Every Pierce Brosnan James Bond movie ranked, from worst to best

Pierce Brosnan's James Bond lurks in the shadows in GoldenEye.
How do Brosnan's 007 movies shape up? (Image credit: MGM/United Artists)

Pierce Brosnan playing James Bond always felt like matter of destiny. Although the Irish star didn't wear the famous tuxedo on screen until 1995's GoldenEye, rights holder Cubby Broccoli saw Brosnan as the ideal replacement for Roger Moore when he hung up his Walther PPK in 1985. Brosnan's contract with US TV show Remington Steele ultimately prevented him from signing on as 007 back then but – after Timothy Dalton's brief stint in the role – Broccoli eventually got his man.

Watching the four Pierce Brosnan James Bond movies, you can see why 007's paymasters had the actor in their sights for so long. His blend of Sean Connery’s lethal edge and Roger Moore’s lightheartedness put him up there with the best James Bonds, while his tenure was also box-office gold – indeed, his final adventure, Die Another Day, was the highest grossing Bond movie of all time until Daniel Craig's debut in Casino Royale.

At the same time, the Brosnan era was an inconsistent affair, as the gritty early promise of GoldenEye succumbed to the more fantastical excesses (invisible cars, villains who don't feel pain...) of The World is Not Enough and Die Another Day. In other words, the Pierce Brosnan James Bond movies are something of a mixed bag. Here's how they rank, and if you want to see how they fit in with the rest of the franchise, check out our guide to watching all 25 James Bond movies in order.

4. The World is Not Enough

James Bond stands next to Q with his arms folded in The World Is Not enough

The late Desmond Llewelyn made his last appearance as Q in The World is Not Enough. (Image credit: MGM)

Where to stream: Max (US); available to rent and/or buy on select platforms, including Apple TV and Amazon (UK); Prime Video, Stan (Australia)

In hindsight, it wouldn’t be surprising if some observant fan spotted 007’s speedboat leaping over a shark in the movie’s opening chase on the River Thames. It would certainly be a fitting analogy for this film

The World is Not Enough is the movie where Brosnan’s tenure really started to lose its way. Every tired double entendre feels like it’s delivered with a massive wink, in a film where even the character names (we’re looking at you, Doctor Christmas Jones) feel like set-ups for gags that'll pay off later. In the year that Austin Powers went stratospheric with The Spy Who Shagged Me, Bond simply couldn’t get away with this stuff anymore.

Trainspotting's Robert Carlyle is utterly wasted as Renard, a forgettable bad guy who feels no pain. And while the reveal of the main villain is deftly handled, their evil scheme is nonsensical, even by Bond standards. But worst of all, The World is Not Enough commits the biggest possible sin for any Bond movie – it’s just dull.

3. Die Another Day

James Bond speaks to M in Die Another Day

Die Another Day would be Pierce Brosnan's final appearance as 007. (Image credit: MGM/20th Century Fox)

Where to stream: Max (US); available to rent and/or buy on select platforms, including Apple TV and Amazon (UK); Prime Video, Stan (Australia)

The film widely held up as a nadir in Bond’s long history isn’t actually as bad as all that. Yes, it’s silly, over-the-top, and makes very little sense, but it also tries to play around with the long-standing Bond formula. That the franchise went through a major reboot when Daniel Craig inherited the role owes as much to the success of Jason Bourne as any failure on the part of Die Another Day – don’t forget, this was the highest grossing Bond movie ever until Craig announced his arrival in Casino Royale.

It starts out with some promise. 007 is captured in North Korea and tortured over the duration of Madonna’s divisive theme song. Once freed in a prisoner exchange, he’s accused of leaking government secrets, so goes rogue to work out who’s set him up.

Alas, from there the movie manages to stretch the limits of credibility way past breaking point, with face-changing technology, invisible cars, and even a giant space laser – it seems the writers still weren’t paying enough attention to Austin Powers’ exploits. 

Perhaps the movie’s biggest faux pas, though, is a CG paragliding sequence in which Bond looks like he’s jumped out of a second-rate videogame. Shonky visuals would've been passable during Sean Connery's run, but if 007 stunts don't look real in a 21st century movie, what’s the point?

2. Tomorrow Never Dies

James Bond and Wai Lin ride on a motorbike in Tomorrow Never Dies

Michelle Yeoh's Wai Lin is the perfect foil for Brosnan's 007. (Image credit: MGM)

Where to stream: Prime Video, Fubo, MGM Plus (US); available to rent and/or buy on select platforms, including Apple TV and Amazon (UK); Prime Video, Stan (Australia)

There’s an almost satirical edge to Pierce Brosnan’s sophomore outing in the tuxedo, as 007 takes on a media mogul (Jonathan Pryce’s Elliot Carver) who’s trying to sell more newspapers (remember those?) by triggering a war with China. He may not be the most charismatic of Bond villains, but he’s one of the most plausible.

While the film’s not as accomplished as its predecessor, GoldenEye, overall, Brosnan looks more comfortable in the role second-time out, finding a nice blend between Roger Moore-style quips and Sean Connery’s harder edge. For all his leading man charm, though, Tomorrow Never Dies' MVP is Everything Everywhere All at Once Oscar-winner Michelle Yeoh as Chinese agent Wai Lin. It’s not the first time Bond has teamed up with a rival spy – the most notable example being Roger Moore outing The Spy Who Loved Me – but Yeoh’s long-established action credentials make Brosnan look second rate in comparison.

1. GoldenEye

James Bond stands next to Jack Wade in GoldenEye

Top 007 trivia: Joe Don Baker (CIA agent Jack Wade) also played a villain in The Living Daylights. (Image credit: MGM/United Artists)

Where to stream: Prime Video (US); available to rent and/or buy on select platforms, including Apple TV and Amazon (UK); Prime Video, Stan (Australia)

After the longest break in Bond history (it had been well over six years since Timothy Dalton bowed out in Licence to Kill), Pierce Brosnan belatedly got his hands on that famous Walther PPK. The pressure was on to prove that 007 remained relevant in the mid-’90s and luckily, GoldenEye (named after Ian Fleming’s Jamaican estate) turned out to be one of the series' best movies.

The film wastes little time reminding audiences what they’d been missing, as Bond makes a spectacular statement of intent by leaping from a massive dam in Siberia. After that, the pace rarely lets up as Martin Campbell (who’d go on to helm Daniel Craig’s debut in Casino Royale) expertly marshals a thrilling, globetrotting adventure. 

For Bond’s first mission in a post-Cold War world, the filmmakers pitted him against a shadowy reflection of himself, in the form of MI6 agent gone bad Alec Trevelyan (AKA 006, played by Sean Bean). 007 displays his usual disdain for other people's property, of course, whether he’s driving a tank through Red Square or testing out the explosive pen in his jacket pocket. And while Bond’s womanizing, high-risk lifestyle remains largely intact, the movie does make a token attempt to move with the times with a new female M (Judi Dench) who has little time for Bond’s "sexist, misogynist, dinosaur" ways.

Despite being the undoubted highlight of the Brosnan era, GoldenEye is possibly best remembered for inspiring the classic Nintendo 64 game of the same name.

For more Bond action, check out our rankings of Sean Connery James Bond movies, Roger Moore James Bond movies and Daniel Craig James Bond movies. You can also get a rundown of 007's most memorable automobiles in our guide to the best (and worst) James Bond cars.

Richard Edwards

Richard is a freelance journalist specialising in movies and TV, primarily of the sci-fi and fantasy variety. An early encounter with a certain galaxy far, far away started a lifelong love affair with outer space, and these days Richard's happiest geeking out about Star Wars, Star Trek, Marvel and other long-running pop culture franchises. In a previous life he was editor of legendary sci-fi and fantasy magazine SFX, where he got to interview many of the biggest names in the business – though he'll always have a soft spot for Jeff Goldblum who (somewhat bizarrely) thought Richard's name was Winter.