James Bond: Ranking Every Villain In The Pierce Brosnan Movies – Screen Rant

Pierce Brosnan’s James Bond faced some of the greatest 007 villains, like Alec Trevelyan, and some of the worst, like Gustav Graves.
Although he got off to a terrific start with GoldenEye, Pierce Brosnan’s four-film tenure in the role of James Bond was met with a mixed response from critics and fans alike. While Brosnan’s performance as Bond was consistently praised, the movies were criticized for their nonsensical plotting and overreliance on CGI.
RELATED: Ranking Every Villain In Roger Moore’s Bond Movies
One of the most popular staples of the Bond series is the megalomaniacal villains that 007 faces. The Brosnan era brought some of the franchise’s greatest villains, like a fellow 00 agent who fakes his death, but also some of its worst, like a British business tycoon who changes his DNA to that of a North Korean general.
The villain in Brosnan’s final Bond movie, Die Another Day, was so ridiculous that it warranted the gritty reboot of Casino Royale. Gustav Graves is initially an interesting character. He’s a British business tycoon based on Ian Fleming’s original version of Hugo Drax from Moonraker’s source novel with elements of Richard Branson mixed in. He plots to spark a war between North and South Korea.
However, the story takes a bizarre turn when Graves seamlessly disguises himself as a Korean colonel by literally altering his DNA to become him. As Gustav Graves turns into Colonel Tan-Sun Moon with the help of some Face/Off-style science, the character stops being played by Toby Stephens and is then played by Will Yun Lee. This absurd, beyond-the-pale twist is when the movie starts to fall apart ahead of the CGI tidal wave surfing sequence.
Elektra King from The World is Not Enough was the first major female villain in a Bond movie since SPECTRE’s Rosa Klebb from the second one, From Russia with Love. (Octopussy doesn’t really count because she switches sides.) Unfortunately, Elektra falls far short of Klebb as a Bond villain.
RELATED: Every Pierce Brosnan Bond Movie, Ranked By IMDb
Played by Sophie Marceau, Elektra is an oil heiress who seems to be the target of Renard, the most wanted terrorist in the world. But halfway through the movie, she’s revealed to be a villain planning an oil monopoly. This isn’t a very shocking twist, because it’s telegraphed from the beginning, and it takes the spotlight away from Renard, the movie’s most interesting villain.
The villain in Tomorrow Never Dies isn’t an evil genius with a “god complex” bent on world domination. Elliot Carver is a media mogul in the vein of Rupert Murdoch who wants to kickstart World War III so he can have exclusive news coverage of the ensuing chaos. The character himself is elevated by the game efforts of Jonathan Pryce, but the premise of sparking a global conflict for the media is ridiculously far-fetched (even by Bond standards).
This storyline has since been recognized as a sharp satire of the 24-hour news cycle – especially in the wake of Brexit – but it’s still pretty ham-fisted. Carver might be a fun spoof of people like Murdoch, but real-life Bond villains don’t make very interesting Bond movie villains.
Famke Janssen’s GoldenEye character Xenia Onatopp – one of the greatest pun names in Bond movie history – is initially introduced as a classic “Bond girl” before her sadistic “lust killing” reveals her to be a villain. Xenia is a femme fatale in the most literal sense; she kills men during sex. The Bond films are renowned for scenes in which Bond is attacked by assassins and scenes in which he seduces love interests. Thanks to Xenia, GoldenEye has both of these tropes in the same sequence.
Xenia is the Bond series’ answer to Sharon Stone’s Catherine Tramell character from Basic Instinct. She derives sexual pleasure from killing, which is first established when she crushes a Canadian admiral’s ribs with her thighs.
Renard may not be the main villain of The World is Not Enough – that privilege goes to Elektra King, his supposed target – but thanks to Robert Carlyle’s sinister performance, he’s easily the movie’s most memorable baddie. He’s established as the most wanted terrorist in the world who is unable to feel pain.
RELATED: Ranking Every Villain In Daniel Craig’s Bond Movies
This initially seems like an inventive twist, a classic villain quirk, and a unique challenge for Bond’s combat against him. But the script does nothing with Renard’s inability to feel pain. In his death scene, he’s impaled on a plutonium rod and shot out of a submarine. Whether he feels pain or not, he’s not coming back from that.
Brosnan’s first Bond movie, GoldenEye, opens with 007 embarking on a mission with 006, a fellow 00 agent played by Sean Bean. They establish a fun buddy dynamic in these early scenes before 006 is taken to be executed and presumed dead as 007 narrowly escapes.
Bond mourns 006 – whose real name is Alec Trevelyan – for the majority of the movie. He even admits to M that he feels responsible for the agent’s death. Then, in one of the Brosnan era’s most shocking twists, Trevelyan turns out to be alive and well (and responsible for the theft of the titular EMP weapon). In his unforgettable death scene, Bond drops him from a satellite dish. Like all the best Bond villains, Trevelyan is killed by the mega-scale grandiosity of his revenge scheme.
NEXT: 10 Ways GoldenEye Is Pierce Brosnan’s Best Bond Movie
Ben Sherlock is a writer, comedian, and independent filmmaker. He writes lists for Screen Rant and features and reviews for Game Rant, covering Mando, Melville, Mad Max, and more. He’s currently in pre-production on his first feature, and has been for a while because filmmaking is expensive. In the meantime, he’s sitting on a mountain of unproduced screenplays. Previously, he wrote for Taste of Cinema, Comic Book Resources, and BabbleTop. You can catch him performing standup at odd pubs around the UK that will give him stage time.


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