I’ve always resisted widely publicizing my full James Bond Movie Rankings. I’ve resisted because a simple ranking system of all 24 films seemed to undermine the spirit of James Bond enjoyment. Fans of 007 find entertainment in even the diciest Bonds.

Maybe I’ve had a change of heart. Maybe I wanted to inspire more complaints on Twitter regarding my highly conflicted feelings about Skyfall. I’ve mitigated a down-the-line ranking system by adding some highs and lows from each Bond movie. These notes are not meant to be complete. Everyone could argue the finer points of the lists; I’ve merely spouted some of the aspects that immediately come to mind about each film. Share yours below. Share your rankings. Feel free to disagree. That’s what I’m here for.

If you’d like to read my thoughts about each film in depth, I’ve included links to my full #Bond_age_ essays. You’ll also find links to our Title Credit Remixes. Just because they’re fun. And can provide some list reading music should you be so inclined.

Without further adieu…

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james bond movie rankings
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die another day james bond movie rankings

24. Die Another Day (2002)

Hot take: Before Halle Berry backdives quite literally into a sea of CGI, Brosnan’s final Bond has the makings of a potentially great Bond film.

Pros: Pierce gives his all. Unique pre-title. Jesus Bond. Cuban cigars and the 1957 Ford Fairlane. Rosamund Pike. Ejector-seat Aston Martin flip.

Cons: XxX-inspired James Bond. Interminable finale. Script. Specifically, the words that come out of Halle Berry’s mouth. Kitesurfing. Excessive CGI. Evoking Bond films of old does not make the Bond film in front of you any better.

#Bond_age_ links:

Essay: Inside the Tortured Mind of James Bond – Die Another Day and the Fever Dream Theory

Opening Titles Remixed – Talking Heads

 

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you only live twice james bond movie rankings

23. You Only Live Twice (1967)

Hot take: Despite classic Ken Adam spectacle, You Only Live Twice resides at the intersection of racism, misogyny and storytelling laziness.

Pros: Mie Hama. John Berry score. Comically dated sexism and misrepresentations of Japanese culture.

Cons: Pleasancefeld. Comical dated sexism and misrepresentations of Japanese culture. Sean Connery checks out in act of self-preservation. Japanese Bond (aka Slouchy Bond). Huge swaths of this movie are just forgettable. Emasculation by toy helicopter.

#Bond_age_ links:

Essay: Solving the Murder of You Only Live Twice

Opening Titles Remixed: Pizzicato Five

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a view to a kill james bond movie rankings

22. A View to a Kill (1985)

Hot take: Killer villains undermined by blatant Goldfinger regurgitation and multiple scenes of shrieking Roberts.

Pros: Blond Walken and Grace Jones. Patrick Macnee. Memorable stunts. Awkward perfection of Grace Jones seduction. Duran Duran theme. John Barry’s ironic usage of Duran Duran theme.

Cons: Tanya Roberts. Limitations of 56-year-old Roger Moore. Tanya Roberts. Sometimes words can’t adequately describe how a movie has gone horribly wrong.

#Bond_age_ links:

Essay: To the Brink and Back with AVTAK

Opening Titles Remixed: Fatboy Slim

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moonraker james bond movie rankings

21. Moonraker (1979)

Hot take: Bond in space swaps thrills for pratfalls and absurdity.

Pros: Hugo Drax. Return of Jaws. Corinne Clery. Comedic self-awareness. Visual effects spectacle.

Cons: Undermining Jaws. Stiff Lois Chiles pairs poorly with loose and wily Moore. Extravagant action scenes stripped of thrills and reduced to comedy. Jaws falls in love.

#Bond_age_ links:

Essay: In the Teeth of Nostalgia

Opening Titles Remixed: Kate Bush

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spectre james bond movie rankings

20. Spectre (2016)

Hot take: The search for a more classically-styled Bond meets that old oppressive foe, narrative stupidity.

Pros: Mexico pre-title. Craig swagger. M from Beyond narrative catalyst. Christoph Waltz, Dave Bautista and Lea Seydoux casting. Most everything pre-“Cuckoo.” Cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema is a repeated savior.

Cons: Everything post-“Cuckoo.” Lazy script leaves nothing to imagination and offers no surprises. Multiple anti-climaxes. Wasted Bautista. Undermined Lea Seydoux. Waltz failed to make Blofeld his own. Personal Blofeld vendetta and “everything must be connected” philosophy. Sam Smith.

#Bond_age_ links:

Essay: Spectre and Blofeld, the Villain Bond Can’t Quit

Opening Titles Remixed: Lana Del Rey
Opening Titles Remixed: Portishead

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diamonds are forever james bond movie rankings

19. Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

Hot take: Snarky, ill-tempered Leisure-suit Bond adventure that breeds stupidity with offense and comes out perversely entertaining, for the wrong reasons.

Pros: One-liners. Shirley Bassey’s best theme. Top notch John Barry score. The supreme evil of Wint and Kidd. An offbeat sense of humor that begat scenes like the moonbuggy chase. “BAJA!”

Cons: Even by James Bond standards this narrative makes little sense. Toothless pre-title “revenge.” Intentional disavowal of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Dour, ugly look of the film. It’s a wee bit racist and sexist and probably some other -ist adjectives. “BAJA!”

#Bond_age_ links:

Essay: Remaking Diamonds Are Forever

Opening Titles Remixed: Madonna

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octopussy james bond movie rankings

18. Octopussy (1983)

Hot take: A mix of ironic and sincere 007 as comic book hero entertainment mingle with plenty of groan-worthiness, yet fail to offend or stand out.

Pros: Maud Adams. James Bond clown costume as performance art responding to criticism of the Moore Bond. Moore’s peak confidence in the role. Louis Jourdan’s suave villainy. Q in the wild. Acrostar pre-title.

Cons: Forgettable villain in Steven Berkhoff (Orlov). Racial insensitivities. Tarzan yell. Uneasy mixture of silliness and seriousness.

#Bond_age_ links:

Essay: James Bond, Comic Book Hero

Opening Titles Remixed: The Muppets
Opening Titles Remixed: Tears for Fears

 

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the world is not enough james bond movie rankings

17. The World is Not Enough (1999)

Hot take: Underrated Brosnan performance and terrific Sophie Marceau villain undermined by Denise Richards casting and wildly inconsistent narrative.

Pros: Sophie Marceau. Massive action setpieces. Brosnan comes into his own as James Bond. Judi Dench’s M gets crucial role. Inventive manipulation of Bond formula.

Cons: Denise Richards bimbo-ism detracts from impact of powerful female villain. Absurdly convoluted. Loses Bond character in favor of excessive action.

#Bond_age_ links:

Essay: The Tragedy of The World Is Not Enough

Opening Titles Remixed: Beyond the Wizards Sleeve

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live and let die james bond movie rankings

16. Live and Let Die (1973)

Hot take: Moore’s first outing endures a few growing pains as it attempts to borrow from pop culture and pave way for James Bond in the 1970’s.

Pros: Wild, absurdly overlong chase sequences. Alligator hopping. Fetching Jane Seymour. Paul McCartney and Wings. Geoffrey Holder. George Martin’s evolution of the Barry score. Sheriff J.W. Pepper.

Cons: Questionable racism. Roger Moore struggles at times to find the frequency of 007. Rosie Carver’s damsel-in-distress double agent. Sheriff J.W. Pepper.

#Bond_age_ links:

Essay: What You Write About When You Write About Live and Let Die

Opening Titles Remixed: The Cult
Opening Titles Remixed: AC/DC

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15. Quantum of Solace (2009)

Hot take: Arthouse James Bond cribbed Bourne films, fell victim to expedited production, lived to tell the tale.

Pros: Bregenz Opera House sequence. Gemma Arterton and Olga Kurylenko. Expanded role for Judi Dench. Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) eats the peppers. David Harbour’s mustache. Daniel Craig establishes his interpretation of Bond.

Cons: Bond has been fully stripped of humor. Dispatching of Mathis. Excessively rapid cutting detracts from impressive action sequences. Pencil-pusher villainy.

#Bond_age_ links:

Essay: A Study in Mehssimism

Opening Titles Remixed: Reverend Horton Heat

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the living daylights james bond movie rankings

14. The Living Daylights (1987)

Hot take: Dalton delivers in his first outing, but the franchise wasn’t quite calibrated to his strengths.

Pros: Cello-case sledding. Dalton’s smoldering reinterpretation of Movie Bond. Barry’s innovative score, using electronic rhythm tracks overdubbed with orchestra. Return of the Aston Martin. Maybe the best pre-title Bond reveal. John Rhys-Davies.

Cons: Overlong finale. Clumsy rebranding of the Cold War. Joe Don Baker’s villain fails to distinguish himself until final reel. Kara Milovy becomes a helpless dolt.

#Bond_age_ links:

Essay: Bizarro Bond in a Brave Old World

Opening Titles Remixed: Corey Hart

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tomorrow never dies james bond movie rankings

13. Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

Hot take: Late 90’s Bond becomes an action hero yet reverts to some overly-familiar series tropes.

Pros: Backseat-driving BMW chase. Platonic eroticism between Brosnan and Yeoh. Helicopter/motorcycle action spectacle. Pre-title sequence. David Arnold revives John Barry. Vincent Schiavelli’s Dr. Kaufman.

Cons: Teri Hatcher was picked to play Paris Carver over Monica Bellucci. Sheryl Crow theme. Slow-motion action effects. Regurgitates The Spy Who Loved Me finale.

#Bond_age_ links:

Essay: Chekhov’s Gun and Q Branch: Expectation in Tomorrow Never Dies

Opening Titles Remixed: The Rolling Stones
Opening Titles Remixed: The Beatles

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skyfall james bond movie rankings

12. Skyfall (2012)

Hot take: Visually stunning action-thriller that forgets, at times, to be a James Bond film.

Pros: Best looking Bond film since the 1960’s. Javier Bardem’s vicious villain. Emotional climax of Bond’s relationship with M. Nostalgic tugs. Pre-titles. Train-jump cuff adjustment. Bond on a bender.

Cons: Overlong. Unwelcome deconstruction of Bond’s past. The Batman-ization of James Bond. Newman’s ineffective score. Bond’s suddenly “too old for this spit.”

#Bond_age_ links:

Essay: Skyfall and the Deconstruction of James Bond

Opening Titles Remixed: Oingo Boingo
Opening Titles Remixed: Elvis Costello

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dr no james bond movie rankings

11. Dr. No (1962)

Hot take: James Bond’s debut features the series’ fully-baked style, humor and escapism without any of the growing pains.

Pros: Pitch perfect introduction. Sylvia Trench and Honey Rider. White bikini. The titular villain. Jack Lord as Leiter. Location filming.

Cons: Severe case of blinking doodad pornography. Completely implausible escape from evil “mastermind” lair. Connery without Desmond Llewlyn is a crime.

#Bond_age_ links:

Essay: Dr. No and Adaptation – How a Giant Squid Defined James Bond

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for your eyes only james bond movie rankings

10. For Your Eyes Only (1981)

Hot take: At the intersection of serious Bond and headscratcher silliness lies the underappreciated late-era Moore outing.

Pros: Moore embraces aging in the Bond role. Tense rock-climbing finale. Empowered and capable female co-star. Plenty of WTF? moments. Attempt to give Bond a “more age-appropriate” love interest.

Cons: Those many WTF? moments, like hockey goons. Carole Bouquet’s range of emotion. Less than memorably hyperbolic villains.

#Bond_age_ links:

Essay: For Your Eyes Only – The Forgotten Bond

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thunderball james bond movie rankings

9. Thunderball

Hot take: James Bond realizes destiny as box office spectacle, perfects the Bond formula, and prunes from spending too much time underwater.

Pros: Peak Connery. Thunderball ladies steal the show. Final employment of obscured Blofeld. Underwater cinematography. Connery’s quips. “Health” clinic espionage. Jet pack! Barry’s score.

Cons: Overlong underwater battle. On-screen villains don’t stack up to prior entries. The loss of the Bond/Leiter buddy-cop narrative from Fleming’s novel pains me.

#Bond_age_ links:

Essay: Thunderball: James Bond, D.W. Griffith and Spectacle

Opening Titles Remixed: Johnny Cash

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the man with the golden gun james bond movie rankings

8. The Man with the Golden Gun

Hot take: The most polarizing Bond movie trades in half-hearted Kung Fu tropes, mild racism, rampant sexism and more WTF? moments than you can shake a Nick Nack at.

Pros: Christopher Lee’s Scaramanga. The dozens of truly bonkers creative decisions. Fun house maze. Maud Adams Part 1. Stunts. The obscene humor that is J.W. Pepper. Ruthless Bond moments. Sunken ship HQ.

Cons: Slide whistle. Lulu’s theme (albeit fitting). Above-mentioned mild racism and rampant sexism. Series struggling to pinpoint Roger Moore’s Bond character. J.W. Pepper returns.

#Bond_age_ links:

Essay: No Shame – Guilty Pleasures and The Man With The Golden Gun

Opening Titles Remixed: Ice Cube/Parliament
Opening Titles Remixed: Kanye West

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goldfinger james bond movie rankings

7. Goldfinger

Hot take: Widely regarded as the gold standard of James Bond, the third 007 film reveals some weaknesses beyond the many iconic moments but remains a fun and fast-paced essential.

Pros: The Goldfinger and Oddjob villain combo. “Shocking” pre-title. Connery’s finest Bond moment when introduced to Pussy Galore. Honor Blackman. Fort Knox climax. Bond on Golf.

Cons: Narrative consists of Bond’s repeated failures rather than successes. Illogical final act.

#Bond_age_ links:

Essay: Subtext and the Rape of Pussy Galore

Opening Titles Remixed: No Doubt
Opening Titles Remixed: Bret MacKenzie

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goldeneye james bond movie rankings

6. GoldenEye

Hot take: An inspired narrative and impressive action set pieces resurrect James Bond for the 1990’s.

Pros: Brosnan finally gets his shot. Pre-title bungee jump/infiltration. Real espionage! Tank scene. 006 vs. 007 face off. The inexplicable Joe Don Baker. Trio of fantastic villains in Sean Bean, Alan Cumming, and Famke Janssen. The “Goldeneye Overture” from Eric Serra’s score. Introduction of Judi Dench as M.

Cons: Most everything else from Eric Serra’s score, especially “Ladies First.” Anticlimactic offing of Xenia Onatopp. At times the film tries too hard to be accepted by critics who, like Judi Dench, condemn Bond as a “relic.” That I can’t have 6 films in my Top 5.

#Bond_age_ links:

Essay: From the Ashes: The Twisty Tale of GoldenEye’s (Un)certain Success

Opening Titles Remixed: No Doubt
Opening Titles Remixed: Bret MacKenzie

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the spy who loved me james bond movie rankings

5. The Spy Who Loved Me

Hot take: The series’ greatest balance of action, humor, and the Bond formula finally gets Roger Moore right and introduces the series most beloved henchman.

Pros: Iconic Union Jack pre-titles. Roger Moore’s hinged eyebrow comes into its own. Lotus Espirit submarine. Ken Adams’ brilliant set design. Jaws. Globe-trotting. Use of rival and competent female agent. Caroline Munro. Rising series self-awareness.

Cons: Slightly bloated finale. Barry’s score is missed despite Marvin Hamlisch’s competent, but not especially timeless score.

#Bond_age_ links:

Essay: How the Spy Who Loved Me Can Help You Avoid the Lobster Trap

Opening Titles Remixed: Madonna
Opening Titles Remixed: Alice Cooper

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licence to kill james bond movie rankings

4. Licence to Kill

Hot take: Underrated spiritual successor to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service finally gives Bond the opportunity seek bloody revenge.

Pros: Fully-formed T-Dalt Bond gets his day. Bond’s personal vendetta mingles with global concerns. Tanker-truck stuntwork. Shotgun-wielding Carey Lowell. Q in the wild. Robert Davi’s ruthless Sanchez. Striking, graphic violence. Wayne Newton mingles a welcome touch of absurdity. LTK stands as the closest proximation of Ian Fleming’s creation since OHMSS.

Cons: Overemphasis on story minimizes the film’s ability to showcase any real Bond swagger. Grim, very very grim. All the naysayers trying to damper my enthusiasm.

#Bond_age_ links:

Essay: The Immaculate Revenge of Licence To Kill

Opening Titles Remixed: Paul Simon

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casino royale 2006 james bond movie rankings

3. Casino Royale

Hot take: Martin Campbell once again resurrects James Bond from the depths and creates a pitch-perfect Bond film that would have made Ian Fleming proud.

Pros: Stylized B&W pre-title. Eva Green’s Vesper Lynd becomes a classic Bond lady. Screenwriting — especially interplay between Vesper and Bond. Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter. Layers of villainy. Mads Mikkelson. Reboot of SPECTRE with Quantum. Focus on card play, drinking. Action set pieces – Madagascar chase, Sinking house finale, Miami. David Arnold’s brilliant score. “Scratching my balls.”

Cons: Mathis over-explains poker.

#Bond_age_ links:

Essay: Dispatching the “Reboot” and the Derring Do of the Many Casino Royales

Opening Titles Remixed: Kenny Rogers

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on her majesty's secret service james bond movie rankings

2. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

Hot take: The most complete Bond film taps thrills, feels, frills, technical achievement and an attention to textual detail unmatched anywhere else in the Bond series.

Pros: Diana Rigg. Telly Savalas is the best Blofeld. Skiing! Curling! Bobsledding! Bond as unadultered man-whore. Some of Barry’s most iconic Bond music. Lair assault. THE ENDING, YOU GUYS. And goddammit George Lazenby isn’t bad because whatever he did sells the emotion of the final scene. Did I say Diana Rigg yet? Wacky hypnosis Blofeld “Angels of Death” plot. Peter Hunt showcases the series’ best filmmaking. It’s a beautiful looking film.

Cons: Bond in ruffles. Even though I don’t think Lazenby detracts (and occasionally enhances), I do wonder if this film could have been the absolute tops with an engaged Sean Connery.

#Bond_age_ links:

Essay: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service Pleads the Fourth

Opening Titles Remixed: Chicago

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from russia with love james bond movie rankings

1. From Russia with Love

Hot take: After the many first-draft successes of Dr. No, Terence Young kept what worked and improved upon everything else. FRWL is a sexy, brutal and thrilling adventure.

Pros: Sean Connery. Daniela Bianchi. Blue neglige. Robert Shaw/Red Grant. Train car fisticuffs — one of the best fistfights ever captured on film. Bond doing actual spy work. Gypsies. Pedro Armendariz. Rosa Klebb. Raw, rambling and novel-based narrative allows James Bond time and space to be 007. Filming on location in Turkey.

Cons: Nothing. Me phoning in this final blurb.

#Bond_age_ links:

Essays: The Argument for Tatiana Romanova / Master of Suspense and Calculated Visual Pleasure

Opening Titles Remixed: Red Hot Chili Peppers

 

What do you think, sirs and madams? Where do you think I’ve erred egregiously? Post your lists in the comments. Unless you’re one of those You Only Live Twice apologists. I don’t need to hear any more nonsense from you. 

James Bond Movie Rankings: Licence to List

by 007hertzrumble time to read: 11 min
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