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Movie Reviews of Every James Bond Film
All the Bonds, starting from the left: Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Daniel Craig, Sean Connery, George Lazenby, and Pierce Brosnan "You have an irritating habit of surviving, Mr. Bond." "Well, you know what they say about the fittest."
-By Caleb Jones
It's taken me a while, but I've finally gone through every James Bond film. So just for fun, here are quickie reviews of every James Bond movie, in order. I’ll use a 1 to 4 star rating system. Of course these are just my opinions; your tastes my differ. Warning: there are definitely some spoilers below but I'll try to avoid them as best I can.
Dr. No (1962) Eh. Fair. Not that great. Ursula Andress is very hot, and the villain is very interesting, a portrait of a man filled with hatred but who tries very hard to hide it under a cool and calm exterior. He didn’t get enough screen time though. Two stars.
From Russia With Love (1963) One of my favorite JB movies, and the first “quintessential” JB movie. Great music, great action, fantastic dialog, great man-woman interpersonal examples, not just with JB but also with his low-sex-drive buddy who’s hot young wife wants to fuck and he’d rather not. Good contrasting characters. Connery is a god damn badass in this movie. Three and a half stars.
Goldfinger (1964) Pop culture generally considers this to be the “best” JB movie “ever”. It’s a very good movie, but I don’t love it as much as most others do, mainly because JB is a prisoner of the bad guy for most of the movie. Still, JB’s car in this movie is cool. Three stars.
Thunderball (1965) My personal favorite of the Sean Connery JB movies. The editing in this movie is surprisingly similar to today’s action movies, and the action in this movie is fierce, which is great. The final underwater battle is unlike anything I have ever seen in any other movie, ever. The portrayal of the evil supervillain, anonymous behind his white cat, is the best in this movie. Four stars.
You Only Live Twice (1967) My second favorite Sean Connery JB movie after Thunderball, but I’m biased because this movie is set in Asia and as everyone knows, I love Asia. It starts in Hong Kong but most of it is in Japan. Great music too. This is the first movie where Blofeld (the supervillain) is finally revealed, bald and scarred and intelligent, later to be parodied as “Dr. Evil” in the Austin Powers movies. This movie also probably had the largest budget of any JB movie in the 60’s or the 70’s, at least until they made The Spy Who Loved Me. It’s just a big movie, especially considering it was only 1967. Four stars.
On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) This is the one infamous for having George Lazenby starring as JB. Lazenby really isn’t half bad, and the movie really isn’t bad either. His jovial nature comes across a little forced though. On the good side, it looks like Lazenby has had some real-life martial arts training, because he has some of the best fighting moves probably of any JB before or since. I do not like how in every movie they radically change the actor portraying Blofeld. In movies like Russia and Thunderball he’s evil and threatening. In this movie he's just another stupid bad guy. Two and a half stars.
Diamonds Are Forever (1971) Sean Connery is back in this movie, but it doesn’t help. This movie really sucks. Horrible acting, stupid plot, stupid characters, stupid Blofeld. (Again played by yet another actor, and this time he has hair. What the fuck?) Zero stars.
Live and Let Die (1973) It’s got that Paul McCartney theme song that’s still cool even to this day, and it’s got the new JB played by Roger Moore who is probably my favorite JB (though not by much, because I like all the JB's for different reasons) since he’s the JB I grew up with and am most accustomed to. Moore is by far the most smartass of the JB’s, and I guess I just relate to that more. Sadly his first movie is not that great. It’s saved only by the performances of Moore and Jane Seymour who is just insanely hot as hell. She would later become one of the hottest “older woman” actresses of our time. One and a half stars.
The Man With The Golden Gun (1974) For the second time in a row the series deviates from the formula and the result is very sub-par. Even its Asian setting can’t save it. The villain (Christopher Lee, aka Saruman from Lord of the Rings) is very interesting and I liked his different hideouts, but the rest of the movie is tedious. One star.
Moonraker (1979) Here it is, my favorite JB movie of all time. No, it's not perfect; it has some very silly moments and suffers from the classic Bond-movie problem of the villain using crazy, creative ways to kill JB rather than just shooting him in the head. Also, Roger Moore really starts to look old in this movie; he's 52 years old and this is back when 52 year-old men looked like 62 year-old men today. That all aside, this movie is terrific. It has a real sense of danger lacking in most other JB movies. There are scenes where JB gets really fucked up; the centrifuge scene, getting strangled by a giant snake underwater...not until he's tortured in Die Another Day does JB take so much punishment. Fantastic, non-stop action scenes. Great locations too. JB is very Alpha in the movie, fucking three women within the first hour, but also actually caring for the women like true MLTRs rather than just fucking them and then tossing them aside like he usually does. Just like in The Spy Who Loved Me, this movie showcases how smart JB is; he speaks Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese in this film. I loved this movie so much as a kid, I grew up to name my first company after its villain, Drax. Four stars.
For Your Eyes Only (1981) The best part is the first ten minutes, when Blofeld returns(!). Once again he's the menacing villain he was in Thunderball, though sadly he doesn't last long. This movie is decent but it lacks the frenetic pace of most of the other good JB movies, relying more on suspense and intrigue at certain points. It's also interesting how JB rebuffs a hot teenage blonde who is desperate to fuck him, literally throwing off her clothes in front of him. Not sure the "true" JB wouldn't go for that. Two stars, maybe two and a half.
Octopussy (1983) A stupid title for a stupid movie. It starts out okay, and there are some very interesting villains. Then it bogs down into a boring and forgettable movie, getting dumber and dumber as it goes. By the last 25 minutes you can't believe the ridiculousness and stupidity. Embarrassingly bad, it could very well be the worst JB movie ever. Zero stars.
Never Say Never Again (1983) A 53 year-old Sean Connery returns in this unauthorized and unofficial remake of Thunderball. As such, the tone is very different from other JB films. It's much more sexually explicit for example (though still PG). Seeing Connery back as Bond is like seeing an old friend again. A decent movie but the ending falls flat. Two and a half stars.
A View To A Kill (1985) Speaking of old bastards, a way-too-old Roger Moore (now 58) returns one last time in a movie with surprisingly little action. Like For Your Eyes Only, it relies more on suspense and mystery, but unlike that movie, the action scenes are creative and fun and the movie moves along nicely. Having Christopher Walken as the bad guy really helps too. Great, epic-sounding music. I give it three stars, though reluctantly because of Moore's age and lack of usual JB action.
The Living Daylights (1987) Now a new JB takes over, Timothy Dalton, who is fantastic and never got the respect he deserved. Of all the Bonds he's the angriest, most intense and rugged, and most accurate in both appearance and demeanor to Ian Fleming's true Bond. Unlike the other Bonds, Dalton utterly hates authority and hates taking orders. "Let them fire me!" he sneers. When I first saw this movie as a teenager I didn't really like it. Re-watching it now, it's awesome. Complex plot, great locations, great JB, great action (the last 40 minutes is pretty much non-stop combat). One huge problem: is there's only one girl in the entire movie (because this was 1987, during the false AIDS scare), and she's both ugly and stupid to boot. That makes what could have been a four-star movie a three-star one.
Licence To Kill (1989) The most badass of the JB movies by far, and my fourth favorite in the series. JB goes rogue, not only quitting MI6 but actually going up against their agents, while on a Terminator-like mission to murder a drug lord who fucked with his best friend. He tells M to fuck off, narrowly escapes getting killed by his own people, steals $5 million from the bad guys to finance his operation, and it's on. Never has JB done anything like this, and never has he wanted to kill someone so badly. Timothy Dalton is so angry and ruthless, he's almost like a villain. Far more violent than any other JB film. Just in the first 20 minutes a woman gets whipped, another gets raped and murdered on her wedding day, a guy gets his heart cut out, and another guy gets his legs bitten off by a shark. Throughout the movie bad guys get harpooned, electrocuted, pulverized by saw blades, impaled by forklifts, have their heads exploded by pressurized chambers, doused with gasoline and lit on fire. Fantastic plot, fantastic JB, fantastic music, super hot chicks (one of my MLTRs looks just like the American one), GREAT villains (Robert Davi and Benicio Del Toro!) and some of the best stunts you've seen in any move ever. My only criticism is that a few scenes have some acting that border on corny, but that was par for the course for 80's action films like this. I could write a whole blog post about how fantastic and unique a JB movie this is. God damn, I wish Dalton had done more Bond movies. Four stars.
Goldeneye (1995) Now we have Pierce Brosnan, the most debonair and smooth of the JB's. He's great and it's a part he was born to play, but like Roger Moore before him, his first movie is really terrible. It's probably the most boring of all the JB films. Virtually nothing happens for the first 70 minutes. Other than the tank scene which is cool, the movie is painfully insipid and I just wanted it to be over. The special effects are also surprisingly bad. Even the impossibly beautiful Isabella Scorupco can't save this snorefest. Half a star.
The World Is Not Enough (1999) Probably the best music of any JB film, and it was interesting to make a woman the villain, but other than that it's just a blah movie. The villains and women are very weak, the plot is uninteresting, and Denise Richards has fantastic tits but she's a dreadful actress, and giving her a lead role in this film was a huge mistake. One and a half stars.
Die Another Day (2002) My third-favorite JB movie of them all, this is a wild one unlike the rest. It's essentially a sci-fi action film. Lasers, robots, sonic weapons, holograms, "gene transplants", invisible cars, castles made of ice, land rockets, bio-domes, cyborgs...this movie is fucking crazy, directed like an MTV movie video. Unlike Tomorrow Never Dies, this movie doesn't even try to make sense...but somehow it all works. Fantastic wall-to-wall action, plus one of the best sword fights ever. And my possible future wife, Rosamund Pike is in it! And Madonna’s in it! And Halle Berry’s big fake tits! This movie is wild and crazy and it’s beautiful, just leave your brain at the door. Four stars.
Casino Royale (2006) Now the series is rebooted and we have Daniel Craig, the most muscular and relentless of the JBs. This is a very odd movie. If, and only if, you look at the first 90 minutes and ignore the last 40 minutes, this is my second-favorite JB film behind Moonraker and is one of my favorite movies ever...but just the first 90 minutes. At the 90 minute mark, the movie does a complete 180. It goes from a flawless and awe-inspiring international action film to sappy love story. JB goes from a merciless badass to a love-struck pussy beta. The action scenes go from the best choreographed and well-filmed action scenes you've literally ever seen in your life, to boring and shrug-inducing fights where you don't even give a shit and are waiting for them to end. Very strange; it's almost like two separate movies. I never knew what to make of it when I first saw it and I still don't. The first 90 minutes get four stars, the last 40 minutes get half a star.
Quantum of Solace (2008) Now this is a bad movie. Craig is fantastic as usual, but wow, what a horrible letdown after Casino Royale. The action scenes are so badly edited and shaky-camed that you can't tell what the hell is going on. It's extremely irritating and after two hours of this you want to kill yourself. Very ugly and unappealing women. Boring and wimpy villains. The film rips off scenes from Goldfinger, Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, and Licence to Kill. Badly. This is the second worst JB movie of them all after Octopussy. Zero stars.
Skyfall (2012) Way better than Quantum, still not nearly as good as the first 90 minutes of Casino Royale. Much of it is in Shanghai which I love. The insight into JB’s character was good, and Ralph Fiennes is very cool. The final battle in the house is also very nice, and the villain was interesting and fun to watch. As always I love Daniel Craig but it still really bothers me that he looks nothing like JB. He looks more like a JB villain than JB himself. Oh well. Three stars.
That’s it. James Bond, one of Hollywood’s last surviving (somewhat) Alpha Males.
The perfect James Bond actor would be a guy who looks like Pierce Brosnan but who acts like Timothy Dalton in License to Kill or Daniel Craig before he went beta in Casino Royale.
The perfect James Bond movie would be a film with the plot of Russia With Love or License To Kill, with locations and production values of Casino Royale, a competent and threatening supervillain like in Thunderball or You Only Live Twice, action like Die Another Day, a real sense of danger like in Moonraker, with JB laying lots of super-hot chicks like in Dr. No or The Spy Who Loved Me. Ah, a man can dream.
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Jason 2013-02-24 05:43:30
Finally someone who agrees with me about Timothy Dalton! He is in a dead heat for my second favorite James Bond with Pierce Brosnan (Sean Connery is my favorite). My perfect Bond would be as Alpha as Connery's Bond, as ruthless as Dalton's Bond, as smooth as Pierce's Bond and as muscular as Craig's Bond.
Jon 2013-02-24 08:27:28
I need to go back an watch some of those older Bond movies again. It sounds like I might appreciate them more now than I did as a kid. Thanks for the reviews!
GOB 2013-02-24 11:59:30
BD, can you suggest which are the top 5 movies to watch only for one reason: Where can I found the most alpha, smartass, relentless, badass, etc characteristics?! Where can I learn the most? In my heart I'm a completist, so I'll probably watch all of the movies in the next years, but until that I want to learn the most from Mr. Bond..
Jack 2013-02-24 18:25:23
You've inspired me to watch all the Bond movies now, from the ones you judged as having zero stars to the ones you gave four stars to (in that order). I'm anxious to see if I agree with you.
BA 2013-02-25 07:03:17
Good post. Been watching all the Bond movies lately. Connery is my favorite, with Dalton close behind. Who is your favorite Bond girl? Daniela Bianchi in From Russia With Love is my favorite. I could watch her for hours.
Blackdragon 2013-02-25 10:58:50
GOB - That's a tough one. It would probably be, in no particular order: Dr. No From Russia With Love The Spy Who Loved Me Licence To Kill Casino Royale (but turn the movie off after the first 90 minutes...right after he almost dies in the car) If I were to summarize the different bonds: Connery - outcome independent Lazenby - happy Moore - smartass Dalton - badass Brosnan - suave Craig - tough BA - That's another tough one. My favorite women would probably be Ursula Andress, Lana Wood (who Connery fucked in real life), just about every woman in The Spy Who Loved Me, Isabella Scorupco, and Caterina Murino.
Arthur 2017-01-02 14:43:47
Oh, and I almost forgot, in the old 60s movies foreigners are the bad guys, too. All gone now.