Posted by: dougery | January 13, 2012

My Year in Bond Reviews

Until the enigmatically titled SkyFall releases sometime in the future (obligatory joke: providing the End of the World as predicted by the Mayans does not occur, etc) I am DONE with 007. You hear me, Bond(s)!? You’re dead to me. The only way they’ll be influencing me is through the countless pop cultural products that traffic their tropes in the wake of this enormously popular series. And by that I mostly mean the Venture Bros which, God Willing, I’ll get to enjoy again sometime before the sky falls.

So yeah, quite a year. The tally of all the reviews (including this one) ended up being around 21,500 words. That is a lot of me babbling about space lasers, boobs, motorboat chases, boobs, megalomaniacal plots to take over the world/ruin the global economy/extort world leaders for money/revenge revenge revenge, boobs, increasingly ridiculous henchmen and motorboating boobs. Some quick hits:

Only one film scored a perfect 007 out of 007 in my arbitrary bond-themed ranking system. That would be 1963’s From Russia With Love. A fine movie and if you haven’t indulged yourself in a little Bond, that might be the place to start.

If I had to give you a top 10 list, it might look something like this:

10. The Living Daylights (Dalton-Bond) 1987
09. GoldenEye (Brosnan-Bond) 1995
08. Octopussy (Moore-Bond) 1983
07. Thunderball (Connery-Bond) 1965
06. Live and Let Die (Moore-Bond) 1973
05. Dr No (Connery-Bond) 1962
04. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (Lazenby-Bond) 1969
03. Casino Royale (Craig-Bond) 2006
02. Goldfinger (Connery-Bond) 1964
01. From Russia With Love (Connery-Bond) 1963

Interestingly enough, at least to me, you have each actor to have played 007 on that list. Which tells me that an infusion of new blood is a pretty good thing to a long-running series.

My average grades per Bond actor goes something like this:

Lazenby (number of films 1): 5.00
Connery (number of films 6): 4.66
Craig (number of films 2*): 4.00
Dalton (number of films 2): 3.00
Moore (number of films 7): 2.48
Brosnan (number of films 4): 1.75
*with more forthcoming, obv.

I’d give the over-all edge to Connery of course, even as Lazenby’s “average” is higher. Connery proved to be the icon all the other Bonds would be judged against, for good or ill. Some, like Dalton and Craig were relatively successful in stepping out from his shadow and proved to be quite different in contrast even if the directors didn’t know what to do with the former. The misuse, or rather, the underutilization of Dalton is one of the biggest tragedies of this series. Moore is my Connery-lite. A Bond for those who want a similar flavor but not all the calories or something. The less said about Brosnan the better.

The 6 truly dire Bond films belong exclusively to Brosnan and Moore. You know, the ones with interchangeable titles like “Kill Another Day,” “The World Never Dies,” and “Tomorrow is Not Enough.” If I had to choose an absolute worst it might be 1985’s View to a Kill. That one had Christopher Walken and still managed to be completely terrible. Anything with Jaws in it was pretty bad, too. In general the lows of the Bond series are truly woeful while the highs weren’t exactly cinematic masterpieces.

And yes, no review of the Bond movies would be complete without the superficialities (and those that manage to transcend those superficialities) of the Bond Girls. On the macro level its not like we’re spanning the spectrum of what it means to be a woman here, or even what it means to be a female fictional character. You’ve got empowered (and sexy), damaged (and sexy), bikini-clad (and sexy), holding their own in a man’s world (and sexy), traitorous (and sexy) completely broken (and sexy), and almost complicated enough to be a real person (and sexy). To the best of my knowledge none of these women are mothers (not that that is the be-all, end-all of what it means to be a woman, but still, it bears noting) and very few even operate as daughters, at least as daughters not out to revenge their dead fathers. It goes without saying that none of these women have an actual mother, not a single one.

Ranking even a few would be both a fool’s game and kind of gross. You (the reader) wouldn’t get very much besides what I find aesthetically pleasing and/or interesting. Thus, in no particular order, some of the performances I liked best were Jane Seymour’s turn as Solitaire in Live and Let Die, Eva Green’s fairly complicated Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale, Sophie Marceau’s utterly villainous Elektra King in The World Is Not Enough and the bad-assery of Rosamund Pike’s Miranda Frost from Die Another Day. Although maybe my total hatred of Brosnan is coloring my fondness for the latter two as he left me begging to be entertained by anyone else.

So that about wraps things up. Thanks for putting up with all this silliness. Shaken, not stirred, barely veiled double entendre, gruesome death joked upon via a bad pun and we’re out.

Reading: Thomas Pynchon’s V.



  1. Well done, sir! Huzzah!

    Do you think the direness of the Brosnan bonds (outside of GoldenEye) is Brosnan himself, or the general terribleness of 1990’s action entertainment?

  2. An excellent and tough question, Sensei. I mean, even my reading of GoldenEye is colored by my fondness for the pitch perfect N64 videogame.

    I have to keep in mind that the 1990s were the decade where the beast slouched roughly into Hollywood to birth films like batman & robin. The apex of the Adam Sandler, Jim Carrey, Robin Williams skirmish to see who could out mug each other the zaniest (even if I do have a juvenile soft spot for some of their movies).

    Brosnan for me just didn’t separate himself from any of the other Bonds. For me he is the equivalent of bad pizza. A vast majority of pizza is perfectly serviceable, tasty but forgettable. Every now and again you have a slice that is just amazing. All the while you’d never once imagine that pizza could be done poorly. And then there it is, the Brosnan slice. Recognizably pizza (or in this case, recognizably Bond) and yet somehow terrible.

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