Dr NOOOO!! – The Worst Of Bond

‘Tis the season for end-of-year lists. ‘Tis also the season for James Bond’s filmography to clog up our TV listings.

While this means 007th heaven when it comes to out-and-out Bond classics like From Russia With Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964) and Casino Royale (2006) – as opposed to the 1967 effort starring David Niven and Woody Allen – it usually also means a repeat showing of some of the super spy’s not-so-super offerings.

Following the excellent Skyfall (2012), there is genuine anticipation for Spectre, Craig’s fourth outing in the role. But for now, let’s moonrake over the Bond movies that are a load of thunderballs.

Which are the worst Bond films in your opinion?

1. Die Another Day (2002)

Die Another Day

You have to feel sorry for Pierce Brosnan; a genuinely good actor when given material he can get his teeth into (The Matador (2005) being just one example). But when it came to his tenure as 007 – a role he was born to play – he was ill-served and none more so than in this nadir for the franchise. A strong opening reel wherein Bond gets captured by the evil North Korean army and is tortured and eventually released by a reluctant British government promises much, but the default switch soon gets flipped and before we know it we’re being asked to swallow gubbins involving an ice palace, a space laser and a car with a cloaking device. To make matters worse, Madonna puts in a performance that would insult a piece of wood and a smarmy Toby Stephens is so over-the-top it’s laughable. To top it off we have Bond Kite. Surfing. On. A. Tsunami. A film so bad everyone went away and took a very long and hard look at themselves and came back with Casino Royale.

2. A View To A Kill (1985)

A View To A Kill

After six movies and 12 years in the role, the 57-year-old Roger Moore was looking a little long in the tooth to be playing the walking killing and sex machine that is James Bond. However, in classic ‘one last job’ style, they renewed his license to kill one more time for a film that proved to mark the end of an era. Moore has been quoted as saying that A View To A Kill was his least enjoyable 007 experience and it shows in the uncomfortable expression glued on his face, not least of which during his seducing of Tanya Roberts’ Bond girl, a woman whose mother was younger than Moore. However, it’s the genuinely squirmy bedroom scene between Moore and Grace Jones’ May Day that will have you sitting uncomfortably in your seat. Whoever thought that was a good idea is anyone’s guess. A tired and flabby movie (featuring a half decent villain in Christopher Walken’s Zorin to be fair) that marked a sad end to Moore’s reign.

3.  The World Is Not Enough (1999)

The World Is Not Enough

Only in the world of 007 would Denise Richards be cast as a nuclear physicist – and one called Christmas Jones at that. The rot had been setting into Brosnan’s tenure since Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), but the nudge wink approach adopted throughout Moore’s residence was well and truly back following the Dalton years (the most underrated Bond in my book) and Brosnan’s solid debut GoldenEye (1995). While Robert Carlyle is better than the material he’s given playing international terrorist Francis Begbie… sorry, Renard, the narrative is all over the place, while the stunts merely reheat what we’ve seen before (ski chase? Yep. Helicopter action? You betcha). And let’s not forget that immortal line given by a post-coital Bond to Jones: “I thought Christmas came only once a year.” Wahey!

4. Octopussy (1983)


While Moore’s sixth outing in the tuxedo has its merits – an inclination towards a more serious plot being the most welcome – there’s a point in Octopussy when the cast and crew probably looked at each other and collectively realised that, by being a Roger Moore Bond movie, it therefore should contractually get very silly indeed. Moore must have raised an eyebrow in the way only Moore can when he read in the script that he’d have to get dressed up in a clown outfit to save the day. Maud Adams is at least Moore’s age and is the best thing about the film (the movie is named after her character after all), but Louis Jourdan doesn’t cut the mustard as the villain and tennis pro Vijay Amritraj should probably have stayed on the courts rather than turn up as Bond’s Indian ally Vijay.

5. Quantum Of Solace (2008)

Quantum Of Solace

The fates were against Quantum Of Solace. The back-to-basics Casino Royale had given the franchise the shot in the arm it so desperately needed and the pressure was on from the studio to keep the cash tills ringing. The decision to directly follow the events of Casino Royale certainly made sense as it provided the opportunity to explore the themes thrown up by Bond’s traumatic previous outing. However, the Writers Guild of America strike proved a crippling blow to the script’s development and things got so bad that Craig himself ended up trying to rewrite certain scenes. The script’s lack of cohesiveness shows in the undercooked dialogue, while director Marc Forster’s lack of action credentials revealed itself in the uneven set pieces; many of which tried to emulate the jittery Bourne-style shaky cam, but came off as confused and second-rate. A film that leaves you shaky, but not stirred.

Review – 3 Days To Kill

If you thought the world needed another B-movie about an ageing American CIA agent laying waste to half of Paris, you’ll probably think again after watching this sloppy Eurotrash from journeyman McG.

No-one's happier to see Costner back on the big screen than I, it's just a shame it's in something as underwhelming as 3 Days To Kill

No-one’s happier to see Costner back on the big screen than I, it’s just a shame it’s in something as underwhelming as 3 Days To Kill

Following an early career spent making offbeat and highly stylised action films, Luc Besson has largely turned to writing and producing thrillers that are as formulaic as they are interchangeable.

In certain cases that formula has chimed with audiences – The Transporter series proved a tidy hit and turned Jason Statham into a bona fide action star, for instance. Taken also set the box office alight and gave Liam Neeson a surprising and unlikely new career turn as a movie hard ass.

It's an ageing American CIA guy (played by Kevin Costner) in Paris (again) in 3 Days To Kill

It’s an ageing American CIA guy (played by Kevin Costner) in Paris (again) in 3 Days To Kill

There’s an argument to be made for giving audiences what they want; however, Besson has barely bothered changing up the formula and, with McG’s lunk-headed direction in tow, the end result is the unnecessary and lazy 3 Days To Kill.

That being said, it’s great to see Kevin Costner back as a leading man following a series of supporting turns in the likes of Man Of Steel (2013) and this year’s unfairly maligned Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, even if he looks like he’d rather be sightseeing in Paris than shooting half of its citizens.

Ethan Renner (Kevin Costner) shares a moment with her estranged daughter Zoey (Hailee Steinfeld) in 3 Days To Kill

Ethan Renner (Kevin Costner) shares a moment with her estranged daughter Zoey (Hailee Steinfeld) in 3 Days To Kill

Costner plays CIA agent Ethan Renner, who’s diagnosed with a terminal disease and decides to spend his last days trying to rebuild his fractured relationship with estranged daughter Zoey (Hailee Steinfeld) and, in turn, ex-wife Christine (Connie Nielsen). Ethan’s Company service is cut short by his illness; however, he’s drafted in by CIA assassin Vivi Delay (Amber Heard) to track down an international arms dealer called the Wolf (Richard Sammel). You can guess the rest.

The single biggest problem with 3 Days To Kill – aside from the fact it’s not very good – is that it doesn’t know what film it wants to be. On one hand there’s a family drama in which an absent father endeavours to reconnect with the people who really matter once all the assassinating and running after criminals appears to have been swept aside. Steinfeld is a fine young actress and the scenes she shares with Costner are nicely played. Tellingly, it’s in these quieter moments when Costner looks properly switched on.

CIA assassin Vivi Delay ('actress' Amber Heard) in 3 Days To Kill

CIA assassin Vivi Delay (‘actress’ Amber Heard) in 3 Days To Kill

On the other hand there’s the well-worn action set pieces that involve Costner waving a gun around and chasing down generic evil-looking foreign terrorists. Even the film’s big explosive set piece loses its impact after having appeared in the trailer (naturally).

Linked to all this gunplay is the character is Vivi Delay, who looks like she’s been dragged in from a European porn film. It’s fair to say Heard doesn’t get cast in movies for her acting prowess, but she’s on hilariously bad form here and the scenes she shares with a bewildered looking Costner are frankly bananas.

No-one’s happier to see Costner back on the big screen than I, it’s just a shame it’s in something as underwhelming as 3 Days To Kill.