James Bond Pre-Title Sequences, Ranked

As a long-time James Bond fan, I’ve seen all the movies over and over again. The series is famed for it’s thrilling pre-title sequences which precede the story. I’ve listed all the sequences in order from worst to best. Check it out and let me know what you think!

22) The World is Not Enough It isn’t a surprise that the worst Bond movie also has the worst pre-title sequence. It’s absolutely bloated with excess. It starts off promising, with him fighting some people at a bank in Spain, but quickly spirals out of control as he goes on an overly long speedboat chase on the Thames River, and ends hanging off a hot-air balloon. It’s like a parody of a James Bond intro. It personifies the over-indulgence of the Pierce Brosnan era.

21) Die Another Day This intro is also pretty bad, but fares slightly better than the previous entry. It starts out completely cringe-worthy as Bond surfs into North Korea, moves along to a ridiculous hovercraft chase scene, and ends with Bond getting captured. The only reason I ranked it higher than The World is Not Enough is because they blended the opening song with the pre-title sequence. They had never done that before, and it kind of worked.

20) Quantum of Solace The crappy Bond movies keep on coming. I almost ranked this one at number 22, but I decided it wasn’t that horrible. It’s a car chase, which is cool in theory. Unfortunately, it’s schizophrenically edited. No shot lasts longer than two seconds. The camera is constantly switching from Bond’s face to the car to the tires to the road and back again. Making matters worse is the shakey-cam in which it was filmed. So, you have shakey-cam with jarring editing. If that doesn’t make you puke, I don’t know what will.

19) Licence to Kill No matter how much people espouse their love for Timothy Dalton, I can’t abide by his films. They absolutely suck. This one has a lot in common with Die Another Day in that it’s completely absurd. Bond is best man at Felix Leiter’s wedding. They are in tuxedos, driving to the wedding, when the DEA stop them to have them help a drug raid. Nevermind the fact that neither Bond nor Leiter are DEA agents. So, they manage to thwart a drug kingpin in about eight minutes. When it’s over, they make it to the wedding on time. This intro is abysmal.

18) Live and Let Die This pre-title sequence isn’t so much bad as it is bland. Bond doesn’t even show up. We see three murders: a British agent at the United Nations, a secret agent in New Orleans at a funeral procession, and another agent in a crazy Voodoo ritual. It serves as a setup for the plot, but on the first viewing, nothing appears connected, and it’s pretty dull.

17) You Only Live Twice This is probably the least action-packed of any Bond intro. It’s got an incredibly slow scene in which Spectre steals a spacecraft, followed by Bond shagging a Chinese girl, only to be machine-gunned to death. There have been more exciting pre-title scenes, but at least this one was plausible in the Bond universe.

16) On Her Majesty’s Secret Service It’s a pretty uninventive sequence, but it manages to be more exciting than Live and Let Die, and at least Bond shows up this time. Bond chases a pretty girl, and saves her from suicide. Then, just as he’s about to kiss her, he gets attacked by some generic bad guys. George Lazenby manages to say the groan-inducing line, “This never happened to the other fella.” The fight scene itself was pretty good, but the intro in general is fairly mediocre.

15) A View to a Kill This pre-title sequence manages to showcase Roger Moore’s trademark goofy sense of humor. Things start out promising as Bond has another arctic ski-case/shootout. Sadly, things devolve from there as he switches to a snowboard and flies down the mountain to a Beach Boys tune. Bond blows up a helicopter with a flare and escapes in a phallic-shaped submarine. Decent action, but corny as hell.

14) The Man with the Golden Gun Things get off to a great start when we see Christopher Lee wearing a prosthetic third nipple. From there, he invites a 1930s gangster into his secret funhouse lair where the two men hunt each other down. Lee dispatches him with his signature coolness. This pre-title sequence is hilariously cheesy, but, inexplicably, kind of cool.

13) From Russia with Love A game of cat and mouse occurs between Bond and a Spectre assassin. There is no dialogue as the two agents stalk each other in a hedge maze. Red Grant, the assassin, gets the drop on Bond and strangles him to death with a garrote. Of course, it’s a ruse, and Bond was actually some other agent in disguise. It was a fun diversion, but ultimately pointless. Were we expected to believe Bond was going to die in the first five minutes of the movie?

12) Diamonds are Forever This intro is great because it shows Bond on a rampage. He goes from Japan to Cairo, to the tropics, to an underground lair. He’s on the warpath looking for Blofeld, head of Spectre. He’s kicking ass and taking names. It’s a fast-paced scene, and shows Sean Connery relishing the role he made famous. Forget the rest of the movie, the pre-title sequence is the best part.

11) For Your Eyes Only This is another intro that’s short and to the point. Bond’s helicopter is sabotaged by Blofeld. Being a supervillain, Blofeld takes Bond on a wild ride instead of killing him directly. This gives Bond enough time to regain control of the helicopter and use it to kill Blofeld. The helicopter stunts were really cool, and the scene was rather thrilling.

10) The Living Daylights This is easily the best part of either of Dalton’s two films. Bond and two other agents are sent into a training mission, but unknown to them, an assassin is sent to kill them. Naturally, Bond manages to grapple atop a speeding truck, kill the assassin, escape in glorious fashion, and bed a girl at the end.

9) Tomorrow Never Dies As I said before, Brosnan’s films were marred by over-indulgence. Here, the beginnings of that can be seen. Even so, this is a thoroughly exciting action sequence, and the second best scene of the entire movie (the best was the remote control car chase). Bond shows up to thwart an international arms deal, steals a jet plane, and kills the bad guy in the back seat all while avoiding a nuclear explosion. The series is starting to go over the top by this point, but hasn’t quite teetered over the edge yet.

8) Thunderball If there was an award for weirdest Bond intro, Thunderball would win it. Bond goes to the funeral of his enemy, and then fights a guy dressed in drag, before ultimately escaping with a jet pack. It’s completely absurd, but Connery manages to sell it with his enthusiasm for the role. Thunderball marked the peak of 60s Bond mania, and you can clearly see it here.

7) Octopussy The stunts alone make this one of the best pre-title sequences. Bond steals a BD-5 fighter plane (a really, really small jet plane) and goes on a wild chase scene through Cuba. He avoids explosions, and pilots through a really narrow opening between some closing doors. The fact that everything is real makes this a memorable scene.

6) Skyfall The much lauded third film in Daniel Craig’s tenure has a pretty great pre-title sequence, as well. Bond goes through a city-wide car/motorcycle/train chase. There are a couple of flashes of humor mixed in with the adrenaline rush. It feels like a traditional Bond mission, marking a true return to form after the previous, dreadful Quantum of Solace.

5) Moonraker Bond has always been a ladies man, and he doesn’t seem to care much if the lady is good or bad. The mission starts with Bond trying to get into an enemy agent’s panties. When that doesn’t work, he gets thrown out of a plane without a parachute. What comes next is an inventive skydiving sequence where Bond has to catch up to the bad guy and steal his parachute. And just when you think things couldn’t get any worse, Jaws shows up to kill Bond. Moore was lucky because he had some pretty awesome pre-title sequences in his films.

4) Goldeneye Things start on a high note with a thrilling bungee jump off a dam. The action only ramps up from there as Bond and Agent 006 blow up a Soviet facility and try to escape. This pre-title sequence manages to set up future plot points, but also be an effective standalone adventure. The cold, almost aloof style makes for a nice change from the overwrought cheesiness that came from the earlier films.

3) Casino Royale This is the shortest of all the intros, but it is also one of the best. Bond waits in the shadows for his target, a double-agent. While talking to his enemy, we see brief flashbacks to Bond’s first kill. He then ruthlessly assassinates the double-agent. With both kills under his belt, he has finally achieved his Double-O status. And the coolest part of all is how Bond’s first kill seamlessly transitions to the famous gunbarrel sequence.

2) The Spy Who Loved Me I had a hard time deciding whether this should take first or second place. This opening scene is iconic. Bond, played brilliantly here by Moore, beds a Russian secret agent. Afterward, she sends a squad of killers after Bond. The scene that follows has been copied a million times over since it was first filmed. Bond skis down the mountain, killing his pursuers, and then flies off a cliff, only to be saved by a parachute with the Union Jack blazened upon it. The Bond theme song starts up right when the flag is revealed. And how can you not love the awesome disco music that accompanies the chase sequence? This is a classic Bond scene.

1) Goldfinger The perfect Bond movie also has the perfect intro. Bond infiltrates an enemy facility in a dry suit (with his tuxedo underneath, of course). After he blows it up, he casually walks into a club smoking a cigarette. He moves on to his lady’s room where he kills an assassin. On his way out the door, he utters a classic Bond quip. Connery plays the role perfectly. Every element you love about Bond is distilled into a five minute scene. It’s the ultimate the Bond series has to offer.

Well, that’s it, go ahead and give me your rankings in the comments. And feel free to check out my other James Bond posts.

The Sky is Falling (James Bond 23)

Movies > Books: Casino Royale

Bond…James Bond 15-22

Bond…James Bond 8-14

Bond…James Bond 1-7

12 Responses to “James Bond Pre-Title Sequences, Ranked”

  1. November 10, 2015 at 4:39 pm

    Great list! I’m gonna say GoldenEye is still my personal favorite, followed by the huge laughs in Tomorrow Never Dies (the Dench/Palmer team-up was marvellous…), and I find QOS’s opening quite exciting too (but you already know my thoughts on that film). I will gradually re-watch the rest of the older films at some point to refresh my memory.

  2. November 15, 2015 at 6:18 am

    I forgot how brilliant Goldeneye’s pre-title sequence was. Very classy, and a really great set up for the film.

    The whole of Quantum of Solace was editing like someone who suffers from ADD – just no sense of focus or anything. Though I do like what happened in the sequence, agree that it was all over the place.

    I had nearly forgotten about surfing Bond! Oh my god, that was terrible.

    It’s been so long since I’ve seen some of the older Bonds – hilariously Roger Moore’s snowboarding stands out as brilliant as a kid, terrible as a grown up.

    • November 15, 2015 at 8:25 am

      Thanks Jaina! Yeah, I think my list is pretty spot on. When you start out with Bond surfing, you know the movie is going to be terrible, lol. QOS was definitely made by someone with ADD or someone on drugs. Goldeneye will always be a classic. And Connery is so amazing in Goldfinger, it would be hard to top!

  3. 5 Geoff T
    December 9, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    Nah, I’m gonna have to disagree on License to Kill’s, I like the way it sets up the much darker feel in comparison to the others. Goldeneye however it one of my favorites.

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November 2015


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