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“Spectre”: Ranking the James Bond movies so far

Spectre Bond 2015
A new James Bond movie is always a bit of an event, especially if you grew up on the franchise like I did, so with Spectre hitting theaters tomorrow, I wanted to do something 007 centric. What though? Well, I opted to go ahead and both discuss the latest Daniel Craig led Bond flick as well as rank all of the films in the long running series so far. A bit of an ambitious undertaking, yes, but having seen all but the newest one multiple times, I felt that I was up to the challenge. Particularly when you see what the latest one is about, it does make sense…

Spectre is the 24th official Bond film (not counting Never Say Never Again), once again starring Craig as the spy. This time around, he’s trying to finish a mission set forth by the late M (Judi Dench), one that will explain all that has come before as well as bring him into contact with the ultimate villain (Christoph Waltz), one who has known 007 for a very long time. Sam Mendes again directs, the script is again by John Logan, Neal Purvis, and Robert Wade (with additional work by Jez Butterworth), which in addition to Craig and Waltz, the cast includes Dave Bautista, Monica Bellucci, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Lea Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, and more. It’s very much a direct sequel to Skyfall, for better and for worse.

I found Spectre to be suitably entertaining, but a definite step below Casino Royale and Skyfall, both of which brought Bond to the fully modern age and redefined the character. Consider how I consider those two of the best 007 movies ever, that puts the franchise somewhat on the wrong track. What it is, simply put, is that the focus is on re-integrating classic elements of the character into the franchise as opposed to continuing to reinvent him. That puts the style and story sometimes at odds with each other. The film is a lot of fun, no question, but it’s both serious and silly in oddly equal measure. The mixture works, but not to the degree with which it was hoped.

As you’ll see below, I found this latest installment to be middle of the road Bond. For me, there’s about a half dozen or so indisputably great outings, with another five or so that are solidly good. After that, it moves to the majority of them being just decent, though easily entertaining. The franchise only has three or four “bad” installments to its name, but when it comes to 007, no two lists will ever look the same. Some overvalue the Sean Connery outings or undervalue the Roger Moore ones, while you rarely find anyone who ranks the Pierce Brosnan or Timothy Dalton flicks too highly. Personally though, I’ve liked all the Bond actors, including George Lazenby, as you can see now. There’s not one Bond movie that I wouldn’t watch again, though there’s only a few that I actively seek out for revisits. As a franchise, it’s somehow both consistent and uneven, more or less in equal measure.

Here now is how I would rank all of the 007 films to date, including Spectre:

24. Moonraker
23. A View to a Kill
22. Die Another Day
21. Quantum of Solace
20. Live and Let Die
19. The World is Not Enough
18. Octopussy
17. You Only Live Twice
16. For Your Eyes Only
15. Thunderball
14. License to Kill
13. Diamonds Are Forever
12. Spectre
11. Tomorrow Never Dies
10. The Living Daylights
9. The Spy who Loved Me
8. Goldeneye
7. The Man with the Golden Gun
6. Dr. No
5. From Russia with Love
4. Goldfinger
3. Casino Royale
2. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
1. Skyfall

spectre poster

As a bonus, here’s how I would rank the actors who have played the iconic spy:

1. Daniel Craig
2. Sean Connery
3. Pierce Brosnan
4. George Lazenby
5. Roger Moore
6. Timothy Dalton


Be sure to check out Spectre, in theaters everywhere this Friday!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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