A fake Fabergé egg and a fellow agent's death lead James Bond to uncover an international jewel-smuggling operation, headed by the mysterious Octopussy, being used to disguise a nuclear attack on N.A.T.O. forces.
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 Spy Who Loved Me put the 007 epic back on truly epic grounds after the bitter disappointment of Diamonds Are Forever and the mixed measure of Live and Let Die and The Man With The Golden Gun. Spy adds vast new spectacle to the Bond epic along with strong interplay with some interesting new characters and a major improvement in the series' production values.
The idea of Bond meeting his match is the starting point for The Man With The Golden Gun, but here the match is in a rival and ally from the Soviet secret service, Anya Amasova (Barbara Bach, who admittedly is over her head here but holds her own overall). We see in Anya the direct counterpart to HMSS, complete with omnipresent leader in General Gogol (Walter Gotell, who becomes one of the series' best supporting characters) and a pretty secretary.
The Bond series also revisits the SPECTRE days in a sense, in that the antagonist is a self-contained independent force, shipping magnate Karl Stromberg (Curt Jurgens). Stromberg owns a vast experimental undersea headquarters, Atlantis, and the world's largest container ship, the Liparus. Stromberg becomes linked to the disappearence of several nuclear missile submarines, through a schematic of a submarine tracking system stored on microfilm. Just what Stromberg's role entails becomes the mission for both James and Anya, and both find allies in the US Navy attack boat USS Wayne, under the command of Captain Scott Carter - here is a rarity in film, a supporting character who steals the show, here thanks to the splendid performance of Thunderbirds' own Shane Rimmer.
Another supporting cast member steals the show as well, and would do so in the next Bond film. Richard Kiel joins Harold Sakata as the most memorable of James Bond's offbeat villainous henchmen - where Sakata's Oddjob killed with a rapier-sharp bowler hat, Richard Kiel's Jaws uses steel alloy teeth as well as his own gigantic height; Kiel even brings back memories of Robert Shaw's Donald "Red" Grant in one of the most memorable stages for a Bond fistfight - the Orient Express.
The film is scored by Marvin Hamlisch rather than John Barry, and Hamlisch adds a surprisingly effective disco touch to the Bond series, one that "modernizes" the series without disrupting the power of the tried-and-true music cues of before.
But the biggest quality in the film is the vastly improved production values. Shane Rimmer was not the only Thunderbirds alumni to work in the Bond universe - SFX master Derek Meddings had worked with John Stears on Man With The Golden Gun, but here he takes over the SFX unit and greatly improves the scope and quality of the effects work, aided greatly by enormous and effective sets at Pinewood Studios that combine the best of Dr. No, You Only Live Twice, and especially Thunderball.
The relationship between James and Anya is the primary drive in the tension of the film. At first both try to one-up each other, such as in decoding the microfilm, identifying an obscure logo on the microfilm, and in the famous Lotus chase sequence when she reveals she stole blueprints for the design years earlier.
But the real strain lies in the film's prologue, when Anya's lover, himself employed by Mother Russia's security service, crosses paths with James - a confrontation James may not live down now. His own feelings for Anya, however, put what is past fully in the past, and it leads to a showdown with Stromberg amid a threat of annihilation.
It all adds up to an enormously entertaining spectacle, a highlight of the Bond epic.
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