Having been arguing about Bond films lately, I cannot believe I haven’t already posted my best and worst… Here’s the top three.
- From Russia With Love is a near perfect adaptation. Tense, atmospheric. Kerim Bey. Gipsy fight. The Orient Express. Red wine with fish.
- For Your Eyes Only feels like an attempt to do On Her Majesty’s Secret Service correctly, after the original adaptation wasted all that potential – there’s a reference to Tracey, a thrilling snow chase and Bond makes an alliance with a crime boss. And there’s Carole Bouquet. And on discovering Lynn Holly-Johnson naked in his bed, with a raised eye brow: “Yes, well. You put your clothes on, and I’ll buy you an ice-cream.”
- Casino Royale also captures well the emotions and atmosphere of the book. Plus there’s Daniel Craig. And Eva Green. That torture scene. Incredibly tight, thrilling stunts and expert direction from Martin Campbell.
Honourable mentions here to Dr No, Goldfinger, Goldeneye and The Living Daylights, the others that have earned a place in my DVD collection.
- Die Another Day starts interestingly but it doesn’t last. This film features a ludicrous invisible car, excruciatingly cringe-worthy references to its various superior predecessors and some of the worst blue-screen you will ever see in an bizarre ill-conceived tidal-wave surfing sequence.
- Moonraker is very nearly as bad (worse, some days) since it is an unimaginative remake of The Spy Who Loved Me, itself pretty awful to start with, set in space rather than under the sea, to give it a Star Wars spin (and it comes close to being as bad as that film). If that weren’t bad enough, Jaws is in it again, worse he has a love interest, and the use of speeded up film makes the blue-screen in Die Another Day look cutting edge. Truly awful, verging on the unwatchable. The only good thing about this film is the end title mix of the theme song.
- Diamonds Are Forever is probably the next worst. It’s a crowded field, there are plenty of mediocre entries in the series, but this truly is a by-the-numbers effort. Connery and Bassey are both recalled, and the film is full of increasingly ludicrous set pieces, but there’s a mean-spirited nastiness (including the cliched homophobic portrayal of the assassins Mr Wint and Mr Kidd) that runs beneath the lightweight action. Very missable.
While films like On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, The Man with the Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me and Quantum of Solace are all fairly bad too, they fail to make the grade by having one or two redeeming features…
Update: See also – The defence of Moonraker, & what makes a good Bond film: Bond in Retrospect | Lone Locust Productions