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On Her Majesty's Secret Service Review

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by Simon Crust Nov 29, 2012

    On Her Majesty's Secret Service Review

    “Bond, James Bond.”

    An immortal line from an immortal franchise. Bond celebrates his fiftieth anniversary this year and to coincide with that milestone achievement and the twenty third film release, Skyfall, MGM have produced a lavish box set of all previous twenty-two films, bestowed them with clean, bright pictures, absorbing surround sound and abundant extras – it is a set to crown all sets.

    The following review is an amalgamation of Chris McEneany’s, Cas Harlow’s and my own separate film reviews. Since there are twenty-two individual reviews, to save a little space I have taken only the first part of the verdict of each review for this, the main summary page - the film title for each is linked through to its respective review which opens to the full in-depth analysis that we have given, and that the set deserves; ladies and gentlemen, tonight’s premier presentation is the Bond 50 box set...

    Dr No

    A very proud and exciting beginning to one of the most popular and enduring movie franchises in Cinema history, Dr. No starts the ball rolling in considerable style. Sean Connery takes the character of James Bond by the scruff of the neck and hauls him from the pages of Ian Fleming’s bestsellers with passion and gusto. Aided immeasurably by director Terence Young, who moulded this unique interpretation so perfectly that it became the template for the rest of the series, and even won over its literary creator who had been initially dismissive of Connery’s live-action take.

    Iconic with Ursula Andress’ glistening arrival like a goddess from the sea, and fascinating with the ruthless predatory guile of Connery’s unstoppable 007, the film hardly even seems to have dated. Oh, the fashions, the equipment, the weaponry and the effects may be pure 60’s, but the sheer panache and pop-culture ensnaring bravado remains just as sizzlingly captivating and awesome as ever. The film also benefits from having a proper story and a sense of mystery and threat. Bond reveals some vital everyday skills for having survived as an agent for MI6, and we get, in a glorious economy of skill and absolute class, just who this guy is and how he operates. All the elements are present and correct and traditional “classic” Bond was born.

    From Russia with love

    What makes From Russia With Love so immortally appealing, and one of the most highly regarded of the entire series, is that the fact that it tells a damn good spy story. There's subterfuge, double-dealing, assassinations, serious political skulduggery and, yes, even some actual bonafide spying - Bey's little periscope up into the Russian Embassy, for instance and Grant's perpetual shadowing of his targets. The development of SPECTRE and its evolution and headhunting from the old SMERSH is a wonderfully evocative element. The chess-game that Kronsteen (Vladek Sheybal) is seen playing near the start, before he is called into Blofeld's service, is the visual metaphor for a battle of wits that plays out across several nations, sacrificing lives along the way towards the final checkmate. Never more evident than in Bond's feint with Red Grant regarding the briefcases - a great gambit that actually depends hugely upon luck as well as poker-faced deception.

    Quintessential Bond, From Russia With Love is remarkably assured. It tells a proper story and doesn't just link together a series of stunts and set-pieces. Connery is smoother in the role than in his debut, though he would truly take his characterisation to its natural and culture-establishing zenith in his next entry, Goldfinger. Classic scenes aplenty, but that violent free-for-all aboard the Orient Express tops the lot. John Barry takes the stage with his lushly dynamic wall of sound and some truly memorable characters flit or bludgeon their way into Bond's dangerously attractive world.


    Pure gold, Connery's third outing as 007 is the fantasy that has everything - obsession, desire, action, sex, finely rendered characters, a scintillating script, a blistering musical score and that undeniable, inimitable style of a star who is clearly at the top of his game ... and having tremenous fun showing us that he is. Oh, and it's also got an Aston Martin DB5. To give Goldfinger less than 10 out of 10 would be unthinkable. Without it, the modern action film, as we know it, possibly couldn't exist and Bond's most enduring elements certainly wouldn't.

    Goldfinger is a class act, through and through. The film has stood the test of time, existing in a bubble of infinite cool that makes it enjoyable, dynamic, engrossing and downright vital for each new generation. Its own inherent repeatability is beyond reproach, like a comfy old slipper, Goldfinger wraps around you with eager-to-please satisfaction and, although it is not a movie about which you can say you see something new each time, its big moments still deliver a frisson, its ribald dialogue still raises an eyebrow and its totally unabashed sense of entertainment is without equal.


    Sean Connery's fourth outing as England's finest government sanctioned hit-man-cum-womaniser was set predominantly in, on or above the sea. With SPECTRE's latest madman unleashed with a truly world-threatening scheme, the superpowers on the brink of meltdown and Bond's much-needed sojourn to a health spa violently curtailed, it is time to batten down the hatches, take a deep breath and dive into some of the most elaborate set-pieces and inventive action in the series so far.

    Slightly overlong and feeling somewhat overblown, as well, Thunderball is, nevertheless, another classic in the 007 canon. This was the biggest and most outrageous Bond adventure out of the earlier slew of movies and definitely Connery's most inventive and exhaustive spell of duty. Shark-loving Emilio Largo makes for a colourful villain, but Adolpho Celi never quite hits his stride when competing with Connery's cocksure swagger, but the set-pieces are great fun and we get to see Bond in a couple of tight spots that show his resourcefulness and courage. Terence Young directs with style to burn and Peter Hunt, who would soon take up directorial chores himself with the glorious OHMSS, brings some mighty wallop to the bruising action sequences with savage editing dexterity.

    You Only Live Twice

    Popular, fun and highly entertaining, You Only Live Twice falls some way behind the previous three movies. Dahl’s screenplay is contrived and fanciful and lacks bite in terms of the dialogue, which barely fizzes when it should positively sizzle. The exploits of 007 also seem to lack the panache and the raw excitement that we know he is capable of, despite the staging of the biggest and most impressive finale of the series so far. But the film always looks amazing, and there is still plenty to admire and love about it. Donald Pleasance makes an iconic super-villain out of Blofeld, that bald head and scar the stuff of pure comic-book excess. He does the role proud too, with a cleverly creepy performance that only Pleasance could achieve. “KILL BOND! NOW!!!”is a fabulous hissy-shriek of aggrieved impotence, and his little scuttling frame is a comical slant on somebody determined to cause mass murder. The ladies are gorgeous, with the doomed Aki and the treacherous Helga being the standouts for me. And, of course, Little Nellie has her own attractive attributes too.

    Connery doesn’t quite pass muster this time out. He always looks snappy in those crucial 60’s suits and he handles the physicality of Bond’s latest mission with superlative ease, flipping a gaggle of goons over with ease during the final act. But there is definitely something missing, and even if you didn’t already know that he was determined to bow-out of the franchise and leave the character behind at this point, you can plainly see how little enthusiasm he can summon.

    On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

    After Dr. No and Goldfinger, which in turn, opened up the cinematic potential of James Bond and then set the template for what we could expect and love from the franchise, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is the next most important film in the entire series. We’ve had returns, reboots and baton-changes, but with only one mission as 007, George Lazenby did the unthinkable for what has primarily been a celebrated run of resolutely fantastical and purely escapist excess – he gave it genuine heart and soul and delivered an adventure that told a multi-layered story and stuck rigidly to a strong linear narrative.

    Bond’s greatest snowbound actioner, and also one of the character’s most brutal and exciting. Savalas makes for a terrifically rounded Blofeld. No madcap super-villain traits, just humanistic nuance and an almost sympathetic desire to earn himself the respect of the world without just threatening to blow it up! Rigg is gorgeous, irresistible, resilient and convincingly adaptable whilst also being exotically heightened and profoundly tragic … and you can see exactly why 007 why fall for her. Lazenby is just plain awesome as a confident and courageous yet vain and headstrong Bond. His physicality and single-mindedness ushered in the type of hero that Dalton and Craig would later develop. And this, in turn, would also inspire a far more violent and hyper-kinetic type of action set-piece from the established Bond team. Seemingly, the world wasn’t quite ready for this new version of its favourite secret agent, although Connery’s mostly unsatisfying return would certainly embrace much of Lazenby’s more brutish attitude, and Roger Moore would happily take the hero into a more comical, daft and semi-self-parodic direction with 70’s fluff. But this more realistic and vulnerable attitude has since served Daniel Craig’s interpretation extremely well.

    OHMSS is my own personal favourite from the entire series, and it is a film that has gained itself a critical turnaround from bold experiment to bonafide classic in the decades since its release. It works as both a standalone adventure as well as a thrilling continuation of Bond’s most compelling manhunt. We have humour, excitement, violence and a shocking, heartbreaking conclusion.

    Diamonds Are Forever

    Diamonds Are Forever will never be hailed as a classic amongst the series. There is something dry and indifferent about it that makes the whole scenario strangely uninvolving. This disappointment is compounded by the fact that Connery is just doing things by-the-numbers and playing Bond without any real zest or flair. He had his own reasons for coming back this last time for Eon, and they didn’t include a love for the character or his fans.

    Blofeld is not as three-dimensional or as intimidating as Savalas, nor is he as archetypal as Pleasance as a boo-hiss evil mastermind – he is much more like a loquacious upper-class foil for John Steed. His plans are once again hi-tech and world-threatening but, at the same time, they also seem quite low-key and all rather commonplace. After all the messing about with shady lowlifes from Amsterdam to Nevada, the SF angle, however enjoyably comic-book it is, feels like it has wandered in from another film altogether. But, on the flipside, we have some gorgeous ladies, especially Jill St. John and Lana Wood, two brilliantly bizarre hit-men and a couple of great action scenes in the famed elevator-fight and the car chase through the Vegas strip. Even if the finale is exceptionally poor for a 007 adventure, there is still much entertainment to be had from it. It certainly doesn’t sparkle like its titular gems, but Diamonds Are Forever is definitely still worth a closer inspection.

    Live And Let Die

    Voodoo and tarot-card reading; heroin smuggling and poppy fields; organised crime in Harlem and despotic dictators in South America – even today these don’t sound much like the ingredients of a Bond film; back in 1973 it must have been an even bigger shock to the system.

    Live and Let Die was a brave new direction for Bond to go in, marking the first successful reboot of the franchise and introducing the world to the longest-serving Bond actor, the unflappable Roger Moore. Whilst it took a while for him to find his rhythm, this debut was still an engaging shift in dynamic from the Connery days of old, in many ways adopting the back-to-basics approach that hadn’t been seen since Connery’s early years (notwithstanding OHMSS), and carrying Bond into a new era in terms of style and attitude. The popularity of his effortlessly cool and distinctively witty take on the character ensured that the super-spy would live on for a further 12 years, and it all started here. Remember for Roger Moore’s introduction to the role; Jane Seymour’s stunningly gorgeous Bond girl Solitaire; David Henson’s debut as arguably the best Felix Leiter, that opening song track, the superb alligator-stepping-stone scene; the fantastic speedboat chase and stunts; the double-decker bus that gets sliced in half; as well as that villain with the claw for a hand.

    The Man With The Golden Gun

    With an original novel which told a tale of a brainwashed Bond programmed by the Russians to kill M, finally recovering only to be dispatched on one last mission – to kill the world’s greatest assassin – there were plenty of great ideas which could have made the film adaptation one of the absolute best Bond outings. Unfortunately, then-topical energy crisis issues; the influence of then-suddenly-popular martial arts movies; and a somewhat misguided approach towards the tone and comedy of the piece left The Man with the Golden Gun one of the weaker entries, with large stretches of the movie utterly devoid of consequence, and the remaining good bits often damaged by the presence of some truly bad characters.

    Whilst Christopher Lee’s eponymous villain would be a great scene-stealer, Britt Ekland’s cute-but-utterly-vapid Bond girl would cause much of the destruction herself, and Roger Moore – still on good form – would be limited by pressure to act more like Connery’s Bond. Still, the movie would be book-ended by great little assassin-versus-assassin sequences and a few fun moments in-between. It’s just a shame because it could have been so much more.

    The Spy Who Loved Me

    Remember The Spy Who Loved Me for being the absolute best of Bond, and undoubtedly the best Roger Moore outing; for the impressive ski-chase pre-credits sequence that culminates in that classic Union Jack parachute stunt; for the excellent interplay between Moore and Barbara Bach’s undeniably sexy but irrepressibly feisty Russian superspy counterpart – every bit his equal and seemingly immune to his charms; for being the introduction to one of the best Bond villains, and certainly the most memorable Bond henchman, Richard Kiel’s menacing and near-indestructible Jaws; for the exotic Egyptian set-pieces and the superb underwater stunts – for once paying off; for the best Bond car – the Lotus Esprit – with all its superb gadgets.

    It was the perfect blend of Cold War spy-vs-spy conflict and grand-scale villain-with-a-lair global terror; the massive hundred-man tanker assault set-piece, the memorable face off at the villain’s submersible fortress, and the ‘magnetic’ denouement that leads to Jaws taking on his namesake – a shark! It had one of the best Bond songs – Carly Simon’s Nobody Does it Better – and one of the best Bond scores, and was basically one of the absolute best Bond films, up there with Connery’s own best, Goldfinger. My personal favourite, it simply doesn’t get any better than this.


    I love Moonraker. All too easy to dismiss because of the over-the-top space battle at the end, Bond fans often overlook the near-perfect Bond adventure that preceded that extravagance. Sure, Moonraker was fast-tracked because of the success of Star Wars, but it also boasted then-state-of-the-art technology and unprecedented stunts: viewers got to see Space Shuttles in action two years before the first test launch, and were blown away by the sky-diving pre-credits sequence – just two elements which we take for granted now, but which were way before their time back in 1979. Add to that a superb Bond villain, the return of Jaws, a strong Bond girl and Roger Moore on top form and you have not only one of Moore’s best Bond flicks but also one of the best Bond films of all time. Don’t just dismiss this as pure cheese – it’s far better than that; it’s You Only Live Twice but with teeth; it’s Bond only bigger and bolder than anything before, and than anything since too.

    Remember Moonraker for the still jaw-dropping pre-credits skydiving sequence; the surprisingly tense centrifugal G-simulator scene; for the Venetian Gondola chase; for Lois Chiles being the second most interesting Bond-equal female counterpart; for the remarkably gentle and well-spoken Michel Lonsdale, bringing us one of the all-time best Bond villains in Hugo Drax; the franchise’s best henchman, Jaws; the glorious speedboat chase down the Amazon river to the Iguazu Falls, where John Barry’s score beautifully blends in that classic Bond trumpet theme that’s been used ever since the days of From Russia with Love for all the best action sequences; and, in particular, the tense race as Bond desperately hunts down the last few bombs before they enter Earth’s atmosphere. Above all, remember Moonraker for far more than just the over-the-top space battle that clouds your memories and your retrospective judgment – for truly being the awesome spectacle that it was at the time. This was Bond at its biggest and, for the most part, actually also at its best.

    For Your Eyes Only

    Even for those who – like me – loved Moonraker, there was no denying it left the franchise with nowhere to go: after sending Bond into outer space the only thing they could really do is bring him back down to earth. Having long-since jettisoned the comparatively mundane exploits told in the books, Bond had become too big to handle. The outlandish plots to take over or destroy the world (or both); the cool-but-preposterous gadgets; he had evolved into a larger-than-life super-spy. But it was time for a change. Despite plans to re-cast, Roger Moore would return, but the rest was effectively a reboot: a new director, a script which – for once – followed the original stories fairly closely, and no gadgets. It was back-to-basics.

    Capably presenting a darker take on the commonly more lightweight Roger Moore Bond, the end result was a refreshingly down-to-earth Cold War thriller with action-adventure highlights, tense and intense stunts and solid, revenge-inspired undertones. More hit than miss in its somewhat misguided approach to blending classic Moore comedy with the intended grittier Bond direction, it’s just a shame that the filmmakers didn’t fully embrace the tonal shift, either here, or in Moore’s subsequent outings. Still, it remains one of those rare Roger Moore Bond movies that appeals to even those who didn’t like Roger Moore as Bond.


    Octopussy, ironically also the 13th Bond film, turned out to be one of the least popular entries, and yet – unlike Never Say Never Again – it’s still undeniably classic Bond. There’s a wonderfully exotic flavour to this particular outing, injecting a new location – India – into the mix in a bid to add some spice to the usual Cold War antics. For what it’s worth, Moore’s sixth outing is far more entertaining than Connery’s tongue-firmly-in-cheek return (an act which never really suited the far more serious actor), and certainly proved the endless breadth and diversity of the franchise.

    Remember Octopussy for the spectacular Acrostar micro-jet pre-credits sequence and impressive closing atop-the-plane stunts; the surprisingly tense classic Bond ‘gambling’ auction scene at Sotheby’s and the threatening backgammon standoff with the villain, followed by a fun little tuk-tuk chase; remember it for the wonderfully exotic Indian locales juxtaposed with the harsh East German Cold War settings; for Bond’s only safari, and his only trip on train-tracks via car; and don’t forget that ticking-time-bomb defusal in a clown suit – it’s much more tense than you may assume. Above all, don’t forget that it showcased a reluctant-to-return Roger Moore still managing to go toe-to-toe with the original – and younger, though not that you’d notice it – Bond, Sean Connery, and, more importantly, coming out intact and on top.

    A View To A Kill

    Whilst Roger Moore might have felt that it was an all-time low for him – he famously reflected “I was only about 400 years too old for the role” – and many Bond fans feel exactly the same way, I think that A View to a Kill is a strangely enduring little Bond entry, bolstered by some unusual, previously unused-in-Bond, mainstream locations and some impressive stunts and set-pieces. It feels fresher than it should; Moore seems fitter than he should; the story is more serious than many give it credit for; and it was arguably a more satisfying climax to his 12-year tenure in the role than the previous entry, Octopussy.

    Remember A View to a Kill for the impressive snowboarding pre-credits sequence; for the memorable Eiffel Tower stunt. Remember it for being Roger Moore’s final Bond entry, and for his consummate professionalism in the role all the way through to the end, this time facing off against Christopher Walken’s psychotic villain – one of the best Bond villains of the entire series. Remember it for Bond breathing underwater using the air from a car tyre, and for the tense fire-ladder rescue from a blazing inferno; for Grace Jones’s unique Mayday and for the stunning finale involving an airship and an axe-fight atop the magnificent Golden Gate Bridge.

    The Living Daylights

    The Living Daylights is Shakespearian actor Timothy Dalton’s first outing as James Bond in which he significantly changes the persona that has been around for fourteen previous films. His interpretation was drawn from the books; he was far more serious, ruthless and cunning even, as well as the trademark wit and charm. It was a far cry from what audiences were used to seeing and paved the way for the likes of Daniel Craig as the latest 007.

    The film contains many of the traits that make a bond film; action, gadgets, exotic locations, political intrigue set to the backdrop of world politics – the fact that the main villain of the piece is not a typical megalomaniac hell bent on world domination, or the fact that the top assassin didn’t have a memorable personality or tricks (save strangulation with personal headphone wires) does not detract from what is a terrific globetrotting yarn. The story involving a weapons dealer double-crossing the Russians and setting up a potential East-West confrontation is involved enough to keep you guessing and enables Bond to use some detective skills as well as his pistol to discover the truth. New Bond girl Maryam d'Abo as Kara Milovy is a far cry from what audiences have come to expect, but she fits well within the confines of the film and adds to the believability and realism that the makers were striving for. As good as any debut Bond feature The Living Daylights comes highly recommended.

    Licence To Kill

    Licence To Kill is a great Bond film, even if it does stray from the well-worn path, and a damn fine thriller in its own right. It benefits from a deadly assured Dalton and two fabulous villains in Robert Davi and Benecio Del Toro, as well as the pure sex appeal of Carey Lowell as a much better written and better acted Bond babe than is usually offered. The screenplay is tight and darkly woven around a realistic scenario. The 80’s bogeyman of the Columbian drug-baron makes for a surprisingly volatile and complex adversary for 007 to tangle with, and Dalton’s brutally single-minded hero carves an altogether more mean-spirited path of destruction than his usual MI6-sanctioned escapades. OHMSS had been a long ago, and it was about time that Bond threw his weight around again.

    Felix Leiter gets his leg snipped off by a shark, and this leads to Bond pursuing a ferocious one-man vendetta against the vicious drug-lord responsible. Anthony Zerbe gets a very inflated opinion of himself, whilst Robert Davi gets extremely hot under the collar and Benecio De Toro rises above a crushing sense of defeat at Bond’s hands to become the breakout star of the piece. On the glamour front, Carey Lowell beats Talisa Soto in every department and, musically, Michael Kamen comes up with a very decent, albeit pop-orientated score in the wake of John Barry’s departure from the franchise. An essential part of the Bond collection, Licence To Kill revealed that 007 could move with the times and take on, and beat the sort of villainy that everybody can relate to.


    GoldenEye hit the screens in 1995, after the fall of Soviet Russia and after a six year hiatus while the franchise sat in litigation hell. During that time, Dalton passed the Bond baton to Brosnan, who, by this time, was eager for the role and took it to, perhaps, it’s filmic high up until that point with a near perfect balance of all the previous incarnations. Unfortunately the film itself hasn’t aged all that well. At the time it was great to have Bond back, the action was high, the girls were hot and the spectacle was wild. But several near fatal flaws crept in, the biggest of which was the music - which was quite simply inappropriate for a Bond film. That and BMW.

    However, the story was quite tight, and felt quite personal containing themes of revenge, power and grand thievery with a suitably dastardly plot to ruin London and bring about a world economic disaster (all they had to do was use America’s banking system ...) Casting for the main parts was sublime with Judi Dench taking on the mantle of M which was a high point, especially in this ‘reboot’ as it dealt head on with the ‘old style’ of Bond seen as a potential loss maker in this ever changing world. So whilst there is much to praise and the makers were heading in a terrific new direction, as a film I find the whole project lacking in that sparkle that makes a Bond film ‘Great’. Perhaps not ‘Golden’Eye, more Bronze, or Zinc.

    Tomorrow Never Dies

    After the huge financial success of GoldenEye, MGM wanted to capitalise and promote itself by using its flagship series as a flag before its stock offering in 1997. This meant a huge production rush, one of the quickest in the franchise which resulted in some flaws creeping in – a poorly envisaged villain, poorly developed Bond Girls, and a poor end goal – but, learning from the mistakes made on the previous film, the makers ramped up the ‘Bond-ness’, overhauled the music and produced a film that was more ‘Bond’ than anything that had been produced in the last few years.

    Brosnan again takes on the mantle and even though he doesn’t do anything new, still manages to come out on top. The story of a media baron trying to instigate a war to obtain exclusive news rights in China is pure hokum, the main villain of the piece, Elliot Carver, is nowhere near slimy enough as portrayed by nice guy Jonathan Pryce, the girls (Teri Hatcher and Michele Yeoh) are window dressing and largely wasted (particularly Yeoh) and the gadgets are wild but great fun (ignoring the fact of BMW) – BUT the whole film plays out as the very best that the Bond franchise can offer; Bond is against near insurmountable odds alongside a globetrotting backdrop filled with guns, gadgets and girls – the music is Bond through and through and it is an incredibly enjoyable experience despite the nonsense of it all. The tone is far lighter than the preceding two films and marks the direction the franchise wanted to take and marks a higher point before things started to go too far in the wrong direction.

    The World Is Not Enough

    After one of the longest and most memorably British pre-credits sequences, set on the Thames and featuring both the real MI6 building and the Millennium Dome, we launch into the main story, which sees 007 uncover a plot to kill an oil heiress who is establishing a new pipeline that would threaten other big oil providers. Throw in some stolen plutonium, an international terrorist who wants to decimate Europe's oil supply, a femme fatale, an emancipated heroine and a shed-load of gadgets, and you have the most classically perfected entry in the Brosnan era.

    You see, The World is Not Enough exhibits all of the key components of a trademark Bond film and strikes a fine balance between wit and tension, brutality and frivolity, managing to be harmless fun through-and-through whilst still painting a reasonably intriguing story that becomes personal for both 007 and his boss, M. The plot allows for all the requisite exotic locations, from snowy Alps perfect for a ski chase to sunny Spain, blistering Azerbaijan and glorious Turkey. His new BMW (thankfully the contract ran out after this and he went back to Astons) is a little, um, effeminate, but still comes packed full of fun gadgetry, and he even gets a rocket-powered, torpedo-laden mini speedboat with which to tear around the Thames in. We may be missing the evil lair but most of the other traditional Bond stuff is there.

    All in all, it is, for me, the most recent classic Bond film, and certainly my favourite 'traditional' tale from Brosnan, the point at which he perfectly captured the role, and where the filmmakers brought together all the right ingredients for a classic Bond movie. The girls, the guns, the gadgets, the action, the stunts, the explosions, the impossible escapes and devious world destruction plots - it was all perfectly mixed together here. Classic Bond.

    Die Another Day

    To celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the Bond franchise, the production team went all-out to make a Bond film that both contained references to all of his past adventures and was also, in its own right, a thoroughly entertaining Bond adventure – looked at on purely those terms Die Another Day is a triumph. Although it was to be Pierce Brosnan’s last outing as the super spy he puts in a typically terrific turn in a story that has him captured and tortured for fourteen months, then battling a megalomaniacal North Korean colonel hell bent on invading the South.

    Judi Dench puts in another excellent performance as M and when she and Bronsnan share the screen the tension in electric – I dare say paving the way for Daniel Craig’s relationship with the same. Of the two Bond girls, Halle Berry is pretty flimsy, but Rosamund Pike is suitably cool with a character that gets to do rather more than simply be eye candy. Toby Stephens plays the main villain Gustav Graves with early promise but soon degenerates into a spoilt child. Long lambasted for outlandish gadgets (invisible car) and stunts (CG surfing) there is an argument to be made for it not standing up to modern interpretation; however, much like Moonraker before it, Die Another Day paved the way for a far more down to earth Bond and reboot that has invigorated the franchise like no other before it. Wild and fanciful it may be, but entertaining Bond it remains.

    Casino Royale

    I loved Casino Royale; for me, it just did everything right, from the catchy black and white prologue and the wildly different title sequence, through the decidedly low-key mission and traumatic denouement that sees the full birth of 007. It is violent, realistic, bereft of the cheese that mired the franchise and focuses on a Bond who is resilient rather than refined, brutal rather than urbane. The daftness is gone, the edge is back. Long live Daniel Craig's Bond.

    This debut marks him out as possibly the best Bond - only time will really tell - and certainly the biggest hook to ensure the longevity of the series into new millennium. Despite a couple of very minor flaws, this is fast, cool and aggressive, making 007 rock like never before, proving quite conclusively that nobody does it better.

    Quantum of Solace

    Quantum of Solace picks up just a few minutes after the end of Casino Royale, continuing where the first film left off, and kick-starting straight into what would turn out to be 106 minutes on back-to-back action set-pieces, charting Bond's quest for revenge, or at least the truth, as entwined with a complex plot involving the shady organisation behind it all. A car chase leads to a foot-chase across the Italian rooftops, a boat chase in the Caribbean and a plane chase and skydive in Bolivia. There is no time to even catch your breath as Bond crosses continents and kills his way to the truth.

    Unfortunately Quantum of Solace is just the second half of one long story.

    Taken as a whole they work well to give us a bigger piece of the Bond reboot puzzle, however, whilst Craig’s Bond entries before and after – Casino Royale and Skyfall, respectively – worked perfectly fine as standalone entities, Quantum clearly does not; without its predecessor it is nothing more than just another post-Bourne spy actioner-thriller. Although it may be a quality production, further promoting Craig as the definitive Bond, it was a paltry offering considering it was all fans had to feed on over a long 6 years until Skyfall.