In honor of the premiere of the new James Bond film Skyfall, I offer the following ranking of “James Bonds” and my top five Bond films of all time:
James Bonds from best to worst:
- Sean Connery: The archetype. There’s just no getting around his iconic status. Watch him in Goldfinger and tell me he’s not one of the coolest man to ever grace the silver screen.
- Daniel Craig: Some see him as a “less fun” Jason Bourne-ification of Bond, but for my money he carries the gravitas and depth of a Bond that is in the process of becoming. If James Bond could be a real person, Daniel Craig might just be that person.
- Timothy Dalton: Coming after Roger Moore, anything would look better by comparison. Even so, Dalton brings a certain quality to the character than I enjoy. Some see him, as with Craig, a more serious character. But again, after Moore…
- Pierce Brosnan: A pretty boy with a quippy sense about him, he is nevertheless “my” Bond, by which I mean that he was the James Bond I was first introduced to as a teenager in Goldeneye. Plus there’s that video game.
- George Lazenby: Starred in only one James Bond film. Though it had emotional depth it was overlong. I include him on this list mostly just to push Roger Moore down even further.
- Roger Moore: Boo. BOOO. He played James Bond more times (7) than anyone else…and I wish he hadn’t. He is the 1970s Bond, and brings all the uncool quips, corny jokes, and excess about Bond that (when he does it) I hate. Others can get away with such things, but not Moore.
My top five James Bond films (in chronological order):
- From Russian With Love: Truly a spy movie, and evocative of its Cold War setting and filming. More of a moody piece than some other Bond offerings, but worthwhile nonetheless.
- Goldfinger: THE 1960s Bond. It is all here, and Sean Connery pulls it off with aplomb. Goldfinger is a GREAT villain, and he and Bond are well-matched.
- License to Kill: James Bond’s infamous “license to kill” is revoked in the wake of a tragedy…and he goes on a mission of vengeance. Even Q visits the field in this over-the-top adventure.
- Goldeneye: Again, this film was really my entry into the James Bond world, and its introduction of Brosnan and place at the end of the Cold War make in the beginning of a “new” world of Bond for the new world order.
- Casino Royale: Speaking of the introduction of a “new” Bond, I feel that this is probably one of the greatest of these films ever made. Even though its editing gives it a strange false ending about 3/4 of the way through, Craig’s Bond is truly a breath of fresh air into the franchise. His is reminiscent of Connery’s take yet with a hard postmodern edge that speaks to human frailty and emotion.
Skyfall opens tonight. In the meantime, enjoy some Adele: