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What to Watch on Lockdown: 14 James Bond Alternatives to Take the Place of Delayed ‘No Time to Die’

James Bond Movie Recommendations
OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies | Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery | True Lies

Coronavirus. It sounds like the title of a classic Bond movie, à la “GoldenEye,” “Moonraker” or “Octopussy.”

April 10 was supposed to see the release of Bond’s latest adventure, “No Time to Die.” Instead, action fans are stuck at home, an invisible villain is threatening world domination, and 007 has done the unthinkable: He’s chickened out and gone into hiding, leaving us to sort out this catastrophe on our own, only to circle back and “die another day” when the smoke clears.

Not cool, 007. Not cool.

Fortunately, no franchise has inspired more imitations, homages and parodies than Bond, leaving us with plenty of backup options available for home viewing. So if you’re thirsting for Bond and a well-shaken quarantini won’t quench it, here are 14 (the double of seven) recommendations to tide you over.

Layer Cake (2004)
Why not start with the movie that proved Daniel Craig could fill Sean Connery’s shoes? (It also put “Kingsman” director Matthew Vaughn on the map — and that franchise, kooky as it is, has much to offer Bond fans as well.) Technically, “Layer Cake” falls more in the Guy Ritchie vein, although Craig looks awfully smart in a tuxedo as a cocaine dealer who has a tricky time arranging his retirement — a problem that’s been shadowing him since he enlisted in Her Majesty’s Secret Service (retiring, that is, not cocaine). The movie gives a glimpse of what a stoic action star Craig can be: square-jawed, unflappable, takes a licking and keeps on ticking.
Watch it on: Crackle (for free), Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube

Never Say Never Again (1983)
Take your pick of the vintage 007 movies (they’re all easily accessible via streaming), but this off-canon offering deserves a shot, too. Over the years, Sean Connery developed a love-hate relationship with the role that made him famous, stepping away after “You Only Live Twice” and then returning to make “Diamonds Are Forever” after a four-year “retirement.” The title of this non-Eon-sanctioned entry (a legal loophole that permitted the producers to remake “Thunderball,” minus many of the franchise’s signatures) is a wink to the fact that a different studio lured him back. But there’s a toughness to the action that anticipated the Timothy Dalton movies, and Kim Basinger’s Domino is arguably the most alluring of all the Bond girls.
Watch it on: Hulu, Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube

Salt (2010)
But what if Bond were a woman? Word has leaked that a black actress will inherit the 007 code name in “No Time to Die,” but it’s unclear what that means. The remarkable thing about Phillip Noyce’s white-knuckle spy thriller is that the role was originally written for a man, but overhauled so that Angelina Jolie might play the self-reliant ex-CIA agent. She’d already proven herself a versatile action star almost a decade earlier as Lara Croft, although “Salt” felt less like a cartoon and more like … well, a Bond movie. I suppose you could also binge-watch Jennifer Garner in “Alias,” which owes much to the franchise, or catch up with Charlize Theron in “Atomic Blonde,” but this is more of a forgotten gem.
Watch it on: Netflix, Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube

Cloak and Dagger (1984)
Before “Agent Cody Banks” and “Spy Kids” (which are already classics, as far as today’s young audiences are concerned), there was this youth-targeted spin on Bond movies, which has the kind of ultra-’80s vibe that should appeal to the “Stranger Things” crowd — not just shaggy hairstyles and dweeby fashion but lo-fi technology in the form of an early Atari game. The whole enterprise centers around a console game packed with top-secret information, which falls into the hands of “E.T.’s” Henry Thomas. Fortunately, his imaginary friend happens to be the game’s hero, secret agent Jack Flack, who’s there to dispense tips on how to evade bizarre henchmen (like the old couple who hold him at gunpoint) that gave Reagan-era kiddos the creeps.
Watch it on: Hulu, Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube

True Lies (1994)
“Terminator” director James Cameron reunited with Arnold Schwarzenegger for this over-the-top international spy movie with a domestic twist. The heavily accented star plays the world’s most conspicuous undercover agent, Harry Tasker, who has somehow convinced his wife (Jamie Lee Curtis) that he’s a mild-mannered salesman. “It’s not like he’s saving the world or anything,” she opines, describing their flaccid marriage to a co-worker. But all of that changes when they’re both kidnapped by terrorists, providing the most intensive couples therapy one could imagine. Oddly, this blockbuster maudit has never been released on Blu-ray (probably because every other joke out of co-star Tom Arnold’s mouth is racist, sexist or otherwise retrograde). Luckily, it’s available to HBO subscribers.
Watch it on: HBO

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)
The first three entries in the “Mission: Impossible” franchise were all over the map — and not in a good way — but director Brad Bird (making his live-action debut) brought the series around to rivaling the original inspiration for the 1960s TV show: James Bond. “Ghost Protocol” boasted exotic globe-trotting locales (from Budapest to Moscow to Dubai), foreign femmes fatales (namely, Léa Seydoux, before she fell for 007) and gadgets galore (including gecko-stick gloves that allow Ethan Hunt to climb the world’s highest building), plus the well-publicized fact that star Tom Cruise insisted on doing his own stunts — which sure beats watching rickety old Roger Moore pretending to ski in front of rear-projection slopes.
Watch it on: Amazon Prime, Hulu, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)
Before we get silly (venturing into spoof territory), it’s worth revisiting a spy thriller that’s infinitely more sophisticated than any of the Bond movies. Tomas Alfredson’s anti-glamorous John Le Carré adaptation depicts espionage as more of a bureaucratic endeavor, set in stuffy offices among uptight government workers (including Gary Oldman as George Smiley), rather than a globe-trotting game of indiscriminate seduction and bottomless expense accounts. The intricate plot centers on the discovery of a Soviet mole within MI6, and the ingenuity required to sniff him out will make your head ache if you don’t pay extremely close attention. It’s a brilliant film, but one that may well leave you longing for the escapism of a good Bond movie.
Watch it on: Netflix, Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)
If you somehow missed out on this trilogy, in which Mike Myers plays a politically incorrect superspy deep-frozen from the 1960s until the tail end of the 20th century, now would be a good time to catch up. The swinging first installment set up two of Myers’ most memorable characters — Powers, of course, but also his similarly de-thawed nemesis Dr. Evil (also Myers, spoofing Bond baddie Ernst Stavro Blofeld) — as well as the broad satirical premise, which finds its free-love characters badly out of touch with basic concepts, like feminism and inflation. Now there’s an angle that millennials should appreciate. The novelty fades with the sequels, although it’s worth watching “The Spy Who Shagged Me” for the introduction of Mini Me.
Watch it on: Netflix, Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube

OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies (2006)
Believe it or not, France’s pulp OSS 117 series actually predates Ian Fleming’s 007 novels by several years, although the original books and films played it straight, whereas the early 2000s revival — which paired director Michel Hazanavicius with “The Artist” star Jean Dujardin — served as a parody of not just Bond but the entire Euro-spy genre he inspired (movies like “That Man From Rio” and “Danger: Diabolik” are also worth a look). Delivering a suave if somewhat oblivious Sean Connery impersonation, Dujardin arches one caterpillar-thick eyebrow, squares his cinderblock-heavy jaw and stage-punches his way through scrapes with perfect comic timing — and a deliberately outdated sense of chauvinism.
Watch it on: Kanopy, Amazon Prime (with Fandor), Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube

Becoming Bond (2017)
I’m always astonished by how many people claim “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” is the best of the Bond movies. I beg to differ. Australian male model George Lazenby was all wrong for the role: Sure, he could swing, but beyond that, he was just a pretty-boy substitute (the first replacement to follow Sean Connery) in an entry marked by lame gimmicks and the ultimate downer ending. No wonder Lazenby never made another. As it turns out, there’s more to the story, which the actor has nothing to lose spilling in this deliciously unfiltered (and unexpectedly sincere) documentary, revealing how such a cad landed the role in the first place, why he lost it and what he learned in the process.
Watch it on: Hulu

Flushed Away (2006)
You know who didn’t have a problem masking his Australian accent? Hugh Jackman, who voices lead character Roddy — a posh London rat who takes a dive down the loo, thereby embarking on a hilarious adventure to get home — in “Wallace and Gromit” studio Aardman Animation’s first attempt at an all-CG cartoon. The film was released a year before Pixar’s “Ratatouille,” and it was not a hit, but it holds up surprisingly well. Granted, Roddy is not a spy (more of a rodent butler), but the fact he wears a bow tie and tattered smoking jacket for most of the movie is close enough, considering all the sewer action that ensues. The kid-friendly outing’s stuffed full of references, giving grown-ups plenty to laugh at as well. Plus, the slugs!
Watch it on: Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube

Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (1985)
Granted, this guilty pleasure isn’t a spy movie per se, but it was directed by Guy Hamilton, who helmed four of the early Bond pictures (including “Goldfinger”), and scripted by “The Spy Who Loved Me’s” Christopher Wood. Looking every bit a poor man’s Charles Bronson, Fred Ward stars as a cop who’s left for dead, then recruited by a secret organization (overseen by oatmeal huckster Wilford Brimley), which gives him a makeover and some intensive martial arts training (including the ability to run on water!), then sends him back out into the field. The movie was supposed to spawn a franchise, but had no such luck. If only that terrific fight scene atop the Statue of Liberty had found its way into a Bond movie instead!
Watch it on: Tubi (free), Vudu

In Like Flint (1967)
Add to the short list of Bond knock-offs successful enough to spawn a sequel the punchy, ultra-stylized spoof “Our Man Flint,” in which tough guy James Coburn’s no-nonsense delivery helped balance the film’s more outlandish elements (implausible gadgets, unconvincing karate-chop fights). But that didn’t stop this quick-turnaround follow-up from pushing the silliness — and the sex appeal — even farther. “In Like Flint” is almost certainly where Myers got the idea for Austin Powers: Its groovy hero speaks fluent dolphin, ballet-kicks his way through Moscow and at one point obliges his boss (Lee J. Cobb) to disguise himself in drag, so as to infiltrate an all-female retreat. Sure, it’s bananas, but it’s funnier than that godawful “Casino Royale” farce (the one featuring Woody Allen as Bond’s neurotic nephew), which came out a month later.
Watch it on: Hulu, Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube

Operation Kid Brother (aka “O.K. Connery”) (1967)
Speaking of Bond’s lesser relations, we’ll wrap with a desperate ploy to catch the spy-spoof gravy train from the same year: an Italian sendup in which Neil Connery (Sean’s bearded kid brother, badly dubbed) was somehow convinced to play a plastic surgeon strong-armed into some ridiculous spy-jinks. The producers didn’t have the rights to use the Bond name, so they called Connery by his own, enlisting Eon actors Bernard Lee and Lois Maxwell (who play variations on their roles as M and Moneypenny), as well as “Thunderball” villain Adolfo Celi, in the thin joke. “The film resulting from this brainstorm is so unbelievably inept that many viewers may find it hilarious fun,” Variety wrote at the time. Certainly, it’s well-suited to an irreverent home-viewing, where you crack wise over such bald desperation. Or you could let the “MST3K” crew do it for you on Tubi.
Watch it on: Amazon Prime, iTunes