Through 50 years in 23 official films plus two non-official films and an old 1954 TV episode, James Bond had lived through many changes in the course of half a century. With six actors playing the role, one thing that has endured is that James Bond is the hero that film fans can count on. Through these films, audiences got to see James Bond do things for the good of the world, fight bad guys, use amazing gadgets, travel all over the world, make love to lots of women, and wear a tuxedo all in the process. It’s the role that men want to be and women want to be with. For 50 years, James Bond personifies that fantasy and he remains more vital than ever.
The 10 Essential James Bond Films
1. From Russia with Love
The film that set the standards for all of the James Bond movies to follow. It features not just some amazing action sequences such as the climatic battle between Bond and SPECTRE’s boats. It also features a very compelling story about Bond teaming up with a Russian clerk to evade SPECTRE as it features a lot of suspense and action. It also features one of the greatest confrontations in film between Bond and Red Grant where it is truly a moment filled with suspense and intrigue. It also shows Sean Connery at his best where he exhibits all of the elements that makes James Bond so cool.
2. Casino Royale (2006 film)
The film that brought Bond back to Earth after a period of silliness where it marks Daniel Craig’s first tenure as James Bond. Finally getting the chance to tell Ian Fleming’s first novel in proper form, the film has Bond starting out as a new agent in his first serious mission where he faces off against a terrorist financer in a game of cards. The film also features an incredible performance from Eva Green as Vesper Lynd along with some amazing locations and a thrilling action scene in Africa that has Bond doing some parkour.
The film that made James Bond the great franchise that it is where it shows Bond facing off against a great foe in Auric Goldfinger. The film features not just beautiful locales but also some very memorable Bond girls such as Pussy Galore and Shirley Eaton. It’s also the film where we see Bond and Q have the first of many exchanges about Q’s gadgets that features the classic Aston Martin DB5. It’s a film that has a lot of action as well as some memorable moments that makes the film a classic in the series.
4. Dr. No
The film that started it all as establish who James Bond is and what does he do for queen and country. It’s the film that shows what Bond is capable of as he’s a man that can kick some ass, charm his way through some situations, and woo the ladies. With some beautiful locations in Jamaica, the film also features one of the most iconic moments in Honey Ryder in a bikini.
5. Licence to Kill
Timothy Dalton’s second and final outing as Bond is clearly the most underrated of all the Bond films as it deviates a bit from the Bond formula. Notably as it’s a simple revenge story in which Bond avenges the near-fatal attack on Felix Leiter from a drug lord as Bond goes all-out to do what is right. Featuring some amazing action, lots of grit, some resourcefulness from Q, Benicio del Toro as a henchman, and some lovely Bond girls. This film truly has the makings of a great action film.
6. The Spy Who Loved Me
Roger Moore’s third outing as Bond opens with a bang as it features one of the greatest stunt sequences ever. It’s a film that has Bond teaming up with a beautiful Soviet agent to stop a madman from creating a society in the sea. Featuring some amazing gadgets, lovely romantic moments, and a memorable henchman in Jaws, it’s definitely a film that is quintessential Bond.
The most recent Bond film from director Sam Mendes is not only the most visually-beautiful Bond film thanks to the cinematographer of Roger Deakins. It’s also a film that emphasizes that James Bond is never going to go away as he protects M from a devious villain in Raoul Silva who is played with great gusto from Javier Bardem. It’s a film that takes Bond back to his roots a bit but also make way for what could be ahead for 007 as it also marked the return of Q and Moneypenny to the franchise.
8. On Her Majesty's Secret Service
The film that features the only appearance of George Lazenby as James Bond yet it is still one of the most captivating film of the series for the fact that Bond falls in love. It’s also the best of the three films in which Bond faces SPECTRE’s secret leader Ernst Stavros Blofeld for the second time as it takes place in the Alps and other locations. While it is an imperfect film, it has enough moments for fans to be excited by as well as a truly unforgettable ending.
9. You Only Live Twice
Sean Connery’s fifth outing as James Bond has him playing dead and go to Japan to uncover SPECTRE’s plot where he meets Blofeld for the first time. Thanks to some amazing location shots, a great Bond girl in Aki, some cool martial arts, and a plot involving trying to take advantage of the space race. It’s a film that truly features a lot of moments as well as establishing how ruthless Blofeld can be to both his enemies and associates like Helga Brandt who ends up sleeping with the fishes.
10. Live and Let Die
Roger Moore’s first outing as James Bond is very refreshing for the way Moore portrays Bond as it features some wonderful humor but also Bond willing to do whatever it takes to win. Going up against a drug lord, Bond travels to all sorts of places while tricking a tarot expert and annoying a dimwit sheriff. It’s a film that is totally fun while proving that Bond can still be cool no matter who plays him.
The Intermediate Bond Films
11. The Living Daylights
12. For Your Eyes Only
15. Diamonds are Forever
16. Never Say Never Again
17. Tomorrow Never Dies
There has been some Bond films that are often favorites for many fans as they feature flaws but provide enough moments for them to be entertained by. The Living Daylights features Timothy Dalton’s first outing as tries to find out what a defected Soviet military official is trying to do while going to Afghanistan where he gets help from Mujahideen. Pierce Brosnan’s first two outings as Bond in GoldenEye and Tomorrow Never Dies show that Bond could still be useful in the post-Cold War era as it also features Judi Dench playing the role of M. For Your Eyes Only has Roger Moore trying to recover an ATAC machine while helping a beautiful woman seek revenge for her parents death as it features a great opening sequence that has Bond finally putting an end to an old foe.
Thunderball is another of Sean Connery’s great performances as Bond where he faces against an agent of SPECTRE while going to the Bahamas. Bond would take that adventure again in the non-official Bond remake of Thunderball in Never Say Never Again that has Connery playing Bond for the last time as he plays an aging version of Bond fighting foes to save the world. In Diamonds are Forever, Connery completes the Blofeld trilogy as Bond where he faces Blofeld one more time while going to Las Vegas.
The Decent yet Flawed Bond Films
19. The Man with the Golden Gun
20. A View to a Kill
22. The World is Not Enough
There’s always a Bond film that is enjoyable enough but has a lot of flaws. Roger Moore appears in most of these films in this part of the list as it features Bond in some silly situations where the films try to be relevant to audiences. Bond goes to outer space in Moonraker while Bond takes on the kung fu craze and Christopher Lee in The Man with the Golden Gun. Then there’s Moore starting to look and feel his age in Octopussy and A View to a Kill where it is an indication that Moore needed to go. Then there’s The World is Not Enough starring Pierce Brosnan where it is a very entertaining and fun film but it would feature the worst Bond girl ever in Christmas Jones, a nuclear physicist in a tank-top and short-shorts.
The Worst of Bond
23. Quantum of Solace
24. Casino Royale (Climax! TV Episode)
25. Casino Royale (1967 film)
Then we have some of the worst Bond films and they really exhibit not just what can go wrong but also how not to do James Bond. Quantum of Solace could’ve been a good Bond film but director Marc Forster employs too much action, too much fast-cutting editing style, and not enough intrigue and suspense for the audience to be invested in. The 1954 Climax! TV episode of Casino Royale is an interesting take on the story but its big mistake is having an American play James Bond. Then there’s the 1967 parody version which is a total mess that doesn’t make a lot of sense despite Peter Sellers’ performance as a man pretending to be Bond.
The Worst Bond Film: Die Another Day
Die Another Day is where James Bond really outdoes itself in terms of being ridiculous but also lose sight in its realism. While the premise was interesting, it does too much to try and keep up with the times as its over-reliance on CGI was misguided that has Bond surfing on fake water. Bond driving an invisible car in a hotel made of ice. A villain who was a North Korean colonel who turned himself into a British billionaire as he ends up being the lamest villain ever. Plus, also give Halle Berry a weak script just so she can play a spin-off character that never materialized. Bad movie! Oh, did I also mention the invisible car?
(End of Part 1) - Part 2
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