The definitive ranking of all 24 movies in the James Bond franchise
21.04.2020

The definitive ranking of all 24 movies in the James Bond franchise

Words by Tobias Handke

With the release of No Time To Die slated for this year, we decided to revisit the series.

Daniel Craig’s time as British secret agent James Bond is about to come to an end with the release of the much-anticipated No Time To Die. The final film of Craig’s 007 career is the 25th in a series that’s been thrilling audiences for over 50 years.

With No Time To Die now pushed back to November due to coronavirus, fans have several months to reacquaint themselves with the franchise. To help, here’s every Bond film ranked, starting with the worst in the series and finishing with the very best.

Note: As Never Say Never Again isn’t canon, it isn’t included in this list, but is well worth a watch.

24) Die Another Day (2002)

Released during the 40th anniversary of the franchise, Pierce Brosnan’s last stab at Bond is a woeful attempt at paying tribute to the legacy of 007. The nostalgic nods to previous films in the series are cheesy as fuck, Madonna’s cameo is cringe worthy and Halle Berry as Jinx is a total miscast. An embarrassing film that almost put an end to the series for good.

23) Live And Let Die (1973)

Besides Paul McCartney’s ripping theme song and Jane Seymour’s role as the Tarot card reading Solitaire, this is another trepid Bond flick concerning a Harlem drug lord chock full of voodoo references. Notable for being Roger Moore’s first crack at Bond.

22) The World Is Not Enough (1999)

Unfortunately for Brosnan, three of his four Bond films feature at the lower end of this list. The World Is Not Enough is just plain silly with another confusing plot and a last line that’ll leave you shaking your head in disbelief. Denise Richards as Dr. Christmas Jones also ranks as one of the worst casting choices in the franchise’s history.

21) Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

Bronson attempts to take down a media mogul intent on starting World War III in this disappointing follow-up to the superior GoldenEye. Jonathan Pryce is rather bland as main villain Elliot Carver while the additions of Michelle Yeoh and Teri Hatcher fail to improve this mess.

20) Octopussy (1983)

Along with a horrid title, Octopussy isn’t based on an Ian Fleming novel and it clearly shows. There’s something about stolen gems and nuclear weapons in this boring adventure spliced with crude humour, a tedious plot and an incredulous scene where Moore yells like Tarzan while swinging through the jungle.

19) A View To A Kill (1985)

Unlike many, I actually enjoy this over-the-top Roger Moore entry, though I understand why it gets a lot of hate. A bleached blonde Christopher Walken is a strange choice for a villain, Grace Jones is perplexing as May Day and the big set pieces involving the Eiffel Tower and Golden Gate Bridge just don’t work. Despite this, A View To A Kill never lets up on the action and did give us Duran Duran’s chart-topping theme song.

18) The Living Daylights (1987)

After Moore retired his role as Bond, the series went for a darker tone and introduced audiences to Timothy Dalton as the moody new 007. Dalton is as close to Ian Fleming’s Bond as we’ve ever seen, but a muddled plot lacking a worthy advisory leaves The Living Daylights a wasted opportunity.

17) Spectre (2015)

In an attempt to tie together the previous three Craig films, director Sam Mendes brings back famous criminal organisation SPECTRE and its leader Ernst Stavro Blofeld, played by Christoph Waltz who’s completely phoning in his performance. Despite the visually stunning opening in Mexico City and the inclusion of former wrestling superstar Dave Bautista, Spectre offers nothing new for Bond fans and is easily Craig’s worst Bond flick.

16) The Man With The Golden Gun (1974)

Moore faces off against Christopher Lee’s Francisco Scaramanga, the world’s greatest assassin, in this low-budget entry. There’s too much comedy for my liking and Britt Ekland is one of the series’ worst Bond girls. The locations are beautiful and the plot industrious, but the fact Scaramanga has a third nipple shows how ridiculous The Man With The Golden Gun is.

15) Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

Shirley Bassey’s behemoth of a theme song is the highlight of Sean Connery’s final Bond film. Bringing back Ernst Stavro Blofeld as the big bad with a plot revolving around a diamond smuggling ring and a space-based laser, Diamonds Are Forever’s camp tone fails to live up to Connery’s previous efforts.

14) License To Kill (198)

The darker themes continue as Bond goes rouge in Dalton’s second and final Bond film. The jokes are gone in favour of a serious tone that finds 007 seeking revenge against drug lord Franz Sanchez, played by the always wonderful Robert Davi. This film is best known for featuring Benicio del Toro in his second acting role ever.

13) On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)

Aussie George Lazenby’s one time shot as Bond isn’t as bad as many think. A faithful adaptation of Fleming’s novel, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service shows a more human side to the character which includes the former womaniser marrying before that heartbreaking final scene. Telly Savalas is great as Bond nemesis, Blofeld.

12) Quantum Of Solace (2008)

A direct sequel to Casino Royale, Craig’s Bond is on a mission for revenge after the death of lover Vesper Lynd. The opening car chase is one of the best in the series while the final shootout in the Bolivian desert is beautifully captured.

11) Moonraker (1979)

James Bond in space is the best way to describe Moonraker. Trying to compete with Star Wars, this fun flick defies belief as Bond heads to space for a goofy climax in this Moore-starring fan-favourite. It’s rad to see the return of Richard Kiel as the steel-mouthed Jaws, who has a change of heart at the film’s end.

10) You Only Live Twice (1967)

Children’s author Roald Dahl contributes the script for this fantastic spy thriller based loosely on the novel of the same name. Bond travels to Japan where he discovers Blofeld is the mastermind behind another plot to take over the world. Containing many trademark Bond features – a hidden lair in a volcano, big action set pieces and a delightful Bond girl – this is a joy to watch.

9) For Your Eyes Only (1981)

The most serious of Moore’s films still retains a sense of fun, along with some great action set pieces, as the man with a license to kill hops across the world looking for a stolen communications device. Closer in tone to Connery’s heyday, For Your Eyes Only is an engaging actioner hitting all the right notes.

8) Dr. No (1962)

Featuring John Barry’s iconic score, a strong female lead in Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder, exotic locations, the introduction of terrorist organisation SPECTRE and a smart and charming lead in Connery, the first film in the series created the Bond template.

7) Thunderball (1965)

Once again taking on SPECTRE, Connery finds himself in the picturesque Bahamas battling the eye-patch wearing Emilio Largo in this enjoyable romp. The Tom Jones theme song is a killer and the underwater action scenes are well choreographed.

6) Skyfall (2012)

A first in the series, Skyfall reveals details about Bond’s origins as M (Judi Dench) is confronted by a man from her past in the form of Javier Bardem’s blonde psychopath, Raoul Silva. The spectacular ending in Bond’s family home in Scotland is fantastically directed by Mendes, with Adele’s soaring theme one of the best in the series.

5) GoldenEye (1995)

Pierce Bronson is the total opposite of Timothy Dalton’s Bond in this well written flick that re-energised the series. Bronson embodies Bond like few others have while Robbie Coltrane, Famke Janssen and Alan Cumming provide great support as 007 must stop Sean Bean’s ex-MI6 agent from causing a global financial collapse.

4) The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

Despite a ludicrous plot about a megalomaniac who wants to create a new civilisation under the sea, this is Moore’s best film in the series. Nominated for three Academy Awards, The Spy Who Loved Me’s opening ski chase sucks you in from the get go while introducing us to one of the franchise’s best villains, Jaws.

3) Casino Royale (2006)

Fans were up in arms when Daniel Craig was announced as the new Bond but they soon changed their tune once Casino Royale hit the cinema. Craig is the most complex Bond yet in a film that stands on its on as an awesome action thriller with an evil bad guy (a smiling Mads Mikkelsen) and a card game with deadly stakes.

2) From Russia With Love (1963)

The success of Dr. No meant a sequel with a bigger budget, more wild locations and three top notch villains, including Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya) with her dagger-tipped shoes and the hulking Robert Shaw as SPECTRE assassin Donald “Red” Grant. The fight on the train is one of the series’ best while Connery is in career-best form.

1) Goldfinger (1964)

This might be a predictable pick, but there’s a reason why Goldfinger is the ultimate Bond film. Connery is at his most suave as the man with a license to kill while memorable villains (the mute Oddjob), sexy Bond girls (how they got Pussy Galore approved is anyone’s guess) and endlessly quotable dialogue (“No Mr. Bond, I expect you to die”) make Goldfinger an the most re-watchable film in the canon.

Never miss a story. Sign up to Beat’s newsletter and you’ll be served fresh music, arts, food and culture stories three times a week.