James Bond’s Best and Worst: All 24 Films Ranked

MGM via Amazon Prime Video

From our friends at Pop Tonic:

Six actors, 24 films (plus two we won’t rank here), a countless number of shaken martinis — and James Bond is still going strong.

It’s been more than 50 years, and the franchise is still a popular addition to many a watchlist.

Most of the franchise is available to Amazon Prime members to stream for free. But now, the first 19 movies (pre-Daniel Craig era) are free on YouTube. The platform revealed a new James Bond section of its Movies & Shows channel.

And while Craig’s latest Bond flick, No Time to Die, has been delayed to April 2021 in the face of the pandemic, YouTube will have to tide you over into the spring.

So, to provoke plenty of arguments, I’m going to rank ’em all from worst to best. Plan your Bond binge accordingly!

24. A View to a Kill (1985)

The movie’s got a few good things. We’ve got a mesmeric, bottle-blonde Christopher Walken as Max Zorin, gunning for global domination by destroying Silicon Valley. And he’s accompanied by his tough bodyguard-slash-henchman May Day, who is played by none other than Grace Jones. Oh, and there’s a Duran Duran title song.

Unfortunately, Roger Moore’s last Bond movie couldn’t come soon enough. He’s mostly on autopilot for his performance in the role here. Even Moore himself later admitted, “I was only about 400 years too old for the part.”

23. Moonraker (1979)

Although it starts with one of the best Bond pre-title sequences — Bond thrown out of a plane with no parachute with mercenary assassin Jaws skydiving after him — it’s mostly downhill from there.

It’s just James Bond in space, and it’s trying too hard to ride Star Wars‘ coattails. The film’s producers had originally intended to make For Your Eyes Only, but chose this one to capitalize on Star Wars hysteria and the rise of the science fiction genre. Meh.

22. Die Another Day (2002)

This one did great at the box office, thanks to special effects junkies and Halle Berry in a bikini. But this movie tried really hard to have wild stunts and over-the-top ideas, and a lot was done with awful CG. Remember that infamous invisible car? Oh, and Madonna snagged a well-earned Razzie as Worst Supporting Actress. If you’re hoping for a blast of pure escapism, this movie is it.

21. License to Kill (1989)

Some hail this movie as a preview of the Daniel Craig era Bond, something that 1989’s audiences just weren’t prepared for yet. But Timothy Dalton’s Bond taking on drug lords wound up being the lowest-grossing Bond movie ever. Bond disappeared from movie screens for six years after this.

Blame it on a crowded summer full of blockbusters like Batman and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, or blame it on the movie playing like a substandard TV cop show.

20. The Living Daylights (1987)

This was Timothy Dalton’s debut in the role of Bond, coming on the heels of Roger Moore. It was neither a huge box office hit or critical disappointment, and Dalton proved to be too sudden and sharp of a change for audiences hooked on Moore’s Bond. Since its release, though, fans have given the movie’s impressive stunt sequences the respect they deserve.

19. Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

After skipping out on 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Bond producers tempted Sean Connery back into the 007 role with a ten-record $1.25 million salary. Sadly, it’s clunky, plot-heavy, and excessive — and proves Connery should have stayed retired from the Bond franchise. He’s just going through the motions here.

18. Live and Let Die (1973)

Thanks to Shaft and Superfly, blaxploitation was the hot thing at the time — so clearly, Bond had to join in, right? It’s a tone-deaf mess full of voodoo and racist innuendos.

17. The Man With the Golden Gun (1974)

The film’s comedic approach to martial arts is painful at best. And the movie’s most iconic stunt, a sports car doing a barrel roll while leaping a chasm, is robbed of impact thanks to the use of a slide whistle.

However, Christopher Lee’s take on evil as Scaramanga and Herve Villechaize’s Nick Nack make sitting through this cliched Bond movie almost worth it.

16. Spectre (2015)

Spectre continues a story arc started with Daniel Craig’s first three Bond films, but it gets too wrapped up in soap opera-level plot twists and bad monologuing. It seems implausible that Bond never once realized that he’s in the center of the longest con ever, and the daddy issues drama that created villain Blofeld don’t jive with the rest of the Bond franchise.

15. The World Is Not Enough (1999)

They say the third time’s a charm. And while Pierce Brosnan does give his best and most compelling performance here, the movie’s got an over-complicated plot and predictable set pieces. Oh, and Denise Richards plays a nuclear scientist named Christmas Jones (???).

Fortunately, this movie sees the franchise’s first major female villain. Plus, we get that awesome scene where Bond shoots her in cold blood and cooly delivers the line, “I never miss.” Look, he had to call her bluff that her former lover wouldn’t kill her.

14. Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

This Bond installment features a media mogul as a villain, hellbent on starting World War III if it sells papers. An undercooked plot and uneven tone work together to make a “just okay” movie ideal for flights or background noise while you make dinner.

The product placement in this movie covered 100% of the production budget, and it really shows. Which is really ironic, considering a media mogul is the villain.

13. Quantum of Solace (2008)

Indie director Marc Forster injected the film with some artistic visual flair, though he doesn’t have much of a penchant for action. But the movie mostly feels like Bourne‘s leftovers — and Bond should never, ever copy from a franchise that it partially inspired.

12. Octopussy (1983)

Moore as Bond yells like Tarzan, swings through trees, and ends up in a clown costume to diffuse a bomb under a circus tent. Who signed off on Bond in clown makeup? At least the practical stunts are exceptional here.

11. You Only Live Twice (1967)

Sean Connery’s Bond finally gets to confront SPECTRE’s arch-villain, Blofeld — who has been previously unseen. The screenplay was written by Roald Dahl and junks most of the Fleming novel, creating a Cold War-esque feel. Plus, Blofeld petting his cat while dropping enemies into a piranha pool spawned all those Austin Powers spoofs.

10. Goldeneye (1995)

Pierce Brosnan swooped in as the super spy after Bond’s six-year absence, and updated the character for the ’90s. No more “sexist, misogynist dinosaur,” as Judi Dench’s M sizes him up to be. The movie is largely powered by expert editing and Brosnan’s charisma, and it’s easily the best of Brosnan’s Bond flicks. It’s not a great movie, but it’s a great time.

9. For Your Eyes Only (1981)

This installment is occasionally uneven, but consistently entertaining. Plus, Bond has a darker edge here as he tracks down a top-secret decoder before the Russians get it.

8. Thunderball (1965)

This film had a bigger budget than its predecessors, and it snagged an Oscar for the special effects. Sean Connery exudes charm and charisma, there are underwater battles, and Tom Jones thunders through the title song. It’s mostly just polished eye candy, but it’s still a classic.

7. Dr. No (1962)

With Monty Norman’s inimitable theme and Connery’s “Bond, James Bond,” 007 began the march into film legend here. Shot on the cheap and lacking the spectacle that would later become signature, it still spawned a $5 billion franchise.

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

This was the first time that someone tried to prove that the franchise is more than just Sean Connery in a 007 tux, with George Lazenby. It was neither a box office success or failure, but it’s the first time we see Bond cry. And the years have been kind on the film with its juxtaposition of gritty action scenes and a romantic subplot.

5. The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

This is the movie that solidified Roger Moore’s status as Bond. While some of his other performances have been criticized, this was definitely his shining moment, and he proved that the franchise can survive despite rotating 007 actors.

4. Skyfall (2012)

Skyfall is generally hailed as Daniel Craig’s second-best performance as 007, and continue’s Bond’s backstory with style. Director Sam Mendes teamed with cinematographer Roger Deakins to create one of the best-looking Bond movies ever. Bond cries, and you might, too.

3. Casino Royale (2006)

These days, it’s hard to imagine just how irrationally pissed off fans were at Daniel Craig’s casting. Fortunately, everyone was proved wrong, and Craig reboots the character with a dangerous yet vulnerable feel. In between impressive action scenes and brutal fights, we also see Bond endure a tragic love story. It feels like a complete, well-made film anchored in reality.

2. From Russia With Love (1963)

The second Bond film shows a 007 that is far closer to the character Ian Fleming created in his novels. This movie features some of the most iconic moments of the franchise, like Bond’s violent train fight with Russian operative Red Grant. Sean Connery ranks it as his favorite — and so does Daniel Craig.

1. Goldfinger (1964)

https://giphy.com/embed/ZUjt3pWjrigNy

via GIPHY

This is the Bond movie that established the template of the franchise. The Aston Martin, the elaborate pre-title sequence, the golden Bond Girl, the villain monologuing… all of it mixes together to create an effortlessly entertaining blockbuster. And it’s still going strong to this day.

“Do you expect me to talk?” an anxious Bond asks, after Goldfinger straps him to a table.

“No, Mr. Bond,” he replies. “I expect you to die.”