Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon & Leslie Jones To Lead Paul Feig's 'Ghostbusters' Reboot Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon & Leslie Jones To Lead Paul Feig's 'Ghostbusters' Reboot Harvey Weinstein Explains What Happened With 'Grace Of Monaco,' Says He Was Right About 'Snowpiercer' Harvey Weinstein Explains What Happened With 'Grace Of Monaco,' Says He Was Right About 'Snowpiercer' Harvey Weinstein Says Quentin Tarantino Has Changed The Last Chapter Of 'The Hateful Eight' Harvey Weinstein Says Quentin Tarantino Has Changed The Last Chapter Of 'The Hateful Eight' Sundance Review: ‘Slow West’ Starring Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee & Ben Mendelsohn Sundance Review: ‘Slow West’ Starring Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee & Ben Mendelsohn Sundance: Keanu Reeves Opens The Door To Trouble In Teaser Trailer For Eli Roth's 'Knock Knock' Sundance: Keanu Reeves Opens The Door To Trouble In Teaser Trailer For Eli Roth's 'Knock Knock' Watch: 8-Minute Video Essay Argues Steve McQueen's 'Shame' Is Actually A Critique Of The Modern Metropolis Watch: 8-Minute Video Essay Argues Steve McQueen's 'Shame' Is Actually A Critique Of The Modern Metropolis Watch: The Tampon Scene From 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' You Won't See In The Movie Recreated With 'The Sims' Watch: The Tampon Scene From 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' You Won't See In The Movie Recreated With 'The Sims' The 10 Best Films Of 2004 The 10 Best Films Of 2004 'Death Proof' Star Zoe Bell Leads Latest Additions To Quentin Tarantino's 'Hateful Eight' As Filming Begins 'Death Proof' Star Zoe Bell Leads Latest Additions To Quentin Tarantino's 'Hateful Eight' As Filming Begins Ranked From Best To Worst: Every Sundance Dramatic Grand Jury Prize Winner Ranked From Best To Worst: Every Sundance Dramatic Grand Jury Prize Winner Watch: 'Saturday Night Live' Sketch 'Fanatic' Written & Directed By Paul Thomas Anderson And Starring Ben Affleck Watch: 'Saturday Night Live' Sketch 'Fanatic' Written & Directed By Paul Thomas Anderson And Starring Ben Affleck The 10 Best Films Of 2003 The 10 Best Films Of 2003 First Look: Leonardo DiCaprio Gets Grimy In Alejandro González Iñárritu's 'The Revenant' First Look: Leonardo DiCaprio Gets Grimy In Alejandro González Iñárritu's 'The Revenant' 2015 Oscar Nominees Get The Honest Poster Treatment 2015 Oscar Nominees Get The Honest Poster Treatment "Carry Bolt Cutters Everywhere": Werner Herzog Has 24 Amazing Pieces Of Advice "Carry Bolt Cutters Everywhere": Werner Herzog Has 24 Amazing Pieces Of Advice The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki Christopher Nolan Says His Howard Hughes Film Is Dead, But He'd Still Like To Do A Bond Film At Some Point Christopher Nolan Says His Howard Hughes Film Is Dead, But He'd Still Like To Do A Bond Film At Some Point

Skyfail: The 5 Worst James Bond Films

Photo of Oliver Lyttelton By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist November 7, 2012 at 3:05PM

The James Bond franchise is the longest-running continuous series in film history and, behind "Harry Potter," the second most successful franchise in cinema history (and by the time "Skyfall" finishes up, will likely take the crown back again). And one of the most impressive things about that achivement, and I say this is as a British writer raised on Bond movies on rainy Bank Holiday afternoons, is how many of the films are simply not very good.
51
Moonraker

The James Bond franchise is the longest-running continuous series in film history and, behind "Harry Potter," the second most successful franchise in cinema history (and by the time "Skyfall" finishes up, will likely take the crown back again). And one of the most impressive things about that achivement, and I say this is as a British writer raised on Bond movies on rainy Bank Holiday afternoons, is how many of the films are simply not very good.

There are scattered highlights, to be certain -- much of the Connery era, a few Roger Moores, a Brosnan, "Casino Royale." But for every genuinely classic entry, there are probably two mediocre (or worse) films. Some of them might have scattered things to enjoy in them, but there's a few that can't even claim that much. With the latest film, "Skyfall," hitting theaters this week (and proving to be one of the better films in the series), we're continuing Bond week (read our take on the franchise's best villains and action sequences) by picking out our five least favorite 007 adventures. Disagree? Defend your favorite, or attack another, in the comments section below.

Diamonds Are Forever
"Diamonds Are Forever" (1971)
Sean Connery stepped away from playing 007 after "You Only Live Twice" in 1967, with replacement George Lazenby stepping in for 1969's "On Her Majesty's Secret Service." But Lazenby, after clashing with producers, bailed on the franchise after only one entry, and while producers considered names as varied as Michael Gambon and Adam West, "Psycho" actor John Gavin won the role, only for United Artists to decide they wanted Connery to return, offering him a record salary and funding for two projects of his choice for the trouble. Even so, Connery may wish he hadn't bothered, because "Diamonds Are Forever" is easily the actor's worst of his six outings in Bond's tuxedo. Revolving around Blofeld (Charles Gray)'s scheme to use smuggled South African diamonds to power a laser satellite with which he can menace the globe, the film's choice of locations -- South Africa, Amsterdam, Las Vegas, Baja California -- feel significantly less glamorous and sleazier then in your average entry, while Gray is easily the least effective of the Blofelds. Indeed, the cast in general, from Jill St. John's stilted love interest to Bruce Glover and Putter Smith as gay assassins Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd, are mostly flat. The plot is convoluted and sees the encroachment into silliness that the earlier Connery entries mostly did without, and the actor himself feels disinterested. Even director Guy Hamilton, whose "Goldfinger" was one of the peaks of Connery's five prior films, seems to be phoning it in, with a pretty uninspiring selection of setpieces. It's not the worst of these five films, but it's still a pretty dismal (official) finale for the seminal James Bond, who probably wishes he'd left it at five (Connery would return one more time for unofficial entry "Never Say Never Again," which is pretty mediocre, but just decent enough to stay off the bottom five).

Moonraker
"Moonraker" (1979)
Every generation in theory has a particular fondness for the Bond that they grew up with, so Roger Moore has his defenders out there, but as far as we're concerned, it would have been fairly easy to pick out five terrible Bond movies from his time in the role. Only "The Spy Who Loved Me" is anything like a success, while the other films have occasionally strong set pieces or other pleasures to be found, but mostly suffer from weak scripts, haphazard tone and an ever-aging Moore, who was close to 60 by the time he departed the role. But the very nadir has to be "Moonraker," an unconvincing attempt to cash in on the success of "Star Wars" two years previously. This time out, 007 is out to stop the most ludicrous plot in a series full of ludicrous plots: villain Hugo Drax (Michael Lonsdale)'s plan to destroy the earth, and then repopulate it with the perfect-looking inhabitants of his space station city. One certainly can't fault the film's ambition: it trots the globe from Africa and Venice to Rio and the aforementioned space station. But the result is something frantic and overstuffed, with wall-to-wall action but no sequences that really impress, bar perhaps the opening sky-diving stunt (which sets up the ridiculous tone by having returning fan-favorite henchman survive a plunge from 30,000 feet by landing in a circus tent). The sure touch that Lewis Gilbert ("Alfie") showed in "The Spy Who Loved Me" is nowhere to be found here, the tone feeling closer to parody than straightforward action-adventure, and by the time you reach the space station, you're no longer watching a Bond film, you're watching a poorly-conceived "Our Man Flint" sequel. Still, the space gamble worked out financially: the film took over $200 million worldwide, and it stood as the series' highest-grossing entry until "Goldeneye" sixteen years later.

This article is related to: Features, Skyfall


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates