Pierce Brosnan Bond Films Ranked
Destiny seemed to have a hand in shaping Pierce Brosnan’s career, as the Irish actor was always meant to play the legendary James Bond. He donned the tuxedo four times and each of his Bond films offer something special, just some more than others.
He met Cubby Broccoli on the set of For Your Eyes Only after visiting his wife Cassandra Harris, who was playing Bond girl Countess Lisl von Schlaf. Albert R. Broccolli kept Brosnan in mind offering him the part in 1986, but contractual obligations to US TV show Remington Steele delayed his rendezvous with fate.
When MI6 finally got their man, Brosnan’s portrayal of Bond struck a delicate balance between Sean Connery’s edge and Roger Moore’s lightheartedness, placing him among the pantheon of great 007s. However, as with all Bond’s who’ve done their fair share, not all Pierce Brosnan’s Bond films were a critical success.
Though Brosnan’s four-film run enjoyed immense box office success, each with its distinct style and flavor, providing a rollercoaster ride of entertainment and shoot ups.
It was a four-film and seven-year reign, and of course there are some great and not-so great moments in each of them, but join us as we rank the Pierce Brosnan Bond films and put them in their rightful place.
Fourth Place: Die Another Day
Die Another Day, often considered the low point in Pierce Brosnan’s Bond films, but it’s not without its merits. While the film may be over-the-top and defy logic, it makes a bold attempt to break away from the conventional Bond formula.
The movie opens with potential, as 007 is captured in North Korea and subjected to brutal torture. Then released through a prisoner exchange, only to face accusations of leaking government secrets and goes rogue to uncover who framed him.
Unfortunately, Die Another Day pushes the boundaries of believability to the extreme, introducing face-changing technology, invisible cars, and more that would have fit in well with the absurdity of Moonraker.
Halle Berry as Giacinta ‘Jinx’ Johnson is a plus in the film, as is a nod to all of the 20 Bond films and seeing many of the old props. Rosamund Pike playing the rogue agent, come Bond girl Miranda Frost is another plus.
But Die Another Day is let down in a few too many ways. The fencing theme doesn’t help. We all know Bond is great at everything, but having to fence for his life against unconvincing villain Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens) was a bad choice, as was Graves’ entrance in London by Union Jack parachute.
But finishing on another plus, Bond kissing Miss Moneypenny at the end of the film, and getting it on while nobody is in the office, at least until short lived John Cleese’s Q catches them, or should that be her? See, told you it was worth a watch, really.
Third Place: The World is Not Enough
The World Is Not Enough takes an innovative approach, paving the way for the more character-driven direction that the James Bond franchise would eventually embrace with the Daniel Craig series. Director Michael Apted’s film centers on a Bond girl turning out to be the main villain.
Initially, the audience is led to believe that Robert Carlyle‘s Renard, a man who feels no pain, is the mastermind behind the nefarious plot. Carlyle delivers a convincing performance, and is of course class at being a crazed psychopath, but it’s revealed that he is under the control of Elektra King (Sophie Marceau), a woman he had previously kidnapped.
The shocking twist unfolds as Elektra King, the seemingly sheltered daughter of a wealthy businessman, harbors a deep grudge against M (Judi Dench). This revelation adds a layer of complexity to the film, further exploring the personal dynamics between Bond and M.
Denise Richards delivers a surprisingly strong performance that complements Brosnan’s smirks and snarky remarks. Sure enough, the somewhat cheesy Christmas-themed pun towards the end, which was always going to happen with a Bond girl called Christmas Jones.
The World Is Not Enough is also the last film with Q legend Desmond Llewlyn, who bowed out after starring in 17 of the 19 Bond films. The World Is Not Enough might not be the best of Pierce Brosnan Bond movies, but it’s got some memorable moments and even more bold twists, and is certainly worth rewatching.
Second Place: Tomorrow Never Dies
Tomorrow Never Dies often flies under the radar in discussions about James Bond films, despite being one of the best Pierce Brosnan Bond films.
Brosnan’s pre-credits sequences are always a highlight, and Tomorrow Never Dies features one of his finest. The adrenaline-pumping action where Bond prevents a nuclear catastrophe sets the tone, though the film struggles to maintain the same intensity throughout.
Jonathan Pryce‘s portrayal of Elliot Carver, a character reminiscent of Rupert Murdoch, creates a delightfully exaggerated villain whose confidence enhances the humor. His plan isn’t as diaboloical as some of his predecessors even if he wants to start World War III just to sell more newspapers.
Flirtatious moments are abundant in Tomorrow Never Dies, with Brosnan enjoying three such instances, arguably more than any other Bond. Early on, he’s in bed with an Oxford Danish professor, “brushing up on his Danish.” Later, he rekindles an old flame with Paris Carver (played by Teri Hatcher), with M’s approval.
Yeoh’s portrayal of the skilled Chinese intelligence officer presents her as a formidable match for James Bond, even besting him in a few situations. This partnership not only enhances the film’s appeal but also adds depth to Brosnan’s portrayal of the legendary spy.
Their handcuffed motorcycle chase through bustling Saigon stands out as a memorable sequence as they try and evade a chasing helicopter. Of course, they get away, but with Bond and Lin using their skills together they were always going to.
First Place: GoldenEye
After an unprecedented six-year hiatus following Timothy Dalton‘s departure from the iconic role in Licence to Kill, Pierce Brosnan finally stepped into James Bond’s shoes in 1995’s GoldenEye. This film faced the challenge of proving that 007 still held relevance in the mid-’90s, and it successfully did so, emerging as one of the most outstanding entries in the franchise and for us Pierce Brosnan’s best Bond film.
GoldenEye, named after Ian Fleming’s Jamaican estate, captivates audiences from the get-go with an awe-inspiring jump off a massive Siberian dam. Under Martin Campbell’s expert direction (later known for directing Daniel Craig’s debut in Casino Royale), the film maintains a relentless pace as it takes viewers on a thrilling, international escapade.
Bond’s characteristic disregard for others’ belongings is on full display, exemplified by his tank rampage through Red Square, something Brosnan would become synonymous with, and his penchant for explosive pens.
Set in a post-Cold War landscape, Bond faces an intriguing nemesis in former MI6 agent Alec Trevelyan (played by Sean Bean), who serves as a dark mirror image of 007 himself. While Bond’s philandering and high-stakes lifestyle remain largely unchanged, GoldenEye acknowledges the changing times with the introduction of Judi Dench‘s M, a female superior who challenges Bond’s “sexist, misogynist, dinosaur” behavior.
Pierce Brosnan’s portrayal of James Bond in GoldenEye garnered critical and commercial success, cementing his status as one of the most iconic actors to assume the legendary role. Tasked with revitalizing the character for a new generation following Timothy Dalton’s darker, more grounded interpretation, which was criticized at the time.
GoldenEye delighted audiences and critics alike with its exhilarating action sequences, impressive special effects, and compelling Cold War-themed narrative.
The film’s explosive opening, adrenaline-fueled stunts, and stellar cast solidified GoldenEye as an unforgettable entry in the Bond series and the best Pierce Brosnan Bond film. Only problem, it was all slightly downhill from here on in.
Pierce Brosnan Bond Films Ranked
Pierce Brosnan’s tenure as James Bond brought a much-needed excitement to the franchise after taking a six year break. GoldenEye was a breath of fresh air, a plot and cast that reinvigorated the series with his perfect blend of charisma, sophistication, and contemporary appeal.
Most critics agree it went gradually downhill from there, but after setting such high standards, it was always going to be difficult to maintain. That’s not to say his other Bond films aren’t worth watching because they all offer classic moments and interesting plots.
Brosnan’s portrayal of Bond will forever be remembered as an essential contribution to the series’ ongoing legacy, and his films remain a must-watch for both die-hard fans and newcomers.
Take a look at our James Bond Movies in Order…