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The Best (and Worst) Gadget Arsenals of James Bond

As we continue our celebration of everything 007 with our James Bond Fan Hub, it’s time to take a step into Q’s lab, and look at 007′s tools of trade.

In my mind, a spy is only as good as his full range of gear, and in honor of that I’m taking a looks at the Bond movies with the best collection of gadgets, and in the interest of perspective, the worst.

The Best

“GOLDFINGER”

The Gadget Report:

While “From Russia With Love” was the first movie to really include Bond gadgets, it wouldn’t be until the classic “Goldfinger” where we saw the idea really take off. I’ve heard it remarked before, but it’s great how Connery’s Bond always sounded impressed with the gadgets he was given, as even in his line of work you didn’t see these things every day. What I really like is how many of the gadgets would set a trend for future films. This was Bond’s first watch, the first defining villain device, and of course the first (and maybe best) Bond car. Even with some clunkers like the rubber duck topped stealth wetsuit, like so many other things in “Goldfinger,” the quality of gadgets here would be a real trendsetter for films to come.

Gadget Highlights:

The Aston Martin DB5

Bulletproof Windows, Revolving License Plate, Forward Machine Guns, and Guaranteed First Date Sex

Industrial Laser

I Love How Completely Un-Phased Those Scientists Are

“YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE”

The Gadget Report:

Does a freaking awesome ninja army count as a gadget? No? Well James Bond’s strange trip to the far East is still loaded with high quality tech. You could definitely tell the series was starting to rely more and more on its prop department by this point as the ideas were getting more and more elaborate, yet still oddly appropriate for this world. My favorite part of this movie is all of the things that weren’t technically Bond gadgets but still awesome. Things like Bond’s contact’s personal subway system, the helicopter with the industrial magnet attached, or the quintessential villain lair in the hollowed out volcano all helped to make this one of the most memorable of the Bond movies.

Oh, and of course the actual Bond gadgets were awesome as well.

Gadget Highlights:

Rocket Launcher Cigarette

First One to Make a “Those Things Will Kill You” Joke Gets It

Attack Gyrocopter, A.K.A. “Little Nellie”

Yeah, well…Sean Connery Probably Thinks You Look Ridiculous

“LIVE AND LET DIE”

The Gadget Report:

Officially recognized by Wikipedia as the most gadget filled of all of the Bond movies, “Live and Let Die” was trying to make people forget that Roger Moore was the new Bond by loading it up with awesome gizmos. It almost works too as we are treated to the full gamut of devices that range from voodoo dolls, flutes that double as communicators, bug sweepers, robotic voodoo priests, enhanced mechanical prosthetic arms, flamethrowers, coffee makers (that surprisingly just make coffee), and the greatest Bond watch of all time, the Rolex Submariner with bullet deflecting magnet and saw watchface. The theme of the movie may have been black magic, but it’s the technology that steals the show.

Gadget Highlights:

The Rolex Submariner with Magnet

Once You Accept You’ll Never Own a Watch This Cool, Life Gets Surprisingly Easier

“THE SPY WHO LOVED ME”

The Gadget Report:

Roger Moore’s Bond movies were the most gadget filled, so it’s only appropriate that his best movie would feature some of his best tech. Besides the introduction of the iconic Bond villain Jaw’s teeth of destruction, there are actually a couple of slightly more practical spy devices like the portable water craft, and hidden micro-film reader. Of course, as nice as all of the appetizers all, they’re just there to wet your appetite for the main course in the form of the other contender for greatest Bond car of all time in the Lotus Esprit. Impossibly loaded with anti-personnel devices (including surface to air missiles) , the car’s real ace up the sleeve comes in the form of its underwater capabilities. It also doesn’t hurt that the beautiful build of the Lotus ensures its style all the while. This movie is a real gem of the franchise, and filled with more than enough shiny toys to match.

Gadget Highlights:

The Lotus Esprit (with underwater option)

The Only Thing it Can’t Do is Get 8 Miles to the Gallon

Ski Pole .30 Caliber Gun

“Damn Snowboarders”

“MOONRAKER”

The Gadget Report:

“Moonraker” gives us a pretty good indication what a sci-fi James Bond movie may look like (memo: make that movie), and as such yields some impressive technology. We’ve got perfume dispensers that double as flamethrowers, an exploding bola, gondolas with hover boat capabilities, a separate fully loaded weaponized boat, cigarette cases that can crack safes, and poison pens used to kill snakes. The highlight is definitely the laser gun featured in the finale, that can shoot in space. Much like many of the other great gadgets in the movie, as absurd as it sounds on paper it’s actually very entertaining within the context of the film. This is definitely one of Bonds’ heaviest gadget outings, and there’s a lot to love.

Gadget Highlights:

Wrist Dart Gun

When Accessorizing Your Tuxedo, Do not Neglect your Cufflinks

The Laser Gun

Oddly Enough, the Above Picture is More or Less in Context

The Worst:

“DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER”

The Gadget Report:

Appropriately, around the same time that Sean Connery and the studio stopped caring about the quality of their Bond movies, the prop department stopped caring about their gadgets. The word of the day for the gadgets on display is apathetic, as creativity doesn’t really exceed a fake fingerprint or over the counter voice changer, and bottoms out with the dumbest moon buggy ever devoted to film or a slightly more vicious dime store pocket finger trap. Considering how much weight Sean Connery had put on by this point, you would think they would have put more effort into giving him better toys, but alas that is not the case. Even the coolest invention in the movie (Q’s ring that can rig slot machines) just leaves me with the feeling the man was trying to earn enough money to get out of MI6 before they fired him for his invention quality.

Can’t say I blame him.

Gadget Low Points:

The Pocket Trap

“Oh…God WHY?!?!?”

Moon Buggy

About the Time James Bond Wished he’d Heeded Q’s Advice to bring the Aston Martin Back in One Piece

“HER MAJESTY’S SERVICE”

The Gadget Report:

This movie gets a lot of hate, mostly due to the terrible presence of amateur actor George Lazenby as James Bond. While it’s not quite that bad, what is unforgivable is the awful “Oscar bait” feel of the movie as someone thought it would be a good idea for Bond to be taken more seriously (and not in the good “Casino Royale” way). The biggest victim in the process, besides the audience, were the gadgets of which there are almost none. When the highlight of your spy arsenal is either a radioactive piece of lint that functions as a homing device, or a copy machine then you know you’re in for a rough couple of hours. Devoid of any personality from its star, this is one Bond movie that would have definitely benefited from a few more explosive everyday objects.

Gadget Low Points:

Radioactive Tracking Lint

Either MI6 had Budget Issues, or Q Started Taking to the Bottle Again

George Lazenby

The Most Useless Tool Ever in A Bond Movie

“THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN”

The Gadget Report:

The actual Golden Gun itself is a beautiful device, that is built from a pen, a cigarette lighter, a cigarette case, and a cuff link to form a one shot tool for the expert marksman. It’s unfortunately far and away the only gadget highlight though, as the rest of the movie feels like a game of HORSE for which prop guy could top the last for the worst gadget. You may think it’s the pedestrian spy store bought tracking device, only for that to be topped by a flying car that’s just a car with wings tied to it with little more than rope. Of course the ultimate gadget trick shot would be the fake nipple. There is no way to soften this with plot context as James Bond puts on a fake nipple to disguise himself in what is supposed to be a dramatic moment. To whoever had to design James Bond’s fake nipple, I feel bad, but you, my friend, won terrible gadget HORSE.

Gadget Low Points:

Flying AMC Matador

Not Pictured: Dignity

Fake Nipple Disguise

Always Trust a Man With A Third Nipple. Always

“A VIEW TO A KILL”

The Gadget Report:

This movie is definitely a case of Bond being completely outclassed by his nemeses in the gadget department. Whereas Max Zorin has a cane with steroid injector for his race horses, James Bond has a snowboard. Zorin has scanners in all of his walls to fully identify anyone in his building, and James Bond has an electric shaver with an audio bug in it. Zorin has a portable building that morphs into a villainous Zeppelin, and Bond has a pair of sunglasses that can see through tinted windows.

Actually now that I think about it, with the possible exception of that zeppelin, those are all kind of terrible.

Gadget Low Points:

Razor Sharp Butterflies

Couldn’t Find a Picture of the Actual Butterflies in this Movie, Which is Actually a Good Career Move

Tinted Window Viewing Sunglasses

Roger Moore Wore Sunglasses Because His Career Was so Bright

“THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH”

The Gadget Report:

Have you ever known someone who was encouraged to chase their dreams and escape their everyday dull lives, only to have it turn out that they really, really suck? The gadgets of this movie share that same quality, as for the most part they are typical, dull, but efficient inventions like X-Ray glasses, lockpicks, hook watches, and even a decent looking boat. They’re nothing that sets the world on fire, but nothing to be ashamed of either. But then the gadgets get the misguided notion to go for it all and really blow people’s minds, and things turn ugly. Suddenly we’re faced with a pair of flame thrower bagpipes and a ski jacked that doubles as a domed escape pod (of course I’m serious). While I supposed the gadgets could go back to their monotonous day job output, to tell you the truth I was being generous about those earlier. They also really sucked.

Gadget Low Points:

Bagpipe Flamethrowers

Nobody Cheated Like Rowdy Roddy Piper Cheated

Ski Jacket Escape Bubble

“This is Where I keep My Shame…”

 

  

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