As natural of a fit for Bond as Pierce Brosnan was, he came into the role at an unfortunate time in the series where the movies were plagued by their own ridiculousness. Despite this, his first film, Goldeneye, is still a Bond Hall of Famer. Bond goes up against former agent and friend, Alec Trevelyan (Sean Bean), who plans to rob England using a stolen satellite weapon. Even though this movie can certainly be a bit much with Bond driving a tank through the streets of St. Petersburg, Russia, it flows well behind the performance from Brosnan.
We’re introduced to a new M (Dench), as well as a couple regulars to the Brosnan films, Jack Wade (Joe Don Baker) and Valentin Zukovsky (Robbie Coltrane). The only downside to Goldeneye is that we didn’t have more time to develop Trevelyan’s relationship with Bond, which would’ve been nice had it gone back a few movies. Perhaps the biggest thing that Goldeneye sparked was a revolution to the first-person gamer industry once it was released for Nintendo 64. To this day it’s hailed as one of the best video games of all time.
2. Casino Royale
And then there were two. Casino Royale is not only an amazing Bond movie, it’s an amazing movie. There was much controversy surrounding Brosnan leaving the series and the little-known Craig taking over. Craig didn’t fit the build of Bond that Connery, Dalton and Brosnan were all more natural fits for. But WOW did Craig put skeptics to rest. He gave us a look at Bond as an uncompromising brawler that will pull the trigger on a whim, and that happened to be exactly what the audience wanted.
In just his first movie as 007 Craig was a series legend. Casino Royale puts Bond up against known terrorist financier, Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), in a poker game he organized to recoup some recent losses. It’s up to Bond to clean him so the British government can offer sanctuary before his clients come for his head. Director Martin Campbell (who also directed Goldeneye) did a top notch job balancing the intensity of this movie with some dark comedy that Craig delivers perfectly.
The action throughout the film is second to none, and Bond fans even get a nice little tribute as we’re shown the inception of the vodka martini, shaken, not stirred. Craig also gave the franchise its best chase scene ever as Bond tracks down a terrorist on foot, and winds up fighting him hundreds of feet in the air on scaffolding. The ending of the movie drags of a bit, but it gets a pass based on how amazing the first two hours are.