The Bond, James Bond Challenge


Bond 50 Collection

One of my many guilty pleasures of the silver screen happens to be the Bond movies. I think many people would probably be surprised by that concept. I remember watching them in the video store I used to work at, seeing some of the Pierce Brosnan movies with my dad or friends, and getting the boxed sets as gifts. After years of speculation and wonder, Agent 007 is returning to the big screen in Skyfall. The stellar cast includes Daniel Craig and Judi Dench returning as Bond and M, respectively. Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Jarhead) directs the movie that also stars Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Albert Finney, and Naomi Harris. I love Sam Mendes work and trust that he’ll revitalize the series after the misstep that wasQuantum of Solace. I thought this would be the perfect time to rewatch all 22 James Bond movies leading up to the release of Skyfall in November. That is roughly 3 to 4 movies per month. I think Ryan and I are up for the challenge. Here we go:

Here is a fun look at the gun barrel sequences courtesy of my friend, Kathy Kupiecki!

1. DR. NO (1962)
Director: Terence Young
Bond: Sean Connery
Bond Girl: Ursula Andress as Honey Rider
Villain: Joseph Wiseman as Dr. Julius No

The Three Blind Mice are a trio of not-so-blind African American men who shoot and kidnap a man named Strangways (Tim Moxon), and his secretary in Jamaica. Strangways is a member of the British Intelligence who is stationed in Jamaica. James Bond is agent 007 of MI: 6. The “00” status means he has a license to kill. He is sent down to Jamaica to investigate the disappearance and determine if it is related to an assignment Strangways is working on with the CIA regarding rocket launches off Cape Canaveral. Word travels fast that Bond is in Jamaica and the hit man are quick to act upon him. Being James Bond, he is always one step ahead of being killed. Bond pieces together that these crimes are being executed by Dr. Julius No is who a part of SPECTRE, the Special Execution for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortation. Bond sets off to Crab Key Island to find Dr. No whose ultimate plan is world domination by taking control of the space program.

– “Bond. James Bond” is the first line spoken by Sean Connery as James Bond
– We see the infamous bikini shot of Ursula Andress as she appears for the first time as Honey Rider on Crab Key Island
– First introduction to key characters: M, Miss Moneypenny, and a Bond Girl with a sexy name
– Too early in the series for fancy gadgets or cars. We don’t have any Aston Martins or crazy watches being used.
Dr. No is the first movie, but it was not the first book in Ian Fleming’s series

Ryan’s One Sentence Review: The full title should be ‘Dr. No-Way You’ll Stay Awake for this Snooze Fest’.

Paul’s quick review: I admit, the movie is rather slow at times. It doesn’t yet have the cool gadets, slick action, or fun cars yet. Sean Connery’s performance is legendary. He is sexy, sleek, and cunning. Overall, Dr. No is a fun first entry in a long series of this fantastic character. It’s a good start for anyone wanting an introduction into the world of Ian Fleming and his James Bond.

Paul’s Rating: *** (3 out of 5 stars)


Director: Terence Young
Bond: Sean Connery
Bond Girl: Daniela Bianchi as Tatiana Romanova
Villain: Lotte Lenye as Rosa Klebb

SPECTRE’s Kronsteen (Vladek Sheybal) has a plan is to steal an electric decoding machine from the Russians known as The Lektor. The objective is to get MI: 6 on the case in hopes they send James Bond. SPECTRE wants revenge on Bond for the death of Dr. No. They assign Rosa Klebb (Lenya) to carry out the mission. She runs her assignment with a tight iron fist. Klebb hires the beautiful Tatiana Romanova and a stocky blonde man named Robert Grant (Jaws’ Robert Shaw) to find and destroy Bond. MI-6 is already onto their trap. M shows Bond a picture of Romanova for extra inspiration. They send the always-willing Bond to Istanbul to spy on the Russian consulate. Bond meets up with Tatiana, and they get their hands on the Lektor fairly quickly with the help of some precisely timed explosions. On the run, they promptly board the Orient Express under the false identity of Mr. and Mrs. Somerset. Grant just happens to be riding the train at the same time with plenty of surprises up his sleeve for Bond.

-Terence Young is back to the director’s chair after previously directing Dr. No
-First appearance of Q the gadget man, famously played by Desmond Llewelyn
-Twice the budget of Dr. No
-The audience gets a quick glimpse of future villain Blofeld and his white cat.
-During the end credits, it is announced that “James Bond will return in Goldfinger”

Ryan’s One Sentence Review: “It wasn’t just the cheesy one-liners that made this SO MUCH BETTER than Dr. No.”

Paul’s quick review: From Russia with Love proved that James Bond was going to be a great series. With double the budget, the execution is bigger and better than Dr. No. The audience gets more of the traditional Bond ingredients we have all come to know and love. The action sequences are bigger, Q introduces his trick suitcase, villain Rosa Klebb has a trick shoe, and Connery gets to say some witty one liners. I don’t think Tatiana Romanova will go down as one of the better Bond Girls. On the other hand, Lotte Lenya plays against her type and makes Rose Klebb one feisty villain. Plus, what’s not to love about a suspenseful train ride!

Paul’s Rating: **** (4 out of 5 stars)


3. GOLDFINGER (1964)
Director: Guy Hamilton
Bond: Sean Connery
Bond Girl: Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore
Villain: Gert Frobe as Auric Goldfinger

Can’t Bond just have a little R&R with a beautiful woman? Apparently not. Bond is found laying low in Miami Beach on holiday. Felix Leiter (Cec Linder) pays him a visit to inform him to keep his eye on Auric Goldfinger (Frobe) who is also staying at the resort Bond is relaxing at. Bond goes up to his room and catches the beautiful blonde Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton) using binoculars to help Goldfinger cheat at a game of cards. Per Bond’s style, he puts on the charm and entices her to a date. A mysterious man in a bowler hat interrupts their date and knocks Bond out. He comes to and finds Jill dead in bed painted gold.

Bond finds out that gold can be perfect for smuggling because you can melt it down. Goldfinger has gold bullion is various countries. M and MI:6 are desperately trying to figure out how he gets the gold across the borders. Bond conveniently runs into Goldfinger again at a golf course and seeks out more information. The mysterious man in the bowler hat is there. He is a silent Korean man named Oddjob. Bond plants a tracking device in his car after he “wins” their game. He finds Goldfinger’s smuggling headquarters and discovers Jill’s sister, Tilly, on the premises trying to avenge her sister’s death. They flee the scene after tripping a wire and are led on a high speed chase by Oddjob and other henchman.

He gets trapped and Goldfinger takes Bond hostage. Bond lies about his knowledge of operation ‘Grand Slam’ and Goldfinger decides he is worth more alive than dead. After tranquilizing him, he is plane bound for Newfoundland. He wakes up to Pussy Galore (Blackman) standing above him who is Goldfinger’s pilot. She is one tough cookie which turns Bond on even more than before. After another failed attempt at escaping, Bond eavesdrops on the disclosure of what ‘Grand Slam’ really entitles. Goldfinger’s mission is to use on atomic bomb on Fort Knox to turn the gold there radioactive making his gold more valuable. Bond and Pussy team up to defeat Goldfinger and stop his take-over of Fort Knox.

-“Goldfinger” is the seventh book in Ian Fleming’s series
-Desmond Llewelyn is back as Q with the introduction of the tricked out Aston Martin which includes an ejector seat on the passenger side.
-“James Bond will be back in Thunderball” is mentioned in the final credits
-Bond swaps his usual martini (shaken, not stirred) for a mint julep
-The opening credits show clips from the previous two movies projected onto a women’s body
-The song “Goldfinger” is one of the best Bond themes of all time. It written by John Barry, Leslie Bricusse, and Anthony Newley and sung by the delightful Shirley Bassey
-Oscar Winner for Best Sound Effects

Ryan’s One Sentence Review: The movie is not nearly as good as the theme song, but I am interested in making out under a parachute.

Paul’s quick review: Goldfinger is definitely one of the more well known Bond flicks. You’ve got a classic theme song, a gorgeous Bond girl with a sexy name, the Aston Martin, and other standard Bond qualities. One of my only beefs is that the writing isn’t as witty as From Russia with Love. It doesn’t have the quips and one-liners Connery got to deliver on the last adventure. The writing leads the pacing to be a little slower the expected. Outside of that, it definitely is a worth-while entry into the Bond cannon.

Paul’s Rating: **** (4 out of 5 stars)


Director: Terence Young
Bond: Sean Connery
Bond Girl: Claudine Auger as Domino, Martine Beswick as Paula
Villain: Aldolfo Celi as Largo

“Mind if my friend just sits this one out? She’s just dead.”

James Bond (Connery) is recovering in a health resort. He catches a man with bandaged face scoping out his room. SPECTRE henchman, Angelo (Paul Stassino), kills this bandaged man and takes his place aboard a NATO training flight holding atomic bombs. He crashes it into the waters by the Bahamas. Eye patch wearing Largo (Celi) meets Angelo at the crash site and kills him as he is stuck under water. Apparently when you demand more money than what you’ve been offered it gets you killed. Largo and his band of goons steal the bombs. Largo is known as Number 2 at SPECTRE and is in charge of the NATO project. They demand a ransom of 100 million pounds (280 million dollars) of white diamonds in exchange for the bombs. If NATO does not comply, a major city in the United States or England will be destroyed.

All of the 00 agents of MI6 are brought in for this mission. They listen to the ransom recording and are told to strike Big Ben seven times at 6:00 if NATO agrees to the payment. Bond heads to the Bahamas and works with Felix Leiter (Rik Van Nutter) and Largo’s mistress Domino (Auger) to find the bombs and put a stop to Largo. Q (Desmond Llewelyn) surprises Bond in the Bahamas with some new gadgets including an underwater camera, a homing device, and other underwater toys.

-Boasts a bigger budget than the first three films combined
-Third Bond movie directed by Terence Young
-9th book in the series
-The theme song is performed by Tom Jones
-It won the Oscar for Best Visual Effects
-At the time, it had the longest run time of the first four movies at 2 hours 10 minutes

Ryan’s One Sentence Review: Well, that was a step backwards.

Paul’s quick review: Thunderball is a pretty ambitious undertaking for Terence Young given all of the real life sharks and underwater action sequences. Unfortunately, that doesn’t lead to a bigger and better movie. The story is fairly weak and rather boring at times. I found myself waiting and wanting more to happen. There is nothing all that special about Largo or Domino. The final battle between Largo and Bond on Largo’s yacht is pretty cheesetastic. Is it bad that the sharks are the most exciting thing about the movie? I’d skip over this Bond movie, especially if you have a fear of sharks.

RATING: ** (2 out of 5 stars)

Director: Lewis Gilbert
Bond: Sean Connery
Bond Girl: Akiko Wakabayashi as Aki, Mie Hama as Kissy, Karin Dor as Helga Brandt
Villain: Donald Pleasance as Blofeld

“Bon Appetite”

An unidentified space object encloses around a US Spacecraft. It has now gone missing, but there have been unofficial sightings in Japan. Bond has been left for dead in Hong Kong by a mistress after being locked in a wall bed and gunned down. His body is buried in the sea only to be picked up by naval officers and brought aboard a submarine. Low and behold, he faked his death and is headed out to Japan on behalf of M, Moneypenny, and the rest of MI:6.

Once in Japan, 007 takes in a sumo wrestling match and meets Aki who is working for Tiger Tenaka (Tetsuro Tanba). Aki introduces him to local MI:6 agent Henderson (Charles Gray). After they have a brief meeting about the mysterious spacecraft, Henderson is killed and Bond attacks the assailant. He disguises himself as the assailant and heads out in the getaway car. He is led to OSATO Chemical and Engineering Incorporated. Aki rescues Bond after he breaks into a safe at OSATO and leads him back to Tenaka. Discussions with Tenaka prompt Bond to think that SPECTRE may be behind all of this.

Aki and Bond can’t seem to go anywhere without being shot at by local SPECTRE henchmen. Bond is captured by Mr. Osato (Teru Shimada) and Helga Brandt, both of who are indeed working for Ernst Blofeld and SPECTRE. When Helga can’t seem to kill off Bond, Blofeld punishes her by dropping her into a pool of piranhas in their volcano hideout. Bond must go in disguise using a wig and prosthetics in order to train as one of Tenaka’s ninjas. Now Bond and new flame Kissy Suzuki can easily blend in in order to investigate the island and find the volcano Blofeld is using as his lair.

-This is the first time we see the face of Blofeld, even though he has made appearances in the previous movies
-The screenplay was written by notable children’s author Roald Dahl
-The title theme song was written by John Barry and Leslie Bricusse and performed by Nancy Sinatra. Sinatra was “scared to death” of recording the song, doubting her abilities to pull it off.
-Bond is referred to as “Zero Zero” by the Japanese agents instead of “Double O”
-This is the first of three Bond movies directed by Lewis Gilbert. He will return to direct Roger Moore in The Spy Who Loved Me.
-Blofeld does not appear until an hour into the movie
-Blofeld was a direct influence to Mike Myers and his creation of Dr. Evil

Ryan’s One Sentence Review: If Roald Dahl wrote the screenplay, how the hell did he end up with a naked girl in a raft at the end again?

Paul’s quick review: Ninjas! Man-eating piranhas! Life saving cigarettes! You Only Live Twice is a little far-fetched at times, but that is part of the fun of it in my opinion. With a new director and screenwriter on hand, the fifth Bond movie has a different feel to it than the first four movies. It still retains all of the typical Bond qualities and patterns we’ve come to know, but they allow themselves to have more fun and be a little bit more outrageous for this adventure.

RATING: *** ½ (3.5 out of 5 stars)


Director: Peter R. Hunt
Bond: George Lazenby
Bond Girl: Diana Rigg as Tracy
Villain: Telly Savalas as Blofeld

“This never happened to the other fellow.”

We catch up with Bond as he saves a woman who tries to kill herself by drowning at a beach in Portugal. Later on that evening, he is further intrigued by her, Countess Tracy, after a round at the poker table. A mysterious gentleman is waiting for him when he sneaks into her room at the resort they are both conveniently staying in. Bond is kidnapped by this mysterious gentleman and some other thugs and is taken to Marc-Ange Draco (Gabriele Ferzetti) who happens to be Tracy’s father. He is the head of a European crime syndicate. Draco asks Bond to marry Tracy. He refuses but will continue romancing her if Draco reveals the whereabouts of Blofeld.

Bond works with the College of Arms and teams up with Sir Hilary Bray (George Baker) who has been in correspondence with Blofeld. Blofeld is attempting to gain the title of ‘Comte Balthazar de Bleuchamp’. If only that was the sole thing up Blofeld’s sleeve. Bond heads out to the Swiss Alps posing as Bray to meet Blofeld who is now running an allergy research institute. What is Blofeld’s ultimate plan and why are ten women from around the world being brainwashed night after night?

-Richard Maibaum returns as screenwriter after passing on You Only Live Twice
-The music during the opening credits is instrumental
-One of the longest run times at 2 hours 22 minutes
-Lazenby’s one and only appearance as James Bond
-Hunt’s directorial debut, after having edited earlier Bond movies

Ryan’s One Sentence Review: Easily the best Bond movie so far. It’s a shame Lazenby’s management was so stupid.

Paul’s quick review: The previous movies were starting to feel a little stale as the same pattern seemed to be used in each one, even down to the ending with Bond floating away in a raft with the girl. The sixth Bond movie opened with a fresh look and design. Director Peter R. Hunt wanted this Bond movie to have more of a realistic tone to it. He thought the series was getting fairly hokey with the gadgets and large sound stage sets. The film looks gorgeous as principal photography took place on location in Switzerland. The movie may be one of the longest in the series, but it definitely does not feel like it. I think George Lazenby would have turned out to be a great Bond if he would have done a few more movies and had a chance to grow in the role. Don’t be so quick to surpass this 007 adventure, it may just surprise you as one of the best.

RATING: **** (4 out of 5 stars)


Director: Guy Hamilton
Bond: Sean Connery
Bond Girl: Jill St. John as Tiffany Case, Lana Wood as Plenty O’Toole
Villain: Bruce Glover as Mr. Wint, Charles Gray as Blofeld

“We do function in your absence, commander”

The seventh Bond adventure starts off with a bang with 007 kicking ass looking for Blofeld. He tracks his nemesis down in Cairo as they are prepping someone to go under surgery to look like Blofeld. Bond seizes Blofeld and drowns him in a pool of heated mud. Back at MI:6 headquarters, M (Bernard Lee) brings diamond smuggling to the attention of Bond. There have been numerous murders in South Africa. M wants Bond to go to Amsterdam disguised as Peter Franks, a professional smuggler, to track down Tiffany Case (St. John). She is naturally one step ahead of Bond by using fingerprint technology against him when he arrives at her place. With the help of Q (Desmond Llewelyn), Bond is wearing Frank’s fingerprints. Bond kills the real Franks and switches wallets with him making it appear that James Bond has died. Bond takes Frank’s body and his diamonds to Nevada where the body will be cremated.

Nevada just happens to be the home of the Whyte House, a hotel-casino run by billionaire Willard Whyte. Whyte is the key to the diamond smuggling. After chasing the diamonds around Vegas and back again with Ms. Case, Bond scales the Whyte Hotel to confront Whyte. Much to his surprise, Bond runs into two Blofelds instead of Whyte. After all, the elusive Whyte has not been seen in over five years.

-theme song “Diamonds Are Forever” sung by Shirley Bassey, one of the best Bond theme songs
– Connery is back for one last time as 007 after passing on On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
-Lana Wood’s voice of Plenty O’Toole is dubbed
-The producers wanted to return to the tone and feel of the earlier Bonds for this entry
-They tested American actors including John Gavin and Adam West to take over the role of James Bond before they were able to get Connery back for his last performance.

Ryan’s One Sentence Review: Sean Connery looks dumb fighting the villains. He is not sexy, and winks on the one-liners. I did enjoy the shots of old Vegas.

Paul’s quick review: One of the reasons why I loved On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was that it felt fresh and revitalized. The series seemed to be going in a new direction. Diamonds Are Forever feels old and stale in comparison. It really seems like a step back. The producers wanted to return to the feel of the other Connery movies, but I think that is a disadvantage from what they had going. The movie really shows its age when you notice how different Las Vegas looks back when it was filmed. There are some good things to take notice of. I was pleasantly surprised by the homoerotic relationship between two henchman that are chasing after Bond. I definitely was not expecting that. The theme song sung by Shirley Bassey is the best part of the movie as well as Bond girl Jill St. John as Tiffany Case.

RATING: **1/2 (2.5 out of 5 stars)


8. LIVE AND LET DIE (1973)
Director: Guy Hamilton
Bond: Roger Moore
Bond Girl: Jane Seymour as Solitaire, Gloria Hendry as Rosie
Villain: Yaphet Kotto as Kananga/Mr. Big

The United Kingdom representative has been killed at the United Nations. M and Moneypenny give Bond a visit in the wee early hours of the morning with the news of the UN killing as well as other killings in New Orleans and San Monique. A man by the name of Kananga is under suspicion. Bond heads to a bar named Fillet of Soul in Harlem where Mr. Big and his henchman are awaiting his presence. Bond’s eye is instantly drawn to Solitaire, the beautiful tarot card reader. Bond flies to San Monique where he partners up with fellow agent Rosie. He receives the Queen of Cups card as a warning and knows not to trust her. Kananga has her killed in fear she will expose the truth to Bond. Bond uses the cards against Solitaire in order to sleep with her. She does so and believes she has lost her ability to foresee the future. Like many Bond girls, she decides to switch sides and teams up with Bond in order to bring Kananga down.

They head to New Orleans to connect Kananga to that killing. In typical fashion, Bond is captured by Mr. Big who reveals he is Kananga. Bond learns that heroin smuggling is the cause behind Kananga’s plans. Speedboat chases, snakes, and voodoo rituals are just a few of the obstacles Bond is forced to deal with in order to take down Kananga.

-theme song “Live and Let Die” performed by Paul McCartney and Wings
-Roger Moore’s first appearance as 007
-The producers made deliberate choice to make Moore’s Bond different than Connery’s Bond. Some of those choices include that fact that he drinks whisky instead of the vodka martini, smokes cigars over cigarettes, and he does not wear a hat.
-first Bond movie to have him sleep with an African-American woman

Ryan’s One Sentence Review: It was well made but felt a little racist.

Paul’s quick review: Even though it was released only two years after Diamonds Are Forever, it has a completely different look and feel to it. The movie is heavily influenced by the blaxploitation movies of the time. I am not a Connery-Bond purist, so I welcome the new approach and style choices. There are many racial slurs in the script that would never be allowed to be used today. Many Bond girls are given skimpy bikinis to wear, but there are some fantastic costumes for Jane Seymour. They are very elaborate and fit her tarot personality quite well. Watch out if you have a fear of snakes!

RATING: **** (4 out of 5 stars)


Director: Guy Hamilton
Bond: Roger Moore
Bond Girl: Maude Adams as Andrea Anders, Britt Ekland as Goodnight
Villain: Christopher Lee as Scaramanga

“Miss Anders? I didn’t recognize you with your clothes on.”

A golden bullet is sent to the office of MI:6 with a special note for Bond. The numbers 007 are etched into the bullet. M confirms it has been sent from Scaramanga, The Man with the Golden Gun. M relieves him of his current mission in order to find Scaramanga. Bond travels to Hong Kong and interrogates Andrea Anders, Scaramanga’s mistress, about his appearance and whereabouts. After missing a gunshot aimed in his area, Bond realizes he is not the target afterall. Scaramanga directed his shot at Gibson, a scientist working on the energy crisis. Bond is taken to the secret hideout where M and Q are awaiting him to fill him in on the Gibson situation.

In a twist of events, Anders reveals to Bond that she sent the bullet to bring Bond to Scaramanga. She wants Scaramanga dead. As payment, she will hand over the Solex which is the prized device Scaramanga has gotten his hands on. The hand off does not go to plan well when Bond shows up for his payment.

-Theme song “The Man with the Golden Gun” performed by Lulu
-The title role was originally offered to Jack Palance
-the fourth and final movie in the series directed by Guy Hamilton
-Christopher Lee wore full body makeup to have the appearance of being tan.
-last Bond movie to be co-producers by Harry Saltzman

Ryan’s One Sentence Review: I thought the lighter that turned into a gun was pretty cool. Christopher Lee is the best villain so far.

Paul’s quick review: Who knew a third nipple would be a vital prop used in a Bond movie! The Man with the Golden Gun seemed to allow itself to have a little more fun and be a little more outrageous than other ones. This caused some harsh criticism between critics and Bond die-hards. My only big question is WHY is the annoying sherriff from Live and Let Die in this movie? I was so over his character after his first scene in that movie, so when he popped up in this movie I was SHOCKED and appalled. Luckily, a classic horror movie actor comes to the rescue. Christopher Lee is a fantastic actor and is a fabulous choice as a Bond villain.

RATING: *** 1/2 (3.5 out of 5 stars)


Director: Lewis Gilbert
Bond: Roger Moore
Bond Girl: Barbara Bach as Major Anya Amasova/Agent XXX
Villain: Curd Jurgens as Karl Stromberg, Richard Kiel as Jaws

M: Moneypenny, where’s 007?
Moneypenny: He’s on a mission sir. In Austria.
M: Well, tell him to pull out. Immediately.

Sexual innuendoes and mountain side ski chases start The Spy Who Loved Me off with a bang. Soviet and British submarines go missing, and Bond and Anya Amasova/Agent XXX are called into action. Apparently, submarine tracking systems are on the market in Egypt. The two rival agents are called to work together. A microfilm of plans is found and evidence links the plans to scientist Karl Stromberg. Bond and Amasova head to Stromberg’s base in Sardinia. They confirm that he is the one using the tracking system. While the two agents are aboard an American submarine, the sub is captured by our nemesis. He reveals his ultimate plan of setting nuclear missiles off toward Moscow and New York.

-Title song “Nobody Does It Better” written by the late Marvin Hamlisch and sung by Carly Simon
-nominated for three Academy Awards, more than any other Bond film
-The closing credits say, “James Bond will return in For Your Eyes Only” . However, Moonraker was later chosen as the next Bond movie due to the popularity of the sci-fi genre at the time.
-Roger Moore broke out in shingles while filming in Scotland

Ryan’s One Sentence Review: The first movie we watched that represented what I thought of as the Bond style.

Paul’s quick review: I remember watching The Spy Who Loved Me as a teen and thinking it was one of the better ones that I had watched at the time. I would like to thank the screenwriter for getting rid of the J.W. Pepper character from the previous two movies. He was the annoying sheriff character that was so wrong on so many levels. Richard Kiel’s performance of Jaws is timeless and is the best henchman since Oddjob in Goldfinger. I love that he always seems to escape death and walk away unscathed. The movie has a pretty decent amount of innuendos and one-liners that give Moore some comedic opportunities.

RATING: **** (4 out of 5 stars)


11. MOONRAKER (1979)
Director: Lewis Gilbert
Bond: Roger Moore
Bond Girl: Lois Chiles as Dr. Holly Goodhead
Villain: Michael Lonsdale as Hugo Drax, Richard Kiel as Jaws

Bond is pushed out of an airplane during one of the most daring and bizarre opening sequences we’ve seen yet. He is pushed out without a parachute but wrestles the previous jumper for his. Jaws, our henchman from The Spy Who Loved Me, jumps after Bond for a mid-air fight. Don’t worry! Bond lands safely and Jaws lands on top of a circus tent.

The space shuttle Moonraker is hi-jacked mid-air. Our hero is called in by MI:6 to investigate Drax Industries and its owner Hugo Drax. It is not long during his tour of the Moonraker compound that Bond escapes an assassination attempt by Drax’s henchman Chang.

Bond ventures to Venice where he runs into Dr. Holly Goodhead who he previously encountered at Drax Industries. A crazy gondola chase ensues. Naturally, Bond is rowing/driving a motorized gondola with extra bells and whistles attached to it. Throughout his snooping Bond realizes Drax is moving his operation to Rio de Janiero. Drax reveals his ultimate plan to Bond. He is sending shuttles to Earth’s atmosphere with a nerve gas strong enough to destroy the entire human race.

-title song “Moonraker” is sung by Shirley Bassey
-third in the series directed by Lewis Gilbert
-the five note theme from Close Encounters of the Third Kind is used as a key-code for a security door
-Richard Kiel returns as Jaws
-Highest grossing Bond movie until GoldenEye was released
-the book “Moonraker” and the film have completely different plots

Ryan’s One Sentence Review: I ended up far more interested in the Wikipedia pages about the Space Shuttle program than anything going on in the movie.

Paul’s quick review: We’ve come to the point of the Roger Moore films that feel a little tired and forced. Most fans tend to refer to Moonraker as Bond in Space. The sci-fi genre was huge at this time with success of Star Wars. The studio wanted to capitalize on this concept; however I think that idea is a little absurd. It seems very out of place with the rest of the movies. I like Bond on land, not in space. The screenplay is rather boring and is missing the humor that Moore is good at delivering. Drax and Goodhead are pretty non-descript so they don’t stand out among the other Bond villains and Bond girls. The cheese factor is pretty high throughout the whole movie. Why did they give Jaws a love interest? He does not need a one. There are also laser battles to go along with the sci-fi concept. REALLY?!?! I’m not necessarily a Bond snob, but this all was just way too much for me. I do give the movie credit for the elaborate chase sequences. The return of Jaws is by far the best part of the movie. He is one of the best henchmen in the whole Bond history.

RATING: ** (2 out of 5 stars)


Director: John Glen
Bond: Roger Moore
Bond Girl: Lynn-Holly Johnson as Bibi Dahl, Carole Bouquet as Melina Havelock
Villain: Topol as Milos Columbo, Michael Gothard as Locque

Bond is seen placing flowers along his wife’s grave when he is summoned by MI:6. So he thinks. The helicopter that picks up him is taken over by Blofeld by a remote control. Don’t get too attached to seeing Blofeld again. This was just a brief cameo.

A British spy ship explodes after catching a naval mine in its net. The ship is equipped with ATAC, Automatic Targeting Attack Communicator. The transmitter is used to communicate and track the coordinates of the Royal Navy’s submarines. Bond is sent to retrieve the device before the Soviets get their hands on it. The report handed to him is labeled “For Your Eyes Only”. A marine biologist sent to locate the spy ship is gunned down by a Cuban hit man by the name of Gonzales. Bond heads to Spain to find out who hired Gonzales. Bond identifies one of Gonzales’ men to be Emile Locque. Bond’s next trek is to Italy where Locque could be based. There he learns Locque is employed by Milos Columbo. More chases and assassination attempts against Bond occur. Bond partners with Melina Havelock, the daughter of the marine biologist, to locate the whereabouts of Columbo. A surprise twist of identities reveals who the real villain behind the explosion and ultimate retrieval of the ATAC happens to be.

-Title song “For Your Eyes Only” was written by Bill Conti and performed by Sheena Easton. She is the first title song performer to appear in the opening credits.
-Cassandra Harris who plays Columbo’s mistress Lisl was married to future Bond Pierce Brosnan when she filmed this movie.
-One of the stuntmen was killed while filming the bobsled chase
-Bernard Lee who plays M in the series died before filming began. Producer Albert Broccoli refused to recast the part, so they decided that M was “on leave”.

Ryan’s One Sentence Review: Sheena Easton, Topol, and disco music underscoring. Gosh, my year of birth was awesome.

Paul’s quick review: Don’t worry! Bond is back on planet Earth after spending time in space in Moonraker. The movie starts off with a bang and contains plenty of action sequences, chases, and explosions throughout the movie. I feel like these were added to offset the fairly weak plot. Being a Bond movie, these scenes contain your standard mountainside ski chases and underwater adventures that we’ve seen numerous times before. The story has another horrible thing going for it. When I first read there was a character named Bibi Dahl, I thought it was the perfect name for a great Bond girl. FALSE! She is the super annoying, young, dumb, blond, skater girl that is the villain’s protégée. She’s the kind of character you would find in a slasher flick that would get brutally killed by a guy in a mask. There is NO need for her in a Bond movie. She is the worst character since the stupid sheriff a few movies back. Let’s get on to the good things now. It was great to see Topol do something different than Tevye. “For Your Eyes Only” is one of the better Bond songs to grace the title credits! Overall, the twelfth entry in this series is pretty lackluster. Let’s hope Octopussy brings the us the goods again.

RATING: ** (2 out of 5 stars)


13. OCTOPUSSY (1983)
Director: John Glen
Bond: Roger Moore
Bond Girl: Kristina Wayborn as Magda
Villain: Maud Adams as Octopussy, Louis Jourdan as Kamel Khan

“Having problems keeping it up, Q?”

A clown has been stabbed to death and left to die floating down the river. Before he succumbs to his death, he trudges up to the British embassy and breaks in carrying a fake Faberge egg. The clown turns out to be British Agent 009. Agent 007 James Bond is sent to investigate Soviet involvement as the real egg is up for auction at Sotheby’s. James ends up in a bidding war for the egg with Kamel Khan. He lets Kamel win the bid only after swapping the real egg with the fake one.

Bond heads to India to locate Kamel. Bond defeats Kamel again at a game of backgammon where more money and the egg are at stake. A pretty silly chase sequence follows as Kamel’s bodyguard is out for revenge. Have no fear. Q is sent to India to equip Bond with various gadgets like a homing device to be implanted in the egg. Bond seduces Magda, one of Kamel’s female associates. All goes to plan for Bond as she steals the egg from him and hands it back to Kamel. Bond is knocked out by the bodyguard after the associate leaves. It takes no time for Bond to escape his capture. His deeper investigation leads him to Octopussy and her traveling circus posing as the ruse to smuggle the ancient artifacts. Bond sneaks onto the circus train and realizes the plan is not as simple as some artifact smuggling.

-theme song “All Time High” written by John Barry and Time Rice, performed by Rita Coolidge. First time the title of the movie did not appear in the lyrics
-Maud Adam’s second appearance in a Bond film after starring as Andrea in The Man with the Golden Gun
-last movie to feature “James Bond will return in ______ “ in the final credits
-Robert Brown’s first appearance as M
-Faye Dunaway was in consideration for the title role

Ryan’s One Sentence Review: Roger Moore is starting to show his age. He probably shouldn’t do another one. Oh, wait.

Paul’s quick review: If you have a fear of the following animals: snakes, spiders, alligators, leeches, and octopi, you will not enjoy this movie. The Indian background provides for some exotic animals doing some lethal things to our hero. Moore was 56 when he made this and he is really starting to show his age. I don’t want to sound like an ageist, but he is too old to be playing Bond at this point. I normally like Q’s gadgets, but this movie is so gadget heavy they start to feel like a gimmick. You have the yo-yo saw and alligator hideout submarine just to name a few. Maud Adams is pretty tough and awesome as Octopussy.

RATING: ** ½ (2 .5 out of 5 stars)


14. A VIEW TO A KILL (1985)
Director: John Glen
Bond: Roger Moore
Bond Girl: Tanya Roberts as Stacey Sutton, Fiona Fullerton as Pola Ivanova
Villain: Christopher Walken as Max Zorin, Grace Jones as May Day

British Agent 003 has been killed in Siberia. Bond recovers a important microchip on his body that 003 had taken from the Soviets. Back at MI:6, Q informs M and Bond that the microchip is a copy of one designed by Zorin Industries to withstand electromagnetic pulse. Zorin Industries is run by the ruthless Max Zorin. Bond spies on Zorin and his accomplice May Day at a horse race. Suspicion grows as Zorin’s horse wins and seems wildly out of control. Bond heads to Zorin’s estate for his horse sale. He sneaks into the underground lab to discover that our villain is implanting microchips in horses that release steroids and adrenaline into them upon control of the rider.

Once Zorin puts the pieces together that Bond is an agent, he attempts to have him killed on a derby training course. After that attempt failed, Zorin and May Day knock him out and try to drown him. Have no fear as Bond escapes the clutches of death once again. Back in Zorin’s blimp, he informs a group of investors that his plan is to destroy the Silicone Valley area to seize control of the microchip industry.

-last performance by Roger Moore as 007
-Moore realized he was too old to play the part when he discovered he was older than Tanya Roberts’ (his love interest) mom
-theme song “A View to a Kill” performed by Duran Duran
-watch for a Dolph Lundgren cameo! He was dating Grace Jones and the time and had to fill in one day when an extra failed to show up for filming.

Ryan’s One Sentence Review: Grace Jones is ridiculous.

Paul’s quick review: I knew the movie was doomed when I heard the Beach Boys music before the opening credits even started. They do not belong in a Bond movie. Moore graciously stepped down from the role after this movie as he is far too old to be playing Bond. The last few Moore Bond movies have just gotten too silly and unrealistic. Christopher Walken plays Zorin pretty over-the-top which was not bad as it fits the rest of the movie. Max Zorin reminded me a lot of his performance as Max Shreck in Batman Returns. Maybe the later was inspired by the Bond villain. The pacing is wretchedly slow. The beginning of the movie is so focused on the damn horses that it is seems like half the movie has passed before we figure out what Zorin’s true plan happens to be. Tanya Roberts does not help move the story along. She is pretty awful and makes Stacey Sutton one of the more helpless Bond girls. This is another instance where the theme song is the best part of the movie. It’s a shame Moore had to go out with such a dud.

RATING: ** (2 out of 5 stars)


Director: John Glen
Bond: Timothy Dalton
Bond Girl: Maryam d’Abo as Kara Milovy
Villain: Joe Don Baker as Whitaker, John Rhys-Davies as Pushkin

KGB officer General Georgi Koskov is planning on escaping from Czechoslovakia while at the orchestra. A sniper has been hired to stop his escape. James Bond is aiding in the escape and notices that Kara Milovy the cello player from the orchestra is the hired sniper. He goes against his orders and deliberately misses the sniper by shooting her rifle. He simply wanted to scare the living daylights out of the sniper. Koskov escapes and flees to Austria via the Trans-Siberian pipeline.

MI:6 is informed by Koskov that new KGB head General Leonid Pushkin is reviving the old policy “Smert Spionam”, aka Death to Spies. Many British agents are feared to be the target of Pushkin, including 007. Bond heads to Bratislava to find Milovy. He thinks Koskov’s defection at the orchestra was staged and Milovy may be his girlfriend. Bond is informed by fellow MI:6 ally Saunders that Koskov is in financial business with arms dealer Whitaker. Sure enough, Saunders is killed and a balloon with the note “Smert Spionam” is found at the scene. Bond must figure out what the connection between Koskov, Pushkin, and Whitaker is and where the truth lies behind all of their actions.

-title theme song “The Living Daylights” performed by a-ha
-the movie was released on the 25th anniversary of the series
-numerous product placement for Philips
-Dalton was originally screen tested for “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” but turned it down thinking he was too young at the time.

Ryan’s One Sentence Review: I really liked Timothy Dalton’s Bond.

Paul’s quick review: A new Bond always seems to bring a freshness and life back to the series. The Living Daylights is less gimmicky and silly than the last couple of Moore films. The series is back to the action, mystery, and intrigue that make the Bond movies fun without having to rely on cheap gadgets and absurd story lines like Bond in space or a circus smuggling drugs. One of the weak points of the movie falls on Maryam d’Abo. Her character belongs in the category of weak and annoying Bond girls often whining and waiting for Bond to help her out. Another fault is that I would have liked to have seen more of John Rhys-Davies. He’s a great character actor that is not used to his full potential here. Daltry does a pretty decent job of taking on Bond. He is sexy and debonair and can definitely handle the action scenes. I was missing the dry humor the other Bonds have had. I do not know if that is Daltry’s fault or the screenplay.

RATING: ***1/2 (3.5 out of 5 stars)


16. LICENCE TO KILL (1989)
Director: John Glen
Bond: Timothy Dalton
Bond Girl: Talisa Soto as Lupe Lamora, Carey Lowell as Pam Bouvier
Villain: Robert Davi as Franz Sanchez, Benicio del Toro as Dario

Bond and Felix Leiter must take care of some business on the day of Felix’s wedding. They successfully capture drug lord Franz Sanchez and parachute down just in time for Felix to walk down the aisle. Unfortunately for Felix, Sanchez escapes capture and comes back to surprise him and his new bride later that night. Bond vows to get revenge on Sanchez.

M meets Bond in Key West and assigns him a job in Istanbul. Bond resigns from the assignment to stay on top of Sanchez against M’s orders. M revokes Bond’s licence to kill and instantly Bond flees the scene. Bond enlists the help of ex-CIA agent Pam Bouvier to go after Sanchez and his drug ring.

-title theme song “Licence to Kill” performed by Gladys Knight
-watch for a young Benicio del Toro as one of the bad guys
-first Bond film to include tobacco warnings in its closing credits
-last film in the series to be directed by John Glen and written by Richard Maibaum
-considered a box office failure
-largest amount of screen time for Desmond Llewelyn as Q than any other movie

Ryan’s One Sentence Review: Maggots, sharks, and cocaine grinders give me the heebie jeebies.

Paul’s quick review: Licence to Kill is one of the grittier and darker Bond films. The whole idea behind cocaine smuggling is pretty intense and realistic making it feel like Scarface over your standard Bond fare. Q is one of the most beloved characters in the series, and Desmond Llewelyn has rightly been given a lot of screen time to show him off. The best scene of the movie is Q’s entrance posing as Bond’s uncle. Hilarity ensues as Bond enters his hotel room thinking it is someone else posing as his uncle.

RATING: *** ½ (3.5 out of 5 stars)


17. GOLDENEYE (1995)
Director: Martin Campbell
Bond: Pierce Brosnan
Bond Girl: Izabella Scorupco as Natalya Simonova
Villain: Gottfried John as General Arkady Grigorovich Ourumov, Famke Janssen as Xenia Onatopp

“No. No. No. No more foreplay. Take me to Janus.”

Agent 007 James Bond and Agent 006 Alec Trevelyan infiltrate a Soviet weapons facility. After a standoff, Bond narrowly escapes after the death of Trevelyan.

Nine years pass and Bond is sent to Monte Carlo to follow Xenia Onatopp. After a high-speed car chase with her, Bond finally introduces himself to her at a casino table. Ms. Onatopp goes on a shooting spree at a bunker in Severnaya in an attempt to steal the control disk for the GoldenEye satellite weapons. Natalya Simonova and computer programmer Boris Grishenko are the lone survivors of the massacre. M believes the Janus crime syndicate may be behind the massacre. They were the ones behind the death of Trevelyan. M orders Bond to investigate the attack and track down the GoldenEye, but not out of vengeance for Trevelyan’s death. Bond’s investigation leads him to a massive surprise discovery involving the Janus operation.

-title theme song “GoldenEye” performed by Tina Turner and written by Bono and The Edge. One of my favorites Bond themes!
-Pierce Brosnan’s first performance as Agent 007
-Judi Dench’s first performance as M
-film went through many script changes as the plot was nearly identical to the storyline in True Lies.
-The six and a half year hiatus in between Licence to Kill and GoldenEye was the longest time frame between movies in the series
-First Bond film to have no reference to another novel or storyline by Ian Fleming

Ryan’s One Sentence Review: The first Bond movie I ever saw in its entirety, and the standard to which I’ve held all the others. Seeing it now in the order it comes in the entire series, it’s still my favorite. And Famke Janssen is one of the best femme fatales in the series, second only to Lotte Lenya.

Paul’s quick review: GoldenEye is the best Bond movie since The Spy Who Loved Me. Brosnan is superb at his first outing as the iconic character. He is good looking and sauve. He tackles all of the action sequences like a champion. On top of all of that, he can play the sense of humor that is often lacking in other actors that have played Bond. The action sequences are non-stop leaving the audience on the edge of their seat wondering how Bond will get out of each situation. The sequence involving Bond driving a tank may be one of the best chases in Bond history. Dame Judi Dench takes over the coveted role of M. The Academy Award winner is the PERFECT choice for the role made famous by Bernard Lee. She is tough and fierce but still retains her dry wit. The return of Bond knocked the series out of the ballpark and set the bar high for the rest of Brosnan’s films and the series.

RATING: **** 1/2 (4.5 out of 5 stars)


Director: Roger Spottiswoode
Bond: Pierce Brosnan
Bond Girl: Teri Hatcher as Paris Carver, Michelle Yeoh as Wai Lin
Villain: Jonathan Pryce as Elliott Carver, Ricky Jay as Henry Gupta

“I always enjoy studying a new tongue, professor.”

Elliott Carver is the head of the Carver Media Group and is planning on launching the Satellite News Network. Carver works with Henry Gupta to use a GPS encoder to locate a British submarine in the South China Sea. Carver uses one of his ships to sink the submarine and steal one of its missiles. Low and behold, he has the top news for his newspaper. M prompts Bond to seek out Elliott Carver. At a Carver Media broadcast party, Bond wastes no time by seducing Paris Carver who happens to be Elliott’s wife and one of his ex-lovers. Paris seems to have her own motives as she doesn’t come clean to Elliott about her past with Bond.

Bond heads down to the wreckage site to discover Chinese spy Wai Lin is already down there. Carver’s henchmen are fast on their tail and capture them when they come up to the surface. They escape and put their egos aside to work together to find Carver’s stealth ship

-Theme song “Tomorrow Never Dies” performed by Sheryl Crow.
-Dedicated to the memory of previous Bond producer Albert “ Cubby” Broccoli.
-The original title of the movie was “Tomorrow Never Comes”
-Anthony Hopkins was cast as Elliott Carver and joined the production, but dropped out after three days because filming was disorganized and chaotic and there was no completed shooting script
-First Bond film since Diamonds Are Forever to have a running time of less than two hours.

Ryan’s One Sentence Review: Not as good as GoldenEye, but I enjoyed it was one of the most topically relevant Bond films.

Paul’s quick review: Tomorrow Never Dies was the first Bond film I remember seeing in the theaters. I saw it at the Coon Rapids Showplace 16 on opening weekend. The film had a lot of pressure after the success of GoldenEye. While it certainly is not a bad Bond film, it does not live up to those standards. The idea behind media manipulation is fascinating and a very original idea for the series. Unfortunately, the script is fairly weak and does not sustain the energy to keep that aspect of the plot intriguing. Jonathan Pryce’s performance harkens back to older Bond villains by playing Carver over-the-top. Michelle Yeoh uses her martial arts training to give her Bond girl a new twist we have not seen before. Teri Hatcher’s character is a throw away as she is left to merely look pretty in her evening gown. Here’s hoping the rest of the Brosnan films get back into high gear. If I remember correctly, they do not.

RATING: *** (3 out of 5 stars)


Director: Michael Apted
Bond: Pierce Brosnan
Bond Girl: Denise Richard as Dr. Christmas Jones, Sophie Marceau as Elektra King
Villain: Robert Carlyle as Renard

“I thought Christmas only comes once a year.”

In Bilbao, Spain Bond meets a Swiss banker to retrieve money for oil tycoon Sir Robert King who happens to be a friend of M’s. After their altercation, Bond escapes unharmed with the money in hand. Back at MI:6, Bond and M discuss the transaction while King collects his money. Bond realizes a little too late that the money was booby trapped, and King is killed at headquarters.

Bond learns of King’s history with M and the relationship she had in dealing with the earlier kidnapping of his daughter, Elektra. The amount of money King was retrieving is the same as the ransom amount when Elektra was kidnapped. M is determined this is a sign that the kidnapper is back. His name is Renard, an agent turned terrorist that was left alive and with a bullet in his head. The bullet is slowly killing off his senses making him immune to pain. M sends Bond to find Elektra as her life may be in danger again.

-title song “The World Is Not Enough” performed by Garbage
-First performance by John Cleese as R, Q’s successor.
-There were rumors that there would be cameos by numerous Bond girls of the past like Ursula Andress, Diana Rigg, and Famke Jansen but this idea never made it past the rumor stage.
-Robbie Coltrane’s second Bond film after appearing as the same character in GoldenEye
-Producer Barbara Broccoli was interested in Peter Jackson as the director but was turned off after seeing The Frighteners.
-Denise Richards won a Razzie Award for Worse Supporting Actress for her performance

Ryan’s One Sentence Review: Denise. Richards. Ugghh…

Paul’s quick review: The World is Not Enough marks the end of an error as this was the final performance of Desmond Llewelyn as gadget master Q. The audience is in for a treat with the arrival of John Cleese as R, the successor to Q. There are some hysterical moments between Cleese and Llewelyn. Dame Judi Dench is as fierce and brilliant as ever. Her bitch slap at Sophie Marceau is more proof she was the perfect choice to take over the role of M. Who cast Denise Richards? I mean, really. Who cast her? She is completely unbelievable as Dr. Christmas Jones. Ever line of dialogue she gives is laughable. I believe the movie gets such a bad rap because of her performance.

RATING: *** 1/2 (3.5 out of 5 stars)


20. DIE ANOTHER DAY (2002)
Director: Lee Tamahori
Bond: Pierce Brosnan
Bond Girl: Halle Berry as Jinx, Rosamund Pike as Miranda Frost
Villain: Rick Yune as Zao, Toby Stephens as Gustav Graves

“I know all about you – sex for dinner, death for breakfast.”

Our hero James Bond ambushes a North Korean military base. Colonel Tan-Sun Moon is trading conflict diamonds for weapons. A hovercraft chase ensues leaving Colonel Moon plunging down a waterfall. Bond survives but is captured and imprisoned by Colonel Moon’s father, General Moon.

Fourteen months pass and Bond is freed as he is traded with Tan-Sun’s assistant Zao who was also taken capture. M is unhappy with the way Bond handled the situation and is determined he compromised the mission. She removes his 00 status and informs him he is of no use to anyone anymore. Bond knows the Zao situation is far from over. He learns from his contact with the Chinese government that Zao is now in Cuba. Bond and Agent Giacinta ‘Jinx’ Johnson follow Zao to a gene therapy clinic. More chases and explosions ensue, and Bond is able to recover some diamonds off Zao before he escapes in a helicopter. Bond connects the diamonds to British billionaire Gustav Graves. Graves invites Bond to Iceland for a scientific demonstration of the satellite project he has been working on.

-Theme song “Die Another Day” performed by Madonna. She is the only singer to have a cameo in the movie
-Pierce Brosnan’s fourth and final performance as James Bond.
-Halle Berry’s bikini entrance is an homage to Ursula Andress in Dr. No
-The opening title sequence is the first time plot details are used within the design of the sequence
-The film’s release coincided with the 40th anniversary of the series
-If Toby Stephens look familiar to you, he is the son of legendary actress Maggie Smith.

Ryan’s One Sentence Review: I just don’t understand how the ice palace didn’t melt a long time ago.

Paul’s quick review: I prefer my Bond movies on the more realistic side. Die Another Day is a bit too unrealistic for my taste. Between the gene therapy concept, ice palace, and invisible Aston Martin, the movie felt a bit hokey. One of the saving graces for the twentieth Bond movie is Toby Stephens. He has the right blend of being subtle yet diabolical without being zany or obnoxious. The best Brosnan movie was his first, GoldenEye. The worst is his last, Die Another Day.

RATING: ** (2 out of 5 stars)


21. CASINO ROYALE (2006)
Director: Martin Campbell
Bond: Daniel Craig
Bond Girl: Eva Green as Vesper Lynd
Villain: Mads Mikkelsen as Le Chiffre, Simon Abkarian as Alex Dimitrios

“Arrogance and self awareness rarely go hand in hand”

In order to receive 00 status, you must make two kills. A traitor among MI:6 informs Bond of this rule as he is convinced James is one short after killing his associate. He is armed and ready to kill Bond. Bond is a step ahead of him and has previously removed the bullets from his gun. To the traitor’s surprise, Bond gets his second kill.

Bond receives 00 status from M and proceeds to blow up an embassy chasing an international bomb maker by the name of Mollaka. He then uses a text message on Mollaka’s phone to connect him to Dimitrios, an associate to LaChiffre, a private banker to terrorists. Bond heads to the Bahamas to track down Dimitrios and LaChiffre. In true Bond fashion, he beats Dimitrios in a game of poker and seduces his wife all in the same evening. LaChiffre’s plan to destroy the new Skyfleet prototype airliner is thwarted when Bond stops one of his other associates during the plan of attack. LaChiffre is now under pressure to recoup his monetary losses after his plan failed. He sets up a high-stakes poker tournament at Casino Royale to win back his money. M sends Bond to Montenegro and enters him into the game to stop LaChiffre once and for all.

-opening title song “You Know My Name” performed by Chris Cornell
-Daniel Craig’s first appearance as James Bond
-Second film directed by Martin Campbell following his work on GoldenEye.
-First Bond movie since Moonraker to be fully based on an Ian Fleming novel
-Daniel Craig was hired after producer Barbara Broccoli enjoyed his work in Layer Cake and Munich.

Ryan’s One Sentence Review: So good and Daniel Craig is just SEXY.

Paul’s quick review: From the very beginning of the movie the action sequences are non-stop. The high altitude stunt work is breathtaking, stressful, and edge-of-your-seat. I literally could not take my eyes of the screen. Casino Royale goes back to the basics in regards to the story and the character. You will not find any mention of beloved characters Q or Moneypenny or will you see any gadgets or tricked out vehicles. This Bond is grittier and more realistic than your standard Bond movie. In the end, that is one of the reasons the movie works so well. It is all about the character and the story. Daniel Craig instantly became a favorite Bond for many fans of the series. He has the entire Bond package. He can handle all of the stunts. He is extremely sexy. He has a very dry sense of humor. He is also flawed. His Bond is not just some invincible hero character. He gets bruised and beaten and really starts to show emotion and vulnerability as he falls for Vesper. Even though it has one of the longer running times, Campbell keeps the pace going never making the movie feel long and drawn out like some of the older Sean Connery movies. After a four year hiatus from Die Another Day, Bond is back and better than ever.

RATING: **** ½ (4.5 out of 5 stars)


Director: Marc Forster
Bond: Daniel Craig
Bond Girl: Olga Kurylenko as Camille Montes, Gemma Arterton as Strawberry Fields
Villain: Mathieu Amalric as Dominic Greene

“Bond. If you could avoid killing every possible lead, it would be greatly appreciated.”

Quantum of Solace directly picks up after the events in Casino Royale. Bond has captured Mr. White following the death of his girlfriend Vesper Lynde. Bond and M interrogate Mr. White about his organization Quantum. Before any vital information is revealed, M’s bodyguard reveals himself to be a traitor by attacking them allowing Mr. White to escape.

Through a series of connections, Bond traces the traitor to Dominic Greene. Greene is working for an exiled Bolivian general to help him overturn his government. Greene and his men are also buying oil pipeline and want to take control of the Bolivian water supply. Bond interrupts a Quantum meeting at the opera and more chases ensue. M demands Bond return to MI:6 for a debriefing. He refuses, and she revokes his passport and duties on the mission.

-theme song “Another Way to Die” performed by Alicia Keys and Jack White
-Daniel Craig picked fashion designer Tom Ford to design all of his suits used in the movie.
-Screenwriter Paul Haggis turned down the chance to direct the film as well as write it.
-First Bond movie to be a direct sequel to the previous film in the series
-When Fields shows up dead covered in oil, it is a direct homage to Goldfinger.

Ryan’s One Sentence Review: I was unclear if they were trying to make a sequel or a new movie.

Paul’s quick review: The big problem with this movie lays in the script and story. I think the idea of it being a sequel to Casino Royale left the story weak and poorly structured. There are new characters introduced but they are poorly connected to the other characters in Casino Royale. In recent months, Daniel Craig has said that the script was fairly bare bones when filming started and due to the writer’s strike he and Forster had to re-write and bulk up some of the scenes. If you are a sucker for action scenes, you won’t be disappointed. The opera scene and the opening sequence are well executed. Some of the other scenes felt like script filler instead of being used to advance the story. The movie would have been better off if it was a fresh story instead of a sequel.

RATING: ** (2 out of 5 stars)


23. SKYFALL (2012)
Director: Sam Mendes
Starring: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ben Whishaw, Ralph Fiennes, Albert Finney, Naomie Harris, Bérénice Marlohe

Every great Bond movie starts with an action packed opening before the credits start. If it is exquisitely executed, it should give you a taste of what the rest of the movie is going to be like. Sometimes it involves the rest of the plot, and sometimes it stands on its own. Skyfall may have the best opening sequence to date. Bond (Craig) discovers a coveted hard drive has been stolen and a fellow MI6 agent has been shot. He informs M (Dench) over headset and she orders him to go after the killer, Patrice. Bond joins Eve (Harris), another MI6 agent, as they chase after him. After taking a bullet in the shoulder and numerous food stands and train cars are destroyed, Bond and our thief are in combat on top of a moving train. Eve is off in the distance reporting the action to M. She is close enough to take a shot at Patrice, but the risk of hitting Bond is too great for her to go along with the shot. M orders her to “take the bloody shot”. Bond is hit and falls down into the river. He is presumed missing in action and possibly dead.

M is devastated after making a call that ended in the possible death of coveted MI6 Agent 007 James Bond. Gareth Mallory (Fiennes) is the new head of Intelligence and Security Committee. He calls a meeting with M informing her that she is being forced into early retirement. She learns that her computer has been hacked into on the way back to MI6 headquarters. As they pull up to headquarters, an explosion goes off in the offices and six employees are killed.

Bond used his supposed death to retire himself. He learns of the attacks at MI6 and heads back to London. He shows up at M’s flat and informs her that 007 is reporting back to duty. M agrees, but informs him that he must go through numerous evaluations to make sure he is fit for duty. The time off has made Bond weak and unsteady. Even though he fails his evaluations, M officially hires him back on. Bond uses the shrapnel from his shoulder to trace the bullet back to Patrice to find out who he is employed by. The stolen hard drive contains the names and identities to various undercover MI6 agents. M discovers that the identities are being leaked. Bond heads to Shanghai to find Patrice. Further investigation leads Bond to Silva (Bardem), a sadistic terrorist. Silva is a former MI6 agent who worked with M and blames her for his capture and torture by the Chinese.

In various articles I have read, Sam Mendes has mentioned that he was very inspired by Christopher Nolan and The Dark Knight when shaping his approach to directing a Bond film. The inspiration is very evident when watching the film. The story involving a terrorist and revenge is a very realistic approach that you don’t see in a lot of the older Bond films. Mendes and screenwriters John Logan, Neal Purvis, and Robert Wade flesh out these characters we’ve come to love by giving them a back story this time around. The movie is not really an origins story, but you learn more about the relationship between Bond and M as well as about Bond’s childhood. Daniel Craig and Judi Dench are masters at both of these characters. They bring a depth to the characters that we never saw in earlier Bond movies. The audience really understands that Bond is a flawed character. He is a lot more than some strapping hunk of a hero that will come rescue you and defeat the bad guys.

The film is beautifully shot by cinematographer Roger Deakins. The nine time Oscar nominee has previously worked on previous films by Sam Mendes and consistently shoots all of the Coen Brothers movies. His way of shooting the action sequences, especially the opening train scene, keep you on the edge of your seat. The mix of close ups and wide shots make you feel like you are on top of the train with Bond and Patrice, and the wide shots give you the scope of how crazy the stunt work is. The other fight between Patrice and Bond in Shanghai is very intricately shot and lit with them in darkness against the neon blue background lights.

This is Daniel Craig’s third time playing Bond after starting his run off with a bang in Casino Royale which then was followed up by the dismal Quantum of Solace. I know there may be some Connery purists out there, but Daniel Craig is James Bond. He is sexy and suave whether he’s in a suit or a tiny swimsuit. He brings the dry wit that other Bond actors failed to do. He can tackle any action scene and stunt work thrown at him. He has a natural chemistry with many of his leading ladies. Judi Dench commands the screen as M like nobody else could. She brings out the maternal side of M and gives her a sense of humor that works well with Craig’s Bond. I have loved watching her work as M over the years, especially as the story in Skyfall centers around her. Javier Bardem won an Oscar for playing bad guy Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men. He sure knows how to play sinister men. Silva is one of the best Bond villains. He is completely sadistic and psychotic without feeling too campy or over-the-top.

Mendes’ love of the Bond franchise shows as he incorporates all of those elements we love about the series into Skyfall while making them feel fresh and current in today’s society. You have your Bond girls, an evil villain, gadgets, a sultry theme song written and performed by Adele, and intense action sequences without any of it feeling hokey and gimmicky. If you know your history, you will pick up on little nods to the past. These homages are done subtly without feeling too “wink wink-nudge nudge”. If you are a die-hard Bond fan, you will love the 23rd outing. If you are new to the series, hopefully you will become a new fan. Is this the best Bond movie to date? Yes, as a matter of fact, I think I would rank it that way.

RATING: ***** (5 out of 5 stars)

Up Next: Spectre

24. SPECTRE (2015)
Director: Sam Mendes
Starring: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Dave Bautista, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw, Ralph Fiennes, Rory Kinnear, Andrew Scott, Monica Bellucci, Alessandro Cremona


Daniel Craig is back for his fourth outing as James Bond, Agent 007. Back at MI6, the 00 program is at risk of being shut down after a new global surveillance initiative is being launched by the ruthless Max Denbigh, aka C (Scott). Bond causes a massive scene of destruction in Mexico City without being given the proper authority, which only fuels the move to terminate the 00 program. The current M (Fiennes) removes him from official 00 work, but we all know Daniel Craig’s Bond is one stubborn guy and has reasons for his actions. He’ll go rogue if he needs to in order to get to the bottom of something. Shortly after the last M’s death, he was given a video to track down and terminate a known assassin by the name of Sciarra (Cremona). At his funeral, Bond meets his widow (Bellucci) who leads him to a larger secret organization known as Spectre. With the help of Moneypenny (Harris) and Q (Whishaw), Bond puts the pieces together to realize that the head of Spectre, Franz Oberhauser (Waltz), is directly related to his family’s past and is the mastermind behind an ever larger plot against the people in Bond’s life.

There’s a massive opening sequence that takes place in Mexico City on Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead). It’s one of the most exhilarating and adrenaline fueled openings in Bond franchise. In true fashion, it leads into the new theme song “Writing’s On the Wall” by Sam Smith. The opening poses as a reflection of those that have come and gone before us. The dead are very much alive in a sense as the story acts as a culmination of the events and characters from the Daniel Craig era of Bond movies (Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, and Skyfall). Many characters and storylines are referenced and have direct consequences to this storyline and how Franz Oberhauser is brought into the picture. Many of the previous films stand on their own with rare carry over from one film to the next. I admire the approach the writing team of John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and Jez Butterworth has taken with making this a cohesive overarching story with the Craig films. It raises the stakes and creates a larger atmosphere to understand and care for this version of Bond. That being said, it makes it all the more necessary to have seen the last three to get a full understanding of what’s going on with this one.

This approach continues on with the more realistic and grittier take on Bond while also taking into consideration the history of the character long before Craig took over. If you know your Bond franchise, you’ll pick up on little nods and characteristics that they’ve brought back into play. It boasts a token train sequence reminiscent of From Russia with Love, a snowy mountain chase, the silent but deadly henchman Hinx (Bautista), and a major third act reveal. As a fan of the franchise, these little touches had me cheering. Others may be less than impressed with the attempt at these throwback choices when we haven’t had them in the Craig movies so far.

Spectre has a majority of the same creative team as the last Bond film, Skyfall, including director Sam Mendes. It’s beautifully shot by Hoyt Van Hoytema (Interstellar) who takes over DP duties from Roger Deakins. He captures the essence of the London hustle and bustle, the Italian architecture, and the lush snowy Austrian mountainside. Daniel Craig is also back to playing the moody Bond. He continues to prove why he’s one of the best actors to play the role. He’s suave, commanding, sophisticated, sexy, and has a very dry sense of humor. He is also listed as one of the film’s producers and you can see his dedication with his performance and what he, Mendes, and the writers have brought to the table with this film.

In what could have been an over-the-top villain role, Christoph Waltz keeps his flamboyant side to a minimum and makes Oberhauser quite menacing without overdoing it. It’s no surprise why they wanted him as the film’s main villain. Léa Seydoux (The Grand Budapest Hotel) and Monica Bellucci (The Passion of the Christ) are the token Bond girls. Seydoux’s Madeleine Swann is a new love interest for Bond and is the daughter of a previous character in the series. She’s not the helpless love interest either. Bellucci is the secondary Bond girl with a whopping five minutes of screen time.

Our core characters at MI6 are all back and the script makes good use out of them by putting them right in the middle of the action. Moneypenny is no longer stuck behind the desk nor is Q kept in the lab. As Q, Ben Whishaw is given a few good scene-stealing one-liners along the way. Ralph Fiennes takes over the noble duties of M as we saw the death of Judi Dench’s M in Skyfall.

Spectre is the longest Bond film to date and could use some cuts along the way. There’s no reason it has to be two and a half hours. I knew going in that it couldn’t be as masterful as Skyfall was. You only set yourself up for disappointment if you expect Skyfall quality. If Daniel Craig decided to hang up the suit and holster the gun, I would be content with that. Spectre has a nice polished feeling and provides the right amount of closure for what Craig has brought to the series.

Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? Bond fans like myself will no doubt enjoy it; others may not fully appreciate it if they don’t have a deep history for it.


Up Next: No Time to Die


Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga
Starring: Daniel Craig, Rami Malek, Lashana Lynch, Jeffrey Wright, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw, Rory Kinnear, Ralph Fiennes, Ana de Armas, Billy Magnussen, Christoph Waltz

One of the most exciting eras of the James Bond franchise has come to an end as Daniel Craig finishes his run as Agent 007 in No Time to Die. James had been hoping to live off the grid leading a quiet life with the love of his life, Madeline (Seydoux) That can only last so long after his location is compromised, and old pal Felix Leiter (Wright) tracks him down with a new mission. There’s a massive explosion at an MI6 lab. Bond believes SPECTRE is behind this and agrees to take on the mission connecting the dots between Spectre, Blofeld, a man from Madeline’s past, and a highly secretive piece of technology.

Here’s my review