The good, the bad and the ugly: How all 23 Bond films rank against each other


With all 23 Bond films under my belt and all 23 mini reviews written, the next step in my Bondathon is to reveal my order of preference. I had been keeping an order of preference every time I posted a mini review, but instead of slotting in Skyfall and then including it on my Skyfall review, I wanted to double check and make sure that it was my absolute order of preference. After all, I don’t think I’ll be watching all 23 in order again for a few years!

The eagle eyed among you may have already noticed that the list is quite a rainbow. In case you hadn’t worked it out, the colours denote which actor portrayed the debonair British spy – Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig. I thought it’d be interesting to see whether one actor’s films were grouped together or whether they were all spread out. I think the results speak for themselves…

So, without further ado, here they are with three words or a phrase to sum up each of them up plus the star rating I gave them. The eagle eyed may have also noticed that some films with a lower star rating actually rate higher than those with a star rating. I wanted to remain true to the original star ratings so have left them how they are though some, I now feel in hindsight, should have scored higher/lower.

Top dog: Goldfinger – ★★★★★
Laser, greed, bowler

Casino Royale – ★★★★
‘A new beginning’

Skyfall – ★★★★½
Past, loyalty, resurrection

Thunderball – ★★★★
Sharks, underwater, warheads

Licence to Kill – ★★★★
Violence, tankers, drugs

The Man with the Golden Gun – ★★★★
Bullets, nipple, assassin

You Only Live Twice – ★★★★
Volcano, ninja, rockets

Dr. No – ★★★★
Shells, dragon, bikini

Tomorrow Never Dies – ★★★½
‘Megalomaniac media mogul’

The Living Daylights – ★★★½
Orchestra, KGB, globe-trotting

A View to a Kill – ★★★½
‘Screams the 80s’

The World is Not Enough  – ★★★
Oil, bullet, betrayal

Octopussy – ★★★½
Exotic, elephants, circus

The Spy Who Loved Me – ★★★½
Submarine, nuclear, sailors

Live and Let Die – ★★★½
Voodoo, drugs, Caribbean

Goldeneye – ★★★
Turncoat, thighs, explosive

Diamonds Are Forever – ★★★
Smugglers, flamboyant, ditzy

From Russia With Love  – ★★★½
Train, Soviet, complicated

For Your Eyes Only – ★★★
‘Absolutely zero chemistry’

Quantum of Solace – ★★★
‘Lost its way’

Moonraker – ★★½
Space, extravagent, far-fetched

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – ★★
Marriage, brainwashed, Switzerland

Last place: Die Another Day  – ★★
‘Do not bother!’

What do you think – do you agree with my ordering, which are your top three? Leave a comment below and let’s get chatting.

You can read all my mini reviews and posts in my Bondathon series here.

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11 thoughts on “The good, the bad and the ugly: How all 23 Bond films rank against each other”

  1. Claire, I wish you were around when some awful little individual on Twitter made a rather nasty comment about my exclusion of the girl from For Your Eyes Only in my top 10 Bond Girls list. Your mention of “absolutely zero chemistry” reminded how wooden the actress is in that film…she looks half asleep throughout the entire thing. One of the big reasons I didn’t include her.

  2. …very interesting to read your thoughts on these films Claire. I’ve been doing my own little Bond marathon too but I’m seeing Skyfall tonight so have held back posting my top 10 until I’ve seen it. It has nine films in it at present so it is either Skyfall or You Only Live Twice (I think) that could take the spot.

    I therefore won’t reveal my top 10 just yet…

    As for worst Bond films – I agree Die Another Day is right up there. My other least favourites include Quantum of Solace, The World Is Not Enough, Tomorrow Never Dies and Moonraker (this used to be my favourite as a kid).

    I’m also not sure about License to Kill – is it even a Bond film? It has a slightly different make-up to the story. I like Q’s involvement but the film felt too dark for me. I usually like things to be dark but Bond has always had a cartoonish quality about the violence/good-guy/bad-guy set-up. License To Kill went too far.

    1. Thanks, Dan, I hope you enjoyed Skyfall!

      I think one of the reasons that Licence to Kill stands out is because it’s much more personal to Bond. Instead of stopping X, Y or Z from happening he’s motivated by revenge. That’s not something that’s happened in any other Bond film. It could have happened in the film after OHMSS, but as you know that storyline was dropped.

  3. Claire, I think your overall take is excellent, even though I have a few major differences in mine. I’m in the camp that thinks OHMSS is one of the best Bond films because it’s closest to the source material. Like Licence to Kill, it does seem like one of those that’s either loved or hated by most. I also am not a big fan of The Man with the Golden Gun, which is awkward despite having Christopher Lee in it. Finally, I’d definitely push Diamonds are Forever a lot further down the list. That one is just awful. Nice job!

    1. Thanks for your comment, Dan. I think there’s definitely one or two ‘Marmite’ films – you either love them or hate them. To be honest, it’s only the bottom and top 5 that are set in stone, the others are pretty fluid. In a couple of years The Man with the Golden Gun could move down while some others might move up!

  4. Nice work. I have ranked them myself in the past but keep changing my mind. Below is my probable ranking, more importantly I have grouped them based on what I think of them.

    The Best
    From Russia With Love – The archetype
    Sky fall – Brave new world, Bond grows up
    Casino Royale – rebooted and reinvented
    Goldfinger – the classic
    GoldenEye – a fun and welcome return.

    Good
    Live and Let Die – experimental but quite faithful to book
    Thunderball – good fun but first glimpse of things getting silly
    Licence to Kill – – Solid action adventure
    The Living Daylights – 20 years ahead of its time
    On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – great film hampered by terrible actor
    The Spy Who Loved Me – fun but silly
    Dr. No – humble but solid beginnings
    The Man with the Golden Gun – pedestrian but elevated by great villain
    Quantum of Solace – stunning looking and underrated

    Not Bad
    You Only Live Twice – silly but has good set pieces
    Diamonds Are Forever – Connery should have known better
    Tomorrow Never Dies – rubbish villain great girl (Yeoh not Hatcher)

    Bad
    For Your Eyes Only – forgettable at best
    The World is Not Enough – has its moments

    Terrible
    View to a Kill – old Bond rubbish story
    Octopussy – Bond joins the circus, need I say more
    Die Another Day – terrible in every ay other than the car chase
    Moonraker – feeble attempt to cash in on Star wars

    1. Good ranking, Andy! I like the way you’ve summed them up.

      Like I’ve said to Dan H, I think my rankings will change over the years. I think my top and bottom 5 will still the same, though.

  5. Hi, Claire and company:

    Being a guy who grew up in the 1960s and the introduction of Connery as Bond. His early trio of films always rise to the top.

    Roger Moore always struck me as too clean and elegant to be a viable decent Bond. Relying more on gadgets which would later define him.

    Dalton and Brosnan seemed in ways interchangeable. Though Dalton made the most of revenge in ‘Licence To Kill’. While Brosnan had cooler toys and an equal to take care of in ‘Goldeneye;

    Daniel is the most popular Bond. Even though his mythos and back story have been flipped on its head.

    Oddly, it was Connery’s last fling as Bond that turned me off the franchise for awhile. His Bond in ‘Never Say Never Again’ looked old and disinterested. Which puts that film very close to the bottom. Though, I thought George Lazenby’s Bond was quite serviceable opposite a less than stellar, thuggish villain in Telly Savalas in ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’.

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