I have to admit, the middle bond films starring Roger Moore didn’t really deliver in terms of story, but they have provided some of the more fun entries to the franchise. This was the era when everything was possible, with James performing stunts bordering on impossible. Yet with Moore’s charm and tongue-in-cheek portrayal of 007, it becomes tolerable…most of the time.
Surprisingly enough, the only film from 1973-1985 not to star Moore turned out as one of the best Bond films of the period: Never Say Never Again. With a 52-year old Sean Connery reprising James for the last time after his previous stint 12 years before, we got to see an ageing secret agent that is more intelligent and more human. The film itself wasn’t produced by Eon, meaning they had to make do without the same cast and themes. But the new opening sequence and actors accompanying the then-still charismatic Connery made things refreshing once again. It was a strong reminder that terms of performance, Sean is still the better Bond.
Much focus is still given to the characters in films 8-15. And while some of them weren’t all too necessary, there were some noteworthy performances that need to be highlighted later.
Ranking the Bond Films 8-15:
- 1. The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) – B
- 2. Never Say Never Again (1983) – B
- 3. For Your Eyes Only (1981) – B
- 4. Live and Let Die (1973) – B-
- 5. Moonraker (1979) – B-
- 6. Octopussy (1983) – B-
- 7. The Man With a Golden Gun (1974) – C-
- 8. A View To A Kill (1985) – C-
Most of them were good save two subpar entries (which were absurd, poorly-conceived and badly acted), but none of them were all that great. Listed below are the best ones per category.
Criterion: Story, action, bond girls, bond villain, theme, acting, opening credits, and overall entertainment value
Story: The Spy Who Loved Me (runners-up: Never Say Never Again, Live and Let Die) – reminds me a lot of ‘From Russia with Love’ in a sense that it’s the most complete bond adventure among others, featuring a great plot where ridiculousness is restrained to a minimum.
Action: The Spy Who Loved Me (runners-up: Moonraker, Live and Let Die) – the winner had multiple settings to its advantage. Moonraker benefits from its space theme while the last one had Bond jumping crocodiles. Farfetched but entertaining nevertheless.
Bond Girls: For Your Eyes Only (runners-up: Live and Let Die, Moonraker) – Interesting enough, when Bond’s women don’t have their libidos set at max I tend to like them more. As was the case for Carole Bouquet as Havelock in FYEO, a beautiful woman out for revenge, and does it alluringly. Solitaire (Live and Let Die) and Holly Goodhead (Moonraker) deserve special mentions too.
Villain: The Spy Who Loved Me (runner-up: Never Say Never Again) – this film introduced one of the funniest villains in Bond history – JAWS! Thunderball remake Never Say Never Again features Largo, played strongly by Klaus Maria Brandauer.
Theme: Never Say Never Again (runner-up: Moonraker, Live and Let Die) – An ageing Bond struggling to fulfill his mission is compelling and intriguing. Points were given to the runners-up for their unique offerings (outer space and New Orleans).
Acting: For Your Eyes Only (runner-up: Never Say Never Again) – Roger Moore and Carole Bouquet provide strong performances and they click more than the others. While in NSNA, Connery and Brandauer were equally good at being in each other’s throats convincingly.
Opening Credits: Never Say Never Again (runners-up: Live and Let Die, The Spy Who Loved Me) – Skips the conventional credit sequence and heads straight to Bond infiltrating a base to the tune of ‘Never Say Never Again’, as equally good as The Beatles’ ‘Live and Let Die’ intro.
Overall Entertainment Value: The Spy Who Loved Me (runners-up: Never Say Never Again, For Your Eyes Only) – The three films have their own reasons why they’re solid films. The first took two spies around the world. The second banked on a fresh take on Bond. While the last had a great lady accompanying him that pretty much stole the show. But if I had to rank them, I have to put The Spy Who Loved Me on top, probably the second best film out of the first 15 next to ‘From Russia with Love’.
To conclude, here are my quick thoughts on each film:
Live and Let Die: Dark twists make this episode interesting
The Man with the Golden Gun: Sadly, the title is all there is
The Spy Who Loved Me: Reintroduces concepts from previous films to create a complete bond adventure
Moonraker: As ridiculous as it is fun, it succeeds in launch but goes slightly off course by the end
For Your Eyes Only: A solid addition to the franchise featuring one of the best bond girls yet
Never Say Never Again: Connery’s back and brings Bond back to tip-top shape
Octopussy: Craziness at an all-time high
A View to a Kill: Features absurd action amidst uninspired performances
Stay tuned for my view on the final set of bond films starring Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig!