The James Bond movies have been a staple in the world of film since 1962. Actors who play Bond in those movies might even have a clearer path to A-list Hollywood longevity than one-off Oscar winners. Like Batman or Superman, James Bond is beloved — and who should pick up the keys to the agent’s Aston Martin in the next couple of James Bond Movies always sparks quite the debate.
The distinguished group of actors who have played Bond so far include Sir Sean Connery, David Niven, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig. While No Time to Die (2021) seemingly marked the end of Craig’s 007 stint, the search for a new Bond is still very much underway.
Adapted from Ian Fleming’s book series, which debuted in 1953, the 27 James Bond movies available today really vary in terms of quality. So, we’re ranking all of the Bond films, from worst to best. And a gentle reminder: if your favorite doesn’t top our list, don’t be too shaken or stirred.
26. The World is Not Enough (1999)
Although there are many reasons this Brosnan Bond film could be ranked the worst Bond film of all time, no one would be surprised if you placed 100% of the blame on Denise Richards, whose casting as nuclear physicist Christmas Jones comes off as an extremely poor man’s attempt at a Lara Croft character — Richards brought zero talent or training to the role.
Other aspects of the movie seem just as hackneyed, including the great deal of tacked-on action sequences that feel more like filler in a film with such a thin plot.
25. Die Another Day (2002)
If the casting of Richards jumped the shark in terms of having a believable Bond Girl, Die Another Day jumped the rest of the sharks in the tank. While Bond is known for having cool gadgets, the stuff on display here was over-the-top nonsense (ahem, the invisible car…). Not to mention, there are a ton of unnecessary action sequences that do little to advance the plot.
Oh, and did we mention that Madonna plays a sword-fighting instructor? But Brosnan certainly shoulders a lot of the blame here, too. He seems to be playing a parody of James Bond, as if he lost interest in the role. The only positive? Halle Berry’s Bond Girl. Honestly, it’s no wonder this was Brosnan’s last Bond film.
24. The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
Another Bond movie with a flying car that critics hate, The Man with the Golden Gun suffers from the same lack of direction as this list’s previous two entries. Director Guy Hamilton seems content to cover an uninspired plot with his best impression of a 1970s Michael Bay film — which doesn’t work for moviegoers in either millennium.
23. License to Kill (1989)
Benicio del Toro is the only big-name actor who seems properly casted here, and that includes Dalton’s turn as Bond. The film saw Dalton as a much darker, plodding version of the character, which didn’t fit his natural talents whatsoever.
Director John Glen, who had directed four Bond movies previously, seemed tired, too. To no one’s surprise, it was the last Bond movie with Glen in the director’s chair.
22. Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
Even the seminal Bond actor Sir Sean Connery is not exempt from making a bad Bond movie. Blame lies with the plot, though, which had all of the right elements — Vegas, baby, Vegas — but just never seemed to live up to its potential.
21. Moonraker (1979)
There’s a limit to the campy tech Bond should employ in each movie, and Moonraker finds that upper limit — and passes it. The results? Not great. Spaceships, skydiving and seafood all deserve their own stage, and when you try to cram them all into the same act, you end up with a three-ring circus.
20. Spectre (2015)
Daniel Craig is one of the more brooding Bonds, but creating an entire movie with this kind of pace can weigh it down. We need something else to counterbalance all that angst. In addition to the slow pacing, bad casting — and some phoned-in performances on top of that — really killed this movie before it even got going.
19. Skyfall (2012)
Javier Bardem and Dame Judi Dench give great performances here, but the rest of the movie just doesn’t measure up — and that includes the script. Clearly, Bardem’s creativity as a performer, and Dench’s gravitas, can only do so much.
Sure, the visual effects and action sequences were impressive in that big-budget production way; it was one of the top-performing Bond films of the Craig era; and it gave us Adele’s Oscar-winning “Skyfall” — but it just doesn’t stand up to repeat viewings.
18. For Your Eyes Only (1981)
Like Batman movies, Bond movies oscillate between camp and drama-filled grit. For Your Eyes Only tried to move Bond back into serious fare after a few movies that focused on lighter, popcorn entertainment. But the switch may’ve happened a little too fast.
Caroline Bouquet performs admirably as the Bond Girl with her own agenda, but the movie gets stretched in multiple directions at once, making it a forgettable experience overall.
17. Goldeneye (1995)
Despite being the source movie for the Nintendo 64 classic that introduced gamers — and a new generation — to James Bond in a huge way, the movie itself doesn’t rank up there with the best of Bond. Not even a wonderful turn from the criminally underused Famke Janssen (X-Men) can push this one higher up the list.
16. A View to a Kill (1985)
Roger Moore himself has done interviews saying this was his least favorite Bond movie to make. Honestly, his age was showing, and the movie reduced the amount of action scenes because of it. However, what helps save this one are the incredible performances from Grace Jones and Christopher Walken as the dynamic villainous duo May Day and Zorin.
15. No Time to Die (2021)
As the latest of the James Bond movies, No Time to Die has the most installments to learn from. Unfortunately, it seems like the filmmakers tried to stuff all of their learnings and ideas into a single movie, instead of whittling it down.
The upsides are, undoubtedly, Ana de Armas, Lashana Lynch and Rami Malik. If the plot had been able to fill its entire runtime with just the moments these characters created, it might’ve ranked higher.
14. Octopussy (1983)
The only Bond movie named for a female character, Octopussy is often touted as Moore’s best. The movie boasts some of the series’ most iconic villains, Kamal Khan and General Orlov. And while the hamminess doesn’t translate well to modern audiences, this movie continues to be one of the greatest camp features of all time.
13. Live and Let Die (1973)
Notable for its Blaxploitation turn — although that turn might’ve dated the movie quite a bit for future audiences — Live and Let Die certainly featured one of the better Bond plots. However, its most memorable asset might be the theme song, which was penned by Paul McCartney.
12. Quantum of Solace (2008)
This Bond outing is cold-blooded and vengeful — a complete 180 degree turn from the kitsch of Roger Moore’s Octopussy, for example. Even though the campy fun is gone, his Bond seemed like a right fit for the time it came out. Not to mention, Craig is probably the best James Bond choice for a film that’s more of a character study — and, as always, Dench shines as M.
11. Thunderball (1965)
Not considered one of Connery’s best turns, Thunderball is still a solid entry, even if it puts action sequences before a meaningful plot. Plus, when you consider that the film was shot in the mid-60s, those underwater sequences and cool gadgets kind of look all the more impressive.
10. The Living Daylights (1987)
Timothy Dalton’s 007 was a complete change from Moore’s Bond. Dalton’s take on the character very much made him into a lean, mean fighting machine. So, if you’re looking for a beer-and-brawler take on the James Bond movies, The Living Daylights is a good pick.
9. The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
Production, plot and casting all flowed together rather nicely in this Roger Moore outing. The Spy Who Loved Me saw Moore working with filmmaker Ken Adam and You Only Live Twice director Lewis Gilbert. The chemistry between these three behind the scenes is apparent throughout the movie, which balances all of the James Bond movies’ better signature traits.
8. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
George Lazenby does a decent job here, but this is perhaps the one Bond film that feels less about the greatness of the beloved character and more about everything else. Right as the plot falters, the action picks up. Plus, Diana Ring plays one of the most commanding Bond Girls ever.
7. Goldfinger (1964)
Goldfinger boasts one of the most memorable theme songs, villains, Bond Girls and tech in the whole series of James Bond movies. Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman) is a fan-favorite, unforgettable Bond Girl — and, perhaps, could only be matched by a prime Sean Connery.
6. From Russia with Love (1963)
This was the grittiest Bond that Sir Sean Connery ever played, and audiences absolutely loved it. The casting on the whole is some of the best in the series. Moreover, the gripping plot is widely considered among the best in spy movie history, period — not just in Bond history.
5. Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
A criminally underrated entry in the series of James Bond movies, Tomorrow Never Dies features some of the best chemistry between a Bond and Bond Girl. That is, Michelle Yeoh, known for her incredible martial arts abilities, and the charming Pierce Brosnan make this movie a must-watch installment — and, by far, the best of the Brosnan era.
4. You Only Live Twice (1967)
For starters, Little Nellie — a heavily armed autogyro — is one of the best gadgets a James Bond has ever wielded. Legendary set and production designer Ken Adam really outdid himself here. And when Blofield (Donald Pleasence) — the cat-holding criminal mastermind and Bond’s archenemy — steps out of the darkness? Well, he cements so much of what we love about the Bond movies and villains.
3. Casino Royale (2006)
Heralded as a return to form for the series after the mixed Brosnan era, Casino Royale is considered one of the best James Bond movies of all time. Not to mention, it was a perfect debut for the more brooding Daniel Craig Bond. In fact, the film finally gives us a 007 who can match Judi Dench’s gravitas.
Inspired in a way that fans hadn’t experienced since the first few Connery films, Casino Royale served as a reboot, resetting the franchise’s continuity to the start of Bond’s career as a 00. Plus, Eva Green’s Vesper Lynd is the perfect match for Craig’s Bond here.
2. Never Say Never Again (1983)
Only one of two Bond movies not created by Eon, Never Say Never Again brings back Sir Sean Connery 12 years after he said he would no longer play 007. If you’re a real James Bond fan, the world may not be enough, but Connery’s return sure is.
1. Dr. No (1962)
Why did the James Bond movies see such success? Well, in large part because the first one was a total knockout. In fact, many of the series’ signature tropes and traits stem from the Dr. No debut. Sometimes, nothing beats the original.
And We Just Have to Mention… Casino Royale (1967), Too
It’s hard to rank the 1967 Casino Royale alongside the other James Bond movies. It’s not a serious spy thriller and it’s not a campy movie — it’s a straight up parody of Bond and spy movies at large. Although it takes its name from the original Ian Flemming novel of the same name — upon which all the films are based, really, since that book was James Bond’s debut — it was very much a strange road to the screen for Casino Royale (1967).
So, how’d this all happen? Well, producer Charles K. Feldman acquired the film rights in 1960, hoping to get Casino Royale made by Eon Productions. But Feldman just couldn’t come to terms with the Eon producers, and that inspired him to use those film rights for the purposes of satire. Mainly, he didn’t feel able to compete with Eon, so a spoof was an easy way to separate Casino Royale from the pack.
Released just two months before Eon’s fifth Bond outing (You Only Live Twice), Casino Royale was, shockingly, a box office success, grossing over $41.7 million worldwide. Critics panned it, though, noting just how sloppy and disorganized the movie felt. And while several people, including David Niven, play Bond here, we feel it’s at least worth mentioning on any roundup of James Bond movies.