Now that No Time To Die has released and been viewed (finally), we can finally look back at Daniel Craig’s tenure as James Bond and see where the chips fall. The franchise has matured and evolved heavily with Craig playing 007, with more emphasis on character and emotions over the years, rather than action and style (although there is still plenty of that). Craig’s Bond is unlike anything that’s come before, but even with the changes, the five films he’s offered fans have ranged wildly in quality. So, it seemed like a fun idea to rewatch all of them leading up to the release of Bond 25 and see how I would rank them at the end of the day. While this is my ranking, I would also love to see yours, just to see how different or similar you would rank the films. Let’s get the show on the road.
5. Quantum of Solace
A direct sequel to Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace had a lot of expectations on its shoulders. Unfortunately, the movie was written during the writers strike of 2007-2008, which gave the film a rather unfocused vision. It’s definitely not a train wreck by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s rushed and disjointed, with an uninspired villain in Dominic Greene and a plot that feels a bit more irrelevant by the time Spectre came out. Most criminal though, is the film’s editing. Quantum is arguable the worst shot Bond film, with shaky-cam galore and quick cuts making most of the action unwatchable and unrecognizable. Still, Craig continues to humanize Bond and Camille is an interesting character to play off of Bond’s damaged persona.
The followup to Skyfall has perhaps the best cold-opener in the entire James Bond filmography, but that doesn’t save the film from being perfectly average. There’s nothing inherently bad about Spectre, it’s shot well, has good acting and a fun old-school plot, but it feels so safe and by the numbers when compared to Skyfall before it. The film reintroduces the classic Bond organization, Spectre, but the reveal that the man at the head of the table is not only Bloefeld, but Bond’s adopted brother, lands with little more than a thud. The film doesn’t do much with Bautista and the relationship with Dr. Swann and Bond doesn’t feel earned by the film’s climax, considering he opts to leave MI6 to be with her. But if you want a more familiar Bond with some of the older trappings and familiarizes, then this is a modern twist on an old tale.
3. No Time To Die
The 25th Bond movie also has the distinct honour of having the best performance from a Bond actor ever. Daniel Craig has never been better as James Bond, with No Time To Die really diving into the character’s growth and emotions in a way we’ve not seen before. This Bond may not sit well with some old school fans, but Craig has made the international spy in a fancy suit so much more human. His relationship with Madeleine Swann, unconvincing in Spectre, is much more realized this time around and believable. It’s also a wonderfully gorgeous film, with the best car chase in the franchise to date. Holding the movie back was the film’s villain Safin, who felt wildly out of place in this modernized Bond world.
After Quantum of Solace struggled to live up to the expectations of Casino Royale, the franchise needed to try to reclaim that high and it basically did with Sam Mendes’ Skyfall. In the film’s opener, Bond has been accidentally shot and presumed dead by his own agency. Naturally, he survives this but decides not to check in. At least, until the MI6 headquarters in London is bombed. The names of undercover operates are being leaked online and someone is haunting M through the internet. That turns out to be the film’s villain, Silva, played by Javier Bardem, who is a former 00 agent and, according to him, was M’s favourite before Bond. 007 has to get back into the fight and return home (a term that has multiple meanings in this movie). Interestingly, the film puts a lot of time and importance on M, making her one of the central characters in the film. We also get debuts from Q, Moneypenny and Mallory, the next M after Judi Dench’s character dies at the end of the film. Outstanding cinematography from Roger Deakins, one of the best Bond songs and an all around memorable plot make Skyfall one of the best Bond movies ever.
1. Casino Royale
Casino Royale isn’t just the best film in the Daniel Craig era, but it’s arguably the best Bond movie ever and one of the best action films of the 21st century. Coming off the incredibly campy (yet wonderfully entertaining) Pierce Brosnan era, Casino Royale was a drastic reboot of the franchise. It stripped Bond of his gadgets, Q, a lot of the cheese and humanized the character with a more grittier tale. But aside from a more layered and complex Bond with Craig’s debut, we get a memorable villain from Mads Mikkelsen’s LeChiffre, a banker for the world’s terrorists who gambled with his clients money and the most layered and human “Bond girl” (a term Craig would like us to stop using) in Eva Green’s Vesper Lynd. She isn’t just a “disposable pleasure”, as she would put it, but fully has a mind of her own and isn’t putting up with Bond’s usual antics. Bond straight up falls in love with her and the reveal that she is the traitor in his ranks makes him emotionally compromised for movies to come.
So there you have it! Do you agree with our list or are their any alterations you would make to your ranking? Let us know your thoughts, as well as what you thought of No Time To Die.