The FMR Ranking of Bond Films. All 23 From Worst to First.

Ok, Bond fans. This is it, the last Bond related post for the foreseeable future. :( Non Bond fans, bear with me one last time, with the exception of Wednesday’s (title pending), we’re going to move on back to our regularly scheduled movie talk starting tomorrow. I promise. :D

But there’s one more ranking that needs to be done, and it’s a big one. The films themselves. The Bond series has had numerous ups and downs over the five decades that its been around, giving us some great movies, and some awful ones. And this weekend brought us one that wants to shoulder its way to the top, people are already talking about it being the “Best Bond Ever”.

Click through to read my ranking of all 23!

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23) “Diamonds are Forever”

Connery returned after a one movie retirement in order to give us the worst movie in his “official” Bond filmography. Blofeld is back, except he’s not the Blofeld of either of the past two films, this time he breaks out the drag! Jill St John prances around half-dressed! The villains are odd, and play off of homophobia. Bond even drives a moon buggy… I’m not kidding. A poor plot, sad action scenes and silly characters make “Diamonds Are Forever” a regrettable Bond outing.

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22) “A View to a Kill”

Moore plays Bond at almost 60, he needed stunt doubles to run up stairs and throw a punch. No joke. With him is Tanya Roberts, the biggest airhead in Bond Girl history. “JAMES!” Thankfully they have Christopher Walken, who seems to recognize this movie is a comedy, and plays the movie with a wink the entire time. The ridiculous plot is broken up by the weakest action scenes in franchise history. Very little to recommend aside from the theme song. Unless of course, you like your movies a bit cheesy!
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21) “Die Another Day”

Brosnan’s last for a reason. Abandoning all basis in reality, “Die Another Day” is one of the most cartoonish Bond films of all time. Any complaints about the dark realism of Craig’s Bond can be directed here, with its gene replacement therapies, sleep masks, solar rays, and power suits. Halle Berry shows up to deliver lines with a mortar trowel, and we’re forced to endure far more Madonna than the Geneva convention allows! It’s the most maligned Bond of the modern era, and deservedly so.

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20) “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”

George Lazenby, the poor man’s Connery, takes his one and only turn as Bond here. Lacking the charisma of his predecessor, Lazenby is also shackled with a Bond script that’s one quarter romance. Bond gets married, cause that’s what Bond fans wanna see, right? Featuring some seriously dull stretches where Bond goes undercover as a college professor, “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” is one of the most boring Bonds there is. A couple of interesting action scenes set it above the ones it outranks.
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19) “The Man with the Golden Gun”

Moore faces off against Christopher Lee, who turns in an interesting villain, in spite of being given a creepy third nipple that gets talked about far too often. The plot is a bit of a mess, with Scaramanga – a world-class assassin – somehow involved in solar energy, and the Bond girl is one of the series weakest. They also feature the return of the outright racist Sheriff JW Pepper! Still, this movie has that Bond feel, with a cool henchman in Nick Nack, a villain with an exotic island lair and some undercover work by Bond.

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18) “For Your Eyes Only”

This movie commits the cardinal sin for Bond films. It’s boring. Created as a follow-up intended to “ground” Bond again after Moonraker, “For Your Eyes Only” is slow, with Bond having a car chase in a Citroën 2CV (think VW bug) and a rock climbing grand finale. The two Bond girls are disappointing in different ways, and the plot – with Bond trying to retrieve a device key to Britain’s submarine fleet – is as unspectacular as it comes. I acknowledge I’m harsher on it than pop culture is, but this film is one of my least favorite Bonds.

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17) “The World is Not Enough”

Denise Richards turns this movie into the brunt of jokes for many, but Sophie Marceau is one of the series’ best Bond Girls. It has plenty of issues, including multiple villains, the kidnapping of M, and a confusing finale in a submarine reactor, but the combination of Brosnan as Bond and a couple of standout action sequences make “The World is Not Enough” a watchable Bond offering. It also features a sweet farewell from series stalwart Desmond Llewelyn. Though it wasn’t planned, his final appearance was a perfect way to say goodbye.

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16) “Moonraker”

A laughable film in many ways, except you half get the feeling that they weren’t taking things seriously here. How else to explain Roger Moore wrestling a rubber snake, or the Bond-ola (a tricked out Venice gondola)? A low point in the series for some, but certainly one of the best of the “campy” Bonds. The ultra droll villain (Hugo Drax) has an orbiting space lair, a french palace AND an underground jungle lair. Plus it features the return of Jaws, even if they do, regrettably, turn him good. Approached in the right way, “Moonraker” is a lot of fun.

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15) “Tomorrow Never Dies”

If this chapter in the Bond saga had the benefit of a stronger villain, it would have been much better. Though played with sufficient scenery chewing glee by Jonathan Pryce, there’s no getting around the fact that Elliott Carver is trying to… obtain broadcast rights in China. By starting a war. With fake headlines. *sigh* Still, Michelle Yeoh ups the action quotient with her kung fu prowess, there’s the fun scene with the remote-controlled BMW, and Brosnan, Dench and Llewlyn representing MI6.

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14) “Live and Let Die”

Roger Moore enters the series, to rock and roll fanfare provided by Paul McCartney. Aside from one of the series’ greatest theme songs, “Live and Let Die” features multiple henchmen, voodoo, and the lovely Solitaire, played by Jane Seymour. Bond hops over crocodiles and races speedboats in locales ranging from New Orleans to New York City. Kananga may have been a glorified drug kingpin, but at least he had the Bond Villain good sense to have a lair with a shark tank! Now if we could just go back and digitally erase Sheriff Pepper…

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13) “Quantum of Solace”

Disappointing as a follow-up to the magnificent “Casino Royale”, “Quantum of Solace” still features the most ass-kicking Bond in an action loaded spectacular. Angry and out for revenge after the death of the woman he loves, Bond embarks on a mission of vengeance. As such, he’s much more cold-hearted than we’ve ever seen before. Though it takes an enormous amount of criticism for featuring the same style of action the “Bourne” series is known for, “Quantum of Solace” remains a solid, modern Bond offering.

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12) “Octopussy”

One of Moore’s last, and subject to many of the same criticisms about him being too old, there being too much campy humor, etc… except somehow the recipe works here. Moore and Maude Adams (Octopussy) play off of each other well, and Louis Jourdan offers us a fun villain in the form of Kamal Khan. The plot, which mixes Faberge Eggs, a circus and Nuclear Weapons, certainly needs to be forgiven, but the movie is heavily influenced by Raiders of the Lost Ark, and has a load of fun, “non-stop” action sequences.

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11) “The Living Daylights”

Timothy Dalton’s first turn as 007 is one of those movies in the series where they once again attempt to make things more realistic (this movie was a rebound from “A View to a Kill”). As such, we get a grounded, darker Bond on a mission against a crooked Generals and an arms dealer, with a little drug smuggling thrown in to boot. Dalton’s Bond was refreshing, coming off of the Moore era, and there are some high quality chases and stunts along the way. For the first time in many years, Bond felt modern, serious, and credible as an espionage agent.

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10) “You Only Live Twice”

Are there regrettable elements to “You Only Live Twice”? Sure. Sean Connery is the world’s least believable Japanese man, why not just write that out of the script? LOL. But this movie also has TONS of the “Bond Formula” magic, including the first (and best) appearance of Blofeld, and an enormous action finale where a squadron of “ninjas” assaults his volcanic lair by rappelling in with machine guns blazing. That’s pure Bond gold right there.

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9) “From Russia with Love”

Undeniably a classic Bond film, but a little light on the “Colorful” elements, and more than a little slow at times. Still, this is Connery in his Bond prime, on what is arguably his most realistic spy mission of all his movies. Robert Shaw adds his talent to the Bond franchise with Red Grant, an assassin who poses as a British agent in an attempt to kill Bond. Add in the bitter SPECTRE villain Rosa Klebb and you have Bond at his Cold War best!

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8) “Licence to Kill”

Dalton’s second outing is his best, with Bond on a mission to avenge the murder of Leiter’s wife, and the near fatal attack on Leiter himself. To do so, he’ll have to infiltrate the operation of drug lord Franz Sanchez (Robert Davi) and the entire country that Sanchez has under his thumb. Two great Bond girls, Q in the field, and Dalton’s dark take on Bond make this one a special entry into the franchise. But it also features the most explosive action sequence in series history. Literally!

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7) “The Spy Who Loved Me”

The high point of the Roger Moore era, all of the elements really came together well in this one. It has Carly Simon capping a phenomenal opening sequence, the infamous underwater Lotus, Barbara Bach as Bond’s opposite number, and of course, the first appearance of everyone’s favorite metal mouthed assassin, Jaws. Bond skis, submerges, fights an unstoppable henchman, and leads an armored assault. When you’re talking about the films of the Roger Moore era, Nobody Does it Better.

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6) “Thunderball”

Classic, Connery, Cold War Bond meets the colorful, outlandish future of the series. His eye patch wearing villain sports an eye patch and a owns a yacht that has a detachable speed boat. Fifty or so frogmen parachute into the ocean to have a speargun fight with bad guys in possession of stolen nuclear warheads. This is Bond at his best. Real enough not to cause head shaking, but still with enough flair to bust out the jetpack, baby. You’ve gotta love Thunderball!

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5) “Goldeneye”

Brosnan’s first, and undeniably his best. The world had been clamoring for him as Bond, and they were finally given what they wanted. Opening with a dramatic bungee jump, showcasing one of the series best femme fatales (Famke Janssen), and offering a great villain in Sean Bean’s 006, “Goldeneye” kicked Brosnan’s Bond era off with a bang. It also introduced us to Judi Dench’s powerhouse take on the character of M. It was all down hill from here with the Brosnan era, but this is a fantastic Bond film.

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4) “Dr. No”

The film that started it all. Everything about it screams “Classic”, every moment is a Bond series “First”. It features a couple of Bond moments that have become iconic (The first “Bond, James Bond”, Ursula Andress emerging from the ocean) and several more that are worthy, such as Bond waking up to battle a tarantula! Dr. No sets the tone for all Bond villains to follow, between his droll delivery, mechanical hands and villain lair. It also gave us the unforgettable Bond Theme that has become world renown!

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3) “Skyfall”

With the benefit of modern movie making, Skyfall is the series’ best action film. Yet it also features some of the best character development, themes, and cinematography. It’s that rare breed of action film that can make you think while it keeps you on the edge of your seat. Javier Bardem’s Raoul Silva rockets to the top of the Greatest Bond Villains list, and several classic characters are reintroduced to the series. It’s a movie that demands to be reckoned with, and precious few in the series outrank it.

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2) “Goldfinger”

THE ultimate “Classic” Bond film, it’s become synonymous with James Bond, and nearly every other five minutes, you get something iconic. From the first appearance of the Aston Martin DB5, to the golden girl on the bed, to the infamous laser beam, “Goldfinger” sports an abundance of riches in terms of classic movie moments, scenes and characters. Pussy Galore. Odd Job. Goldfinger himself. This is the movie that catapulted Bond into the upper stratosphere of popularity, and remains one of the very best to this day.

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1) “Casino Royale”

The best Bond. Modern film making meets classic sensibilities. Craig’s least “dark” turn as Bond. The best Bond girl ever in Eva Green. A fantastic villain, with Mads Mikklesen’s Le Chiffre, and Judi Dench asserting her authority with a new Bond. It’s a spectacular action film, and a great “Bond Movie”. Bond wins, gets tortured, gets the girl and loses the girl, all in the same film. Daniel Craig’s interpretation of the character took movie audiences by storm, and has reset the world’s vision of Bond from here on out.

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Well, there you have it folks. My ranking of the Bond films from worst to best. All 23. 50 years worth.

Do you disagree with any? With 23 of them, I’m sure we’ll have plenty of room for discussion and debate about the two highs and too lows! Let me hear it it!

A big thank you to everyone for indulging me as I’ve turned this Blog into Bond central this month. The 50th anniversary is only going to come along once, and from here on out I have all of the rankings on the record, along with a couple of the must see movies in the franchise inducted into my “Movies That Everyone Should See” series. I appreciate everyone’s patience, and thank to everyone who’s joined in the fun with your comments and “likes”. We’ll get right back to the rest of the world of film, starting tomorrow!

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86 thoughts on “The FMR Ranking of Bond Films. All 23 From Worst to First.

    • I think the list is well-thought out. I give you kudos for listing “On Her Majesty’s…” where you did since most film reviews give it 4 stars–and it is not a 4-star film. It is very dated.

      I would have flipped “The Living Daylights” with “License to Kill”, as the former is one of the best Bonds.

      I walked out of “Quantum…” because the action scenes were poorly shot (too tight) and the fact that after the sublime achievement of “Casino Royale”, “Quantum” was doubly disappointing.

      I am very pleased with your number one choice, and even more happy that you didn’t relegate “You Only Live Twice” to the bottom. It’s one of my favorites.

      Great job!

  1. Fantastic ranking. My top 5 are in your top 10, so we pretty much agree. Funny thing: I called Diamonds are Forever (which is an awful, awful film) my fondest Bond guilty pleasure. Go figure, ha.

    • Thanks for reminding me, I’ve got some rankings to circle around to that people have posted, here. :D

      Hey. By definition… in order to BE a guilty pleasure, a movie has to be SOME degree of bad, right?

      Mine is “The World is Not Enough” :D

  2. Can’t complain too much here. You and I have exchanged feelings on Bond for so long and so often that it would feel redundant to go in too much detail here. Credit for having the balls to go modern with your number one.

    Also, have the winners of your Bond blu-ray giveaway been announced? If not, when will they?

    • Announced, no, chosen, yes. The winner was someone who signed up that I hadn’t heard from previously… unfortunately. I would have liked to have given it to a friend of the site.

      Perhaps she’ll see her way to becoming a frequenter after this. Anyways, they’re on their way as we speak. Hope she enjoys! I know I’ve loved mine, I watched the hell out of that set this month! LOL

  3. This is a solid list. It is funny see where you and I agree about certain movies but have polar opinions on others. I just posted my ranks of the Bond films on my page as well if you get time to check it out. It is funny that when you get to your top ten you cannot really find negatives so you simply have to choose which ones you be more likely to watch if you had to choose.

    I must say I am glad to see you give Licence to Kill some credit. I feel like it is the most underrated of the franchise.

    • Ranking Bonds seems to be the “in” thing to do this month :D

      I’ve been saying these past few weeks that actually the Dalton Bonds WERE underrated for years, but they’ve had such a renaissance of acceptance online that they’re actually starting to threaten to be overrated! We’ll see. It IS good to see Dalton get his due.

      I’ll try to swing by and check out yours later!

  4. Not bad. My personal rankings:

    GREAT:
    1. Thunderball
    2. Goldfinger
    3. Casino Royale
    4. Skyfall
    5. From Russia With Love
    6. Dr. No

    GOOD:
    7. The Spy Who Loved Me
    8. You Only Live Twice
    9. GoldenEye

    OK:
    10. License To Kill
    11. Live And Let Die
    12. Quantum of Solace
    13. Tomorrow Never Dies
    14. Octopussy

    BAD:
    15. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
    16. The Living Daylights
    17. For Your Eyes Only
    18. Moonraker

    THE HORROR:
    19. The Man With The Golden Gun
    20. Die Another Day
    21. Diamonds Are Forever
    22. A View To A Kill

    • LOL… The Horror, the horror… :D

      We dont disagree much. And I like your categories :D

      As a matter of fact, I dont believe that any movie in the series is two categories off between our rankings. That is, I have some in “Great” that you have in “Good”, or I have some in “Ok” that you have in “Bad”, but there are none that jump from say, “Ok” to “The Horror”. We’re pretty close on all of these!

      • Fair enough. Actually I think Skyfall should share its number one position with Casino Royale. I will be posting a comparative between the two movies soon, all my points developed thoroughly. :)

  5. Pretty nice list :) The only one that I would seriously disagree with is Octopussy – I really dislike that one. Otherwise, although we rank some entries radically different, I can still understand the placements!
    Glad to see Skyfall is on your top five, I reckon that I would rate it fourth best overall.

    • That sounds about right. I figure it needs to be up top somewhere. That movie is undeniably great.

      Octopussy is definitely a little of a guilty pleasure for me. I tried to express that…I wouldnt argue too hard its that great or anything, you know? But its one of the most fun of the Moore era at least. :D

      • Yeah I think that I can see why you would have fun with it, fair enough, just for me the mix really doesn’t work out :)
        Also it’s great seeing GoldenEye up there in your top five! It’s my all time favourite Bond film.

  6. I’m glad you have Dr No in your best of list; my opinion is if the franchise ever gets lost, then use elements from that one which I too believe is a strong film. I concur also with GoldenEye because Brosnan looks like Bond in it stylish whether he’s bungee jumping or driving tanks through townsquares with a 8 foot horse statue as a hood ornament, and Scorupco is the capable, cerebral partner to him not just a pretty face.

    Natalya Simonova: Do you destroy every vehicle you get into?
    James Bond: Standard operating procedure. Boys with toys.

    • There we go. Seriously, I feel like Dr No is the forgotten film nowadays, all Ive been hearing the past few days is its slow. UGH!!

      Love me some Goldeneye. That was one of the times Bond has really “resurrected” himself. Six years off, following an unpopular predecessor… BOOM. Goldeneye ANSWERS! :D

  7. Pingback: Best Bond Movies #1: Thunderball « Smooth ReEntry

  8. Fogs, Just wanted to let you know I’ve done a post asking about peoples favourite title sequences from the series. As I know you are a Bond fan, I thought you should know.

  9. Pingback: Ranking the Family of Bond | It Rains… You Get Wet

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