I'm not writing this as some kind of definitive list, but more in response to The Playlist's ranking of what writer Oliver Lyttelton considers to be the five worst James Bond film. His list includes Diamonds are Forever (1971), Moonraker (1979) [disagree], Licence To Kill (1989), Die Another Day (2002) and Quantum of Solace (2008). Of course, like all lists these are someone else's opinion and pretending one's opinion is "right" over someone else's is preposterous, but Lyttleton's list made for a good starting point.
Of the films on his list, Diamonds are Forever and Die Another Day are spot on. The only real redeeming factor in Diamonds is Lana Wood as Plenty O'Toole and I will admit to liking Rick Yune's face scarred with diamonds in Die Another Day, but otherwise it is a disaster.
I will say Moonraker is probably the closest of his remaining three films to making my list of five worst as it is certainly absurd, but it's a little fun as a result of said absurdity. But I can't fall in line with License to Kill (I love how nasty it is with the exploding body in the pressure chamber and the gnarly death of Benicio del Toro) or Quantum of Solace (a film with a not-so-great plot and villain, but strong action in my opinion).
Certainly A View to a Kill would be among my five worst as Roger Moore (my least favorite of the six actors to play Bond) was simply too old and the film itself lacks any and all intrigue. I would then probably add Live and Let Die, Moore's first outing as Bond and a voodoo angle I never really got down with. I would probably throw For Your Eyes Only in there as well, but the opening holds a special place in history for me as Bond dropping Blofeld into the smokestack in the beginning is the first image of James Bond I remember from my childhood.
Finally, of the Sean Connery entries, on top of Diamonds are Forever, Thunderball is one I really don't like either from the jet pack in the beginning to the tedious underwater fight in the end.
Runners up would probably include Brosnan's The World is Not Enough and while many like to claim George Lazenby's On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is one of their favs, I personally don't think much of it.
In the favorite department, I honestly believe Timothy Dalton's The Living Daylights is my favorite Bond film. Connery's debut trio of Dr. No, From Russia With Love and Goldfinger are also musts and I really enjoy Brosnan's Tomorrow Never Dies.
My truest guilty pleasure in the franchise is The Man with the Golden Gun in which Christopher Lee's turn as Scaramanga I find to be a lot of fun and I love Hervé Villechaize as Nick Nack.
I tend to go back-and-forth with my thoughts on Casino Royale and I still don't know what I make of Daniel Craig's time as Bond. All three of his films I find entertaining and I'm excited he is signed to do two more after Skyfall (read my review), which will give him a worthy five films and I suspect he'll hang it up then.
Before heading into Skyfall I watched both Casino and Quantum again and was happy to see Casino played better after a year or so since last seeing it than I remembered. I have a problem with the length of that film and it's tough for me to be convinced Bond would so easily fall for Vesper and even go so far as to resign from MI6 and in an email no less. The Bond franchise, however, requires you to overlook little problem spots such as that or you're going to probably have a hard time with all of them.
Everything said, here's my quick list of favorites and least favorites, both in alphabetical order. I'd love to read what your's are so let me hear them in the comments below.
- Dr. No
- From Russia with Love
- The Living Daylights
- Tomorrow Never Dies
- Diamonds are Forever
- Die Another Day
- Live and Let Die
- A View to a Kill
SIDE NOTE: No, I didn't consider Never Say Never Again in making my decision. If you consider that an official entry in the Bond franchise, however, don't let me stop you from including it. I will say this, however, it probably would nudge out Live and Let Die had I included it.