James Bond “power-rankings,” from Cantankerous Critic Michael Walters:
No. 23 License To Kill: Bond winds up stranded in this extended episode of “Miami Vice” which has Timothy Dalton chasing a South American drug lord. Timothy Dalton was always a little suspect, but by this time he’d lost his license to thrill completely.
No. 22 View To A Kill: Another film that almost put a nail in Bond’s coffin. Even those with a soft spot for Roger Moore had to admit he’d put on the tuxedo one too many times. When you make Christopher Walken boring you know something’s wrong.
No. 21 The World Is Not Enough: The low point of the Brosnan Bonds. Denise Richards plays a nuclear physicist, and that’s the least of its problems. John Cleese is a welcome addition to Q branch, but outside of that, the pleasures are slight.
No. 20 The Quantum Of Solace: Daniel Craig is reliable as always but this Bond was chopped up into incoherency by an edit happy director eager to turn Bond into Jason Bourne. A weak villain doesn’t help this headache inducing entry.
No. 19 Moonraker: Roger Moore’s silliest outing as Bond often gets a bad rap. I’m not saying it’s good exactly, but Bond in space yields some small cheesy pleasures.
No. 18 The Man With The Golden Gun: Roger Moore’s arched eyebrow and groan inducing puns are right at home in this entry that puts future “Fantasy Island” star Herve Villechaize as an evil henchman for super-villian Christopher Lee.
No. 17 The Living Daylights: Timothy Dalton’s best Bond still ain’t that great. It has a couple of eye popping stunts, but Bond was a little lost at this time looking for his place in the world. And Timothy Dalton wasn’t the one to lead him there.
No. 16 Die Another Day: The Brosnan Bond that gets the most grief, this was arguably the silliest entry since Moonraker (remember that invisible car?). But it’s a relentless action machine that barely stops to catch its breath. If you check your brain at the door, it can be an entertaining enough ride.
No. 15 Tomorrow Never Dies: Brosnan was always a little like a younger more dapper Roger Moore. Here his puns get a workout again while battling a Rupert Murdoch type media tycoon out to start civil unrest in China to boost his own newspaper’s circulation.
No. 14 You Only Live Twice: Features one of the all time great evil lairs, but mostly Sean Connery’s Bond is spinning his wheels here. By this time, the series was getting more gadget heavy, but Bond has nothing particularly special.
No. 13 Live And Let Die: Roger Moore’s first entry has him do that voodoo that you do so well chasing Jamaican bad guys. There’s an amusingly long speedboat chase that was only a sign of the stunts to come, and Moore’s considerable charms and droll humor seemed to indicate he was enjoying himself just as much as the audience.
No. 12 Diamonds Are Forever: Sean Connery’s last outing as Bond isn’t up to the best of the series, but it’s still got plenty going for it. While Connery is a little older by this point, he hasn’t lost the touch. It’s enjoyable to see him put through his paces one more time.
No. 11 Octopussy: Another Roger Moore Bond that gets an unfairly bad rap- this has Bond fighting the good old USSR and dodging poisonous snakes in the jungles of India. While the film’s use of body doubles for Moore is fairly obvious (Moore appears only closeup in front of what appears to be green screen). At one point, Bond ends up in a clown costume. This film is firing on all cylinders offering all kinds of escapist silly pleasures.
No. 10 Dr. No: Sean Connery’s first Bond finds him and the series still figuring themselves out. There’s plenty here that would lay the groundwork for the films to come, but there’s also a lot more slow patches than you might remember too.
No. 9 GoldenEye: Pierce Brosnan provided just what Bond needed when he need it most in this stunt heavy extravaganza which introduced Judy Dench as M and had Bond fighting a reignited Cold War. His first entry proved to be his best.
No. 9 For Your Eyes Only: Roger Moore’s back to basics Bond puts Moore on skis for a series of thrilling stunts through the alps.
No. 7 From Russia With Love: Sean Connery at his grittiest. There are a few gadgets, but this Bond is more about the close quarters hand to hand combat here. His fight with Robert Shaw is a particular highlight.
No. 6 Thunderball: Bond was still riding high from the heights of Goldfinger with this entry which took Bond underwater and gave him all sorts of cool new toys to play with. While it’s a sign the series would be heading to new and more ridiculous heights, it’s still pretty entertaining.
No. 5 The Spy Who Loved Me: Roger Moore’s best Bond hands down. It has his coolest gadgets, his best Bond girl, and one of the series best evil henchmen ever, Richard Kiel’s Jaws.
No 4 On Her Majesty’s Secret Service: While George Lazenby’s no one’s idea of a great Bond, he was fortunate enough to get one of the series strongest stories and best Bond girl ever in Diana Rigg. This is the film that made Bond more human, and proved he was more than just a tuxedo with a license to kill. Telly Savalas ain’t’ too bad a bad guy either.
No. 2 (Tie) Skyfall: Great stunts, a terrific villain, exotic locales, and a meaty, engaging and even half way believable story make this one not to miss. It also might be one of the most cinematic entries in the whole series.
No. 2 (Tie) Casino Royale: Daniel Craig gave us Bond like we’d truly never seen him before in this reboot which took Bond in a new grittier direction.
No. 1 Goldfinger: How can you argue with Goldfinger? The perfect mix of gadgets, great villains, and a top notch story. This is the movie that set the mold for decades to come.