The Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig Bond Movies

The Living Daylights

It’s a good Bond movie but it’s still a Bond movie? A guilty pleasure to be sure. Like, at a point I don’t really know what to say. Dalton is a good bond, and both of his movies are good. The propaganda is as thick as usual. It’s all the equivalent of a big shrug. Like, I’m just not ever going to go to bat for these movies, even the ones I enjoy.

Oh, I’m pretty sure I’ve been to the Wurstelprater! The Austrian theme park featured in this movie. I don’t think I went on the ferris wheel, but I distinctly remember going on the bumper cars (possibly the ones featured in the movie) and going through a haunted house (possibly the one they walked by). I remember one other ride I went on but it’s kinda hard to describe? And it wasn’t featured in the movie anyway.

(B-Rank)

Licence to Kill

It’s gritty but still has plenty of the trappings of a Bond movie. Bad politics, good action, rinse, repeat. The thing that makes me kinda like it anyway is that it actually has a pretty good… well, okay, pretty so-so romantic plot. But it leads to Bond jumping off a balcony into a pool to catch up with a girl he’s offended and plead his case. Classy.

(B-Rank)

GoldenEye

Still my favorite Brosnan (and I love the Brosnan era), and yeah I can’t not think about the video game, but yeah. The tank scene is one of the best moments of the series and Onatopp does serious feminist brain/dumb lesbian brain things to me (I want her to murder me and get off on it), so yeah.

(A-Rank)

Tomorrow Never Dies

Now, I’m not necessarily saying the Brosnan era was characterized by ridiculous stakes, but in the opening scene Bond is garroted in a fighter jet that is being shot at by another fighter jet.

(A-Rank)

The World Is Not Enough

Underrated imo. Elektra is a phenomenal baddie even if Renard is plenty underwhelming. That torture scene is DAMN sexy. And Brosnan is fantastic in this one.

(A-Rank)

Die Another Day

I could rant about the film’s portrayal of North Korea and Cuba, but honestly you already know what I would say so just pretend I said it and let’s move on.

So, at the beginning of the movie Bond and two other MI6 agents are surfing because that’s the best way to get to North Korea. And my finacx was initially not sure if the other two were allies or enemies, and I kinda lost it at the idea of a Bond movie opening with a surfing fight. I kind of wish that had happened now. Also, I love how there’s always some James Bond-looking motherfucker in every place Bond needs to infiltrate. Truly convenient.

So, anyway, I was super high and then there’s a scene where the bad guy is just whaling on a punching bag, and then unzips it to reveal one of his subordinates badly bruised and battered. So uh. Yeah. At this point I’m high AND horny. So thanks for that.

And then just as Bond is about to get captured, I’m like, oh HECK, I forgot about these opening credits, this is going to DESTROY me.

So, yeah. Die Another Day’s opening credits scene is my favorite Bond movie opening, full stop. And Madonna’s opening number MIGHT be my favorite, though there have been so many good ones it’s hard to say for sure.

But like. That opening credit scene is just Bond getting tortured over and over, including by a really hot domme-looking lady, and just, aaaaaaa. I cannot.

Anyway, other than that it’s pretty easily Brosnan’s worst outing. A big part of that is that this movie insists on putting some PS2 cutscene-looking CGI right in your face at key moments and act like it’s SO COOL, LOOK HOW COOL IT IS. Also, at some point someone says, “An ice palace can be such a treacherous place” like it’s some kind of subtle and universally-understood threat, and it’s just???????? super unintentionally funny and I kinda love it? And there’s a whole lot more just… single entendres? I think the thing we said the most to each other during this movie was, “GET IT????”

I do love some of the observations you make about movies like these when you’re high, though. Like, when Halle Berry is strapped down and the lasers get turned off but the scene still treats her like she’s in peril, I just realized out loud, “So her peril at this point is that she’s spinning slowly.” And after the awful CGI surfing bit, Bond is driving his invisible car (…) through a ridiculously long chase scene that feels a few minutes too long even when they’re just slugging it out on the ice, but then they’re shooting their way through the ice hotel and out of nowhere my fiancx just says, “Why is this happening?” and I burst out laughing because I had been so entranced by the weirdness I didn’t even notice how long it had been going on for and it had been going on for SO LONG.

On the other hand Rosamund Pike and Halle Berry have a half-naked sword fight so I guess I need to let feminist brain and dumb lesbian brain fight this one out.

(C-Rank)

Casino Royale (2006)

Yeah, we watched the one where Bond gets his balls whipped the night before my orchi.

(B-Rank)

Quantum of Solace

Just as forgettable as I remembered it being.

(C-Rank)

Skyfall

The first two thirds could make a reasonably good Bond movie even though the “you’re so old!! do you even lift??” stuff gets so annoying so fast. Maybe you’d need to add another setpiece or something but yeah. It would do. The last third is just kinda awful and misguided.

But who gives a fuck I guess, they’re all imperialist murderers anyway.

(C-Rank)

Spectre

Casino Royale is Bondier than people give it credit for, but this is the Bondiest Daniel Craig Bond movie and it isn’t close. And this is just two hours of a fucking pitch perfect Bond movie and then the last half hour just aggressively pisses all over the previous two hours and the audience’s intelligence in one of the most incomprehensible acts of self-sabotage I’ve ever seen in a major franchise movie. If I were still the sort of person who took these kinds of movies seriously I would rate it a lot lower because what the FUCK, but seeing as I will never, ever, ever come to a Bond movie for anything other than a competent action movie that might excel in some technical ways (the sound design noticeably ruled in this, for instance) this was fine kinda?

I just. Look. In 2013 J.J. Abrams cast Benedict Cumberbund in Star Trek Into Darkness as Khan and we all fucking knew he cast him as Khan but he insisted he wasn’t Khan he was this guy named John Harrison and we’re like ok but that’s totally Khan you’re J.J. Abrams you are literally famous for lying to audiences because you have some kind of psychosexual need to have everything in all your shows/movies be a fucking mystery box. And then every trailer came out showing him being extremely Khany and we were like ok it’s just gonna be WEIRD if it isn’t Khan at this point. And J.J. kept doubling down and even released the first like 10 minutes of the movie just to show like look at this character being Totally Not Khan, but the end of the clip is just him looking all dramatic and enigmatic like I Have A Secret and it’s just like WE KNOW, YOUR “SECRET” IS THAT YOU’RE FUCKING KHAN, AND IT’S JUST GONNA BE WEIRD AT THIS POINT IF YOU AREN’T SO WHY NOT JUST BE OPEN ABOUT IT AND NOT HAVE HALF THE MOVIE BE DEVOTED TO THIS SHITTY NON-MYSTERY MYSTERY and I just cannot put myself in the head of people who think this is a great way to do all of this.

So, yeah, in 2015 Christoph Waltz was cast in an unnamed role and given that the movie is about Spectre and is literally called Spectre we were all like, DAMN, you know what? He would make an AMAZING Blofeld and the studio was like lol WHAT nononono don’t worry guys that would be silly he isn’t Blofeld he’s this guy you’ve never heard of called Franz Oberhauser and HERE WE GO AGAIN I’m not gonna type all that out again but you get the fucking point. And like. It’s extra insulting to the audience’s intelligence because THE MOVIE IS LITERALLY CALLED SPECTRE COME THE FUCK ON, but also because we have to one-up Star Trek Into Darkness’s massive negging of the audience’s intelligence somehow HE’S ALSO BOND’S SECRET BROTHER BECAUSE WHY NOT??? And it’s just so aggressively stupid and bad and just… bad. Bad. Bad.

Oh and the whole “a license not to kill is also a license not to kill” thing is also aggressively stupid because Bond is just carelessly murdering SCORES of henchmen that I’m sure he did detailed background checks on and found out that they’re Definitely, Definitely Evil but then he doesn’t shoot the main bad guy because he’s Better Than That and this shit just happens all the time where we do all this moralizing and handwringing over the masterminds of these things but don’t lose a WINK of sleep over the henchmen we’re murdering like if you’re gonna kill them without a second thought you should probably do the same thing with their boss, guys. He’s the one who’s actually to blame here.

Also, while this is kinda obviously baked into this kind of movie it’s pretty funny that these spy movies always need elaborate conspiracies to explain shit that like… capitalism is doing just by existing. Like. There doesn’t need to be a massive conspiracy for all this bad shit happening in the world, and a lot of the people involved aren’t even doing it on purpose (some of them are), it’s just literally the outcomes that a system structured like capitalism is going to produce.

Anyway yeah this actually really isn’t a bad Bond movie aside from *gestures at all the stuff with Blofeld* and I actually kinda like it aside from the writing which I’m never gonna like anyway I mean it’s a fucking Bond movie, but yeah. Shrug?

(B-Rank)

No Time to Die

(I’m not gonna be outright spoilery but I am gonna hint at what happened, and explicitly talk about some stuff that DIDN’T happen, so if you’re particularly sensitive about having things spoiled maybe come back later.)

Well, they did it. They built a good movie on the bones of Spectre.

I mean, Spectre was most of the way there. It’s easy to focus on all the things it did wrong, and to miss the fact that it had incredible setpieces (apart from an underwhelming finale), great performances from everyone not just including but especially the publicly disgruntled Craig, and overall was just the Bondiest movie of the Craig era. But the things it did wrong it did very wrong and it’s not difficult to understand why that overshadowed the rest for a lot of people.

No Time to Die took everything Spectre did right and turned it up to 11 and then just kept turning the dial up somehow, and wrung some actually great drama out of its missteps before making a show of discarding them. So. That’s one way to do it, I guess.

On top of that, they pulled some Last Jedi-esque teasing you with retreads/terrible plot decisions just to say “lol just kidding” and weaponize audience expectations. I don’t think there’s a single fan of the series who wasn’t nervous when Bond said he and Madeleine “had all the time in the world” near the beginning of the cold open, or when the church bells started ringing toward the end of it. And what they ultimately ended up doing with that plot thread was frankly kind of amazing. They honored it without retreading it, and it was every bit as devastating in its own way.

Let’s see, what else? I love Q being gay. I love Nomi as the new 007. I love the continuation of Moneypenny being James’ mole in the office. M can go fuck himself, which is hardly surprising for the head of an imperialist power’s clandestine intelligence service. But building a biological superweapon that can be easily programmed to target the DNA of an individual, family, or entire race is kind of a new low.

Overall, we’re looking at one of my top 5 Bond movies of all time. (GoldenEye, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, this, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough. I think. Don’t hold me to that.) I mean, there’s been 25 of these things and exactly two of them have made me cry, so yeah. Just saying.

(A-Rank)


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