The 24th James Bond film, Spectre, will be in theaters on Friday for US audiences. And celebrate this long running and legendary franchise; it is time to rank the Top 10 Best Movies in the James Bond franchise!
If you are more interested in my rankings of the movies and not in my personal history with the Bond franchise, skip this paragraph and continue reading. My history with the Bond franchise started with my father, who has been watching the Bond films since the 70s. He has always been a fan of the franchise, and thus, as a kid, my brother and I watched many of the movies with him, particularly the early Sean Connery flicks. I have seen all of the Bonds, many of them more than once. Since the TV channel, Spike, would play a marathon of Bond flicks on certain holidays, we would end up watching them. So, while Bond is not as influential as Star Wars or Indiana Jones for me, I have always watched and enjoyed the films, and my father is a fan of the novels, which I will probably read at some point. With that said, the James Bond franchise is incredibly inconsistent in terms of quality with only a handful being of truly "great" quality, although, except for the worst films, many of the movies at least deliver campy action and adventure.
Lastly, please note that I have not seen many of the Bond flicks in quite some time. Therefore, ranking any of the films that I have not seen since becoming a reviewer is more difficult.
Honorable Mention: On Her Majesty's Secret Service
Despite George Lazenby torpedoing his chances of returning for future Bond films with his off screen actions, the plot of On Her Majesty's Secret Service is one of the franchise's stronger entries. Unfortunately, I have not had a chance to watch the film in several years, and thus I do not remember it well enough to rank, despite being considered one of the most underrated entries in the franchise.
10: Live and Let Die
Live and Let Die is on the list for two reasons: Paul McCartney's theme song, "Live and Let Die," and the epic boat chase during the climax of the film. Live and Let Die is Roger Moore's first time as Bond, and while his run as a whole gave us some of the worst Bond films, his more comical and cheeky take on the character is rather fun to watch. He might not have the outrageously cool factor of Sean Connery but he handles many of the absurd lines with a surprising degree of class, and the movie as a whole is a fun watch.
9: The Living Daylights
Timothy Dalton's first film as Bond, The Living Daylights proved to be a more serious take on the franchise, which would not be seen again until Daniel Craig's films. Dalton's Bond is decidedly darker and even troubled at times. At first, the darker Bond felt strange compared to the campy adventures of previous years. However, after watching it again as a critic, the film a solidly written and directed film, which is even more accurate to the tone of the novels (according to a personal source of mine).
My favorite Bond flick to watch as a kid, Thunderball began the franchise's heavy reliance on cool gadgets and spectacle over espionage. From the underwater battles to the jetpack escape, Thunderball is an all around fun film to watch. The plot might lack in terms of complexity, but again, this is very much a nostalgic pick for me.
7: Dr. No
The one that started it all, Dr. No is the first James Bond film produced in the official series (there was a Casino Royale TV movie). Compared to the explosive action-packed adventures later in the franchise, Dr. No is more methodically paced as it builds up the confrontation with Dr. No. Some modern viewers might find it too slow, but it is worth the watch, especially if you are a fan of the recent films.
What are some of your favorites? How many Bond movies have you seen? Please comment below and let know! And check back tomorrow for the second and final part.
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