Ranked: all 24 Bonds from worst to best

Simon Reynolds
Photo credit: MGM/United Artists

From Digital Spy

Ah, Mr Bond! We've been... inspecting you. Digital Spy has attempted the impossible: ranking all 24 films of the 007 franchise. From 1962's Dr No all the way to 2015's Spectre, we've graded which films were 00-heaven – and which were, well, something of an oddjob.

Best and worst Bond theme songs ranked: Do you agree?

Okay, we've ignored unofficial outing Never Say Never Again and that weird original Casino Royale with Woody Allen. Plus the radio version of Moonraker, starring Blockbusters' Bob Holness. But otherwise, read on for your definitive guide through a minefield of gadgets, girls and shaken martinis, starting with the abject worst. Violently disagree? We're guessing you will do...

24. Die Another Day (2002)

Photo credit: MGM/Everett / Rex Shutterstock

An invisible Aston Martin, a tsunami-surfing Pierce Brosnan and an excruciating Madonna theme song: this was Bond at his blundering worst. Released to coincide with the spy's 40th anniversary, it turned out to be less of a celebration and more like watching your uncle try to dance at a wedding.

23. Diamonds are Forever (1971)

Photo credit: Terry O'Neill / Getty Images

George Lazenby's abrupt departure as 007 prompted producers to back a truck full of money into Sean Connery's driveway. He repaid them by packing on the pounds and delivering the most comatose performance of his entire career. Elsewhere, the worst of Ian Fleming's homophobia filters through into the portrayal of henchmen Mr Wint and Mr Kidd.

22. A View to a Kill (1985)

When Roger Moore found out he was not only older than his Bond Girl co-star Tanya Roberts but older than her mother too, he knew it was time to hang up the safari suit. Moore, 57, and Patrick Macnee, 63, were tasked with saving the world from Christopher Walken and Grace Jones in an era when Schwarzenegger and Stallone were tearing up the action genre. This sent the creaking Moore into retirement with a whimper.

21. Octopussy (1983)

Photo credit: Michael Putland / Getty Images

Roger Moore always brought a lighter touch to 007, but in his penultimate outing he tipped over into self-parody, yelling like Tarzan as he swung from a vine and saving the day while dressed as a circus clown. His submarine-disguised-as-a-crocodile also has to go down as one of the most baffling Q branch gadgets.

20. The World Is Not Enough (1999)

Photo credit: MGM/United Artists

Traditionally the third Bond movie is when an actor really comes into their own – see Connery/Goldfinger, Moore/Spy Who Loved Me, Craig/Skyfall. Pierce Brosnan had no such luck as he completed a 007 hat trick with the tepid The World Is Not Enough, which boasted a pre-credits sequence that went on forever and the most unlikely nuclear scientist of all time in Denise Richards's Christmas Jones.

19. Quantum of Solace (2008)

Photo credit: WENN

Casino Royale kicked off Daniel Craig's Bond tenure in some style, but all that good work swiftly unravelled in follow-up Quantum of Solace. Marc Forster's rapid-cut action made this seem more like a Bourne knock-off than Bond – still, worth it for that dazzling opera sequence and Gemma Arterton's oily Goldfinger tribute.

18. The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)

Christopher Lee's triple-nippled baddie Scaramanga is a highlight, but the shameless cribbing from kung fu and Carry On movies is disappointing – especially since the Bond franchise began life setting trends instead of chasing them. A finale showdown between Bond and 3ft 10in Hervé Villechaize's Nick Nack leaves a sour taste, too.

17. Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

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The Bond series can be many things, but whip-smart media satire isn't one of them. Still, they gave it a good go in Tomorrow Never Dies, casting Jonathan Pryce as a broadcasting mogul hellbent on starting World War III... because it would boost his TV ratings. Yes, really. If this film is proof of anything, it's that Pierce Brosnan was a good 007 stranded in mediocre movies and more Bond Girls need to be like Michelle Yeoh.

16. Moonraker (1979)

Photo credit: WENN

James Bond... in space! The box office success of Star Wars led to this sci-fi tinged 007 outing, which got mauled by critics for its bonkers plot. Viewed from a distance it's actually not as bad as you remember, gifting classic Bond moments like the "attempting re-entry" gag and 007 in free-fall without a parachute.

15. Thunderball (1965)

Photo credit: MGM/United Artists

The Bond series tilted over into excess with its fourth outing: more girls! More gadgets! More action! Unfortunately, the whole thing drags at a hefty 130 minutes, and its underwater sequences – at the time revolutionary – are a complete snoozefest. Sean Connery's toupee? Highly distracting.

14. For Your Eyes Only (1981)

After the outer-space madness of Moonraker, Bond came back down to Earth (literally) for follow-up For Your Eyes Only. This was a no-frills spy thriller in the mould of From Russia with Love, dispatching Bond to retrieve a valuable communications device from a sunken British ship. Moore retains all his sparkling charm, but lowers his trademark eyebrow to deliver the best "acting" turn of his 007 tenure.

13. You Only Live Twice (1967)

Photo credit: MGM/United Artists

The first Bond movie to cement the tried-and-tested formula, You Only Live Twice checked off "megalomaniac villain with a facial deformity", "hollowed-out underground lair" and "plot to kick-start World War III". The script (by Roald Dahl, no less) is playful and fun, although Sean Connery's "Japanese" makeover needed a rethink.

12. Licence to Kill (1989)

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Timothy Dalton's final Bond movie was a blood-soaked revenge story that saw 007 hunt down the drug lord who fed his CIA pal Felix Leiter to sharks. The only Bond to be handed a 15 certificate, this was desperately trying to keep up with the edgier action flicks of the '80s. Stripped of the usual tropes, it's a violently enjoyable 007 detour.

11. Spectre (2015)

Photo credit: Sony Pictures

Sam Mendes and Daniel Craig embraced the tried-and-tested 007 formula for Skyfall follow-up Spectre, and though the movie delivered big on stunts and action it's somewhat lacking in emotional punch. The film's bid to tie together all Craig's previous Bond movies by way of an elaborate family backstory falls flat. And that Blofeld foster-brother reveal? Pure Austin Powers.

10. The Living Daylights (1987)

Roger Moore's 12-year run as Bond delivered massive box-office returns, meaning finding a replacement was always going to be difficult. Step forward Shakespearean actor (and Flash Gordon star) Timothy Dalton, whose grit and ultra-serious approach was a world away from Moore. Daylights is a tightly-coiled spy thriller that took the series back to basics. Daniel Craig before Daniel Craig.

9. Live and Let Die (1973)

Photo credit: Terry O'Neill/Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Roger Moore's Bond debut Live and Let Die is relentlessly entertaining, has a great Bond Girl (Jane Seymour), big set pieces across land, sea and air, and a cracking theme song from Paul McCartney. It's also Daniel Craig and Sam Mendes's favourite Bond movie – and who's to argue with them?

8. Dr No (1962)

Photo credit: MGM/United Artists

The very first Bond film, Dr No wowed audiences in the early '60s thanks to Sean Connery's leading-man charisma and exotic locations served up between fast-paced action. Ursula Andress emerging from the sea is still one of the defining moments of the series.

7. Skyfall (2012)

What a way to celebrate Bond's 50th anniversary. Skyfall respectfully tipped its hat to the past (Aston Martin ejector seats!), while simultaneously driving Daniel Craig's Bond into brave new territory. Tense encounters with Javier Bardem's touchy-feely villain Silva, a journey into Bond's ancestry and the death of Judi Dench's M made this an exciting and emotional series high.

6. The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

Kicking off with Roger Moore skiing off the edge of a cliff before opening a Union Jack parachute at the last moment, The Spy Who Loved Me grips right from the start. This had all the Bond tenets in place – big stunts, quips, megalomaniacal world-ending plot, a terrifying henchman in Jaws – making it the best Bond movie of the '70s.

5. GoldenEye (1995)

Photo credit: WENN

After six years in the movie wilderness, Bond returned in spectacular fashion for Pierce Brosnan's debut outing. Comfortable with one-liners, stunts and cold-blooded cruelty, the Irish actor pulled 007 kicking and screaming into the '90s. Despite coming under fire from Judi Dench's M for being a "sexist, misogynist dinosaur", Bond somehow managed to regain his relevance and cool.

4. Goldfinger (1964)

Photo credit: MGM/United Artists

The quintessential Bond movie, Goldfinger has a 007 at his peak in Sean Connery, a great Bond Girl in the provocatively-named Pussy Galore and Shirley Bassey's lung-busting theme tune. This is classic Bond from head to toe... much like the brutally thorough gold paint job on Shirley Eaton's iconic Bond Girl Jill Masterson.

3. From Russia with Love (1963)

Photo credit: MGM/United Artists

Low-key by traditional Bond standards, From Russia with Love followed 007 on the hunt for a valuable decoding device. This is a tense, gritty spy thriller free of the gimmicks that frequently overwhelm the series. Sean Connery meets his match in Robert Shaw's Russian agent Red Grant, the psychotic flip side of 007, and the pair's final confrontation on the Orient Express is one for the ages.

2. Casino Royale (2006)

Photo credit: MGM/United Artists

Too short! Too blond! The tabloid press were OUTRAGED when Daniel Craig was named the new 007 for Casino Royale back in 2005, but he slapped on blue trunks and quickly silenced the doubters with an electric BAFTA-nominated performance.

A reboot of the franchise, this went right back to Ian Fleming's first novel to humanise the super-spy through an ill-fated romance with Eva Green's Vesper Lynd. Couple that with some astonishing action in the Bahamas and Venice and you have the Bond franchise's first stone-cold classic of the 21st century.

1. On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)

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For decades this was the lost Bond film starring the forgotten 007, but On Her Majesty's Secret Service has only grown in stature when viewed in the wider context of the series. George Lazenby had the impossible job of replacing Sean Connery, and his lack of leading-man confidence transmits to the character in a strangely effective way – he's vulnerable, playing 007 as a real person instead of an indestructible superhero.

It also boasts arguably the best ever Bond girl in Diana Rigg (now Olenna Tyrell on Game of Thrones), a cracking Blofeld in Telly Savalas and jaw-dropping skiing stunts in the Swiss Alps. Plus, who could forget John Barry's incredible score and that emotionally devastating ending?

The film has a pair of high-profile fans in Christopher Nolan (citing it as inspiration for Batman Begins and Inception) and Steven Soderbergh, who penned an essay claiming it was the "only one worth watching repeatedly" and "beautiful in a way none of the other Bond films are". If it's good enough for them, it's good enough for the rest of us.

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