Top 5 Bond films you want to rewatch this year

David M and Dustin both made interesting points about the rewatchabilty of 90s Bond (and I say it that way as it’s not a “Brozza” issue for me, who I’m upfront is not my favorite interpretation but still the best thing about those films).

However one defines “risk” what is more interesting was how the series has faced those moments stylistically. 90s Bond, to be successful, chose to be “all-things-to-all-people.” From the lead’s almost compendium of predecessors, to the films’ too often unsuccessful variances in tone, there was something for everyone in 90s Bond.

Which, when it comes to rewatching them, leaves them in a corner somewhat. We’re still close enough to 90s Bond to skip it because it is precisely an “all-things” product. If I’m in the mood for the throwaway tone of a Sir Rog, why bypass that for a whiff in a 90s Bond. If I want the onion peeling that GE tries to provide a bit of, why settle for a bit when I can go the whole Dalton, as it were. Another actor channelling SC is no substitute for a whole SC of its own.

The greatest hits nature of 90s Bond is never going to outshine the albums those hits came from. And with the series now its sixth decade, a bit of everything in one place isn’t that compelling a draw when one can make a selection that is all of a particular something from twenty other films.

What made 90s Bond so successful at the time, perhaps hampers their re-watchability now.


My first rewatch was TWINE…
Pertinent to the discussion on risk taking, I looked at the performance of Brosnan, GE and TND, both were glib impersonations of Connery and Moore. Interchangable depending on the scene. This was effective in both films because of the glib nature of each movie. It was the 90s after all.
TWINE is different, I think it represented a massive risk on EONs part, cerebral, melancholic, interesting female villain, Bond betrayed stripped of gadgetry and hurt, both physically and emotionally.
Watching this again it struck me that Brosnan simply wasn’t up to the challenge. He wasn’t directed well, but also couldn’t open himself emotionally to the necessary level without becoming as @Jim sometimes alludes to; 'shouty. I think it’s this movie that prompted Broccoli to think about change, because she wanted an actor that could plumb those emotional depths. So Christmas is tacked on, action scenes added, Robbie Coleraine returns.
I think there’s a movie in there where Bond walks away alone, no Dr. Jones, standing over the grave of Electra King.
I think in many ways Skyfall riffed and reimagined these themes far more effectively.
Brosnan was a decent Bond, not well served by his directors after TND. However he was, by a country mile, the weakest of the experienced actors, to play Bond.


Interesting. I would have argued the complete opposite. Which scenes do you refer to?

I watched DAF last night, but unfortunately I fell asleep a couple of times. I missed the car chase with the Ford Mustang and the fight with Bambi and Thunper. Till the next time…
In a minute or two I’m going to watch Octopussy.


This is probably the best summation of the Brosnan era’s fatal weaknesses I’ve seen. Brosnan was (and sometimes still is) held up as the perfect amalgam of Connery and Moore (with some Dalton thrown in) which is fine but at some point we’re justified in asking, “Yeah, and what new does he bring to the role?” To me, there was nothing, or not enough to hang your hat on. Brosnan always felt like the 007 you’d build from a kit with clear instructions, a generic embodiment of the “James Bond” image that challenged no one’s expectations, like an “artist’s interpretation” of Bond on the cover of a post-Fleming continuation novel. I remember being amazed at how crazy some folks went for the tie-straightening bit in the tank chase in GE as if it represented Brosnan putting his stamp on the role, and thinking, “What’s the big deal? That was a Roger thing.” And then he does it again – underwater – in TWINE. A lot of his era felt like that to me; not so much “watch us do something new and awesome” as “Hey, remember this thing you used to like? Well, here it is again.” Certain elements seemed to be thrown in just because there was a manual somewhere saying, “It’s Bond, so be sure to include this.” For example, the double-entendres and one-liners that seemed so cheeky and spontaneous with Roger seemed grudging and labored in Brozza’s films, as if he and the writers were as sick and tired of them as any of us.

There are tentative stabs at adding a new wrinkle: the “Bond girl” turns out to be the villain in TWINE, except there’s another Bond girl in reserve, so who cares? Bond is “disavowed” in DAD, but after the first 40 minutes or so he’s back on the job like nothing ever happened, and we dial “back to formula” up to 11.

I think a lot of Brosnan’s fans are of the generation that started with him, many of them drawn in by the video game. And if you’re just arriving, then yeah all the standard “James Bond” elements are cool. But all that cool stuff was thought up years earlier and is just borrowed by the 90s films. If you stick around long enough to go back and explore those earlier eras, I’m not sure what would make you keep the Brosnan run at the top of your list, other than a very personal sense of nostalgia.

  1. A View to a Kill
  3. Tomorrow Never Dies
  4. Die Another Day
  5. the last 30 mins of No Time to Die

I want to feel encouraged that there’s nowhere to go but up.

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One would certainly hope that there’s only up to go from the last two entries, but I have my doubts. It’s somewhat scary to think about where they might take these films after the inevitable bump the new Bond will get in his first film (they always have good first ones, except for Roger), and then they’re left to their own devices with little to no Fleming left to plunder for plot ideas.

But wouldn’t those criticisms also apply to every Bond film after, well, DAF at least?

I believe it is impossible for any Bond film after the 60‘s to do something surprising. They all use the established formula, and it’s just about remixing the greatest hits, with the interesting aspect being the contemporary prism through which the formula is remixed.

I actually don’t see anything original in the Craig era, only casting someone who at first glance does not look like Bond. Even the Dalton era only had the going rogue idea in LTK which was newish (Bond always did what he wanted, and despite the revenge angle it was not purely selfish but serving the purpose of destroying a huge drug enterprise).

I think innovation for Bond is also very dangerous because the series has established itself bringing forth expectations which need to be met. Like any franchise, if you change the flavours you are not the promised product anymore and will alienate the central customer base.

Right now, an often heard wish to „make Bond more fun again“ is just that. Will it enrich the series? Definitely not. It will make it taste more like before.


" I can protect you"

The mismatching of injury, a better performance or perhaps better directed performance would have given a better continuity to the injury.

The desire to protect Elektra feels contrived, it’s ‘acted’, by that I mean you can see the joins.

But hey I love Spectre so what do I know


Indeed, and maybe it’s entirely subjective, but I just felt there was a real “paint by numbers” approach in the post-Cubby years, as if no one was quite sure why they were making a Bond film other than that it was “the family business.”

I came in late myself as a 70s kid: I started with Roger and worked my way back, and saw all the key elements were there before he was. But he still offered a new flavor and a tweaked approach. Some argued then and now that he changed things around too much, enough to “break” everything. Even now, Sean’s era is “this” and Roger’s is “that,” however you choose to define them: serious vs silly, genuinely sexy vs just pervy, grounded vs gadget-laden. The Brosnan years are, to me, a mish-mash of all of that, an undefined amalgam, ultimately neither fish nor foul. He looks great doing what he does, but he’s not doing anything new and it’s not always clear why he’s doing any of it, other than that it’s a Bond movie, so that’s what one does.

But it’s often a different kind of unoriginality, because it’s stealing from franchises other than its own. And maybe deliberately inverting elements of the original formula, which again only works because there was one.

For the record, though, I’ve “glanced” a lot over the years and he still doesn’t look like Bond to me. But I will concede that for everyone who started after 2006, he’s exactly what Bond looks like.

Thanks for reminding me of another franchise the Craig era apes in addition to Bourne. Just as the IMF is “disavowed” in every M:I movie, Craig-Bond “goes rogue” in all of his entries. I’m not even sure he should be regarded as an MI6 employee so much as an occasional consultant.

That’s always been the issue, yes. Stick to formula and we’ll say, “I’ve seen all that before.” Change things around and we’ll say, “That didn’t even feel like a Bond movie at all.”

It’s getting harder all the time for me to know when I have a legit complaint as opposed to just slipping into “Old Man Yells At Cloud” mode, but I’m finding most of the things I’m a fan of are relics of a different age, and even though many of them continue on decades later – Bond, Trek, Superman – they’ve all mutated to the point where their chief appeal lies in nostaglia: I like what they were, not what they are. I agree trying to return to Moore-era fun and games probably won’t solve anything; the issue isn’t which past blueprints to follow, it’s how to come up with a fresh interpretation after 25 movies and 60 years, and sell it to old-timers and newbies alike. My own instinct is that I’ll be getting the most mileage out of Bond the way I have been for a couple of decades now: via DVDs and Blurays of content from the previous century.


I don’t see where this would necessarily be a bad thing, though. Bond is one of those franchise, like Indiana Jones, whose core fanbase skews a bit older than your typical movie franchise. Bringing in fans from a younger age group wouldn’t necessarily be the worst thing in the world, provided it wasn’t done in a way where they were making the films to pander to that age group, but rather did it by making an entirely different kind of film that didn’t follow the formula as though it were a religious text or a government constitution.

I would love for them to chuck the whole thing out the window and start again. Shed the weight of the expectations that each film has to have this, this, this, and this in order to be considered a “Bond movie”. I’ve said it ad nauseam, but the only thing that is necessary for something to be considered a “Bond movie” is Bond. I think they would get more milage than most people think out of a smaller budget Bond film that strips most of the formula and, instead, gave us a stripped down, back-to-basics approach to the spy genre that features a main character that is very recognizable as Bondl.


It’s interesting - I remember reading a Bruce Feirstein interview where he said something along the lines of when working on his drafts of GE and TND, he always wrote with SC in mind. And to be fair on Brozza, if it’s that that you’re working with, than as an actor your interpretation is already starting to get boxed in.

I’ve always thought that Brozza’s best “Bond” performances come in his films away from the series - Matador, Thomas Crown, and Tailor of Panama, where he could bring qualities that weren’t already “washed out” by scripts that were determined to be “greatest-hits” Bonds.

To be fair on the actor, I think the closest they ever came to writing a script that was tailored for him was TWINE (I’ll leave others to debate the success of that strategy). GE was in it’s original form written for TD, and I’m not sure who they had in mind when they wrote DAD :slight_smile:

At various speeds, EON have always ended up writing to the strengths of the lead - it took 3 goes for them to truly get Sir Rog’s strengths, and I don’t think anyone (maybe DC) could have been as good as TD was LTK. But I don’t think they ever truly wrote for Brozza - instead he wedged himself into a portrayal that perhaps didn’t always play to his strengths (again, see films listed earlier).


I am firmly in this camp with Dalton! And speaking for myself, maybe it’s indetertiminate middle-age that frees me up to stand there. When you’ve them seen them all so many times, it can liberate you in a way that perhaps the filmmakers are not - penned in by having to appeal to the masses each and every time.

I loved SF and that whole experience, a taste for newer generations as to what the mania that surrounded GF must have been. With the Olympics, 50th anniversary etc, it is a film that reached beyond the standard reach that any franchise has.

But that said, even within that film, and most definitely SP that follows, you can’t help but feel the franchise regressing (yes, using that word) into itself. I get that QoS is vinegar for many, but to quote the esteemed Jim - it’s shocking that OP and QoS are part of the same series. But it’s disappointing for a franchise of this girth and strength, that’s pretty much the only time we can draw that comparison. After a couple of dozen films there should be a few more than stand out, positively or negatively, for their creative choices.

The one thing we love about the character is his confidence - the series might do well to draw on that a bit more in stretching the boundaries every now and again. After all this time, the franchise is indestructible.


Eon may actually be fairly well positioned to go in a new direction at this point, having proved just how far they can bend Bond without breaking him. Over the course of five films, the Craig era largely redefined Bond from a high-living, jet-setting aspirational figure for the Walter Mittys of the world into a brooding, depressed object of pity, haunted by a tragic past, trapped in a hopeless present and doomed to a violent end. The films are not so much about wish fulfilment now as they are character studies of a deeply tragic figure, one we may find fascinating but would never in our right minds want to be. That’s a major shift.

The superficial trappings are all still there: big action scenes, glamorous women, evil foes, but on a fundamental level the character has taken a major turn, and the tickets kept selling. So it should be possible to do it again: reimagine the guy at the core of the saga and then all the other elements, while still present and necessary, will take on a new aspect to fit that characterization and serve that outlook.

Of course the main problem, as ever, is where to go next. Once you’ve done “Murder’s just my day job and sure my friends keep getting killed but hot damn I’m living well, pass me another drink” and you’ve also done, “My only real talent is murder and it costs me everything I care about, life is a burden,” then I’m not sure what’s left.


I may be biased, as I was a pre, then young teen in the Brosnan era, but it feels like this is a more recent development.

During Brosnan’s run all of my school mates were heavily into Bond. This may have been helped by GE64, but there were also toy cars, gadgets and even Bond-branded Action Men aimed at us to play with. There was even the 007: License to Thrill simulator ride (written by Bruce Feirstein and featuring Judi Dench and Desmond Llewelyn) that was wildly popular with my cohort. It was all whiz-bang action, but it was aimed at a younger crowd that developed countless fans for life.
All of these things, toys, games etc. were vital in bringing in, and hooking younger fans.

More recently Eon seems to have developed a (frankly in my opinion, rather tacky) view that Bond is a “luxury” brand, where merchandise and the “experience” is purposely aimed at a ridiculous and exclusionary price point. There doesn’t really seem to be anything (outside of films that now come out at a snails pace) to hook in a younger crowd. That may be all well and good for us long time fans now, but I recently asked my teen nephew if he’s into Bond - he is aware of it, but has never seen any or seems to have much interest in exploring it at all.

For a series who’s producers have become somewhat obsessed with asking itself if it’s still relevant, I’d say this aspiration of being seen as a “luxury brand” is one of the biggest threats to its relevancy, and hindrance to bringing in younger fans needed to keep it relevant.


And that’s where the problem starts.

I bet the necessary mass audience will say Bond is the spy in a tuxedo with the gadgets and the funny one-liners and the stunts scored by the Bond theme.

And, quite frankly, that is who he is.

Change that and he will be a generic anti-hero.

Craig did come dangerously close to that in QOS, and the course was corrected.


Fleming’s Bond is a generic anti-hero?

Bond was popular before the films, that’s why the novels were made into films in the first place. Take Fleming’s Bond and put him into the films and strip away all of this other nonsense that people incorrectly say “must” be present in order for a Bond film to be a “Bond Film”. All that is needed for a “Bond film” is James Bond. The rest of it is the invention of EON and, quite frankly, they’ve created such a rut for themselves with the formula they crafted some 60+ years ago that they can’t see the forrest for the trees anymore.

This is a fair point, I think. Even in the beginning, when the notion of an anti-hero who shot first, slept around and adopted the tactics of the bad guys was fairly radical and shocking, Bond was marketed to kids through the Gilbert figures, model kits, toy guns and attache cases, the Corgi DB5, etc. In the 70s we got more vehicles, viewmaster reels, jigsaw puzzles, bubblegum cards and the like. Arguably entries like Moonraker might have pushed things too far into the “kid-friendly” zone, but there’s no denying I and a lot of my peers were hooked at an early age, and some of us have stuck around for a long time based on that initial wave of childhood excitement.

Gearing merchandise exclusively towards adult collectors with a ton of disposable income does seem short-sighted, but it’s in keeping with recent efforts to position Bond as high art, or at least “important” cinema. I think it’s fair to consider that when people clamor for a return to light-hearted adventure, they’re maybe not so much saying the films have to be silly or over the top, but that it would be nice if they weren’t so hung up on their own sense of self-importance. For most of their history the Bonds were aimed at providing entertainment first and foremost. Sometimes they succeeded wildly, other times they did a faceplant, but crowd pleasing was, in the old days, always obviously their primary mission. Now I feel like they’re mostly made to in pursuit of awards, which on the whole aren’t materializing in any greater numbers than they ever did, so why not loosen up and get back to the business of entertaining?

I will concede, though, that until that shift happens, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to sell toys and games and happy meals to the younger crowd, only to have them show up to a film about a morose, fatalistic alcoholic depressive whose life is falling apart. It’s like marketing a “Rock’Em Sock’Em Robots” toy as a tie-in for “Million Dollar Baby.”


But he was by far not as popular as the successful movie character, and that’s what kept him going for so long.

I don’t think we would be talking about him anymore if the films had not made him mass compatible.