I decided to partake in a guilty pleasure this evening, specifically, watching a couple of James Bond movies. As someone that grew up a fan of the series I have been fortunate to see every incarnation of the character, from Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Peirce Brosnan, and now Daniel Craig, I feel I have the unique perspective to rank the Bonds and provide my thoughts on the best to ever play the part.
There have been 24 “official” bond films and I believe two, non-official. I will not dwell on the non-official as the original “Casino Royale” with Peter Sellers (Never saw it) and “Never Say Never Again” were not part of Bond “Canon” were not only bad movies they barely rate a mention. I will rank the official Bond players and I expect a lot of backlash and feedback from my readers on this subject, so comments are welcome.
Let’s see the Bonds in order of appearance.. Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Connery again (Diamonds are Forever), Roger Moore (RIP), Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and finally Daniel Craig. Each brought their own version of the character to the screen and each have their own positives and negatives in performing as the greatest spy ever (No Offense to you Jason Bourne fans).
So without further fanfare, here are my rankings:
6. George Lazenby – having only one film in the series to his credit, it is only fitting that he be placed last on this list. I found his portrayal to be forgettable, lackluster and benign. To have placed this actor in the movie where Bond actually falls for and marries the female protagonist is an insult to the series. Connery should have been in this movie and he is the one that should have had to go through it. Telly Savalas as Blofeld was horrible and the film overall was uninspired and forgettable.
5. Pierce Brosnan – The rumor is that Brosnan had always wanted to play bond, and he was supposedly the heir apparent to Roger Moore, but that never happened. The Brosnan films were all over the top and unbelievable, deciding to use technology and special effects to thrill audiences and bring Bond into the 21st century. The ONLY films I even remotely enjoyed during this time were Goldeneye and Tomorrow Never Dies, otherwise the films focused too much on special effects and far too little on reality.
4. Roger Moore – While Sir Roger Moore will live on as the “second” James Bond his portrayal was more campy, and aloof than Sean Connery’s original take on the character. The best Moore films in my opinion are Live an Let Die, The Man With the Golden Gun, and The Spy Who Loved Me. After those films., the Bond character became soft and the films were terrible, entering into a time where Bond seemed more like a cartoon character than a superspy.
3. Timothy Dalton – I’m going to get a lot of grief for putting Dalton #3 but I don’t care. Dalton was the victim of bad screenwriting, bad filmmaking and bad co-stars. He tried to bring the character back to the days of Connery, the tough, womanizing, smart, and charismatic Bond we all loved. His two films were terrible, but it wasn’t his fault. He was unable to carry his weak so-stars and if he had good writing and better partners he could have been a great Bond and quite possibly mad more than two movies in the series. License to Kill was the best of the two, and Dalton showed how ruthless and cold Bond actually was and could have brought the series back to greatness.
2. Daniel Craig – I am Thoroughly enjoying Craig as Bond, he has brought the character back to what was originally intended. Physical, intelligent and ruthless. Bond 25 is scheduled for an April 2020 release and it will be his last portrayal of the character. I can honestly say I have enjoyed each and every film in the Craig series and I am grateful that Barbara Broccoli has decided to bring Bond back to his roots, relying more on the acting and action, as opposed to technology and special effects. Craig has taken the mantle and ran with it. The movies have relied more on the live-action stunts and physicality than the movies during Brosnan’s time and I am appreciative of it. I will be sad to see Craig relinquish the title, but I also know that at 51, the physical demands of the character are just too much.
1. Sean Connery – The original, the man, the myth, and the legend. Connery set the standard by which all other Bonds are measured. From Dr. No to Diamonds are forever, he showed what Bond is supposed to be, and what Ian Fleming imagined him to be. I have to admit, his later movies, including Diamonds, and You Only Live Twice were the worst of the bunch, but the previous four were masterpieces of the genre. Connery is now 88 years old, but he will go down as perhaps one of the greatest actors of our time, which started with his portrayal of James Bond, through his performances in The Untouchables, and The Hunt for Red October, along with his countless stage performances, will label him as one of the greatest actors of all time.
Well, that’s my list… Tell me what you think…