What to watch before you see Spectre

It’s nigh impossible to pick a favorite James Bond film. Some offer complicated, well-rounded villains. Others deliver clever dialogue. Still others transport you all over the world.

With “Spectre,” the 24th Bond film, premiering this weekend, here are the top four James Bond films to watch before heading to the theater Friday night, based on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) ratings and box office gross.

Casino Royale
( 8/10 )

Based on the first novel by Bond author Ian Fleming, “Casino Royale” follows Bond as he takes on weapons dealer Le Chiffre. The plot finds Bond in England, Jamaica, Miami and Montenegro. 

Accompanied by the beautiful and cunning Vesper Lind, Bond must outwit and outplay Le Chiffre in a game of highest-stake Texas Hold ‘Em. 

“You have given some thought to the fact that if you lose, our government will have directly funded terrorism,” Vesper asks Bond as the stakes raise ever higher. 

In just over two hours, Daniel Craig effectively recreated the Bond character and made it his own. Director Martin Campbell and a powerful supporting cast make the movie the highest rated of the series.

Goldfinger
( 7.8/10 )

Though not the first of the movies, this installation in the Bond series is quintessential to a Bond fan’s appreciation of the series. 

Starring the original Bond, Sean Connery, this movie includes all of the elements that make a great Bond film. The nearly two hour film takes off quickly and follows Bond from Mexico to Miami to London and Switzerland. 

Honor Blackman stars alongside Connery as Pussy Galore, owner of a flying circus of entirely female pilots. Perhaps most notable about the film is the bad guy: Goldfinger. A 40-something Latvian ex-pat, Goldfinger epitomizes the Bond Villain with his monologues, convoluted death traps and sinister schemes.

When one imagines a spy movie, Goldfinger comes to mind.

Skyfall
( 7.8/10 )

Craig’s Bond returned for his third movie and wowed audiences with a movie that was equal parts thrilling and groundbreaking.

The franchise is no stranger to killing characters, but there are a few names that can be expected to survive until the end. “Skyfall,” however, dug deep into several characters’ past lives to paint a haunting picture of the nature of clandestine services. 

The audience is made to watch as Bond is outsmarted at nearly every turn by what could have been his most dangerous baddie to date.
Silva, Javier Bardem’s cruel and calculating Bond Villain, seems to have every inch of London under his influence, leaving Bond and M no place to go but far away.

“Skyfall” strays from the traditional Bond motif without feeling out-of-canon and provides a nice relief from the otherwise somewhat predictable Bond formula.

From Russia with Love
( 7.5/10 )

In this classic Connery flick, we find another classic Bond flick complete with destructible sets and tear-away suit sleeves.

Bond finds himself on uneven footing with an enemy operative who is assigned to kill him. But he begins to fall for her, and it seems their only chance to be together is to foil her former employer and enable her to defect.

The movie includes the first reference to the deadly and omnipotent organization Spectre that will continue to plague Bond for decades.

The corresponding novel was John F. Kennedy’s favorite book.

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