Best of James Bond: 014-008
And so, the mission to rank the Bond films continues. Click here to find out the bottom eight and, in the meantime, here’s the next seven…
014. The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
AKA The one that the critics don’t like but we all do
Generally derided on its release, TMWTGG has gained favour as time has worn on, and rightly so. It’s not a good film, no, but it’s one of the most enjoyable thanks to the general fast-paced fun on offer, and some great performances from Christopher Lee and Hervé Villechaize. Less so from Britt Ekland, but you can’t have it all.
013. Die Another Day (2002)
AKA The one that nobody else likes, but I do – I’m sorry!
DAD is, understandably, one of the most ridiculed films of the series, and the invisible car does take the series from the realms of fantastical to the realms of fantasy. But, perhaps because it’s the first one I saw at the cinema, it’s also a film that I just can’t help but lap up; it’s pure popcorn rubbish that absolutely flies by. You might think I’m joking but, let me tell you, I never joke about my work double-0 readers.
012. Thunderball (1965)
AKA The one where Bond goes underwater. A lot.
With the winning formula firmly established with the seminal Goldfinger, Thunderball does little to fix what ain’t broke. But, of course, lightning very rarely strikes twice, and while Thunderball is still a hugely enjoyable film, with an intelligent plot and frenetic action, it’s just not Goldfinger. And, depending what mood you’re in, the very lengthy underwater battles are either remarkable ahead-of-the-time filmmaking, or just a bit dull.
011. A View to a Kill (1985)
AKA The last hurrah for Roger Moore’s eyebrows
AVTAK is one of my two guilty-pleasure Bond films (I think you’ve probably guessed what the other one is…). I know Roger Moore looks like he belongs in a country club (as a wooden bust), that Tanya Roberts is a hopeless Bond girl, that the plot is really Goldfinger all over again, and that it’s got Grace Jones in it, but I love it. I just find it a hugely enjoyable romp, thanks to Christopher Walken, one of the series’ most memorable villains, and to the uniformly excellent action sequences (lift fire/Eiffel jump/fire engine chase/Golden Gate finale etc. etc.). So, as much as many will disagree, I'd say it’s definitely a view to a thrill for me.
010. The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
AKA You Only Live Twice at Sea
The Spy Who Loved Me is in constant competition with Live and Let Die when it comes to choosing ol’ Rog’s best Bond film; for me, LALD wins out, but TSWLM truly excels as enjoyable hokum on a superb scale, with a cracking theme song (you could probably say that nobody’s done one better), a certain henchman who needs to seek dental treatment, and an UNDERWATER CAR!
009. From Russia with Love (1963)
AKA North by North-East
Having being introduced to the Bond films from an early age, From Russia with Love had until recently always been one of my least favourites thanks to its slow pace, lack of spectacle and the fact that there are no megalomaniacs in sight. And while I still feel these points are valid, I now appreciate, as most do, that FRWL is a superb Cold War thriller that shows Bond at his most convincing. As with Dr. No, the film relies on its plotting, with none of the lazy formula that would creep in later, and as we go from the shady streets of Russia, to a frantic Orient Express grapple, to the remarkably tense “she had her kicks” finale, FRWL can do nothing else but hook you in. Unless you’re under 16.
008. The Living Daylights (1987)
AKA Proper Bond is back!
After seven Roger Moore movies, The Living Daylights just comes along as a breath of fresh air, as we return to a time when you really do believe that James Bond is, you know, an actual spy. Timothy Dalton is superb in his first, and penultimate, outing, bringing grit, and warmth (he seems to have genuine affection for leading lady Maryam d’Abo, who’s also one of the most convincing Bond girls), and the plot is easily one of the most interesting and believable. It certainly scares the living daylights out of its 1980s competitors.
Next time, The Greatest Bond Film of All-Time will be crowned - don't miss it!