perhaps one of the best pure-action movies in the Bond oeuvre. (Neil Miller)

11. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)

OHMSS is easily the most forgotten and easily dismissed James Bond adventures. It’s the strange one-off of George Lazenby, mashed in between when Sean Connery got to old and when Roger Moore energized the franchise like a bolt of lightning. A lot of this has to do with Lazenby’s more gritty take on the character. His lack of panache was a real downer following years of Connery (including some of the lesser Connery). I’d like to think that this is the kind of reception that Daniel Craig’s Bond may have received if he’d only lasted one movie. In his time, Lazenby was a far less charismatic, intensely brutal version of the superspy. While history has not been kind to this one, the truth of the matter is that it’s still a really good action movie. It’s the one where Bond kicks a lot of ass, plays against type and even more astonishing, finds love. And it’s with a young, gorgeous, formidable Diana Rigg. Of course, it’s also the darkest Bond of its era (that ending is gutting) and its villain (Telly Savalas as Blofeld) has one of the more ridiculous plans to hold the world ransom. So it’s not perfect, but it’s better than it is remembered. Far better even, than it will ever be treated. (Neil Miller)

10. License to Kill (1989)

On the surface, License to Kill appears to be little more than an Americanized take on the typical storyline. Bond goes rogue after his colleague in the CIA is seriously wounded, forcing him to take on a drug cartel in Florida and Latin America; not exactly the most exotic locations in the franchise. What elevates License to Kill, though, is the film’s understanding of the character’s darker side. Bond will always be remembered as the debonair playboy in a tuxedo, but there is a callousness ‐ a fundamental disregard for human life ‐ that allows him to excel as a professional killer. Dalton’s performance borders on cruel without losing any of the character’s immense charm; it’s the perfect performance from my favorite actor/Bond pairing. Throw in sterling supporting performances from Robert Davi, Anthony Zerbe, and an oh-so young Benicio Del Toro, and you’re left with one of the best unheralded entries in the franchise. (Matthew Monagle)

9. Goldeneye (1995)

We’re only two weeks away from the twentieth anniversary of Goldeneye, so fair warning: if you had planned to sit down again with the film to mark the event, you might want to spend some time with the N64 game adaptation instead. Some movies are just better remembered than re-watched. Most of the film ‐ even the parts that work ‐ combine vintage Bond tropes with the overwrought action of a nineties action blockbuster. What does hold up is Sean Bean’s performance as Alec Trevelyan. Trevelyan represents a kind of hyper-sane James Bond. Whereas the latter gets to reset his relationships with every new outing of the franchise, Trevelyan lives with each death and act of violence performed in service to his country. It’s no coincidence that the two best Bond villains of the last thirty years were both disgruntled MI6 agents. Bond is just a lot more fun as a villain. (Matthew Monagle)

8. Live and Let Die (1973)

Roger Moore’s first go at Bond lets you know almost immediately that he has no interest in aping Connery (something Connery himself was doing in his last few films), and instead he dials down the intensity to reveal the world’s most relaxed secret agent. Thanks in part to a legitimately funny script Moore also ramps up 007’s wit ‐ he’s less cruel but just as sharp ‐ and ensures downtime between stunt-pieces is still immensely entertaining. This is one of the few entries with a somewhat grounded villain ‐ heroin magnate instead of mad, super genius trying to destroy the world ‐ and that also works in the film’s favor as the action is still big and fun without getting lost amid pure stupidity (see Moonraker). Add in a stellar theme song and the true beauty that is Jane Seymour, and you have an immensely fun entry that never fails to entertin. (Rob Hunter)

7. Goldfinger (1964)

James Bond at the height of his coolness. The suits, the aston martin, and the genuinely clever quips, Sean Connery had never been finer as the super spy. A part of why Goldfinger is fantastic is because its great hero has an equal adversary. Auric Goldfinger is as delightful to watch as James Bond. Physically, he may be no match for the MI6 agent, but he’s smart enough to surround himself with dangerous goons, like the hat-throwing Oddjob. There’s a handful of iconic shots, lines, and moments in Goldfinger. This is a Bond movie that has stood the test of time. (Jack Giroux)

(Publisher)

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