With SPECTRE right around the corner, it’s time to celebrate Bond, James Bond.
I’ve compiled a list of my 7 favorite 007 movies. You can check out the 1st part of the list by clicking HERE: #7 – #4. Now it’s time to reveal my final 3 James Bond movies I hold in highest regard.
Goldeneye was my favorite 007 movie until the age of Daniel Craig. Oddly enough, I’d seen several Bond movies before Goldeneye, including the more recent Tomorrow Never Dies and The World Is Not Enough, and it was the Nintendo 64 game of the same name that lead me to the movie. And though Gamers can all agree Goldeneye is a great game, it’s an even better movie!
Goldeneye was released in 1995, the 1st 007 movie following the collapse of the Soviet Union… who had served as the main Bond villains since SMERSH in Sean Connery’s days. The franchise had laid dormant between films for the longest period on record, returning with a new M played by Judi Dench and a new 007 for the 90’s, Pierce Brosnan.
The movie doesn’t age as well as Connery’s films, laced with cheesy 90’s music in a few ridiculous scenes; especially the car race (not chase) between Bond and Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen). Look, another great, cheesy “Bond girl” name!
All that taken into consideration, Goldeneye is my 3rd favorite Bond movie due to it’s amazing villain (either my favorite or second favorite 007 villain… it’s hard to lock it down) and just as incredible plot.
Sean Bean plays 006, Alec Trevelyn, left to die by Pierce Brosnan in the 1st scene only to return as head of a master-plan to use the Goldeneye weapons satellite with an EMP device that could cripple a city. No world domination here. As James suggests, Trevelyn is a common thief, though the former 006 has something bigger planned; erasing all the bank records and the like by turning the Goldeneye satellite on London.
Similar to Robert Shaw in From Russia With Love, 006/Alec Trevelyn is the ultimate doppelganger, a former partner of Bond’s, with his skill-set, charm, and even the very same gadgets (though his watch provided by Q branch is a slightly older model). Sean Bean is one of my favorite actors due to this role and he’s the perfect man to play the ultimate anti-007 (Bean was on the shortlist to play 007 when Brosnan got the gig).
2. Casino Royale
Casino Royale reinvented 007 in a way that no other new Bond actor ever did. Borrowing heavily from the Bourne franchise, Daniel Craig wasn’t just the 1st blond Bond, he was the most brutal. M calls Craig’s 007 “a blunt instrument,” not the sophisticated Bond we were accustomed to. This darker, more realistic take on 007 was a direct response to how cheesy the Pierce Brosnan movies had gotten by Die Another Day.
In an era of dark reboots, including Batman Begins, the ruthless Daniel Craig 007 was a welcome change. We get to see James Bond become the 007 we know and love today… and get to see again on November 6th! Take this exchange for example of where Daniel Craig’s Bond starts:
“Shaken or stirred?”
“Do I look like I give a damn?”
The Vesper (Eva Green) origin tale is the 1st time the franchise had dabbled in 007’s past (the 1st book of the franchise, Casino Royale could only be made into a movie through a partnership with Sony) and boy-howdy did it make the decades old character more interesting than ever before! We get to see why he treats women like playthings and trusts no one. Though he is not fully the 007 we know by the end of the film, he does earn the words:
“The name’s Bond, James Bond.”
The movie’s plot is simple, but great; again, we’re not talking about starting World War III or using a Nuclear Device. Plus, the idea of a shady organization that will become Quantum… and the SPECTRE is immediatly introudced and wonderfully explored: Bond doesn’t even get a chance to kill Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), who is an interesting villain in his own right as he “cries” blood. Instead, Mr. White cleans up his own mess.
The groundwork is laid for great characters that carried over to Quantum of Solace (as discussed last time), including CIA Agent Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright), ally Rene Mathis (Giancarlo Giannini), and Mr. White. Of course, M is back as well, but she remains Dame Judi Dench… for now. Q and Moneypenny are absent, but that’s why Skyfall exists!
Casino Royale also brings back the detective element from Dr. No in a way it hasn’t been explored in 50 years. Though the film has excellent action set-pieces, it’s really about 007 following a series of clues that lead him to a poker game with only the highest of stake. He’s a true detective in this one.
I reuse this joke from Pineapple Express too often, but if Goldeneye had a baby with Casino Royale, then you’ve got Skyfall. (Whew, didn’t have to use the part about “the result of baby fucking.”)
Simply put, Skyfall is the best written, directed, and acted 007 film. It even includes a bunch of winks to old-school Bond; the film being released on the 50th anniversary of the film franchise.
Right off the bat we’re treated to the greatest pre-credits sequence yet; Bond chasing down a villain with MI6 secrets, first with a motorcycle on building rooftops and ending up on top of a train with 007 being shot by Moneypenny (Naomie Harris). The movie continues at a pace somewhere between the slower Casino Royale and the non-stop action of Quantum of Solace.
Silva (Javier Bardem) is the villain I said earlier I can’t decide if I like more or less than Alec Trevelyn. In fact, Silva and 006 have a lot in common; both are former agents who worked for M, though Silva never worked with Bond, so he has less in common with 007 than 006 did. Regardless, his hatred/obsession with M, a mother of sorts that betrayed him and left him to die, drives his madness, even causing him to compare 007 to himself as the other “survivor” or “rat.” In fact, Silva’s speech about how his grandmother rid her island of rats is one of the strongest villain monologues in recent cinema.
His rat metaphor is the delicious glue (I know… you’re not supposed to eat glue…) that holds the story together. Again, we have an incredibly small plot when compared to the days of Pierce Brosnan; Silva just wants to kill M… and himself… at the same time. 007 is just the man in the way.
Through his protection of M, we learn more about Bond’s past, which of course is one of Casino Royale‘s strengths, taking us to Skyfall, James Bond’s childhood home. We get to see the grave markers of his parents including “Andrew Bond,” putting to rest the silly fan theory that James Bond is a code-name like 007, not each actor’s character’s actual name. How silly!
by the end of the Skyfall, the final pieces of the James Bond universe fall into place with a new Q (Ben Whinshaw), the aforementioned Moneypenny, and a brand new M (Ralph Fiennes).
My only gripe, and it’s a small one, is that there is no mention of Quantum or any mysterious organization, something that is present in the three other Daniel Craig starring films. But, honestly, that would have muddled the film’s perfect plot and pacing
Besides, the trailer for SPECTRE suggests that Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz) and Quantum/SPECTRE have been behind all of 007’s pain. So, when SPECTRE drops on November 6th here in the states, we’ll know exactly what pain Oberhauser and SPECTRE have wrought!