James Bond is back again and his new mission is to find out how a Royal Navy Polaris submarine holding sixteen nuclear warheads simply disappears whilst on patrol. Bond joins Major Anya Amasova and takes on a a web-handed mastermind, known as Karl Stromberg, as well as his henchman Jaws, who has a mouthful of metal teeth. Bond must track down the location of the missing submarine before the warheads are fired. Written by
"THE END of THE SPY WHO LOVED ME JAMES BOND will return in FOR YOUR EYES ONLY" - though in fact the next film in the series was switched to Moonraker in light of the success of sci-fi movie Star Wars. Thus Moonraker went unannounced and For Your Eyes Only was promised twice. For the other incidence in the series of the next film being announced in error, see Octopussy. See more »
You don't review James Bond movies, you evaluate them, rate them according to how well they meet expectations. There are certain things one has come to expect, even demand of a Bond film and each individual effort either delivers or it doesn't. So, here are ten elements that make a Bond film a Bond film and how THE SPY WHO LOVED ME rates on a scale of 1 to 10:
Title: THE SPY WHO LOVED ME: The title seems more appropriate for a Harlequin Romance novel, and if suitable at all for a Bond film, it would have been a better title for ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE. Yet, it does finally work the word "spy" into the title of a Bond film. 7 points.
Pre-Credit Teaser: It's all very nicely done: Within a few minutes, we see a submarine stolen and its crew kidnapped; we meet the Soviet's top agent, who just happens to be -- surprise! -- a woman; and we get the added treat of one of Bond's greatest stunts, the great skiing-skydiving trick. A pretty cool way to kick off the film and set up the various story lines. 9 points.
Opening Credits: Arguably the silliest of all of Maurice Binder's efforts, the opening sequence finds 007 bouncing around on a trampoline while various miniature, and apparently naked, babes do gymnastics on the barrels of guns. (Pity he didn't come up with that idea for THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN.) Bordering on self-parody, it is nonetheless naughty and fun and colorful and oh-so very James Bond. 9 points.
Theme Song: No beating around the bush here, the song gets right to the point: "Nobody does it half as good as you, Baby, you're the best." Just what Bond is best at is open to interpretation. The music by Marvin Hamlisch is swanky and matched by Carol Bayer Sager's dreamy and only slightly sarcastic lyrics. And Carly Simon's vocals bring it all home. Maybe not the best Bond song, but right up there. 9 points.
"Bond, James Bond": Moore finally makes the role his. The number of smug one-liners have been trimmed, yet he still invests the character with humor -- plus some warmth and charm, and unexpected sadness. And we get to see a bit of Bond's vanity as he matches wits with a female agent who is his equal and not impressed by his stock-and-trade flirtations. Moore's best appearance as Bond. 9 points.
Bond Babes: The prevailing notion has always been that "Bond Girl" equals "Bimbo," which is only partly true. Most of the women Bond encounters are highly skilled professionals -- as well as being bimbos. But Soviet agent Major Anya Amasova, a.k.a. XXX, is the first Bond Girl to give James a run for his money. She's smart, sexy, capable, resourceful and it takes her almost the whole movie to actually fall in love with Bond. What will power! As played by Barbara Bach (a.k.a., soon-to-be Mrs. Ringo Starr), Anya ranks as one of the best Bond Girls, easily worthy of 9 points.
Bond Villain: Karl Stromberg (nice villainous name, by the way) is one of those mad billionaires who hopes to create a new world order by mass genocide and building a new society, this time underwater. It is pretty much a cliché character and unfortunately Curt Jurgen plays the part like a grumpy old man and can't seem to muster up even a maniacal laugh. 5 points.
Bond Baddies: Oddjob look-a-like Sandor, played by Milton Reid, puts in an appearance long enough to die a memorable death, but it is Richard Kiel who steps into the limelight as Jaws, one of the great Bond villains. If being a hulking, seven-foot tall muscle man weren't enough, he also has steel teeth and an amazingly obsessive desire to kill 007. Playing Wile E. Coyote to Bond's Road Runner, Jaws earns 9 points.
Sinister Plot: Stromberg steals a Russian and a U.S. sub, as well as a British one, with the hopes of starting World War III and destroying the civilization as we know it today. Been there, done that. 4 points.
Production values: Romantic imagery, clever lighting effects and intriguing camera angles make this the most visually appealing Bond film. In the past, the emphasis was always on the most effective way to film action sequences, but here director Gilbert Lewis strives for that little bit extra as far as mood and romance. 9 points.
Bonus Points: Connery had his Astin Martin and Moore gets a Lotus Esprit. It is not nearly as snazzy, but it does turn into a submarine and you never know when that will come in handy. 5 points.
Summary: It had been hinted at in the three previous Bond adventures, but a new sense of style is fully apparent here. The roughness and grit that many of the purists loved about Connery's films are pretty much gone in favor of a polish and panache. Whether that is being suave or merely superficial is open to interpretation, but it does set the tone and the expectations for all future Bond adventures.
Bond-o-meter Rating: 84 points out of 100.
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