Is It Just Me? … Or Is Pierce Brosnan The Bond To Beat Them All?

Was the Irish actor born for the role?

In our regular polarising-opinion series, Total Film Contributing Editor Neil Smith asks, 'Is it just me? ... or is Pierce Brosnan the Bond to beat them all?'

Back in a previous ‘Is it just me?’ column, Richard Matthews made a decent claim for Timothy Dalton as the best Bond so far.

But he ignored the fact the Welshman was always just a transitional stop-gap for the 007 franchise: a last-minute replacement after Eon’s first choice was suddenly made unavailable for reasons neither party could control.

And who was this first choice of whom we speak? Why, Pierce Brendan Brosnan of course: an actor not just ideal for Bond, but the only one you can honestly say was born to play him.

Sean Connery had his doubters. Roger Moore had his. From the moment Brosnan was confirmed for GoldenEye, however, not one naysayer queried his casting. He looked right. He felt right.

And he had the perfect backstory, not just having missed out the first time around, but also having lost his very own Bond girl (For Your Eyes Only’s Cassandra Harris) in the tragic interim.

According to Matthews, Pierce “aped Connery with a trace of Moore-ism smarm”. That seems a little reductive to me. Yes, Brosnan knew how to deliver a ’70s-era quip and a pun-laden innuendo. And he had no trouble either gear-shifting into lady-killing seducer, be he in a hotel suite, an ice palace or the driving seat of a DB5.

What he had that Roger didn’t, though, was a core of steel - an implacable resolve that made him a ruthless killing machine when the occasion required it.

When Moore or Connery took a life, there was usually a joke to make it palatable (“He got the point”, “Play it again, Sam” and so on). Yet when Pierce kills he does it in cold blood, without hesitation or (usually) a throwaway remark.

Not only that, but he’s perfectly prepared to do it even when his own life is not directly threatened. “Wait - I’m just a professional doing a job!” pleads Vincent Schiavelli’s Dr Kaufman in Tomorrow Never Dies. “Me too,” answers Brosnan as he puts a bullet in his brain.

It’s an exchange that gets to the heart of Pierce’s Bond: a dedicated operative ready to do anything for the sake of the mission, with a work ethic that overrides any personal considerations.

Nothing peeves him more than being told he’s not up for a task, as he is in both The World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day.

Nor is he a guy to crack under pressure, 14 months of torture in a North Korean prison constituting little more than a slight sartorial inconvenience.

True, Brosnan was let down by Die Another Day, with its CGI kite surfing and invisible car. Were it not for his virile charm and effortless elegance, however, the Bond series could well have withered on the vine long before that 2002 low point.

GoldenEye - no less than Skyfall - reminded us how much we needed Bond and how much we miss him when he isn’t around. And it was Brosnan - smooth, deadly, unbeatable Brosnan - that gave him the all-important kiss of life. Or is it just me?

Was Brosnan the ultimate 007? Share your opinion below…


    • timcollins

      Feb 17th 2013, 11:01

      Pierce Brosnan was never James Bond. As with The Phantom Menace and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the only way I can preserve my love for the franchise is by pretending the whole tacky era never happened.

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    • Desperation

      Feb 17th 2013, 11:31

      I think Brosnan was a brilliant Bond, but i prefer Dalton.

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    • jamiecrump

      Feb 17th 2013, 11:52

      It's not just you, he had the best qualities of all the previous Bonds, his films might not have been great but he was.

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    • craigmustdie

      Feb 17th 2013, 12:04

      Not the best first me, I'd put him third after Craig and Connery, but that's not to say he wasn't superb in the role, I thought it fit him like a glove and he understood the character perfectly. The movies themselves let him down unfortunately and they might have sullied his reputation into the bargain. I'd love to see him get some more choice film roles, specifically b*****ds, which he'd excel at, always thought he'd be fantastic as the devil himself!

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    • mattsnowsill

      Feb 17th 2013, 13:00

      I will never (except perhaps at gun point) offer an opinion on who the single, definitive 'best Bond' was. Dalton was the first Bond I knew as a kid. Looking back there's obvious similarities with the Craig incarnation but it seemed like a big leap from Moore and I suspect it was too big a leap along the, as I see it, smarmy-hard as nails spectrum. It seemed Brosnan's Bond pulled just back far enough to settle in the middle more like Connery which then has allowed a more natural transition into Craig's more gruff version. In the end I agree that Brosnan's undoiing was the attempt to mix camp and bonkers effects and story with grit and steel acting. It just never sat well despite Brosnan's worthy attempts and I think he, as an actor, can hold his head high. GoldenEye got it just right which is why there was collective disappointment subsequently. I personally like my Bonds with a bloody nose and a couple of bullet wounds but it's not Bond without a British quip here and there.

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    • gregorybertrand

      Feb 17th 2013, 13:19

      Timothy Dalton was chosen before Pierce Brosnan ! He was chosen in 1968, after "You only live twice".The "last Bond" of Connery. But he said he was too young for being Bond. The production came back to him during the Moore Era, but Roger Moore came back for two final Bond. Pierce Brosnan was "chosen" in 1982, on the set of "For Your Eyes Only". He was married to the Bond Girl Cassandra Harris and Cubby Broccoli thought he could be a great Bond. When Roger Moore left the role in 1985, Timothy Dalton was the first actor contacted BUT he wasn't able to take the role because he had to film Brenda Star. So Pierce was chosen and you know the rest. So Timothy Dalton was the first choice of the production and long before Pierce Brosnan. Pierce did a great job, but as a reader of Fleming's books...Timothy Dalton was the best Bond. Cool and cruel.

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    • Hadouken76

      Feb 17th 2013, 13:24

      Dalton is always credited as being the closest to Ian Flemings Bond, but it was Connery that turned the character into a cinematic icon. In my opinion, Brosnan was the lukewarm Bond, neither good nor bad, just OK. Nowadays, thanks to the Adam and Joe Show, whenever I hear Pierce Brosnan, all I can think of is Taffin. HA!

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    • thedanieljson

      Feb 17th 2013, 15:06

      I did always like him as Bond - it was the films that got bad, not him. Even in the awful awful Die Another Day, he still managed to raise more than just a few smiles in the role. And @Hadouken76 Oh how much I miss Adam and Joe these days.

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    • FBGKennelly

      Feb 17th 2013, 15:12

      there is no other actor (not even Daniel Craig) who has that connery magic the ability to make 007 fun ... except Pierce Brosnan he was astonishingly handsome, hard as nails and funny craig is striking but too menacing as for funny... tell me one just one daniel craig one liner from his bond performances so far

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    • FBPBoland

      Feb 17th 2013, 17:19

      Brosnan peaked with Goldeneye and Tomorrow Never Dies was fun too but The World is Not Enough was forgettable and Die Another Day was just terrible. Although Brosnan was a good fit for the Bond role and is probably the 3rd Best behind Craig and Connery.

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    • LSJShez

      Feb 17th 2013, 18:08

      When Pierce kills, he does it in cold blood, without hesitation. When? In Goldeneye, he let Sean Bean do it. Then on the train, he had the chance to kill Trevelyan and Onatopp, but chose to let them go and shoot Ourumov; so his work ethic overriding personal considerations is out too. Even more so when he shoots Kaufman in TND. That was a revenge killing, for Paris. And his life was directly threatened - They were struggling over the gun. Connery was tough. Moore knowingly camp (though his kicking over the cliff of the assassin's car FYEO tops any Connery/Brosnan killing), but Brosnan for me was always a bit fey. That's why Tarantino's "gritty" take on Casino Royale would never have worked - Brosnan is not tough or gritty.

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    • GFoley83

      Feb 17th 2013, 20:42

      Brosnan in Goldeneye was the absolute pinnacle of what Bond is for me; confident, suave, tough, funny and more importantly, absolutely believable. Dalton and Moore on the other hand just weren't believable for me. I think Brosnan is arguably the best actor to portray Bond too.

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    • Primogen16

      Feb 17th 2013, 21:32

      Brosnan had plenty of doubters when chosen to play Bond, including myself. The main complaint that he looked too much like a pretty-boy television actor -- he didn't look dangerous enough.

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    • davemelges

      Feb 17th 2013, 22:09

      You aren't describing why Brosnan was a good Bond. You're describing how they WROTE Bond as a good Bond while Brosnan was, coincidentally, playing the character. Re-read your opinion......check off all the times you're talking about dialog or actions that were WRITTEN for him, not things you can really give Pierce credit for. When Brosnan was chosen, I applauded. Mainly because I thought Roger Moore's version was under-appreciated, at the time I was very much into the elegant, charming, gentleman, PRETTY version of Bond. That was Pierce Brosnan. But since then, I've gone back to thinking about the Bond that was a SPY Bond....the Bond from the books. The bond that was cruel...dangerous....dark.....and hardened. Brosnan was NONE of that. Roger was the perfect "after Connery" Bond. Dalton was the perfect "after-Moore" Bond...he was dark and dangerous. They just gave him crappy movies to play Bond in. Brosnan was the perfect "reboot Bond" at the time, because he was a POPULAR Bond. But Craig IS Bond. He's the dangerous-spy Bond. He's the only one that comes close to that. Connery is the legendary Bond, Moore is the suave Bond, Dalton is the Bond that could've been, and Pierce was the one that was supposed to be all previous Bonds in one. It should also be noted that Dalton was NOT a second choice to Brosnan. Dalton was asked to do it more than a decade before Brosnan, and turned it down believing he was too young. I enjoyed the first couple Pierce Brosnan Bonds....but he's FIFTH on the list....out of five. Craig. Connery. Moore. Dalton. Brosnan.

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    • mosley909

      Feb 17th 2013, 23:30

      think daniel craigs bond has gone on a very simler line to brosnans. great first entry, bit messy 2nd entry becuase of script problems and the third entry well they both sky fall and world is not enough came out claiming to be the best bond ever..... but neither are and both are a bit of a mess in the second half. die another day was awful, lets hope the craigs bond dosn't continue to follow the brosnan bond pattern but generally liked brosnan as bond, he was just let down by the script writers really.

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    • conlethh

      Feb 18th 2013, 1:15

      What goes on in this town is none of your business

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    • Toursiveu

      Feb 18th 2013, 13:18

      Brosnan is not a particularly brillant actor (see him cry in Stephen King's TV adap of "Bag of Bones" if you dare) but I agree that he's good at playing badass roles like in the great western Seraphim Falls, with Liam Neeson... He could have been a great Bond - and he was, in GoldenEye - but the three following films were either average (Tomorrow Never Dies), forgettable (The World is Not Enough) or just plain silly (Die Another Day) and didn't really ask for him to stretch his acting muscles. He had the physique and the charisma but those weren't exploited properly. In Tomorrow Never Dies and The World is Not Enough, he doesn't have a lot to do except "being there"... In Die Another Day, he was actually excellent but sadly for him, the film was so rubbish that it made Moonraker look like Goldfinger. The films of that era were just "episodes" and the scripts were not memorable. Jonathan Pryce and Sophie Marceau were two of the worst villains in the series. Denise Richards and Halle Berry the worst Bond girls ever... I'm very happy with Daniel Craig's Bond even if the films lack some of the humor we loved in the series. By the way, nobody mentioned George Lazenby. The only film he made is one of the greatest Bond films ever. He had the charisma and the buff physique... and sadly an Australian accent. But if he had continued, I think Lazenby would have been a formidable Bond. I actually love all six actors who have played the character. You just have to know what you're in for. Roger Moore is not going to be involved in ultra-violence, no villain is ever going to "scratch" his balls and his Bond won't be vulnerable. Daniel Craig will NEVER dress up as a clown...

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    • Toursiveu

      Feb 18th 2013, 13:25

      At the time he was Bond, Brosnan was involved in better films. He was excellent in The Thomas Crown Affair and The Tailor of Panama (and he was quite funny in Mars Attacks!). As Bond, except for GoldenEye, he didn't seem to have fun with the character. His Bond was too bland and given nothing to do except looking good in a tux, in bed with a woman and in action sequences... But acting-wise, his Bond was one of the weakest in the series. It wasn't his fault though... It was a sad uninspired era for the Bond films. My favorite Bond (in order) : Connery - Craig - Dalton - Lazenby - Moore - Brosnan.

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    • Ali1748

      Feb 18th 2013, 20:20

      1. Sean Connery 2. Daniel Craig 3. Timothy Dalton 4. Pierce Brosnan 5. Roger Moore 6. George Lazenbay

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    • dojj singh

      Feb 18th 2013, 20:48

      Brosnan's Bond was the Val Kilmer Batman. Not as good as he could have been, but not as terrible as it could have been. Thank the gods that there was never an Adam West Bond.

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    • xtrmntr

      Feb 19th 2013, 9:30

      Could not agree more. Brosnan is perfect. First time I say Goldeneye I thought this is the guy the franchise has been waiting for. He looks, acts and talks exactly like the character from the Bond books. I was so disappointed when he was replaced and really hope he gets his 'never say never again' moment.

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    • NSpike

      Feb 19th 2013, 10:28

      To me, Brosnan was always the most anonymous Bond. The idea was probably: a bit of the charm and coolness of Connery, a bit of the comic relief of Moore and a bit of the darkness of Dalton. But when you mix that, the result is not the best of everything, but the opposite: not quite Connery, not quite Moore and not quite Dalton. He ranks last on my list (except Lazenby). Craig is definitely the best ever (and I grew up with Moore as Bond!).

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    • dave10101

      Feb 19th 2013, 12:10

      Goldeneye was teh only decent Brosnan Bond. And that was probably because the script was written for Dalton! I have found this article to be incredibly misinformed. Next time do some research....

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    • conorellison

      Feb 19th 2013, 16:00

      IMO, the best to worst is, 1.Timothy Dalton 2.Daniel Craig 3.Sean Connery 4.Pierce Brosnan 5.Roger Moore 6.George Lazenby

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    • BananaSplitz

      Feb 19th 2013, 16:58

      no way is Brosnan the bst bond, that title definetely falls to Daniel Craig. Craig kicks a*s with swagger, but Brosnan looks like if he was punched, he would have to fix his hair before figting back

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    • parochial1

      Feb 19th 2013, 21:08

      It's so hard to compare. Brosnan suited the cheesefest Bond era, the highly expensive set piece mobile phone ads. But Bond in Dr No and Casino Royale is a vulnerable character whose hard edge gets them through situations they really otherwise shoudn't. Could Brosnan carry off that intrinsic vulnerability of the archetypal Bond films? Dalton did. Craig certainly did, as did Connery. Had Brosnan had a halfway decent script, who knows, but for me he'll always be the guy playing the cliche not the character, the smarmy car salesman not the ice-cold killer.

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    • Seedorf

      Feb 20th 2013, 15:05

      The writer speaks of doubters of Connery and of Moore. I know some people on a different site, who do not rate Brosnan at all. One found Brosnan's Bond to be too 'slimey'. Personally, I think Pierce made a good Bond. He was let down by three films that got worse each time. I'm torn between Connery and Dalton. I'm not sure of Craig; he seems like a henchman in a fancy suit. Moore was too much like an uncle Bond, but Lazenby was definitely the worst.. No surprise really, as it was his first film. Made he could be called Model Bond. :p

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    • LSJShez

      Feb 20th 2013, 18:04

      Leave Lazenby alone...RIGHT!

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    • akgirl78

      Mar 27th 2013, 1:58

      Its just you

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    • duanecotton

      Apr 14th 2013, 14:28

      "gregorybertrand Feb 17th 2013, 13:19Timothy Dalton was chosen before Pierce Brosnan ! He was chosen in 1968, after "You only live twice".The "last Bond" of Connery. But he said he was too young for being Bond. The production came back to him during the Moore Era," Dalton may have been considered for the role of Bond before Brosnan but that was because Brocolli hadn’t met Brosnan yet, since he had considered Dalton for the role way back when casting for her Majesty’s secret service. However, once Brocolli met Brosnan he was first choice as Moore’s successor and Brosnan was chosen ahead of Dalton for Living Daylights. Dalton was a last resort. The producers knew they wanted Brosnan for the part after a 3 day test. The only reason Albert Broccoli chose to retract the offer was because Brosnan was still working on a TV show and he didn't want the Bond character associated with a contemporary TV series. If not for this Brosnan would have done The Living Daylights and License to Kill as well as Golden eye and the movies that followed. So Brosnan was long sought for the part of Bond. Brosnan may not be to everyone's liking but then what actor is? There is no Bond actor that will be loved and favoured by everybody but we can't deny or disagree with facts, only opinions. I think Brosnan is one of the best actors to take up the role as Bond which is an opinion. Brosnan was selected to take over from Roger Moore that is a fact.

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    • mayanksharma

      May 14th 2013, 18:49

      u americans need to think man cmmon , i m from INDIA 24 year old male u know india every male said tht they like brosnan very much a sjamens bond they dont know the real names they just wanted to resemble as jame sbond my first encounter from bond was in my uncle house in vcd . i never watced a single brosnan oo7 film in cinema due to adult certification aT THT time even onscreen kisiing count as adult material the first film a saw was the worlf is not enough then i tried to fing all bond stuff to watcjh but i like the irece brosnan oo7 films only. i know tht for americans , britishers .. cold war was over , but for the indians we were fighting with cross border terrorism from china and obvoisuly the bloody barkistan (u will knew . indian cinema of 90 era was hevilly reling on old song and dnace romantic the only action star was akshay kumar the legendry martial artist and the great wretler sunny deol but family love to wtahc the romantic filsm we the teens were so frrusted ttht we used to watch the bond films of brosnan becose the world of agents the enimy the world always in danger the adventure the gadget and cars , it was so new and fanstastic for us .after die anotehr day when they choose danial as new bond and said tht they will rerun the whole franchise , ithought ok changes are always better danila first outing casino royale good film but have no gadget 2nd outing quantum of solace bore film athethic not like a bond films but like a usual bore art film stuff 3rd outing skyfall the first 1 minuts oh wow but after it was again a bore stuff bond not saving the world but he actually saving his a*s now whats wrong with all why u making the charector into bookish boring thing we want exitement we are not here to watch any kind of logic

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    • jlrinck

      Aug 26th 2013, 21:33

      Dalton was offered the role before Roger Moore and passed. Just as Pierce Brosnan had been offered the role years earlier. This does mean that Dalton was not a 'stop-gap'.

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