Since he wowed audiences on the silver screen in his explosive cinematic debut in 1962, James Bond has become one of the biggest fictional icons and enduring figures in film the world has ever seen. Unmissable with his suave demeanour, irresistible charm, and talent for daring espionage, Agent 007 has thrilled audiences in numerous adaptations, capturing the hearts of people all around the world.
Over the many years since its initial release, the franchise has produced a stack of exciting and unforgettable films, each actor and crew contributing their own unique flavour to the Bond legacy. So let’s delve right, and give our take on the endless debate of which Bond film is really the best.
10. "The Spy Who Loved Me" (1977)
Kicking off our list, conveniently, is the 10th instalment in the Bond series. Roger Moore's much loved portrayal of the dashing young spy really takes the spotlight in this film. Bond teams up with Soviet agent Triple X to defeat the villainous plans of opponent, Stromberg.
One of the most stand out aspects of the film is its dazzling underwater scenes and the iconic Lotus Esprit car that transforms into a submarine. "The Spy Who Loved Me" really showcases Bond's ability to adapt and thrive in any environment, making it an exciting edition to the collection, and to our list.
9. "GoldenEye" (1995)
An iconic film of the 90’s, Pierce Brosnan as James Bond was somewhat controversial, with many feeling he didn’t quite fit the part, but in the end he successfully rejuvenated the franchise after a six-year hiatus.
"GoldenEye" (not to be mistaken with “Goldfinger” which we’ll get to later), brings Bond into the new digital age. Tackling a former MI6 agent gone rogue who threatens global chaos through computer espionage, this film not only introduced a new era of Bond but also gave audiences a great show of the character's resilience, earning it a place on our list.
8. "Casino Royale" (2006)
Daniel Craig's debut as Bond reimagines the character in a grittier, more realistic light, and is often quoted as the saviour of the franchise and character. "
Casino Royale" takes us back to Bond's beginnings as we follow his journey from a newly minted double “0” agent, which is a code for licence to kill, to a battle-hardened master of espionage. Bond participating in a high-stakes poker game against the enigmatic Le Chiffre along with the heart-wrenching romance with Vesper Lynd really elevates this film to a new level of emotional depth we haven't seen before with Bond.
As well as being the beginning of a new Bond era, “Casino Royale” really captures viewers by using the exciting setting of a casino table. Drawing upon classic games like live roulette, the film depicts the thrill of high-stakes gambling. As Bond places bets with government money, he reflects upon the shuffling cards, the spinning wheels, and the high-pressure atmosphere of casinos, and the film captures his inner state perfectly.
7. "Skyfall" (2012)
"Skyfall" takes a deep dive into the fascinating and mysterious mind of James Bond like we’ve never seen before. As the MI6 agent faces threats from his tumultuous past, Daniel Craig's much loved Bond must confront his deep vulnerabilities and the dark shadows of his secretive upbringing.
6. "From Russia with Love" (1963)
Having one of the best opening theme songs, this second instalment in the franchise really solidified the Bond formula.
Sean Connery's magnetic presence and natural affinity for the Bond character, combined with a suspenseful plot involving a Soviet plot to trick Bond into stealing a decoding device makes for a thrilling watch. The film's exotic locales, thrilling action sequences, and memorable characters truly set the stage for the franchise's continued success.
5. "Goldfinger" (1964)
"Goldfinger" is often hailed as the quintessential Bond film, and for good reason. With the original Bond, Sean Connery, a favourite for many, this film introduces us to the iconic villain Auric Goldfinger. The film's memorable lines, stunning set pieces, and iconic scenes (who can possibly forget the golden girl?) provides audiences with a delicious blend of suave sophistication and high-octane action, cementing its status as a classic, and number five on our list.
4. "The Living Daylights" (1987)
Although Timothy Dalton only played the titular character once, his unique depiction of Bond sets him apart from the many other actors who have graced our screens as 007. He offers a more sombre and arguably emotionally intricately crafted interpretation of the spy we know and love. In "The Living Daylights," Bond finds himself entangled in yet another dangerous network of deception, all the while romancing the enigmatic Bond girl, Kara Milovy.
3. "Dr. No" (1962)
The film that launched it all, "Dr. No" introduces Sean Connery as the first and fantastic blueprint for Bond. With its luscious Caribbean backdrop, memorable introduction of Ursula Andress as the first Bond girl (if you don’t count Miss Moneypenny), and Connery's undeniable charming charisma, this is the film that set the stage for what would become one of the most loved and enjoyed characters in cinema today.
2. "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" (1969)
Often going without a mention, George Lazenby's single outing as Bond is an underappreciated gem. "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" takes a much more daring approach by going further into Bond's emotional world, as he truly falls in love and ultimately faces tragedy. The film's breathtaking Swiss alpine vistas alone would be enough to give it a spot on our list.
1. "You Only Live Twice" (1967)
At the top of our list is "You Only Live Twice," for us, this film is an embodiment of everything that makes a Bond film truly iconic. Sean Connery's portrayal of Bond is at its peak, and the film features a perfect blend of subtle espionage and action, all against a beautiful exotic backdrop. The imaginative villainous lair hidden within a volcano, and its larger-than-life spectacle all contribute to prowess as the ultimate classic James Bond film.
No matter whether you're drawn to the charm of Connery, the gritty realism of Craig, or the packed plots and portrayals of the other actors who've worn the tuxedo, the Bond series is undoubtedly a classic collection that film lovers can’t miss. We’re all eagerly anticipating the next chapter in this enduring saga, in the meantime, let us know which Bond film is your favourite!