While there's undoubtedly a lot of debate over which Bond film is best, there's perhaps even more over which one is the worst. From Dr No, which should have been called Dr No Thanks, to A View to a Kill, which nobody would kill to see, there have been some distinctly less impressive entries to the Bond canon. Not so much James Bond, you could say, as Lames Bond. Yes, that is pretty clever, cheers.
Yes, the stunts, locations and the very large number of talented people working behind the camera on Bond films means there's perhaps never been a total stinker, apart from Die Another Day, but a lot have come at least into the ballpark of terrible. As you will be able to find out for yourself, if you decide to watch them on Amazon Prime Video, where they have all just pitched up.
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We've already brought you the best Bond film from each of the six actors to play 007, as well as ranking Daniel Craig Bond films from best to worst. Now we bring you every Bond actor's worst Bond films, from bad to worse. I've thrown in where each film is ranked by professional film critics, but you know how clueless those guys are, right?
Sean Connery: Thunderball
Critics rank this film the 6th best Bond film ever. I'd rank it the 6th best Connery Bond film ever, which isn't far off.
True Bond nerds will know that by far the worst Connery Bond is Never Say Never Again. This brought the wig-wearing Scot back for a last hoorah as Bond in the 80s, and it is a terribly dull and borderline depressing film. However, Never Say Never Again is not an official Bond film – it's a long story – and as such is not available to stream on Amazon Video, so you're safe.
Never Say Never Again is a loose remake of Thunderball, which was a much better film, but still probably the worst of the official Connery flicks. Thunderball introduced many of the tropes that became commonplace in later Bond films, with some great gadgets including the iconic, tooled-up Aston Martin, colossal set pieces filmed on colossal sets, as well as a plot that featured SPECTRE threatening the whole world – the first three films had slightly lower stakes. Oh and there is a theme tune that features absolutely hysterical lyrics, belted out in truly outrageous fashion by Tom Jones at his most trouser-flapping volume.
However, you could sense Connery was losing interest in the series already, playing Bond as broader caricature than he had previously. The main villain is pretty boring, too. The main issue with Thunderball, though, is that not only is it way too long, but also that much of that excess run-time is taken up with Bond facing assassination in a wellness retreat – no, really – and pretty-looking but confusing and ultimately tedious underwater action with indistinguishable guys in SCUBA gear stabbing each other. The final battle between two huge armies of frogmen and mini-subs goes on for what feels like seven hours.
George Lazenby: On Her Majesty's Secret Service
Critics rank this film the 8th best Bond film ever. I'd place it in the mid teens.
Choosing George Lazenby's worst Bond film is as easy as choosing his best one. On Her Majesty's Secret Service was his only appearance as Bond, as he stormed off in a big huff after making it, and the film didn't do anywhere near as well as the Connery ones. In fact, Sir Sean was expensively lured back after Lazenby's departure, so desperate was the studio to get the Bond bandwagon back on a roll by this point.
Again, On Her Majesty's Secret Service is actually by no means a terrible film, although it does drag at points. Most notably, a lengthy section is taken up with Lazenby going undercover as a professor in a kilt, named 'Sir Hillary'. Bizarrely, he goes so deep undercover that the film makers actually had Lazenby's voice dubbed over by another actor for this part of the movie.
Despite being a handsome looking and in some ways excellent movie, I would contend that OHMSS is a fairly poor 'Bond film' per se, as it is so different in tone to all the others. Here, 007 is a much more vulnerable figure – verging on ineffectual at times. With its brainwashing plot and a more hip and very slightly more realistic approach to international espionage, the film arguably has more in common with The Ipcress File, not that that is a bad thing.
Roger Moore: View To A Kill
Critics rank this film THE WORST Bond film ever. It's not as bad as Die Another Day though.
Roger Moore made 007 a far more likeable figure, although there is some doubt as to whether anyone really wanted a chummy Bond who always had one eyebrow raised in an ironic manner. He also made some fairly terrible Bond films, of which the worst is A View To A Kill, beating the tedious The Man With The Golden Gun and laughable Octopussy by a narrow margin.
There are some good things about this film, for sure. The main villain is Christopher Walken, whose chosen method of transport is a blimp. His henchwoman is Grace Jones, who may be the single most terrifying person ever to appear in a Bond film. However, the film meanders and grinds its gears badly, while Moore was by this point far too old to play the role in an even remotely convincing manner.
Dear old Roger disliked the film for several reasons. He thought it was too violent; he didn't like Grace Jones and above all he was apparently appalled to discover that he was older than his main love interest's grandmother. Yes you read that right; not her mother. Her grandmother.
Even worse, for my money, there is a scene where Rog' has sex with Grace Jones. Were this to have happened in real life, it would have resulted in almost certain death for the ageing Moore, with the Amazonian model and funk-pop star snapping his spine like a twig and then probably having his leathery, rich, oaken skin made into some kind of jacket.
Timothy Dalton: License to Kill
Critics rank this film the 11th best Bond film ever. It's not even the 11th best Timothy Dalton Bond film ever.
Sir Tim only made two Bond films. The first, The Living Daylights, was a pretty solid effort despite another unmemorable baddie and some highly unfortunate wardrobe choices. Following directly on from late-period Moore, this was still the era of such fashion crimes as the blouson jacket.
The idea of Dalton's Bond was that he was a more brutal figure than Roger Moore; more akin to pre-syrup Connery, or Bond as written in the books of Ian Fleming. Okay being more brutal than Roger Moore is about as difficult as being more sexy than the Pope, but someone had to do it. However, License to Kill possibly took this a bit too far, with Bond waging war on a drugs cartel after a gratuitously violent assault on two of his compadres at a wedding.
Yet again, License to Kill is not a truly bad film by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a bit of a grim slog. Also I'd argue that fruity thespian Timothy D, with his matinée idol good looks, was never totally convincing as some kind of hard-bitten bad-ass anyway.
Pierce Brosnan: Die Another Day
Critics rank this film the 6th worst Bond film ever. Wrong again, guys.
Naturally, after the attempt to make things more gritty with Dalton, the Bond machine pulled off a swift reverse ferret and headed back to spectacle and gadgets, including a watch with a grappling hook in it. Yes, really: a grappling hook. Although that‘s not in this film; it’s in an earlier Brosnan one.
Unlike the other entries here, Die Another Day is an objectively terrible film, and officially The Worst Bond Movie, at least in my house. Although arguably it ultimately moves into 'so bad it's good' territory, so it's not totally irredeemable.
The plot is absolutely ridiculous: a North Korean agent called ’Colonel Moon‘ – this, by the way, is an obscure reference that only massive Bond nerds will get – is made to look like an upper-class Brit via the use of 'gene therapy'. He is going to use a big space mirror to focus the power of the sun sufficiently to blow up the world, or something, from his base in, naturally enough, Iceland. Sorry, what?
Preposterous plots are not exactly unusual in Bond movies but that is among the least of this film's worries. The CGI effects are not at all special, Madonna both 'acts' in the film and supplies the theme tune, and Brosnan appears heavily sedated throughout. And who can blame him? Oh, and Bond's car is an invisible BMW. What BMW driver would want one that's invisible?!
Die Another Day outdid even the very worst Roger Moore Bonds for empty spectacle and camp high-jinx, including having a female sidekick literally called Jinx. it reduced 007 to a man superimposed on green screen, pursued for 133 interminable minutes by souped-up cars and things exploding. Needless to say, the next step in Bond's evolution was an immediate reversion back to a more gritty approach.
Daniel Craig: Spectre
Critics rank this film the 8th worst Bond film ever. That's about right.
We've got all the Daniel Craig Bond films ranked if you want to know more, but Spectre narrowly beats Quantum of Solace to be handed the title of Worst Dan Craig Bond. It is just an overlong, incoherent bore to watch and Christopher Waltz, so memorably malign in Inglourious Basterds, is more like an irritating middle manager than an evil genius who could rule the world.
There is some good stuff as well, of course – this is no Die Another Day. Ralph Fiennes as M wins my personal man of the match award, for uttering the one truly immortal line in the film. Upon unmasking Andrew Scott's villainous C as a wrong 'un, he booms, 'NOW WE KNOW WHAT C STANDS FOR! [short but perceptible pause] Careless.' It's perfectly obvious to me what he really thinks 'C' stands for here.
With Craig now officially retired as Bond, the obvious next step is a return to good-natured, Moore and Brosnan-style explosions, parachuting off mountains, invisible cars and amusing quips. I expect the next Bond to be someone like Henry Cavill, and he will probably kill the lead villain's henchman by dropping a crate of fishfingers on him and then saying, 'there always was something fishy about him.' I look forward to that.