Penguin Truth's Top 0010 Bond Films

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I love a good James Bond movie. Hell, I even love some of the terrible ones. What other film franchise has lasted as long as the Bond series? Why does he endure so? Decades of people have grown up with the suave British spy working for Her Majesty's Secret Service, seducing women, rolling his eyes at long villain speeches, driving cars with revolving license plates, and using pen grenades to fight guys with guns made of pens and lighters to stop ridiculous satellite weapons in time for a drink and a shag. Ian Fleming wrote 11 novels and several short stories of the Eton-educated, chain-smoking, commie-killing "blunt instrument", most of which were transformed into movies. Fleming died (during the filming of Goldfinger) well before the well ran dry, so he never got to see his creation star in 23 Eon Productions movies and a couple of "unofficial" ones. I, however, have watched every one of them, most of them at least twice, some of them several more times than that.

 

What is it that keeps the Bond machine going? Well, aside from money. Why are people still interested in that somewhat callous quipping secret agent with a license to kill? Is it because he skirts death with every turn? Is it the gorgeous women and luscious settings that litter his path or the bloodied corpses in his wake? It's been said that "James Bond is what every man would like to be, and what every woman would like between her sheets" (often attributed to Raymond Chandler, hardboiled detective novelist with whom Fleming shared a mutual admiration). Maybe it's because in a world full of uncertainty, one where real life criminal organizations exist, where war can be just a heartbeat and a button push away, it's comforting that there's a man who perseveres, who reaches beyond the veil of obfuscation, looks at death and makes a glib remark, who takes time from saving the world to bed the pretty girl, to drive the flashy car, but isn't just artificial and gaudy, but rather a curious, interested sort, never fully satisfied, but ready to take the next mission. No, not just ready, waiting. Wanting. A man who, while he doesn't always likes the specifics, is pleased to do his work, who likes what he does, which is to learn the truth and expose and extinguish evil.

 

Or hell, maybe it's just the wanton violence, neat tech porn, buxom beauties, and the occasional Shirley Bassey theme song.

 

Regardless, I have favorite Bond films. Here's my top 10. And no, Skyfall doesn't qualify yet, I have to see it at least twice for it to qualify, and yes, I will comment on it after the list.

 

Enjoy!:

 

#10 - For Your Eyes Only (1981)

Bond: Roger Moore

Director: John Glenn

 

 

The first film on this list is what I consider the only truly solid movie of the Roger Moore era of the franchise, for several reasons. One is that it casts off a lot of the baggage of the rampant campiness of the previous few films, especially the embarrassing Moonraker, in favor of a (literally) down-to-earth spy story with a dash of the usual Bond charm. In this outing, Bond tries to retrieve a missile communication device called the ATAC from a man named Kristatos, who plans to sell it to the Russians, all the while trying to prevent a woman named Melina from getting herself killed in pursuit of vengeance on Kristatos for the death of her parents. From Greece to Spain to Italy and back, Bond gets involved with organized crime, has a fight to the death on skis, barely survives a car chase, and engages in a climactic battle at a monastery, all in service of protecting the Western world. Thematically, a lot of the story revolves around revenge and the toll it takes. Bond is willing to take that burden from others and shows a sort of wisdom rare in these films. Sure, the pre-title sequence is essentially a big middle finger to Kevin McClory, the character of Bibi Dahl is grating, and the ending makes Margaret Thatcher look silly, but for the most part the outlandishness of the usual Moore Bond film is toned down. It's got a fine soundtrack, besides, and some great action. Despite Moore's more playboyish, boyish charm approach to the character, his Bond is fully capable of taking on a more brutal angle, and he sells it decently, if not well.

 

 

 

#9 - Quantum of Solace (2008)

Bond: Daniel Craig

Director: Marc Forster

 

 

 

 

I cannot honestly understand the rampant hatred this movie gets. Back when I reviewed it, I didn't exactly beam about it, hedging my compliments, and decrying the action scenes for being excessive in scale and in length, while having that awful, disorienting shaky camera effect. But with every new watch, I find myself enjoy the plot and characters more. First of all, I like the Quantum group. I liked SPECTRE back when it was introduced. I like shadowy criminal organizations, as long as they aren't overdone, and as long as there's a reason for them. The villain's plan to take control of the water supply of, and therefore effectively controlling, a third world country and installing a puppet dictator was interesting and actually quite believable. Camille is one of my favorite "Bond Girls", biding her time until she can get close enough to said dictator to avenge her family, and using her cunning and ferocity to pursue her goals, all the while being extremely sexy. And yet, not ever once sleeping with Bond! So not only does she kick ass, and not only is she complex and not just a throwaway plot element, but she actually doesn't succumb to Bond's charms. Not that Daniel Craig's Bond has any charm, mind you. The man cuts a great action scene, but anytime else he has this cold, dead, blank look on his face that screams Neanderthal. The biggest issue with the movie is of course that it's a tad too mean spirited at times, even for a Bond movie. Bond kills nearly everyone he meets, whether directly or not. There's a scene wherein Bond uses an ally as a human shield, basically causing his death, and then proceeds to dump his body in the trash. Classy, Bond. Otherwise, I actually enjoy this grim flick and will defend it.

 

 

 

#8 - Casino Royale (2006)

Bond: Daniel Craig

Director: Martin Campbell

 

 

The first in the rebooted Bond movies, Casino Royale doesn't disappoint with suspense, action, and pathos. Were it somebody different in the role of Bond, this might've been a very emotional, personal, and introspective story. Unfortunately, despite all the accolades he gets nowadays for "returning Bond to his roots", Daniel Craig is incapable of carrying any such emotional depth, and so without any chemistry, and a blank stare on his face, sort of looks like a marionette trying to imitate human outpouring the best he can. Now, don't get me wrong: Craig cuts a good action scene, really delivers a brutal edge to the character in the way he carries himself and delivers his lines, and brings a certain intensity to Bond that was needed for the reboot. Sadly, there just isn't any charisma there, so the quite well-written plot (the best parts being Fleming's original work) is a road driven by a somewhat hardened, lifeless figure in a vehicle made of dourness. And that's not the only problem. The action scenes are padded to the umpth degree, some going on to ridiculous lengths for little more reason than to showcase the new Bond (Kool-Aiding through a construction site wall? Really?). The long-winded romantic scenes falter because Craig and Eva Green don't have any real chemistry. It doesn't help that some of the scenes with Bond and Vesper Lynd were so poorly written ("James, does everyone have a tell?" "Yes... everyone but you."). But that aside, I enjoyed seeing Bond's first outing as a 00 agent, even if it was updated for modern times. We get a Bond that operates mostly with a frankness and detachment necessary to complete his mission, but drawn into a situation which makes him suddenly care about more than that, only for it to be snatched away. The veil is lifted and we have a hardened Bond, one looking to undo the people responsible. Craig proves that he's more Bond than some were willing to give him credit for when he was announced as the new Bond, but he's not quite a favorite of mine, because he can't really sell the romance or tragedy.

 

 

 

#7 - You Only Live Twice (1967)

Bond: Sean Connery

Director: Lewis Gilbert

 

 

Bond's sojourn to the Land of the Rising Sun should have waited a couple of decades so it's theme song could be "Turning Japanese" by The Vapors, because that's exactly what our favorite British secret agent does as a cover, accomplished with a little makeup and a fake Japanese wife. Oh, and some lessons in being a ninja, sure to be useful in a fight against an army of men armed with guns. If it sounds a little hokey, it's probably because it sort of is. Bond spends a good amount of time disguised as a poor Japanese fisherman until he discovers the creepy Ernst Stavro Blofeld's volcano lair (Ken Adams' best set design), and when he's not being an impressively large native, he's flying a toy helicopter, having his death faked, or pretending to be an astronaut. But as goofy as some of it is, it's carried off with such sincerity, such presence of gravity, that it somehow tricks the viewer into buying it all. It certainly helps that there's so much authentic Japanese cultural trappings. Or maybe Connery's mix of inquisitive brilliance, boyish charm, and rugged physicality just sells it. Also of help is the interplay between Bond and Tiger Tanaka, the head of MI6's Japanese equivalent. I like any scene with the both of them in it, as Tanaka seems a bit more good-natured than M and there's a real sense of genuine affection between the two. Or maybe it's just a giant battle in a neat volcano base. Yeah, that could be it.

 

 

 

#6 - Dr. No (1962)

Bond: Sean Connery

Director: Terence Young

 

 

The movie that started all (and yet the sixth of Fleming's novels) is somewhat rough and untested, yet exudes a certain charm to it and possesses little of the tendency towards extravagance that some of the later adventures have. Here we have the dashing secret agent up against a nuclear-powered menace looking to disrupt American spacecraft launching. The movie takes its liberties with the novel, in some cases improving it, such establishing Bond as cultured, but at times ruthless (shooting Professor Dent in cold blood) and having Bond slug it out with Dr. No in the climax of the film to exhibit his daring in taking action on his own at high risk. However, it also, to its detriment, simplifies the character of Honey Ryder, who is somewhat less a damsel in distress in the book, and includes elements from the book that no longer make sense within the new context of the film, such as the torrent of water in the air vents, which in the original story is intended as part of a gauntlet Dr. No puts Bond through. However, most liberties taken are for good reason and serve to better draw a relevant context to the narrative. Here we have the implacable Bond against a foe whose plans for world domination are already old hat to our hero, who calls them "the same old dream". In the book, Dr. No counters accusations of being a maniac by quipping, "All the greatest men are maniacs". It's missed opportunity here, but the implication is clear regardless, Joseph Wiseman playing a suitably suppressed antagonist, exuding an aristocratic , smug superiority. Here we have Bond at his most basic. No elaborate gadgets. No laser satellites. Just an implacable lawman versus the dreams of a madman, with an exotic Jamaican backdrop. This was the beginning of something good.

 

#5 - Thunderball (1965)

Bond: Sean Connery

Director: Terence Young

 

 

The criminal organization SPECTRE steps up its game in this classic Bond yarn when they hijack a plane with nuclear missiles in an effort to extort a large sum of money from Western powers. 007 heads to Nassau to investigate Emilio Largo, Number 2 in the scheme, and finds that one of the patsies' sister is in his care. After avoiding several traps and finding how Largo pulled off the theft, Bond, CIA agent Felix Leiter, and the US Navy participate in a lengthy aquatic battle against SPECTRE that goes from the Bahamas to Miami, Florida. The climactic struggle aboard Largo's yacht ends in a squeaker of a victory, and has some of the most fierce hand-to-hand combat in the series. I like that the stakes are suitably high in this film without being too goofy and outlandish, resulting in a feeling of real tension. We even see (the backs of) other 00 agents as they're gathered to discuss this serious threat. The movie takes no time in displaying SPECTRE's way of doing things, with unique punishments for traitors and failures. One of the elements the movie adds to the story of the book that I enjoyed was the woman Fiona Volpe, who is one woman who isn't turned good by Bond's magical penis, and after a night of passion ends up a human shield when she tries to kill him. "Well, you can't win them all," Bond quips. I guess everyone has their off days. Two little things that bother me about the story are all the wild coincidences that occur, such as Bond being in the same health clinic as "Count Lippe" and meeting Domino as soon as he arrives in Nassau. It comes off as being a bit contrived at times. And the lengthy underwater scenes drag the movie at times, but fortunately, they had the good sense to put the final bout on the ship, with brutal close quarters fisticuffs we haven't seen since From Russia With Love. Even though I felt water logged by the time the movie was over, it was a bracing swim.

 

 

 

#4 - Goldfinger (1964)

Bond: Sean Connery

Director: Guy Hamilton

 

 

To many, Goldfinger is the Bond movie. The epitome of the series. Suave, cool, tough Sean Connery making quips in dangerous situations, a colorful villain with an affinity for atomic number 79, a henchmen who you have to tip your hat to, a woman with an almost obscene name, and man who gets crushed into a cube at a dump. It's loud, exciting, and is chock full of quotable lines and classic movie moments. The movie even introduces interesting new technology in the homing device ("homer"). Lasers were almost unheard of then, too. Goldfinger is a memorable villain, being ever so confident and slow to true anger, even somewhat friendly and charming on occasion. He is a clever man with an interesting plan: irradiate the gold at Ft. Knox using a dirty nuke, thus making his own gold worth more. Already a shrewd smuggler, he draws in various organized crime groups to assist him in his Operation Grand Slam, and it is only by the skin of his teeth that our hero manages to survive. Actually, Goldfinger's plan is improved greatly from the more direct robbery of the novel, which is pointed out in the movie as being unrealistic. So yeah, the movie improves the story from the book. Not to mention Bond doesn't turn a lesbian straight with his magic penis here like the book, he just turns a shrew into a good girl with it. Honor Blackman, by the way, despite being the oldest Bond girl, is very alluring. If I have an issue with this film is that Bond is captured throughout a large portion of it, making him a bit of a passive participant in the proceedings. Not to mention the plot, while an improvement from the novel's, is still a tad outlandish, and that scene in the barn with Bond and Miss Galore is a bit squicky in modern context. It also isn't robust in the storytelling. A lot of the early scenes are just Bond fooling around and getting on Goldfinger's nerves, and there's very little reason for Tilly Masterson to even exist. But despite a few minor flaws, the movie is solid gold.

 

 

 

#3 - Goldeneye (1995)

Bond: Pierce Brosnan

Director: Martin Campbell

 

 

I consider this film to be the birth of the modern Bond film, for all its rewards and faults. When so many people considered the franchise dead, not only was a film that both called into question and then answered with revival the relevance of Bond in a post-Cold War world delivered, but it was done in such a way that it didn't skip a single beat, plunged right into the new atmosphere of the nineties. While it seems a tad quaint now in some ways (IBM computers, woefully inferior modems by today's standards, dodgy hacking), the use of technology was never so relevant as it was in this movie. And yet, it doesn't spoil the integrity of the narrative, never feels excessive or gimmicky.

 

In fact, it's an element of the story: time marches on. Bond finds himself somewhat more introspective than usual, but still has a sense of suave confidence and good humor that belies his concerns about remaining relevant. I think when it all comes down to it, no matter how good the weapon is you make, you still need a man to pull the trigger, and Bond's the man to put the old ghosts to bed, whether with an explosive pen or a low-tech right hook. In contrast we have a men ruled by the past, doomed by it, like Alec Trevelyan, striking back at England for the Lienz Cossacks, or General Ourumov, who'd prefer to return to the old ways. We also have Zukovsky, ex-KGB, now mobster, going into private practice of cruelty, working for capitalist aims, and Jack Wade, CIA, who is tired of the old stuffy codes. And then there's the two computer experts, Boris, who doesn't mind joining terrorists as long as he has a challenge and Natalya, who just wants to survive.

 

It's interesting how this movie plays with the passing of time. A woman, Xenia, is the main henchman, and never turns "good". She's sadistic to the last. A woman is now in charge of MI6, and resents what Bond represents, which to her, is outdated heroics. But with Boris, you have a guy who loves the modern age, but treats lives as callously as any villain. If anyone's making the transition to the modern age, it's Bond. Sure he stops and reflects on the wake of his path, but ultimately he's a man on a mission. Not just for England. For him.

 

Brosnan plays a cool, charming, but still sharp Bond, lending both a Connery and Moore quality to his performance. He loves a good quip or twelve, but he'll still kill you without compunction, especially if you're a traitor. That bit in the film where Bond says that Trevelyan is essentially just a thief is a perfect example of his skill, as is his fight with Trevelyan on the antenna cradle. It's one of my favorite climactic battles in movies, not just Bond movies. Goldeneye is more than a great Bond flick. It proves that Bond is still a relevant character even in today's world.

 

 

 

#2 - On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)

Bond: George Lazenby

Director: Peter Hunt

 

 

OHMSS is a long film with a long title and a long-standing reputation of being "that one with the other guy". The other guy, in this case, being George Lazenby, whose tenure as Bond was cut short by bad advice from his agent. Very short, this being his only Bond film. And really, the only role Lazenby has ever played that's worth mentioning (well, he was Jared's father in The Pretender... I miss that show). For that reason, I think, and because this is a somewhat different, emotionally, film with some pretty unconventional elements for a typical Bond film, a lot of people seem to shun this entry, and Lazenby specifically. Certainly he's not my favorite Bond. There's a very freshman quality about him, and a sort of foppishness, which the writers and director obviously tried to distract from with some pretty brutal close quarters action scenes. He's not the greatest actor, sometimes he comes off a little too stiff, while other times far too loose, and it's clear he has some insecurities playing the role. And yet, one wonders if Connery would have been able to tackle some of the more emotionally heavy material in this film, some of which Lazenby does fairly well with.

 

This is certainly not a story Connery's Bond is fit for. It's really more of a novel-Bond adventure, a more introspective, weighty one, one that stands out amongst the others. Sure, Bond beds girls, silences gunmen, and makes a few quips along the way, but never have we seen a more vulnerable Bond, a more open Bond, and it doesn't detract from his masculinity. It comes across as a revelation about this character: there's more beating in the chest of this great machine of death than just the engine of a loyal weapon. Here is a man who actually cares about the people he protects. He doesn't just do this for the thrill. Oh sure, it's there, but there are things that he thinks about that don't involve loose women and vodka martinis, and is even willing to sacrifice his lifestyle for love, found in the arms of the stunning and charismatic Tracy, played to perfection by a gorgeous Diana Rigg. Rigg is a lot of fun in the role, showing Tracy's fun, danger-seeking side, but a unique vulnerability and longing that captures Bond's heart.

 

Still, business is business, and Bond comes face to face with Blofeld's latest scheme, involving faking a royal title to get a pardon from his crimes, all the while working on biological warfare that threatens the graineries of the world. There is a slight eccentricity in this film, with Blofeld not recognizing Bond, despite having met him in the previous film, the result of the book of On Her Majesty's Secret Service taking place before You Only Live Twice, not after it. Evidently, they originally wanted to show Bond getting plastic surgery so that he'd be unrecognizable to Blofeld. I don't know why they abandoned that, but it creates a continuity snag.

 

Blofeld, by the way, is played brilliantly by the charismatic Telly Savalas, known for being TV's Theo Kojack. Decades later, this version of Blofeld was used as the visual basis for Lex Luthor in Superman: The Animated Series. He comes off as being very confident, with some charm, but also a sinister air about him. Also of note is Gabriele Ferzetti's Marc Ange Draco, Tracy's father, a crime boss who assists Bond in his pursuit of Blofeld. He has this sense of authority to him, but isn't without a care.

 

There's plenty of great action in said pursuit, pitting Bond against thugs on skis, a long car chase involving stock cars, and a shootout at Blofeld's headquarters. Another noteworthy aspect is its celebration of past Bond adventures, acknowledgement of Bond's relationships with the usual characters. Finally, that ending. It will definitely cement the movie in your mind. Despite the film's length, you'll still wish you had all the time in the world to continue watching where this goes. Unfortunately, it went to Diamonds are Forever.

 

 

 

#1 - From Russia With Love (1963)

Bond: Sean Connery

Director: Terence Young

 

 

Sequels usually fail to live up to their predecessors. You don't have to look far to find second entries that are nowhere near as good as their first. But not only is this particular entry better than Dr. No, but in my opinion, all the Bond movies following it. I'm sure glad it wasn't the last Bond movie, but it remains unsurpassed in overall quality, so if it ended there, I wouldn't blame anyone. It hits all the right cues, never skipping a beat. Based on what is probably Fleming's best novel, this outing has all the right elements: a trap set by SPECTRE to humiliate MI6 and Bond in particular, an assortment of shady and colorful characters looking either to help or kill 007 every step of the way, a shoot out at a gypsy camp, vicious close quarters combat aboard the Oriental Express, and a straight, spy suspense story without any unnecessary frills. It's Bond using his wit and charm to overcome obstacle after obstacle to obtain a Russian decoding machine for his country.

 

Every scene is sublimely framed and expertly performed. Some scenes are actually rather genius, like Kronsteen's first appearance, at a professional chess match, Blofeld's use of fighting fish as a metaphor for SPECTRE's exploitation of the Cold War, or the malicious confrontation between Bond and Grant (played by a young and menacing Robert Shaw). It's all pretty sophisticated and palpable, but there are few pretensions in the film's execution, which I appreciate. Not a lot of trick angles or trick lighting. None of that bullshit "shaky cam" we see all too often in action films these days. Close ups are rarely used, and always tastefully. The performances are strong all around, as well. Connery's really got himself into the groove as Bond, Daniela Bianchi's Tatiana Romanova is breezy and sexy, Pedro Armendariz's Kerim Bay is warm and charming, and Lotte Lenya's Rosa Klebb is very alien and intimidating. And nobody seems out of place, out of sorts, and they all seem to perform suitably.

 

Most importantly, the stakes of the story at hand seem realistic without being too insignificant. MI6 wants to get a Lektor, SPECTRE wants to trap Bond for killing Dr. No in the previous entry, battles ensue, Bond comes out top. His life is put in danger several times, but without the entire world hanging in the balance because some missile or laser threatens to destroy London or Washington DC. Not that there's anything wrong with those things at times, but I just really enjoy the genuine honesty of what a spy's life might actually be like, to almost die at the hands of just another killer because you slipped up somewhere, got too confident, or just misjudged a situation. And your death won't mean that the Queen loses her crown or Western Civilization as we know it will crumble, won't cause World War III, but rather you're dead, the other spies won, and the world will turn on without you, irrespective of your ego. Maybe you get yourself out of that situation, maybe you save the day and the girl, but only by the skin of your teeth, or by some slight fault in the character of your enemy (in this case, Grant's smugness and greed). But there's another enemy. And another. Eventually, one day, one will probably get you.

 

Sure, at the end of the movie, Bond's taking a romantic gondola ride with Tatiana in Venice, as glib as ever, to the tune of Matt Monroe's comforting little ditty about a well-traveled man who misses his lover. But there's still the big bad SPECTRE out there, looking to kill him and who knows what else. It's clear this comfort won't last long. I like the frankness of that, and yet, there's also this sense of the successful end of a great adventure. It has this bittersweetness to it. Smile while you can, make love to the beautiful woman, but never forget how close you came to the end of your race. The novel ends ambiguously: Bond is actually poisoned by Rosa Klebb and doesn't recover until just before the beginning of the next entry. So the movie's ending is more triumphant. But I think they both have their strong points. FRWL is a movie that I count among my favorite movies of all time, with a classic, hard boiled, but slightly whimsical (in its depiction of colorful characters) flourishes, without trying to be more than it is: the hardened secret agent takes the bait to a trap he only barely escapes. The best laid plans...

 

 

 

Okay, list over! Now for some comments on Skyfall. SPOILER ALERT!

 

Pretty heavy movie. You can tell they were trying to do "The Dark Knight of Bond films", where they're actively trying to be heavy and turn their gaze inward at the very make-up of the Bond world, while exploring some of the insecurities of the zeitgeist, with the outing of agents worldwide by a terrorist who was an agent betrayed. A rare exploration of M, an uphill climb for Bond to trust the people he works with and find his place in the world, and the rebuilding of the classic elements of Bond framed in the modern setting. The movie carries a heavy load. For the most part, it does it fairly well. However, it's not without its flaws.

 

For one, it feels a little overproduced. It's overindulgent. The camera angles. The overdone action scenes. The over rich, overly elaborate set pieces. The soundtrack that does a lot of the heavy lifting in the drama department. Needless CGI (lizards, man... lizards). It seemed like everything was overcompensating for the expectations for the film. It's so shiny, loud, and severe, it's almost garish in its execution. I like the hard work gone into it, admire it, but some of it feels just unnecessary.

 

Second, there were tons of questions I had concerning the logic and time frame of the movie. For instance, who are those people working for Silva? Other screwed over agents? Just random crazies he roped in? If they're mercenary types, how can he afford to pay them? Secret agents don't make alot of money and Silva had a small army. If he can wrangle that many people, why not become a real terrorist organization? Silva seems like he's just on a suicide mission to kill M and nothing else. What does he tell his employees? That island that Silva took by faking a chemical leak warning that caused the residents to evacuate? Why did the government of Macau not send some people there to confirm it? An evacuation like that surely would have triggered some sort of follow-up investigation, wouldn't it? Since when do komodo dragons get that big and attack people? How does Bond just suddenly overcome being unable to hit a target? Doesn't he still need some serious retraining? How is M's computer hacked twice? Surely she isn't using the same laptop after the first time, right? How does that Scottish gamekeeper guy live in that house? Everything is covered up. There's no civilization around for miles. There isn't even a car outside the house until Bond drives onto the property. How does he get to and from there? And why is the house called "Skyfall"? What is that supposed to mean? Chicken Little reference, perhaps?

 

There was a lot to like, though. Javier Bardem is brilliant as Silva. He is just eccentric enough and just threatening enough to be memorable, but not too over-the-top, unhinged but without being comedically so. He's very unsettling and yet you can't look away from him. You want to see what he'll do or say next. Very authentic. Judi Dench performs strongly as Bond's beleaguered boss, as usual, but with an added intensity here. She's one of the few actors that really has a chemistry with Daniel Craig's Bond, brings out some of his humanity, and is besides which a great presence in the narrative. I adore the classic Bond cues, like the Aston Martin with the guns and ejector seat, the classic Bond theme, the classic M office at the end. They were great winks to the longtime fans without being too fourth wall breaking like the references in Die Another Day. The new M might want to update some parts of that office, though. I wonder if Craig's Bond will start wearing a hat and tossing onto a rack on the way in.

 

SPOILERS OVER!

 

There are Bond movies which I don't like very much, of course. Diamonds are Forever is the first bad Bond movie (imagine, they went six movies before a bad one). I mean, come on, going through all the trouble of smuggling diamonds so you can make a space laser weapon? Why not just buy them outright? Then there's the whole Howard Hughes thing, Blofeld in drag, and frankly an annoying and not so alluring Bond girl. People like to say that Connery was phoning it in (who could blame him?) but I like to think the writers were. There were better ways to show Bond getting revenge for his wife's death. Crowbarring it in a story from a book that's just about diamond smuggling didn't work at all. It just comes off as too campy. I'm also not big on most of the Roger Moore entries, especially Moonraker, which is just blindly stupid. Do you know how long it takes for an astronaut to train for the physical rigors of space flight? Bond just blasts off into space (stupid on its own) without any ill effects? Bull-fucking-shit. This trash didn't deserve to be Bernard Lee's swan song as M. The less said about Die Another Day, the better.

 

But, aside from those, even some of the less-than-stellar entries like The Man With The Golden Gun or A View to a Kill have one or two enjoyable elements, whether they have a great villain, henchman, fight scene, or approach. I didn't include either Timothy Dalton movie because neither are particularly noteworthy, despite my really liking Dalton's portrayal of the character.

 

As for my favorite Bonds, wow, that's a tough assignment. I like the strong masculinity, yet boyish curiosity of Sean Connery's Bond, a performance that holds back a sense of cruelty and malice, but isn't without its charm and intelligence. George Lazenby has a look that conveys emotion via his face and tone, and is actually rather good in action scenes. Roger Moore has at once both a sense of playfulness and poshness, a tongue-in-cheek gentleman with a sort of aged wisdom. Timothy Dalton resembles Fleming's vision of Bond in a physical sense (just go look at the sketch he did) and a certain hardness, but also with some self-effacing mannerisms. Brosnan combines the suave, brimming confidence and good humor of Moore's Bond with a sense of cold intensity resembling Connery's or Dalton's. And of course, Craig has this sense of physicality, a droll invulnerability, the man made of rock, a force of nature. So they all do the job well enough in particularly well-written entries. Myself, I think Moore is a little bit of a hokey performance, but you have to factor in the kinds of stories he was in and Craig isn't my favorite either, because I dislike his stone faced distance and dull glazed stare. Dalton seems a little too angry and Brosnan too often acts like he's having too much fun. Lazenby is a little too pretty, and a tad stiff at times. Connery has a great balance of all of the positives of the others. The original film Bond is still the best.

 

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going go pitch a movie where nuke-neutralizing nanomachines are spread by child soldiers utilized by a wealthy weapons technology developer who makes attack drones and Bond has to bed the barely legal American daughter of the villain and murders a man with a wine opener while quipping, "Just the right vintage" as the blood spurts out. As for titles? Maybe something like Too Young To Die or Ashes to Ashes. Oooh, how about SilverRift? "This summer... SilverRift... Drone't Miss It!"

 

Genius.