With Christmas just behind us and New Year's just before us, I decided to skip the review this week and instead focus on something near and dear to my heart. I've always been a huge fan of the James Bond series of movies. I grew up watching them over and over and over again, amazed and hypnotized by both the James Bond character and the fictional world created around him. As with most pop culture figures, the interest has both peaked and waned over the years, experiencing both a severe decline in popularity as well as multiple resurgences.
For Christmas this year, one gift I received was the complete Blu Ray set of all James Bond films. I also decided that I should rank the Bonds in lieu of a movie review this week. Therefore, without any further ado, I present to you the best Bond actors, and what they brought to the role, ranked.
6. Pierce Brosnan (GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough, Die Another Day) - Brosnan is the more modern, slightly younger version of Roger Moore. He brings the pretty boy, poofy-hair, charm-dependent Bond to life in some fairly forgettable movies. Of the four in which he starred, I only consider GoldenEye to be of any worth as a Bond film.
5. George Lazenby (On Her Majesty's Secret Service) - Lazenby, a former used car salesman, was tasked with the Herculean job of replacing Sean Connery at the top of his popularity. He succeeded, quite well in fact. OHMSS was a gritty film, and Lazenby's portrayal was grounded in reality. The film has been largely forgotten, as has Lazenby. He left after only one film and never really achieved any acting notoriety afterward.
4. Roger Moore (Live and Let Die, The Man with the Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, A View to a Kill) - I know I'll catch hell for this, but Moore just got too campy and too old. Technically, Moore occupied the role the longest and for the most films, however he completely overstayed his welcome. Where Connery was tough, Moore was coy. Where Connery killed as needed, Moore seemed to be reluctant (which shouldn't be the case for a man with a License to Kill). By the time A View to a Kill was released, it was evident that Moore, 57 at the time of filming/release, needed to go. While I like Roger Moore as an actor, one with a wonderfully self-deprecating sense of humor, his time had come and long gone.
3. Timothy Dalton (The Living Daylights, License to Kill) - I loved Dalton as Bond. He brought the toughness back after years of soft Roger Moore portrayals. He was brutal, efficient, killed as needed, smoked, drank, took risks, was bullish and independent, and a natural ladies man. Unfortunately, box-office earnings and only two films will always color him as an unsuccessful Bond. I disagree. Take the time to watch his movies again. The effects were not that great, however Dalton brought toughness, gravitas, and a man's swagger back to the role. He is underrated and under appreciated.
2. Daniel Craig (Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall) - "Bond as a blunt instrument." Craig is skillful, akin to Dalton and Connery, as a force to be reckoned with. His Bond is tough, risky, willful, but also willing to learn on the job from prior mistakes. The public was up in arms about, of all things, his hair color when he was announced. I think that Craig has created a Bond who will stand the test of time. He has a menacing style, bordering on brutal efficiency. Of the three films in which he's starred, I would put Skyfall at the top.
1. Sean Connery (Dr. No, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, Diamonds are Forever) - He is James Bond. Connery is the gold standard to which all other Bonds will be forever compared. His Bond is charming, dangerous, quick witted, smart, bloodthirsty, resourceful, and everything else you want your international spy to be. I didn't include his turn as Bond in 1983's Never Say Never Again, because that was simply a remake/update of 1965's Thunderball, however he was great in that as well. Connery will always be regarded as James Bond, no matter what role he plays. His Bond was the first, his Bond was the best. There are no arguments to be had here. Numbers Six through Two can be debated, however this can not. Connery is Bond, now and forever. Don't believe me? Watch Goldfinger and Thunderball back-to-back.
The movie guide will return next week.