Top Ten Bond Movies — II
5. Dr. No (1962)
This is where it all started. Terrence Young’s 1962 film is the first entry in what was to become the most profitable movie series of all time. A relatively unknown actor at that time, Sean Connery defined the 007 agent as suave, cool guy, adept at delivering witty one-liner. The plot is basic as usual: Bond is sent to Jamaica to investigate the death of fellow agent Strangways; his trail leads him to the mysterious island of Crab Key, then to Dr. No, who finally reveals a plot to disrupt NASA’s space program. With the exception of the heavy explosion during the film’s climax, Dr. No is a low-key adventure.
4. From Russia with Love (1963)
This is one of the finest 007 outing, which flourished in the paranoia of the cold war times, before the franchise was devalued by an over-reliance on gadgets, camp quips and a skittish lack of focus or direction. The plot is basically a continuation of “Dr. No”, where the international crime cartel SPECTRE tries to avenge the death of agent Dr No. They have Soviet spy-mistress Rosa Klebb and psychopath Red Grant to assassinate James Bond. This film is free of the schoolboy humor that would dominate the series in the seventies and eighties and moves briskly, blending intrigue, romance, and action into an immensely satisfying whole.
3. Skyfall (2012)
Daniel Craig’s latest outing as Bond, under Sam Mendes’ direction, is an unshaven, washed-up wreck who can’t shoot straight and shows signs of psychological trauma. “Skyfall” is more seriously connected to real-world concerns than any previous entry, despite some of the usual outlandish action scenes, glittering settings and larger-than-life characters. It’s more like a recalibration of the 007 format, or perhaps even, as Bond himself deftly puts it (in the movie), “a resurrection”. The Bond, here, keeps us caring (a rare thing), for a hero who, by any rational measure, is a vestige of a vanished era. It is so good, which makes you almost forget it is a James Bond movie.
2. Goldfinger (1964)
Guy Hamilton’s bond flick is rightly heralded for offering the perfect blend of action, adventure, gun play, fisticuffs, gadgetry (that Aston Martin), romance and just about everything else. The plot involves Auric Goldfinger, the Bond villain, who has a conniving plan (Operation Grand Slam) to radiate Fort Knox’s gold supplies, thus sending the value of his own gold reserves through the roof. In “Goldfinger” you can see all the excess in place but still it is reined by some measure of discipline. The film set the gold standard for the Bond movie, up until the Craig’s Bond. Yeah, it looks dated, but the superb art design and cracking pace do compensate, along with a battery of deliciously evil villains.
1. Casino Royale (2006)
All the cliches of Bond adventures are absent in this Martin Campbell’s flick — the too-clever quips, the loveless conquests, the gaudy gadgetry and the BMW-sponsored sports cars. It is a reboot of the classic character starts with James Bond newly-promoted to the 00 section. Except for the most memorable theme, this has almost everything you could want from a Bond movie, plus qualities you didn’t expect they’d even try for. It delivers a surprisingly faithful adaptation of Fleming’s short, sharp, cynical book with the post-WWII East-vs.-West backdrop persuasively upgraded to a post 9/11 War on Terror. 140 minutes might seem dangerously long for an action flick, but it takes some time to set this new world of MI6, whom are no longer, the important global players.