The Highs and Lows of 007

Daniel Craig Spectre poster
The enduring appeal of the Bond franchise.

Daniel Craig will be donning his tuxedo for the last time in the follow-on from 2015’s Spectre, No Time to Die, which is set for release at some stage in 2021. It joins a long line of espionage blockbusters inspired by Ian Fleming’s novels about the British secret service agent James Bond 007 that have spanned over half a century since Connery first sipped a martini, shaken not stirred, in 1962’s Dr No. The franchise is now globally worth over 7 billion dollars, and shows no sign of slowing. With 5 actors having played Bond to date, and 24 films in the back catalogue of the series, it is unsurprising that some of the movies are better than others. Here we take a look at some of the outstanding high and low points of this 60 year franchise.

Aston Martin DB5
Aston Martin DB5

Goldfinger (1964)

Connery’s strongest film, and arguably the best film in the entire franchise is 1964’s Goldfinger. Bond takes on the villain and master gold smuggler Auric Goldfinger, wonderfully played by Gert Fröbe. This was the third of the Eon produced Bond films and was the first to be directed by Guy Hamilton, the director who during his short run of films set the template for all Bond movies to follow from the gadgets, to the Bond girls and outlandish villains. The film sees Bond seeking to foil Goldfinger’s plot to capture Fort Knox and hold the world’s gold supply to ransom. Connery is on top form here and really finds his stride with the character. He dominates every scene he appears in with his cat-like reflexes and dry wit, making it a classic for the ages.

A View to a Kill (1985)

Roger Moore closed out his run as a visibly over-the-hill 007 in 1985’s A View to a Kill. Despite worthy performances from Christopher Walken and Grace Jones as Soviet super soldiers, the movie suffered from poor pacing, writing and implementation. It is considered to be the very worst Bond film ever made with a Metacritic score of just 40 out of 100. Many of the tropes that had carried Moore’s earlier 70s films now felt dated and tired, from the comedy relief afforded by blustering American police officers, to far fetched gadgetry and a total lack of any real sense of danger made A View to a Kill, with its equestrian backdrop feel like 2 hours unbefitting of the potential of the franchise.

Casino Royale (2006)

Daniel Craig took over the reins of Bond after the declining revenue and acclaim of Brosnan’s later films. Casino Royale was ostensibly a reboot of the franchise and a prequel to Dr No, featuring Bond’s very first authorised mission with a license to kill. Adjusting to the tastes of the time that called for greater realism and less fantasy, Craig studied the early films of Sean Connery’s seeking to channel the original cinematic depiction of 60s Bond, replete with a clearly defined sense of risk and danger. Craig also gave us a Bond rougher around the edges, a strong contrast to the Brosnan’s immaculate hair and pouting countenance. With rooftop parkour chases through Madagascan construction sites, the lavish set-pieces of Montenegro and perhaps the most stylishly choreographed game of poker ever seen on the silver screen, the film managed to present itself as something crisp and modern yet timelessly Bond. It is considered one of the best films in the entire series, with an average Metacritic score of 80/100.

Stylish choreography is synonymous with Bond films.

Die Another Day (2002)

The last film to star the 90s reboot Bond Pierce Brosnan. His first film, GoldenEye, was a breath of fresh air for the floundering series and brought the Bond films right up to scratch with the pacing and special effects befitting a 90s action blockbuster. The following films under his purview were arguably progressively worse, with fans criticising the films for increasingly absurd storylines and characters. This descent into incredulity was completed with Die Another Day, with its cyber-soldiers, genetic engineering, ice palaces and Madonna as a fencing master. The film also collapsed under the weight of its own expectation, as due to it being the 20th Bond film the producers decided to awkwardly attempt to reference every major Bond scene from the previous 19 films, making for a messy and incoherent outing.

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