Licensed to Kill: James Bond’s 10 Most Brutal Kills, Ranked

With the 25th Bond movie on the horizon, we recap 10 times 007 put his license to kill to use in over-the-top, brutal fashion.

James Bond is famed the world over for his license to kill and his willingness to use it. The unstoppable secret agent has cut down every supervillain, henchman, goon, assassin, and troublemaker sent to stop him over his near sixty-year run on the big screen. He's used every kind of weapon and method one could think of to dispatch his enemies whilst barely ever breaking a sweat.

Not always a gentleman, Bond can be unbelievably brutal in his role as a government killer, and we’ve compiled a list of his ten most brutal kills from all of the official Eon-produced Bond movies since 1962.

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10 The First Kills

Martin Campbell’s Casino Royale opens with Bond ambushing a corrupt MI6 section chief in Bond’s classically relaxed style. His target takes a similarly cocky approach and rests assured in his knowledge that Bond can’t really be an assassin because he’d know if Bond had been promoted to double 0 status. He quickly realizes, however, that Bond has not only taken the bullets out of the gun he had hidden in his desk, but Bond has also already killed his accomplice.

When he asks how his contact died, Bond simply responds with “not well.” We see that Bond tracked the contact down and engaged the contact in a vicious bathroom brawl that ended with Bond partially drowning the contact in a sink before shooting him. The scene ends with the corrupt section chief telling Bond not to worry, as the second kill is always easier. But his sentence is cut short by Bond shooting him, his handing swiping a picture of his family off of his desk as he falls. It established that Daniel Craig’s interpretation of Bond as ruthlessly cold from the word go, and set the tone for the darker, more grounded movies to come.

9 Put to Bed

Even when Bond was at his campest, he was still unforgivingly brutal to bad guys. In 1983's Octopussy, Roger Moore’s 007 finds himself in India being chased through the streets by various henchmen. Attempting to lose them in the crowds, they all come to a small square with various performers such as a sword eater and a man walking across hot coals.

When he’s spotted, Bond is forced to engage a henchman near a man lying on a bed of nails. Once the performer sees what’s going on and rises off of the nails, Bond flips the henchmen straight onto it. You can clearly see the rubber nails of the bed bend around the henchman when he lands on it—and the scene is definitely played for laughs—but it’s still a heck of a way to go.

8 “I think he got the point.”

One of Bond’s most famous one-liners comes in his fourth cinematic outing, Thunderball, when a henchman sneaks up on him on the beach. Without any hesitation, Bond casually picks up a nearby speargun and fires it directly at the henchman, hitting him in the stomach and pinning him to a nearby tree.

It’s one thing to be killed by James Bond in a horrifically painful manner, but it’s another thing entirely to be killed in a horrifically painful manner only for Bond to use your death as simply a setup for a punchline. We guess he deserved it, but still... sheesh.

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7 “Bon appétit!”

One of the pillars of Bond movies that impacted popular culture the most was not only the villains—or their lairs—but the deadly traps that would be incorporated into them. Blofeld was always a leader in the field of stealthy assassinations for people who displeased him, and his lair in You Only Live Twice contained an all-time great: a pool of man-eating piranhas.

Blofeld establishes the deadliness of the pool earlier in the movie, and it comes in handy in the finale when the lair is stormed and Bond is caught in a fistfight with Blofeld’s chief henchman, Hans. After a tense fight, Bond manages to flip Hans into the pool, and, after listening to Hans’ screams of pain, Bond simply says “bon appétit." Savage.

6 “Time to face gravity.”

Whatever your thoughts on 2002’s Die Another Day might be, one thing you can never accuse the movie of is a lack of stuff going on. The finale of the movie involves a giant solar-powered space laser and a Bond girl sword fight on board an exploding plane. Bond himself gets locked in a fistfight with the movie’s antagonist, Gustav Graves, who also happens to be wearing an experimental suit of body armor with electrocuting capabilities.

With his technological upper hand, Graves beats Bond and aims to leave him in the crashing plane after taking the only remaining parachute. He makes the classic bad guy mistake of going in for one final gloat, however, telling Bond that it’s “time to face destiny." This allows Bond to pull the cord on Graves’ parachute, sending him hurtling out of the plane. Graves hangs on to the side, allowing Bond to retort “time to face gravity” before electrocuting Graves with his own suit and causing him to fly into one of the plane’s turbines.

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5 Smoke Stacked

Ernst Stavro Blofeld was a huge part of the Bond movie legacy and still is today, returning as the superspy’s arch-nemesis in 2015’s Spectre. The character had appeared in six official Bond movies beforehand but had taken a thirty-four-year hiatus after his brutal death in the pre-title sequence of 1981's For Your Eyes Only.

Blofeld is never named as such, but he appears in his classic design, and the killing is contextualized as Bond’s revenge for Blofeld murdering Bond’s wife, Tracy. After capturing Bond in a remote-controlled helicopter, Blofeld loses control of it after 007 climbs into the pilot’s seat. Bond then scoops up Blofeld and the wheelchair that he’s confined to with the landing gear of the helicopter and proceeds to drop him down a smokestack to his death.

4 Dario

Dario was a very memorable Bond movie henchman from License to Kill who meets an even more memorable fate. After being tied up and placed onto a conveyor belt leading to an industrial shredder used to break up blocks of cocaine, Bond desperately tries to talk his way out of it. For once, he isn’t able to though, and crime kingpin Franz Sanchez leaves Dario to finish Bond off.

After climbing onto the conveyor belt to try and kick Bond in, Dario gets grabbed and pulled down into the shredder. The screams and cloud of red mist make for one of the bloodiest moments of the franchise—if not the bloodiest—and it’s made all the more brutal by the fact that it’s a young, angel-faced Benecio del Toro playing Dario.

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3 “Give the people want they want!”

Part of the villain’s master plan from 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies involves a giant torpedo with menacing drill bits attached the front used to sink ships. In the heat of the final destruction of head villain Elliot Carver’s stealth ship, Carver has Bond dead to rights and is about to shoot him but makes the mistake of monologuing too long. Bond activates the drill, which distracts Carver long enough for Bond to gain the upper hand and hold him in the drill’s path.

Carver’s overall plan is to start a war between China and Britain to gain exclusive media rights for his news empire. Bond reminds Carver of the first rule of media as the drill approaches them, offering up the line “always give the people what they want” before leaving him to be mangled.

2 “He always did have an inflated opinion of himself.”

During the final fight between Bond and main villain Dr. Kananga in 1973’s Live and Let Die, the two tussle and fall into Kananga’s shark pool. From there, a standard villain death seems inevitable when you see one of the sharks approach, but Bond thinks of something far more brutal.

It’s established earlier in the movie that one of Bond’s main gadgets is a shark gun that fires compressed gas pellets. Bond gets one of the pellets into Kananga’s mouth, causing him to swallow it and resulting in Kananga suddenly inflating like a balloon. Rising out of the water and floating to the ceiling before exploding. Bond, of course, has a one-liner on hand about Kananga always having “an inflated opinion of himself."

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1 Drax

Hugo Drax is an often-overlooked Bond villain, but he was also one of the most dastardly. His plan to wipe out all human life on Earth by dispersing nerve gas into the atmosphere is foiled when his space station lair is raided and he is forced to flee. Bond quickly catches up to Drax and shoots him in the heart with a dart gun concealed on his wrist. This isn’t what makes the death so brutal, though.

With Drax still staggering backward from the pain of the shot, a smiling Bond nudges Drax into an airlock. Inviting him to “take a giant step for mankind," before he blows the very much still alive Drax out of the airlock and into outer space. When asked what happened to Drax, Bond cooly replies that “he had to fly”.

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