The James Bond franchise is responsible for some of the greatest action movies of all time. It helped establish the standard form for the cinematic spy genre and introduced us to some of the most well-known and iconic characters in all of pop culture.
As great as some of the Bond movies are, there is no denying that there are quite a few incredibly disappointing entries. Of course, with 27 movies in the decade-spanning spy franchise, it’s a given that not all of them are going to be winners. However, even the bad ones still possess some noticeably strong features — including the main villains, the action scenes, the actors, or the best-selling theme songs.
We thought we’d take a look back at some of the 007 movies and rank them from bad to … well, the worst.
12. Quantum of Solace (2008)
Quantum of Solace is a fairly strong movie that audiences might’ve been let down by because it didn't quite measure up to the success of Casino Royale. It's a tight, evenly-paced film that does take a somewhat slower approach to the otherwise fast-moving action of Casino Royale, but admittedly has a few notable flaws. Among them is the film's villain, Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), who has a decent enough plan to stage a coup in Bolivia in order to obtain a monopoly on the nation's water supply.
However, Greene just didn't have the same charisma and on-screen presence as other Bond antagonists, especially compared to Mads Mikkelsen's Le Chiffre from the previous movie. Even though Quantum of Solace was a decent enough Bond film, it was glossed over by the success of Casino Royale and later Skyfall, both of which bookended Quantum and resulted in the movie fading into relative obscurity compared to the two critically praised films.
11. Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
After a short hiatus, Sean Connery made his return to James Bond after temporarily handing the reins over to George Lazenby in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Connery was and always has been practically synonymous with the tuxedo-wearing, martini-sipping man of mystery, and is still considered the best Bond we've seen thus far in the character's history. However, as great as it was to see Connery return to the role that had made him famous, Diamonds Are Forever just didn't live up to the hype everyone had for it.
It's a strange film, and went all-in on so many wacky aspects, more closely resembling the Adam West Batman series in its zany tone than it does Dr. No or Goldfinger. Connery himself also seemed a bit out of step as the now-visibly aged Bond, and perhaps realized he was getting too old to embody 007 any longer (although, as we'll see with the next list entry, we guess he changed his mind in the 80s). At the very least, the best thing you can say about this movie is that it definitely doesn't take itself too seriously.
10. Never Say Never Again (1983)
It's hard to say goodbye sometimes to your favorite actors leaving their most iconic roles — whether it’s Robert Downey Jr. leaving Iron Man behind, or Hugh Jackman hanging up the adamantium claws as Wolverine. However, sometimes the only thing worse than seeing actors leave their most beloved roles is seeing them overstay their welcome. That's the case with Never Say Never Again, which marked Sean Connery's return to the Bond role 12 years after 1971's Diamonds Are Forever.
A loose remake of the earlier Thunderball, Never Say Never Again was an interesting one-off of sorts, not having anything to do with the other Eon-produced Bond films that had just released a Roger Moore film the same year. Never Say Never Again was certainly not a bad film, and while Connery did bring back some of the signature flair that made 007 such a lovable character in the first place, it just doesn’t measure up to the success of his earlier Bond movies.
9. A View to a Kill (1985)
Great villain, bad movie (something you'll see in a lot of the lesser Bond movies, especially during the Roger Moore period). A View to a Kill stars Christopher Walken as a German scientific experiment turned KGB agent turned wealthy industrialist who plans to destroy Silicon Valley and gain a monopoly on computer microchips. It's a scheme that is so fiendishly ridiculous, lacking any semblance of sense at all, that it more closely resembles a plot of Dr. Evil's in the Austin Powers movies than it does a James Bond storyline.
As great as Walken is as the main villain (he pretty much carries the whole movie), and as awesome a henchperson as the fan-favorite May Day (Grace Jones) was in this movie, A View to a Kill had a lackluster script, poor action sequences, shocking violence that was uncharacteristic even for James Bond, and a tired-looking Roger Moore as a severely aged 007. Moore was 57 at the time of filming and named this movie his least favorite Bond movie.
There's no denying Moore himself made for a great Bond, displaying an abundance of charm and personality that was evident in his earlier Bond movies, but his last outing in A View to a Kill nearly derailed the franchise, with Moore’s successor in Timothy Dalton luckily able to save the series with The Living Daylights.
8. Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
Tomorrow Never Dies has probably the most ridiculous plot in all of the James Bond franchise, which is certainly saying something given how comically far-fetched some of the plans are from the series' villains. When highly reputable news tycoon Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce) attempts to trigger a third world war for the sake of ratings, Bond must team with a Chinese agent from the Ministry of State Security (Michelle Yeoh) in order to stop him.
Price's Carver might be entertaining, but there's no denying his yellow journalism plot to start a war that would threaten mankind's existence for the sake of getting a news story is just … well, it's frankly just silly. Although the movie did feature some first-rate action scenes, especially in the third act finale aboard Carver's ship, thrills alone wasn't enough to save this movie, nor was it able to capture the same magic that its successor, GoldenEye, had gained in Brosnan's previous outing as the international superspy.
7. You Only Live Twice (1967)
With the exception of Diamonds Are Forever, all of the Sean Connery Bond movies are more or less considered classics, with fans praising them for their individual strengths and laying the groundwork for the subsequent films in the franchise. You Only Live Twice, however, was a less-than-stellar addition to the series. An entertaining enough movie, the film today is perhaps most fondly remembered for Donald Pleasence's role as Blofeld, Bond's most famous archenemy, who makes his official on-screen debut in this film after only being partially seen in earlier 007 movies.
However, You Only Twice has weaker pacing and has aged incredibly poorly for its representation of Japanese culture — something that is unfortunately common in many older Bond movies. The movie's final climax also seems uncharacteristic in tone to the previous Bond movies that revolved around 007 using his wit and stealth to get the better of the villains — here, it's just phoned in for one large, showy gun battle that was impressive enough to watch, but didn't seem to really fit in with the tone of the earlier Bond movies.
It's a lot like going in guns-blazing while playing stealth games like Assassin's Creed or Metal Gear Solid — sure, you can play like that, but it's not really in the spirit of the game, is it?
6. Moonraker (1979)
A deliberate attempt to cash in on the sudden popularity of sci-fi movies after the groundbreaking success of Star Wars, Moonraker is yet another weak entry in the Roger Moore era of the Bond franchise. Featuring a stiff, non-charismatic villain with an even blander plan for destroying the world so that he can inhabit it with his own “master race,” Moonraker had by far one of the weirdest takes on the Bond franchise yet. In the final act, the movie pretty much completely abandons any pretense of a traditional Bond spy movie and devolves into a full-out sci-fi battle involving everyone floating around in space shooting laser guns at each other.
Fan-favorite villain Jaws (Richard Kiel) whom audiences loved as the indestructible, Terminator-like assassin in The Spy Who Loved Me returned for this movie, but his role was greatly reduced, turning him into comic relief and giving him a seemingly out-of-nowhere change of heart at the film's climax, rescuing Bond from the main villain. It's a hopelessly underwhelming movie that's just as forgettable as it is disappointing.
5. Casino Royale (1967)
Who would've thought that a movie featuring Peter Sellers, Orson Welles, David Niven, and John Huston would be so bad? Starring an absolutely legendary, one-of-a-kind ensemble cast, Casino Royale was — like the later Never Say Never Again — an off-shoot James Bond of sorts not connected to the Eon-produced Sean Connery vehicles that were being released in the 1960s.
A parody of the spy genre, Casino Royale was loosely based on the first Ian Fleming Bond novel that was made into a far better movie starring Daniel Craig in his debut as 007 nearly fifty years later. Even with the original Casino Royale‘s fantastic group of actors and its attempt at a movie spoofing the Bond franchise, the film itself doesn't provide very many laughs, with the script inserting far too many jokes that mostly fall flat more often than they connect.
4. The World Is Not Enough (1999)
Pierce Brosnan might indeed have played a very good Bond. However, his relatively short string of movies were less than stellar compared to the earlier films of Connery or Moore, or the later films of Daniel Craig. Case in point: The World is Not Enough, one of the worst James Bond movies there is. The main plot of the film is promising enough, with Bond having to stop a notorious French terrorist impervious to pain, “Renard,” (Robert Carlyle) from triggering a nuclear meltdown in Istanbul while protecting a powerful oil baroness (Sophie Marceau) that Renard is targeting, who it later turns out is in cahoots with the terrorist mastermind.
While Renard and Marceau's characters made for legitimately great villains, a largely mediocre plotline, poor writing, and the now-infamous performance of Denise Richards as Bond's love interest made for an extremely weak movie, signifying a sharp decline in the Bond films and signaling the beginning of the end for the Brosnan era of the character.
3. Spectre (2015)
Hands down the worst Bond movie of the Daniel Craig era, Spectre was also one of the most underwhelming Bond movies of the modern era. Though it boasts a great cast (including Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Dave Bautista, and Andrew Scott, along with returning cast members Ralph Fiennes, Naomi Harris, and Ben Whishaw) and great direction from Sam Mendes, Spectre was just downright awful.
You'd think a Bond movie that promised the return of SPECTRE, the most notorious organization Bond has ever faced, as well as the return of Bond's archenemy, Blofeld (Waltz) after the character's 44-year absence (not counting his appearance in 1983's Never Say Never Again), would be one strongest entries in the series.
Unfortunately, Spectre just didn't stick the landing, adding in an unnecessary subplot involving Blofeld being a childhood friend and brother figure from Bond's past. As promising as many things about this movie seemed, Spectre ultimately delivered nothing of heartache to Bond fans. While fans disliked the earlier Craig film, Quantum of Solace, for being a little on the boring side, Quantum can be seen as a masterpiece compared to the poorly paced, frustrating, boring Spectre.
2. The Man With The Golden Gun (1974)
Never before had such a promising idea for a James Bond movie crashed so hard. Casting horror icon Christopher Lee as the titular man with the golden gun — the world’s greatest assassin hired to do away with 007 (picture an evil version of Bond and you’ve got him) was a stroke of genius. Lee commanded the screen ridiculously well, making him hands-down the best main antagonist that Moore's Bond ever faced.
Unfortunately, Lee's performance was about the only good thing about The Man With the Golden Gun, a bizarre, poorly-written, terribly-acted, hopelessly uneven mess of a movie with pretty much no redeeming qualities.
The action in this movie was lackluster and the comedy uncharacteristically childish, not to mention it featured one of Bond's most notoriously bad love interests, played by Britt Ekland. Movies like this honestly make you wonder how the Bond franchise has gone on for as long as it has — if a producer had watched this movie in its entirety and compared it to the overwhelmingly negative audience reaction, it's doubtful the studio would've released another Bond movie to follow this one.
1. Die Another Day (2002)
It almost physically hurts to write about Die Another Day. If the James Bond franchise had come so far since the over-the-top plotlines of the Roger Moore years and instead established a more realistic, modern take on the spy genre (Tomorrow Never Dies being an exception), Die Another Day set the franchise back at least 20 years.
Featuring an over-reliance on nonsensical gadgets (including an invisible car), a vanilla villain with yet another campish plot to take over the world, and some of the worst CGI you will ever see, Die Another Day was a complete mess of a movie, serving as a conclusion to Brosnan's run more disappointing than both Connery and Moore's underwhelming final movies put together. Not even Halle Berry as fan-favorite love interest Jinx Johnson could save this utter catastrophe of a film.
From decade to decade, the James Bond series has produced incredibly entertaining movies again and again. However, there’s no dodging the fact that a series that has lasted for nearly 60 years has indeed released some real stinkers. Do you agree with this ranking?