Daniel Craig takes over the role of James Bond for the final time this month in the long-awaited No Time to Die, which opens in theatres on October 8. But where would his fifth film rank among the greatest in the franchise? The films have swung widely between brutal realism and campy indulgence over the decades, often reflecting antiquated attitudes about women and reacting to contemporary cinematic trends — from Cold War intrigue to kung-fu fighting to CGI marvels.
1. Goldfinger (1964):
Goldfinger, the third Bond film and unquestionably the series’ first blockbuster, would set the standard for all subsequent 007 films. It features some of the most famous supervillains, henchmen, Bond girls, theme songs, cars, and horrible deaths in the franchise’s history – remember Bond girl Jill Masterson suffocating from being smeared in gold paint?
2. Casino Royale (2006):
After a decade or so of frivolous material, the band returns to its roots with this grim relaunch, which ditches the gadgets, corny humor, and sexual gags. Craig plays James Bond at the start of his career as Agent 007, and his assignment involves a high-stakes poker game at the titular casino in Montenegro against criminal financier Le Chiffre.
3. From Russia With Love (1963):
Connery listed this second Bond picture as his favorite in the series, and it’s easy to understand why: It’s a stripped-down affair, free of the campy contrivances that would come to define the following several decades of 007 movies, and it feels more like a realistic Cold War thriller.
4. Skyfall (2012):
Craig’s third Bond outing had prestige written all over it: it was directed by Oscar-winner Sam Mendes and costarred two other Academy Award winners, Judi Dench as MI6 director M and Javier Bardem as Raoul Silva, a former MI6 agent turned cyber-terrorist.
5. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969):
When Lazenby was hired to replace Sean Connery, he was an Australian model with no acting experience, but he did a fine job in his one and only role as Bond.