Nobody does it better. James Bond is a cultural icon, a sex symbol, and an overall badass for all time. However, like pretty much all characters who got their start in the 1950s (the novel Casino Royale was first published in 1953), Bond possesses a number of character traits which do not fit in with modern standards of decency. Throughout the novels and the 24 films (and counting!) they inspired, 007 has displayed varying degrees of racism, misogyny, and other grand displays of uncouth behavior, to say nothing of moments that, through force of sheer audacity, just make us go, “WTF?!” The character is overtly kind of a jerk, as a battle-hardened stoic assassin would be, but some of these are a bit much, even for 007.
For this list, we’re going to take a look at Bond’s career on the silver screen for his most ridiculous moments, sequences which stick out like a sore thumb within even his most outrageous adventures. Here are the 15 Most WTF Things James Bond Has Ever Done.
15. Moonraker: 007 in SPACE!
Bond has always been contemporary, for better or worse. Whenever something is trendy, 007 is there. Blaxploitation and Kung-Fu movies made their mark on Bond in the early ’70s, and even Casino Royale was inspired by the dark-and-gritty reboot trend which was started by Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins.
Star Wars became an unprecedented cultural sensation in 1977, and, naturally-but-unfortunately, James Bond had no choice but to go into space and shoot laser guns. Moonraker is a bizarre movie, with some really great moments, as well as some weird and bizarre antics. Even before heading out “where no MI6 agent has gone before”, Bond does battle with a giant snake at Drax’s secret lair hidden in the heart of the Amazon. Yup.
Critics and audience disagree on whether Moonraker is a low point for the series or a jolly good time filled with memorable sequences and top-class production values. The one thing we can all agree on is that, regardless of whether or not it was a good choice, Bond going to space was really weird.
14. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service: Tracy’s Father Is Happy To See Bond “Dominate” His Daughter
1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is regarded as one of the greatest 007 adventures of all time, though it is commonly dismissed by casual fans for two reasons. First, the film featured George Lazenby playing Bond for his first and only time, and two, the film was considered a box office failure in comparison to its predecessor, You Only Live Twice.
However, longtime Bond fans, despite generally finding Lazenby to be somewhat lacking in the role, still consider OHMSS to be one of the best 007 films due to its emotional storyline, unparalleled action sequences (courtesy of director and 007 veteran Peter Hunt), and a menacing performance from Telly Sevalas as Blofeld.
One bit of the film which has not aged well is the relationship between Bond and his romantic lead’s father. Tracy (played by Diana Rigg) is something of a lost soul, and her father feels that her being with 007 has allowed some semblance of structure and discipline to re-enter her life. Of course, he doesn’t exactly phrase it that way. His exact words are, “What she needs is a man to dominate her! To make love to her enough to make her love him.” 007 has no objections. Later in the film, he punches his own daughter in the face, knocking her out cold, in an effort to keep her from following Bond into danger. “Spare the rod, spoil the child, eh?” If you say so, Draco. If you say so.
13. You Only Live Twice: Bond in “Yellowface”
Sean Connery was the first on-screen Bond, and to a great many, he’s still the best. (And, no, we’re not counting the television version of Casino Royale in this equation, obviously.) You Only Live Twice is memorable for introducing us to the classic image of Donald Pleasance as Blofeld, as well as one of the most elaborate villainous lairs ever, hidden inside an active volcano.
Also, it’s the one where Bond disguises himself as a Japanese man by changing his eyebrows and slightly mussing his hair. He does it to avoid assassins from SPECTRE, but unless the assassins are literally blind, Bond wasn’t going to fool anybody. It’s almost giving the film too much credit to call it “yellowface,” but what really sells the dated-ness is the film’s liberal use of the word “oriental.” So old-timey!
Like many of the films on this list, this WTF moment doesn’t stop us from loving You Only Live Twice, but it does serve as a reminder that no work of art is immune to the effects of time, and what was once seen as an exotic diversion for a movie is now seen as helplessly dated.
12. The Man With The Golden Gun: Bond’s Cruel And Unusual Dispatching Nick Nack
The Man With The Golden Gun is nobody’s favorite 007 flick, but it has its moments, courtesy of Christopher Lee as the titular assassin, and Herve Villechaize as Nick Nack, his manservant and confidant.
After dispatching Scaramanga and saving the world yet again, Bond and Agent Goodnight (played by an annoyingly ditzy Britt Eckland) commandeer the villain’s boat and use it to sail back home while enjoying some… Quality time together. However, they are attacked by Nick Nack, whom Bond humorously traps in a luggage bag. At first it is speculated that 007 threw the diminutive troublemaker overboard, but then it is revealed that he actually locked him up in the crow’s nest of the ship. Roll credits…
Except, we never see what happens next. Does 007 ever go back to feed and provide water for poor Nick Nack? Sure, he’s a villain, but we can’t think of many worse ways to die than to be trapped in a suitcase and left to wither away and literally get cooked by the sun.
11. Goldfinger: Bond Disses The Beatles
Dr. No and From Russia With Love were unmitigated successes, to be sure, but it was Goldfinger that turned James Bond into a full-blown phenomenon. Even people who’ve never heard of 007 still immediately recognize the iconic image of the gold-painted woman on the bed. Perhaps the most surprising part of Goldfinger’s success is that it was directed by Guy Hamilton, who went on to helm three of the worst Bond outings, Diamonds are Forever, Live and Let Die, and The Man with the Golden Gun. Maybe he just got lucky?
James Bond, the character, has never really been a fan of popular music. By today’s standards, that basically makes him hopelessly square in hindsight. In Goldfinger, he comments, “There are some things that just aren’t done, such as drinking Dom Perignon ’53 above the temperature of 38 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s as bad as listening to The Beatles without earmuffs.”
Back in 1964, nobody except the teenagers knew that The Beatles would go down as the greatest rock and roll band of all time; most adults and squares dismissed them — and rock and roll in general — as nothing but a fad. Several years later, one Beatle in particular would have the last laugh…
10. Live and Let Die: Bond Tricks Solitaire Into Sex
Paul McCartney, of The Beatles, recorded Live and Let Die for the soundtrack to the film of the same name, the first Bond outing to star Roger Moore as the suave super-spy. It’s unclear as to whether 007’s “earmuff rule” applies to ex-Beatles’ solo works, or just their recordings as a group.
In Live and Let Die, Bond does battle against the forces of voodoo… Roger Moore’s run as the character didn’t start particularly strong (he wouldn’t really find his footing until the exceptional The Spy Who Loved Me). In the course of his battle with these supernatural gangsters, he meets Solitaire, a (very probably) supernaturally gifted fortune teller who uses her tarot cards to see the future. Her power, however, is tied to her virginity, and… You surely know where this one is heading. Bond makes her use his own deck of rigged cards which lead to them sharing a night of intimate passion, robbing her of her powers. We know that Live and Let Die is not a film interested in reason or logic, but if Solitaire is a legitimate psychic, then wouldn’t that skill be of immense use to an organization like MI6? But Bond has his priorities straight, and tricking young women into losing their virginity is at the top of his to-do list.
9. The Living Daylights: Bond Fights Alongside The Mujahideen
The enemy of my enemy is my friend, right? Not exactly. History has shown us that friends and enemies change along with the times. During the Cold War, England and America, the two biggest Western powers, were bitter enemies with the Soviet Union. Meanwhile, the Soviets were engaged in a bitter war with Afghanistan, attempting to stake a claim to the land and its resources by installing a Communist dictator and hoping the people would simply fall in line. Unfortunately for the Soviets, the Afghan people refused, and a long and bloody war ensued, in which the Western nations supplied the Afghans with armaments in an effort to keep Soviet influence from spreading.
Soviet intervention in Afghanistan soon became fodder for action movies. In The Living Daylights, Timothy Dalton’s first turn as the ageless agent, 007 did battle alongside Mujahideen forces against the Russian military. This is all well and good, until the 21st century. The infamous terror group al-Quaeda essentially formed as an off-shoot of the Mujahideen who wanted to spread their own twisted version of Islam through fear and terrorism, culminating in the attacks on September 11th, 2001. In hindsight, Bond’s chumminess with the Mujahideen is nothing less than painfully ironic.
8. The Man With The Golden Gun: Bond Threatens To Break Andrea Anders’s Arm
We’re not done with The Man with the Golden Gun just yet. Leaving a man to bake in the sun is only one of two epic WTF moments in that flick. Back in Sean Connery’s day, Bond regularly man-handled women, slapping them around and exerting his dominating presence upon them. Roger Moore was usually a bit more charming. At the very least, he lacked the menacing undercurrent of Connery’s borderline sociopathic version of 007.
Regardless, in TMWTGG, Bond gets unusually rough with Andrea Anders (played by the lovely Maud Adams), the title assassin’s mistress/captive. While interrogating her for information, he grabs her arm and pins her to the bed. “You’re hurting my arm!” she exclaims. “I’ll break it if you don’t tell me where those bullets go,” is Bond’s reply. Moore delivers the line in such a unique fashion, making it clear that, though he may not particularly want to, he absolutely will follow through with his threat. After slapping her around a bit more (lovely!), he leaves to continue the mission. Ultimately, Andrea is murdered for assisting Bond on his mission.
7. Tomorrow Never Dies: Kisses A Dead Woman
Pierce Brosnan was arguably the most romantic Bond, partially because his female leads were generally given much more development than they had in the past. In 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies, Bond finds that one of his former flames, Paris (Teri Hatcher), is now married to the man he’s investigating, Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce).
After some old-fashioned 007 persuasion, Paris gives him information vital to his mission, and he acts on it. When he returns to his hotel, he finds Paris dead, murdered by the assassin, Dr. Kaufman. After killing him in revenge, Bond takes one last look at Paris, face-down on the bed, and leans over her, kissing her hard on her cheek and neck, one last goodbye before leaving her behind forever.
On one level, it’s romantic, but on another, it’s pretty gross. Seriously, how long has she been dead? And it’s not a classic goodbye peck; he really makes out with her cold and lifeless body. It doesn’t quite cross the line into necrophilia, but it’s still somewhat disconcerting.
6. Dr. No: Coldly Executes A Disarmed Assassin
James Bond is a trained killer, willing and able to take lives in the name of Her Majesty, but sometimes he seems to take a bit too much glee in the seedier aspects of his job.
Take Dr. No, for instance, the very first 007 cinematic adventure, in which Sean Connery’s Bond sets a trap for an assassin. The hired gun working for SPECTRE opens the door to Bond’s hotel room and fires six shots into our agent’s bed, though of course, Bond is hiding behind the door, out of harm’s way. When the killer walks into the room, Bond reveals himself and interrogates the would-be assassin. After failing to give up any important information, he reaches for his gun and pulls the trigger, to no avail. Bond remarks, “That’s a Smith & Wesson… And you’ve had your six,” before plugging the killer at point-blank range and then shooting his writhing body in the back.
Surely Bond had decided that the killer was not going to reveal any meaningful intel, but a prisoner could have been useful. Still, as far as WTF moments go, this scene went a long way in 1962 to establish that Bond, while a hero, was certainly not a boy scout.
5. The Spy Who Loved Me: Executes Another Disarmed Assassin
1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me is held in high esteem as Roger Moore’s finest hour, the film in which he firmly settled into the role. Moore’s era is often dismissed by some Bond fanatics, but we think that’s unfair. Moore was a tall and commanding presence as 007, and he imbued the character with a different personality than the gung-ho Connery incarnation. Roger Moore’s version of Bond would rather not be killing and saving the world, but, as the best man for the job, he did what he had to do, for Queen and country.
Despite the perceived lighter tone of The Spy Who Loved Me, Bond still pulls off one of his most devilish kills in the whole series here. After engaging in fisticuffs on a Cairo rooftop, Bond has a henchman at his mercy, dangling over a rooftop with only his grip on 007’s tie keeping him from falling to his death. After questioning the henchman about his contact’s whereabouts and getting a satisfactory one-word answer (“Pyramids!”), Bond, without a moment’s hesitation, flips his tie from the man’s grasp, causing him to fall to the street below in grisly fashion. “What a helpful chap,” is all the thought Bond gives to his actions before carrying on with the mission.
4. Thunderball: Bond Extorts Sex At The Spa
Thunderball is the final entry in the series directed by Terence Young — who also did Dr. No and From Russia With Love — and it contains some of the best action sequences of Connery’s era, from the groundbreaking underwater battle to some seriously brutal fistfights. They may seem a bit tame by today’s standards, but, in their day, Bond films were frequently called out by parent groups and other moral protectors for marketing violence to children.
Despite the violent content of the film, Thunderball’s most disturbing moment comes early on, when Bond is relaxing at a spa while also tracking a suspicious figure. After striking out with the spa worker (as seen in the clip above), 007 is nearly killed when the mysterious man sabotages the admittedly ridiculous spine-stretching traction table. Bond unscrupulously makes a play at placing the blame for his near-death on the woman who had previously rebuked his advances, who begs him not to tell her boss. Bond muses aloud, “I suppose my silence could have a price…” Then they have sex.
3. Diamonds Are Forever: The “Camp Gay” Assassins, Mr. Wint & Mr. Kidd
Sean Connery retired from the role after 1967’s You Only Live Twice, but after the relative underperformance of 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Connery was convinced to return for 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever. In hindsight, we really wished he hadn’t come back, since Diamonds Are Forever is, hands down, our least favorite 007 adventure.
Diamonds makes no effort to follow-up on the game-changing events of OHMSS, and Charles Grey (the Criminologist from Rocky Horror) is distressingly miscast as Blofeld. Despite actually being two years younger than Roger Moore, Connery seems so much older, and not in a good way; he is bloated, bored, and just plain disinterested in the role.
However, the worst part of Diamonds are the campy gay assassins, Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd, whose presumed sexual preferences are referenced several times in the film. Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with having campy gay characters in a movie, but we can’t imagine that Wint & Kidd were remotely funny, even in 1971. Their dialogue is eye-rollingly cringe-worthy, and their final demise is so face-palmingly ridiculous that we’re not even comfortable writing it here (though it can be seen, if not believed, in the clip above). Diamonds Are Forever is important for its place in Bond history, but it’s not a good movie by any stretch of the imagination, and Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd are a small-but-crucial part of why it fails on practically every level.
2. Die Another Day: Wind Surfing Scene
The computer generated visual effects revolution began with Jurassic Park, and gained traction with movies like The Matrix and Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. Always keen to capitalize on trends, the 2002 James Bond film, Die Another Day, thought it would be appropriate to include a scene using explicit CGI effects to show that Bond had entered the 21st century.
There’s a scene late in the film where Bond outruns a tsunami by windsurfing. 007 has a history with these kinds of stunts; On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, The Spy Who Loved Me, For Your Eyes Only, and The World Is Not Enough all featured exciting stunt-filled sequences involving high-speed skiing, and Moonraker opened with a breathtaking mid-air freefall battle over a parachute. Even Die Another Day itself began with Bond surfing into North Korea.
However, while each of the aforementioned scenes were achieved with real-life stuntwork and in-camera effects, the wind surfing scene is executed with lazy CGI and horrendous blue screen effects which somehow manage to look worse than the rear-projection techniques used in Connery and Moore’s day. Die Another Day is an over-the-top action flick, but it’s mostly decently silly, not unlike Moonraker. But if there’s a single scene which spelled doom for Brosnan’s run as 007, it’s easily the godawful wind surfing sequence, which simply cannot be unseen, and can’t even be saved by David Arnold’s always-exceptional musical score.
1. Skyfall: Bond’s Treatment Of Severine
After a long four-year hiatus, 2012’s Skyfall went on to become 007’s biggest commercial hit, grossing over a billion dollars worldwide. Daniel Craig’s version of the character, however, is even more uncouth than Connery. If Connery was a heroic sociopath, then Craig is an outright psychopath who displays an eerily overt dislike towards women and disdain for human life that even Connery would find distasteful. Nowhere is this more clear than in Bond’s interactions with Severine.
In a scene meant to be a contemporary take on ’60s Bond’s penchant for using women as objects, Craig’s 007, after hearing about her past as a victim of human trafficking, promptly follows her into the shower, likely knowing that, as a woman accustomed to being used by powerful men, she will not reject him for fear that he may not help her to escape for her life of submission. The rape overtones are overt and unwelcome.
Later, Silva (Javier Bardem) challenges Bond to a William Tell-esque game in which they must take turns trying to shoot a glass of expensive liquor off of her head while she is tied to a rock. Bond’s shot goes wide, but Silva shoots her to death, and the glass tumbles from her head. Bond quips, “That’s a waste of good scotch.” Less than a minute later, MI6 helicopters arrive and apprehend Silva and Bond promptly forgets Severine ever existed while the 007 theme triumphantly blares in the background. It’s an unsettling dissonance from which the film never truly recovers.
Some may argue that 007’s remark was an attempt to sound tough and save face while concealing his true pain from Silva, but, based on Craig’s actions throughout the rest of the movie and the preceding films (he displayed a similar disregard towards the life of Solange in Casino Royale), he genuinely comes off as the type of person who cares more about decades-old scotch than an actually living woman.
What do you think? Do you agree with our list? What are some more WTF moments in the 007 series? Sound off in the comments!