The Bond mission

How to explain the suave appeal of Sean Connery’s secret agent James Bond to a Gen-Y movie-goer raised on Pierce Brosnan? How to explain the grit in George Lazenby’s one-off James Bond to a devotee of Daniel Craig’s latter-day brand of brute? How to explain Roger Moore’s clowning James Bond to, well, anyone?

Actually, when the subject is as subjective as which Bond is best, there’s really no point explaining. The ultimate test is in the watching.

Ian Fleming’s Agent 007 has been on the screen for 50 years and, like that other hero of British screen culture, Dr Who, every generation has its favourite incarnation.

But can movie-goers who know only Craig and Brosnan in the trademark tuxedo ever truly appreciate Connery’s contribution?

The mission: to get a set of Gen-Y eyes (only) across the complete Bond series – from Connery all the way through to Craig – ahead of Thursday’s opening of the 23rd official Bond movie, Skyfall.

The man for the job: Ryan Murphy. Age: 25. Resides: Canberra. Credentials: Regular movie-goer and 007 fan since GoldenEye – the 1995 movie and the Nintendo 64 video game that set a new standard in first-person shooter gaming upon its release in 1997.

‘‘Almost all of my mates rate GoldenEye as the best,’’ Murphy says.

‘‘But the fascinating thing about a franchise as successful and with such longevity as Bond is that everyone seems to have watched a few movies here or there, and so everyone seems to prefer their generation’s Bond.’’

Choosing the best and worst Bonds was more difficult than Murphy expected.

‘‘I’ve enjoyed watching a Bond movie when they’ve been on TV, but I knew that I had gaping holes in my knowledge,’’ he says. ‘‘I mentioned on Facebook that I wanted to watch every film in the lead up to Skyfall and I after a little egging on I decided to go ahead and do it.

‘‘I thought I’d be able to set out clearly which Bond is best, but it's not that simple. The problem is they all seem to have high points and low points. The problem seems to be that they hold on to the actors too long. And inevitably there are one or two films they were too old to star in, and that ruins their legacy.’’

Ultimately, what became clear after watching 22 Bond movies is that the formula is the real star.

‘‘The Bond formula seems so hard to ruin – a few action scenes, some funny one liners, some gorgeous women and some unbelievable gadgets, ‘‘ Murphy says.   ‘‘Even the lesser films here are a lot better than many other films.’’

And the best Bond?

‘‘If I had to rank them I would say the order is Connery, Craig, Brosnan, Lazenby, Moore and Dalton.

‘‘But if every Bond was thrown in a room together for a fight to the death I would have to choose Lazenby.  A fight between Daniel Craig and Lazenby I would love to see. Roger Moore could probably even beat up Dalton.

‘‘I feel for George Lazenby. I think the reason he is looked down upon is because he only did the one film.  At the beginning of the film you don’t think he really fits the bill of that traditional Bond, but after about 15 minutes you totally forget.’’

So, without further ado, here’s our Gen-Y dossier on the James Bond series. As Bond’s long-suffering gadgetmaster ’Q’ would undoubtedly say at this point, pay attention 007.

Ryan Murphy's marathon 007 analysis:


SEAN CONNERY AS 007

Dr No (1962)

Director: Terence Young

Bond Girl: Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress)

Villain: Dr Julius No (Joseph Wiseman)

Gadgets: Briefcase with self-destruct fuction, cyanide-laced cigarette.

Ryan’s verdict: A wonderful way to start the franchise. Honey Ryder is the epitome of a Bond girl, and without Connery’s near-perfect representation of the character I very much doubt the series would have continued.

Bond Ranking: #10  


From Russia With Love From Russia From Russia With Love (1963)

Director: Terence Young

Bond Girl: Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi)

Villains: Red (Robert Shaw), Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Anthony Dawson), Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya).

Gadgets: Retractable garrotting piano-razor wire wristwatch, poison-tipped shoe spike.

Ryan’s verdict: The claustrophobic fisticuffs between Bond and Red aboard the train is the greatest fight scene in the series. It’s rough as guts and the desperation shown by Bond to survive is never again captured on screen.

Bond Ranking: #3  

Goldfinger (1964)

Director: Guy Hamilton

Bond Girl: Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman)

Villains: Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe), Oddjob (Harold Sakata)

Gadgets: Aston Martin DB5 with revolving number plates and passenger ejector seat, Oddjob’s steel-rimmed bowler hat.

Ryan’s verdict: This ticks all the boxes for a great Bond. Everything about this film works. Memorable song, great villain and a killer hat! It also has the iconic image of the girl painted gold, a scene which is somewhat replicated in Quantum of Solace. It also has the best one liner of the series. Oddjob is the franchise’s coolest henchman, I reckon.

Bond Ranking: #5  


Thunderball (1965)

Director: Terence Young

Bond Girl: Domino (Claudine Auger)

Villain: Emilio Largo (Adolfo Celi)

Gadgets: jet pack, Aston Martin DB5 with rear armour shield and high-pressure water cannon.

Ryan’s verdict: You never see Ernst Blofeld’s face in this film, and in the credits they put a question mark next to his voice. I love that. Apart from that, this is a pretty standard affair. Bond starts his love affair with sharks, and the scuba battle at the end is interesting enough. But note to directors: speeding up footage to make it look like it’s fast paced action doesn’t work.

Bond Ranking: #12  


You Only Live Twice (1967)

Director: Lewis Gilbert

Bond Girls: Kissy Suzuki (Mie Hama), Aki (Akiko Wakabayashi)

Villain: Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Donald Pleasence)

Gadgets: lipstick bomb, cigarette case with miniature rockets.

Ryan’s verdict: Blofeld and Bond meet for the first time in a story about a spaceship that eats other spaceships. It sounds ridiculous and it is. Also, Sean Connery pretends to be Japanese for a great deal of the film. Again, it sounds ridiculous and it is. Somehow though, it works and I suppose that’s what is so damn appealing about the Bond films.

Bond Ranking: #11 

Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

Director: Guy Hamilton

Bond Girl: Tiffany Case (Jill St. John), Plenty O’Toole (Lana Wood)

Villains: Blofeld (Charles Gray), Bambi (Lola Larson), Thumper (Trina Parks)

Gadgets: diamond-encrusted laser satellite, La Bombe Surprise (ticking bomb hidden inside cake).

Ryan’s verdict: When one of your henchmen looks like Elton John you know you have a problem. After all, he doesn’t exactly scream intimidating. This was one movie too many for Connery (why on earth would he come back 12 years later?), though the fight in the elevator still looks great today. The fight against Bambi and Thumper is terrible. Did neither one decide to try punch him in the delicates if they were in serious trouble or were they too shocked about their hair being wet to even try to complain.

Bond Ranking: #14  


Never Say Never Again (1983)

Director: Irvin Kershner

Bond Girls: Fatima Blush (Barbara Carrera), Domino Petachi (Kim Basinger)

Villains: Blofeld (Max Von Sydow), Maximillian Largo (Klaus Maria Brandauer)

Gadgets: Union Jack-decorated fountain pen with exploding rocket projectile, digital wristwatch with laser cutting tool.

Ryan’s verdict: Did not watch this one. Even Connery apparently dislikes this unofficial remake of Thunderball.

Bond Ranking:  N/A 

GEORGE LAZENBY AS 007

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)

Director: Peter R. Hunt

Bond Girl: Tracy di Vicenzo (Diana Rigg)

Villains: Blofeld (Telly Savalas), Irma Bunt (Ilse Steppat)

Gadgets: Aston Martin DBS with telescopic rifle built into glove box, perfume atomiser containing deadly toxin.

Ryan’s verdict: Wow. Prior to watching I’d always been told Lazenby was the worst Bond of the lot. No way – he’s a total badass. This features the roughest, toughest and most grittiest fight scenes in the franchise up until Craig’s gritty reboot. When chairs break over people you feel them break over people. Its accuracy to the novel of the same name is its greatest strength and greatest weakness. For your arch-nemesis to not recognise you is unforgivable and baffling. However, this adherence to the story results in the saddest and most un-Bond-like ending of the bunch. Essential viewing.

Bond Ranking: #4  


ROGER MOORE AS 007

Live And Let Die (1973)

Director: Guy Hamilton

Bond Girl: Solitaire (Jane Seymour)

Villains: Dr Kananga (Yaphet Kotto), Whisper (Earl Jolly Brown), Baron Samedi (Geoffrey Holder)

Gadgets: Rolex wristwatch with bullet deflector and buzz-saw, portable magnet used to unzip a dress.

Ryan’s verdict: Starting off with the best opening theme of the lot, the film gets a lot of things right. The boat chase is fantastic, and Baron Samedi remains the greatest enigma in the franchise. One must question why they included Sheriff Pepper, undoubtedly the worst character in the history of the franchise. Gave it a huge Smokey and the Bandit vibe, which isn’t really a good thing (sorry Dad!).

Bond Ranking: #8  


The Man With The Golden Gun (1974)

Director: Guy Hamilton

Bond Girls: Mary Goodnight (Britt Ekland), Chew Mee (Francoise Therry)

Villains: Scaramanga (Christopher Lee), Nick Nack (Herve Villechaize)

Gadgets: Scaramanga’s gold-plated gun.

Ryan’s verdict: The Bond film about nothing. Jerry Seinfeld would be proud. That said, Christopher Lee still makes it worth seeing.

Bond Ranking: #18  

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

Director: Lewis Gilbert

Bond Girl: Major Anya Amasova (Barbara Bach)

Villains: Jaws (Richard Kiel), Karl Stromberg (Curt Jurgens)

Gadgets: white Lotus Esprit S1-turbo hatchback/submersible, Seiko watch with ticker-tape message function, ski-pole rifle, Union Jack parachute.

Ryan’s verdict: The first Roger Moore movie I watched during this challenge, the theme song made me want to snap the DVD and give up. I was so glad I didn’t though, as this turned out to the be the best of his films. The unstoppable Jaws (the guy with a nail in his head from Happy Gilmore) is fantastic in this film, an intimidating hulk of a man who can even match it with a shark.

Bond Ranking: #6  


Moonraker (1979)

Director: Lewis Gilbert

Bond Girl: Dr Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles)

Villains: Jaws (Richard Kiel), Sir Hugo Drax (Michael Lonsdale)

Gadgets: nerve-activated wrist dart gun, miniature spy camera hidden in cigarette lighter, flame-thrower perfume sprayer.

Ryan’s verdict: They ruined Jaws! A man initially so tough he destroyed a car with his bare hands can’t even fight his way through a small crowd in an alleyway at Carnivale. The space battle is also cringe-worthy. Surely someone had to know it was a bad idea before releasing it?

Bond Ranking: #20  


For Your Eyes Only (1981)

Director: John Glen

Bond Girl: Melina Havelock (Carole Bouquet)

Villain: Kristatos (Julian Glover)

Gadgets: 3D Visual Identigraph

Ryan’s verdict: Why does Bond fight Blofeld at the beginning of this film? So farcical that the only thing missing during this scene is the Benny Hill theme song! Also, Bill Conti (the guy who did a lot of the music for the Rocky films) did the music for this movie and it’s pretty obvious. Every time there is an action sequence I feel like there should be a training montage instead.

Bond Ranking: #21  


Octopussy (1983)

Director: John Glen

Bond Girl: Octopussy (Maud Adams)

Villain: General Orlov (Steven Berkoff)

Gadgets: demolition briefcase, Mont Blanc fountain pen with acid dispenser, Seiko wristwatch with TV screen.

Ryan’s verdict: Ridiculous storyline, ridiculous title. Love that the snake charmer played the James Bond theme though.

Bond Ranking: #15  


A View To A Kill (1985)

Director: John Glen

Bond Girls: Stacey Sutton (Tanya Roberts), Pola Ivanova (Fiona Fullerton)

Villains: Max Zorin (Christopher Walken), May Day (Grace Jones)

Gadgets: Electric shaver bug detector, micro-camera ring.

Ryan’s verdict: If you look really closely, I think you can see 007’s walking frame in some of the scenes. Casting 57-year-old Moore as Bond again is a terrible idea. It looked like a heavy breeze could knock him over. Fortunately, his stunt doubles are as good as ever, and Christopher Walken plays himself perfectly. Walken could make me enjoy just about anything though.

Bond Ranking: #16 


TIMOTHY DALTON AS 007

The Living Daylights (1987)

Director: John Glen

Bond Girl: Kara Milovy (Maryam d’Abo)

Villain: General Koskov (Jeroen Krabbe)

Gadgets: bullet-proof Aston Martin V8 Volante with front-mounted missiles under the fog lamps and jet-rocket booster under the rear number plate.

Ryan’s verdict: I feel like I could beat up Timothy Dalton when I watch this film. Also, why is bad guy Whittaker played by Joe Don Baker in this film? I know him as Jack Wade in GoldenEye and Tomorrow Never Dies. Surely they could have found an alternative for one of the roles?

Bond Ranking: #19  

Licence To Kill (1989)

Director: John Glen

Bond Girl: Pam Bouvier (Carey Lowell)

Villains: Franz Sanchez (Robert Davi), Dario (Benicio Del Toro)

Gadgets: Dentonite toothpaste, rappelling cummerbund rope.

Ryan’s verdict: Dalton finally comes into his own as a rogue agent out for revenge after close friend Felix is attacked on his wedding day. What really bumps this one up the list though is extra screen time for Q, who really is the highlight of this film. It makes no sense why he is there but who really cares?

Bond Ranking: #7  

PIERCE BROSNAN AS 007

GoldenEye (1995)

Director: Martin Campbell

Bond Girl: Xenia Zirgavna Onatopp (Famke Janssen)

Villains: Rogue Agent 006 Alec Trevelyan (Sean Bean), Soviet General Ouromov (Gottfried John)

Gadgets: 1964 Aston Martin DB5 with dashboard fax and refrigerated drinks compartment containing Bollinger, Parker pen with explosive grenade, Omega watch with laser and explosives.

Ryan’s verdict: As far as I’m concerned, this is everything a Bond movie should be. Xenia Onatopp is the deadliest and sexiest Bond girl of the lot, while Brosnan (in this film at least) is able to combine Roger Moore’s cheesy charm with the action chops required of a 00 agent. The opening tank chase through St Petersburg sums up this film perfectly – it’s perfect.

Bond Ranking: #1  


Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

Director: Roger Spottiswoode

Bond Girls: Paris Carver (Teri Hatcher), Colonel Wai Lin (Michelle Yeoh)

Villains: Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce)

Gadgets: BMW 750iL with remote-control driving function, tear-gas, sun-roof rockets and anti-car-jacking security system with 20,000-volt shock.

Ryan’s verdict: This film is entirely forgettable if not for the fact that Bond is battling evil mastermind Steve Jobs, I mean, Elliot Carver. A villain featuring a black turtleneck, short hair, glasses, wielding a tablet and wanting to be the most powerful corporation in the world – a case of life imitating art, or art imitating life. I have no idea who came first. (I think we need a comparison picture).

Bond Ranking: #17  


The World Is Not Enough (1999)

Director: Michael Apted

Bond Girls: Dr Christmas Jones (Denise Richards), Dr Molly Warmflash (Serena Scott Thomas)

Villains: Victor Renard Zokas (Robert Carlyle), Elektra King (Sophie Marceau)

Gadgets: lapel pin radio transmitter, paraglider snowmobiles, exploding Walther P99.

Ryan’s verdict: They started scraping the barrel here when they called a Bond girl Christmas Jones, just so Brosnan could make two throwaway one liners at the end of a two hour film, when he no doubt had the girl already.

Bond Ranking: #13  


Die Another Day (2002)

Director: Lee Tamahori

Bond Girls: Jinx Johnson (Halle Berry), Miranda Frost (Rosamund Pike)

Villain: Sir Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens)

Gadgets: surfboard with hidden compartment, Aston Martin V12Vanquish with vanish, or adaptive camouflage, function.

Ryan’s verdict: No, no, no. If this movie was one of Batman’s suits, it would be the George Clooney one with the nipples. Everything about this film is stupid. From the invisible cars, to the fight scene in a blown apart airplane, everything is terribly thought out and totally unnecessary. Still – I must confess that as a 15-year-old seeing my first Bond film at the cinema I’m pretty sure I enjoyed this a lot.

Bond Ranking: #22  


DANIEL CRAIG AS 007

Casino Royale (2006)

Director: Martin Campbell

Bond Girl: Vesper Lynd (Eva Green)

Villains: Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), Mr White (Jesper Christensen)

Gadgets: Aston Martin DBS V12 with glove compartment containing Walther P99, portable defibrillator and poison antidotes.

Ryan’s verdict: The perfect way to reboot the series. The parkour style chase through the construction site is the best way to introduce us to the new Bond. He lacks finesse but he has power and determination. Watching him smash down walls and crash and tumble over beams makes him a far more human Bond than those who went before him.

Bond Ranking: #2  


Quantum Of Solace (2008)

Director: Marc Forster

Bond Girls: Camille Rivero (Olga Kurylenko), MI6 agent Miss Strawberry Fields (Gemma Arterton)

Villains: Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), Mr White (Jesper Christensen)

Gadgets: mobile phone with GPS tracking ability and camera transmitter.

Ryan’s verdict: The over-reliance on shaky-cam sucks. First time I ever watched this I was bitterly disappointed, but it works watched back to back with Casino Royale.

Bond Ranking: #9 

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