What is the most underrated Bond film?


#21

See my post upthread about the need to define what criteria we’re using to define “underrated.”

As for OP, I think it made a bigger dent in the public consciousness than arguably any EON Bond of the 80’s. Partly this was due to the “naughty” title, partly to all the free publicity from the press-fueled “Battle of the Bonds.”

In my neck of the woods, the conversation usually went like this among non-devotees:

“Have you heard? Sean Connery is doing a new Bond movie!”

" Wow, that’s wild! I always liked him better than Roger Moore. "

“Well, this year they’ll be in direct competition, because Moore’s new one is coming out, too.”

“Wait, they’re still making those?”

Meanwhile as a Roger fan, I’m in the corner fuming.

I still remember standing in line at a theater in Lynchburg Va when four Japanese tourists asked for tickets to Octopussy and giggled like they had just gotten away with something by saying the name.


#22

It’s indeed peculiar to define this underrated category. Usually, whenever a Bond film is on the telly it earns itself the ‘tip of the day’ by the tv magazines, regardless if it’s DR NO or QOS, DAD or AVTAK. Most of our criticism, like invisible car or cheesy dialogue are not even shared by this part of the public. They are things to be expected and embraced by the average guy, which perhaps makes the whole field of films much less defined in the public eye. There are really just ‘the BIG ones’ everybody knows (GF, TSWLM, CR) - and then a host of others. But these are not ‘also rans’ but practically all have a standing with part of the audience, see DAF; see OHMSS; see QOS.

Is it perhaps safe to say in the public’s eye there is no such thing as a bad Bond film?


#23

I’m going to go with Octopussy. It’s a terrific film that seems to be overlooked and isn’t talked about much beyond it’s provocative title. Outside of Bond fandom you’d be hard pressed to find a average person who could correctly tell you which Bond film it was.


#24

I agree with that. Octopussy is a fantastic Bond movie and it does seem to get ignored for some reason. The locations, supporting cast and set pieces are all solid. I particularly love the balance of mood that also made Moonraker so good. For example, the PTS is fun, and it’s immediately followed with the dramatic murder of 009.


#25

The murder of 009 In OP and the death of Corrine by Drax’s dogs in MR are both very atmospheric and serious scenes in their respective movies.


#26

True, actually. They’ve very similar in may ways. Strangely, I hadn’t really thought about it until you mentioned it. I recall an old work colleague saying the OP clown chase scene was really effective and creepy, in a good way. It certainly is disturbing, as is poor Corrine Dufour’s death of course. Both scenes are all the more powerful for it.


#27

LIVE AND LET DIE. Top tier Bond but not often enough (by which I mean “not always”) recognized as such.

The standout moments of THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN are standout, but there’s loads of cheap tedium from one to the next, smothering any impact it might have had.


#28

That’s a very good observation.

Maybe because of the formula every film can excite that part of the audience which flocks to the particular variation.

As with every franchise, fans can differentiate, but general audiences will rather remember the variation: is this the one in which Rocky beats the Russian?


#29

I’d go one further than that. Not only do general audiences remember the Bonds only as “the one with the girl who gets painted gold” or “the one with the underwater car” (etc), they also tend to run them together in their minds. Thus, their favorite is “the one with the circus train and the guy with the metal teeth,” or “the one with the jetpack and the volcano hideout.”

Not only do I think Bond’s endured to the point where the relative quality of a new entry (or even a succession of new entries) is almost irrelevant, I also think we long ago reached the point where “James Bond” as a concept, or an over-arching phenomenon, became more important than any individual film. Everyone has their idea of what Bond is, or what the “ultimate” Bond film would be, and often that notion is cobbled together, Frankenstein-like, from disparate ingredients cherry-picked from 50+ years of history.

So maybe, ultimately, a Bond film is only “underrated” if the average Joe can’t pull the title from memory (he’ll remember “Goldfinger,” most likely, but not “The World Is Not Enough”). It’s also possible that, just as all human faces are, technically speaking, pretty much the same but as humans we can easily differentiate them, maybe as Bond devotees we are acutely attuned to the differences between entries, whereas to the general public they’re all the same film over and over again with slight variations (like who’s in the lead role). So in that sense none of them are underrated and none of them are overrated. Some are just more easily remembered, because the title “clicked” in the cultural memory where others did not.


#30

Licence To Kill probably isn’t underrated among Bond fans - we know it’s the precursor to the Craig era. But I still say it’s underrated in the general community.

The villains are incredible and a big improvement over The Living Daylights…even though I like Necros. You really hate Sanchez and Dario for what they do, and it’s satisfying when they bite the dust. And they bite the dust in such cathartic, gruesome ways as well.

Bond films are often accused of having lacklustre endings. But definitely not here. The tanker chase is one of the best finale set pieces in the franchise. This isn’t a boring SPECTRE finale with Bond running through an abandoned MI6 building.

Which brings us to the stunts: Bond’s tanker dodging the missile, driving through the fire, and wave surfing via a harpoon gun are top notch. Even though Q has a larger role, the gadgets don’t play a huge role. The two most effective items in the film are toothpaste and a cigarette lighter, one of which wasn’t even supplied by Q.

The strength of the film for me really lies with Dalton and Davi. Their chemistry is off the charts and the game Bond plays against him is wonderful. Earning his trust and destroying his empire from within. That battle is what drives the film and keeps me coming back.

If you’re a Bond fan who loves a harder edge, it’s a film you can’t help but love.


#31

I have this 15-year old book: https://www.amazon.com/Bond-Films-Virgin-Film-Smith/dp/0753507099

Have always found it an amusing read with various opinions (the authors are big fans of TD’s Bond). Each film has it’s own section and each film finishes with a one-line “The one that…” in that way you quickly describe a film to a non-fan. Anyway, for FYEO, “The one that” reads “The one that no-one remembers.”

And I tend to agree - FYEO does get lost in Sir Rog’s tenure between the spectacle of MR and OP on either side. It’s a far from perfect fillm, but the action has genuine energy, there’s a sprinkling of great scenes (Sir Rog and Topol’s first meeting), and with its touches from the short story and LALD, it definitely smells vaguely Fleming.

FYEO most underrated? It’s up there. Passed over? For sure.


#32

I’d be inclined to offer up Dr No as one of the most underrated Bond films. It did a great job of establishing many of the elements we associate with Bond and really set the standard with regards to the villain and the villains’s lair. However I feel that everything about the film, other than Ursula Andress’s iconic introduction, is routinely overlooked.

I’d also second For Your Eyes Only, after Moonraker a more intimate and character driven story was refreshing and I feel it features some of Moore’s best work as Bond.


#33

For me its easy. Quantum of Solace.


#34

Me too… the whole of the opera set piece is among the best in the canon, imo


#35

Absolutely. I love that scene


#36

QoB - too much a cheap and poor copy of the Bourne movies and the editing do make very littel sense, and yet the movie is the last decent entry of Craig because when Mendes came aboard we got style over substance with SP as a really poor attempt.

License to kill - very Miami Vice in all senses but still better entertainment that the Memdes Craig years.

Roger Moore - for me Roger and Sean are the ultimates when it comes to James Bond 007, they are both sides of the coin. The rest is combination of both of these actors but all but Brosnan fail when it comes to real Stardom which is clearly Connery & Moore and the latter has always been the franchises best ambassador.


#37

I agree. Lazenby and Dalton are sorely underrated but I wouldn’t call them big stars who promoted Bond in a big way. Whatever people think about Brosnan, he had star power and charisma which appealed to a wide section of the general population - even if he talks down his own films and performances these days.


#38

Two of my favourites seem to be underrated by the general public:

Both Dr No and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service are beautifully shot and the storylines stand up easily to repeated viewings. We’ve watched both many times in this house.

I’d also like to add Octopussy to the list. I’m not sure if it’s underrated as such but it often tends to get overlooked and critics seem to obsess over the Tarzan yell rather too much (and it only lasts a second - the rest of the film is great).


#39

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, aka OHMSS. Through all the bashing of Lazenby as a one-time 007, the ‘fill-in’ before Connery’s return, yada yada. This one took a beating when it came out.

Yes, for us ‘insiders,’ it is a cult-favorite. But as far as underrated (by definition) goes, it was the bottom of the charts at the time.

For me, a golden nugget.


#40

I’d say there are three films that are in the running for the most underrated Bond film. In order of release they are:

  1. OCTOPUSSY – A fun film throughout that features a solid, tense plot with big stakes and wonderful villains.

  2. LICENCE TO KILL – Terrific stunts, fantastic villains, and a great revenge-filled plot with Bond going rogue–what’s not to like?

  3. TOMORROW NEVER DIES – Great action and suspense-filled teaser, a good and unique twist of the villain’s plot, a superb score, and Pierce Brosnan’s best performance as 007.