The “James Bond” film series is not only one of the most popular of all time but it is also one of the most commercially successful series of films. There are officially 24 James Bond films, with the oldest being “Dr. No” (1962) and "Spectre" (2015) as the most recent release. The commercial success and longevity is of course due to the intriguing subject matter, the fast-paced, thrilling narrative that encompasses the vast majority of the movies and also, the enigmatic character of Bond himself. James Bond is defined by his constant utilization of wit, his charming, albeit arrogant personality, and his extreme dedication to Queen and country. His most defining attribute (and most controversial) would be his relentless pursuit of members of the opposite sex. All of these characteristics indeed contribute to the massive success that the series has enjoyed. However, it is relatively easy to comprehend that when a series lasts as long as this, there are undoubtedly going to be some films that are simply not up to par with the others in the series. Thus, as a lover of film and a lover of the James Bond series specifically, I will provide my list of the top 5 greatest films in the James Bond series.
1. Dr. No
The first James Bond film is undeniably my favorite in the entire series. This movie is the first real film to feature James Bond even though it is based on Ian Fleming’s (the mastermind behind James Bond) sixth book. There are a plethora of reasons as to why this film is the first to make it on this list. The first thing I considered is that this film served as the introduction for the character of James Bond, who was played by arguably the best actor suited for this role: Sean Connery. Despite some of the melodramatic elements in this film, it definitely was intended to stay relatively grounded in reality, which is something that cannot be said about later entries in the series. However, the true reason I selected this film first is because it features the iconic first words uttered by Connery, which are, “Bond, James Bond.”
Pierce’s Brosnan’s debut as James Bond is undoubtedly his strongest. “Goldeneye” featured an extraordinarily interesting story, which is somewhat perplexing, considering that the film is not based on a book by Ian Fleming. The film also featured a legendary villain in Alec Trevelyan, portrayed by Sean Bean. Trevelyan was previously a member of the British spy agency, MI6, but he betrayed the organization in order to act out in revenge against England for a wrong committed against his ancestors during World War II. The film is a well deserved entry on this list for the inclusion of an immensely charismatic villain, fascinating plot, and the best soundtrack in the entire series.
3. The Spy Who Loved Me
Roger Moore’s tremendous portrayal of Bond is, in my opinion, second only to Sean Connery. Roger Moore in many ways embodies what the character of what Bond should be. He is more charming, more charismatic, and wittier than Connery, although he is not as physically imposing. Roger Moore could be considered my favorite actor to play Bond, however, the films that he stars in are substantially less entertaining and intriguing than the ones that had Connery as Bond. “The Spy Who Loved Me” is an exception. This is another great bond film for two major reasons. Firstly, the story itself is very fascinating, as it features Soviet and British spy operatives working together against a common enemy. Secondly, and most importantly, the film features the greatest henchman in the entire series: Jaws. An appropriate name for this hulking figure, Jaws is a gigantic man armed not only with his immensely powerful physical physique but he also possesses extraordinarily sharp metallic teeth that are capable of cutting through virtually anything. it is primarily for the latter reason that this is Roger Moore’s finest Bond film and one of the best in the series.
4. From Russia With Love
The film is legendary in many ways. First, it established the tradition of having a theme song composed for every Bond film. Second, it introduced the character of Q, who would serve as the head of research and development for M16 for numerous films and would outfit Bond with a plethora of ridiculous gadgets that the films are famous for. Lastly, the film introduced the character of Blofeld, the leader of the criminal organization SPECTRE. Blofeld serves as the nemesis of Bond and the primary antagonist of the entire series. The film sees Bond travel to Instabul, Turkey, in order to retrieve a cryptographic device from a Russian defector, who allegedly is madly in love with Bond. In actuality, her orders were to feign love for Bond so that she can successfully achieve her mission. However, as expected, her love for him becomes genuine. “From Russia With Love” is another outstanding film in the series.
5. Casino Royale
This film is definitely Daniel Craig’s finest James Bond film. Craig transformed the entire Bond film series by portraying a grittier, more realistic version of the character. The film is significantly differentiated from virtually all of the earlier films because they all have, in some way or another, references to the Cold War era. Although the film deviates significantly from the book, which of course is necessary in order to remain relevant for modern times, the film stays true to the more significant points featured in the book. One of the greatest things that was simply unchanged was the relationship between Bond and Vesper Lynd, another agent that he is forced to work with for his mission. This film portrays the character of Bond in a surprisingly human light because he cares significantly for Vesper, something that, unfortunately, simply cannot be said for the Bond girls of the other films. “Casino Royale” deserves the spot on this list for transitioning the series away from the Cold War dominated themes of the past films and focusing the series back into the present.