The Best and Worst James Bonds
With Spectre having been released and it all but certain that Daniel Craig will not be reprising the role of 007, it got me thinking. Who did the best and worst job as the coolest spy ever? And, who should play him next? Playing the part of James Bond has never been an easy task. Whoever decides to step into the perfectly crafted, expensive shoes of Mr. Bond has to inhabit a man who is suave, sophisticated, intelligent, extremely confident,strong and fearless yet has enough sensitivity to woo women in a more than superficial way. This has been the quandary of everyone from the first Bond to the last. Ian Fleming’s character was already pretty popular after his highly successful novels were adapted into movies with even the Kennedy brothers being huge fans. Therefore, this movie franchise has never been one without high expectations attached to it. So, given that fact and without further ado, here is my list of the best and worst James Bonds of all time. (I’m excluding films where 007 was parodied like the original Casino Royal.)
The Best And The Worst…
Sean Connery– This was a bit of a no brainer. Without Sean Connery’s brilliant performance in Dr. No there probably would have been no James Bond. From his first uttering of the phrase “Shaken not stirred,” to his cool demeanor when playing baccarat, he set the bar for everyone who would follow. Not to mention his on screen bedding of gorgeous women and some of the best one liners of all time. When he said,” I must be dreaming,” when he was first introduced to Pussy Galore it set the stage for more great ones to come. Although his movies may seem dated now, they were the most thrilling films around at the time and Connery was a big reason for that. From his first turn as the most famous driver of an Aston Martin in the first installment to Never Say Never Again, Sean Connery was James Bond. In some ways, he always will be.
Pierce Brosnan/Daniel Craig– I know that I might get a lot of flack for this choice, but both of these men made Bond modern and exciting again in their respective eras.
Pierce stepped on the scene in the mid and late 90’s playing the world’s most famous spy at a time when such people seemed obsolete and made him relevant. In the fool’s paradise that was the post Cold War pre 9/11 world, it was doubtful that the ultimate Cold War hero could mean anything especially since his predecessor’s last few films had been disappointing. But, beginning with the fantastic Goldeneye (The opening scene where he escapes from a Soviet nuclear facility jumps on a motorcycle then sky dives off a cliff and into a plane that is about to crash and then pilots it to safety remains my all time favorite Bond escape.) and ending with Die Another Day. He made the man with a license to kill the debonair, death defying juggernaut he was meant to be all while making it look easy.
Being upset at Pierce leaving the franchise and knowing very little of Daniel Craig’s work, I had low expectations for the former’s tenure. But, within the first few minutes of Casino Royale he had won me over. His Bond was an upstart strong man who relied more on brute force than charm, was less of a womanizer than his previous incarnations, and who possessed a sensitivity towards women and unease with killing that most of his previous Bonds lacked. This was a Bond for a post 911/Iraq War world. This was Bond rebooted and one that I had begun to think could not materialize. Craig’s interpretation has only been better with each film, Skyfall being a prime example. This is why I’ll miss him when he leaves the fictional MI6, downs his last Martini, and hands over the keys of his Aston Martin DB5 to another.
Both Brosnan and Craig revitalized and reimagined James Bond in at times when his influence seemed at an end. As a result, they are tied for second in my humble opinion.
Roger Moore-Taking over the role of Mr. Bond must have been a fairly difficult endeavor after George Lazenby’s turn. Aside from constant comparisons to Sean Connery, Roger Moore had to revive a franchise that appeared to be on life support after On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Beginning with Live and Let Die and ending with A View To A Kill he did so admirably. His Bond and was a handsome, witty chap who got himself out of plenty of scrapes all with seeming ease. He was full of great one liners like the time in one film when an attractive female spy asked him, “Can I get you anything sir?” and he responded, “Well, I’ve had lunch. But I haven’t had dessert.” He was also able to show off the full brunt of Bond’s intrepid nature when he took him into space in Moonraker. In that film, Bond broke new ground not only in how he defeated an enemy, but in how he celebrated with a Bond girl. (All you need to do is see the last scene and hear Q’s quip, “I think he’s attempting reentry,” to know what I’m referring to.)
Was Roger Moore a fantastic Bond? Maybe not. But, he was very good.
4. Timothy Dalton- What can you say about Dalton as Bond? He was just not that good. The Living Daylights and License To Kill were barely watchable. Furthermore, although he gave it his all, Dalton’s Bond just felt bland and too cliched. His time at MI6 seemed awkward like a suit that didn’t fit. I think this was a case of inappropriate casting. I could barely sit through his two films, which didn’t help. Furthermore, the names Timothy Dalton and James Bond just don’t meld. This all seemed to show quite clearly.
5. George Lazenby- In all fairness to the youngest Bond ever, having to step in after Sean Connery must not have been easy. But, that does not excuse the Australian’s horrendously awful turn as the most well known British spy of all time. His portrayal in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is just terrible. It’s the only movie in the series (I’ve seen them all.) that I haven’t been able to watch all the way through. In fact, I was so frustrated that I stopped the movie and immediately started reading the novel, which was fantastic. (If you haven’t seen the film or read the book, you should do the latter. It’s excellent and one I wish they would remake and adapt today.) Lazenby’s Bond didn’t have a license to kill, but instead a license to bore.
And The Next Bond Should Be…
Now that I’ve described who I felt the best and worst Bond’s were, it’s time to look toward the future. It seems that the requirements for the character of 007 seem to be an actor from somewhere in the British Isles or a country with British roots like Australia. He must be handsome, athletic, and have a great deal of charm and likability and exude intelligence. Therefore, although he might be an older version of the icon, I think a great Bond would be… Clive Owen.
He fits all the criteria on paper and is an absolutely incredible actor. Furthermore, having Bond be a little older might take the character in an interesting and different direction. The idea of Clive Owen as Bond is a nice prospect and one that I hope Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wison (The producers of the franchise will consider.)
(I should also add that having a female version of the spy like a Jane Bond be the next incarnation would be a great turn.)
So, there you have it. My feelings on the best and worst James Bonds of all time and who should step into the role next. As a huge fan of Mr. Bond, whoever joins MI6 next I hope that he or she is worthy and that James Bond in whatever form he or she takes next, lasts forever.
Who’s your choice for the next James Bond?