The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

Roger Moore returns again—was there any real doubt?—as 007, a man who now has to face a villain who could just be the best Bond baddie yet. Opening to a submarine that runs into trouble, we are introduced to the idea (once again) of possible nuclear warfare. Someone somewhere in the vastness of the earth is using a new form of technology to track submarines. What they are doing with them, we don't know yet. What is clear is that MI6's aquatic defense is going down the drain.
The Russians have lost a submarine as well, soon the submarine crisis becomes the top priority for MI6 and they need their best man on the job. James Bond is currently in the middle of a session in foreign studies (you know what I mean), when he is summoned to MI6 headquarters; but he has to have a ski chase scene before that which culminates in a pretty amazing stunt.
"The Spy Who Loved Me" has no hesitancy to make references to other Bond movies, proving that the theory of "James Bond" just being a pseudonym passed from one agent to another is completely wrong. The heartbreak and melancholia of "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" is briefly touched on before we get back to gas cigarettes and cars that turn into boats.
The official tenth film "The Spy Who Loved Me" demonstrates that the franchise has pretty much done everything before. We've had explosions, we've had odd bedroom conversations, snakes, planes, helicopters, fast cars, thievery, invincible side kicks, and third nipples...I'm still not over that.
But there is room for something new in the Bond movies. We meet a female spy, Russian Agent XXX (Barbara Bach). She is ruthless and sexy; but don't worry because she's a horrible driver—a fact that evokes a very snide remarks from Bond. In some scenes she is every bit Bond's superior; but most of the time, she's just another dame that the Bond machine has to plow through before it reaches its next movie.
Sent off to investigate the disappearing submarines, Bond has to find the device that is allowing this mastermind to find the subs...which is much more complicated than it sounds.
He ends up in the desert, riding on the back of a camel dressed in white as Maurice Jarre's amazing score from "Lawrence of Arabia" kicks in. This is fine and quite an impressive homage, but it makes me wonder how the movie managed to eke out an Oscar nomination for Best Original Score.
Karl Stromberg (Curd Jürgens) is this film's poison and he is deliciously evil. He does seem a little too similar to Number Two from "Thunderball"; but hey, it's a drastic improvement over the bad guy from "The Man with the Golden Gun". 
Lewis Gilbert directs the tenth Bond, coming back from a long absence (he directed the fifth piece as well). It's not a great achievement of cinema by any standards, but it does somewhat revive the sagging series.
That being said, there are serious issues with this movie. Probably my biggest qualm was one of the bad sidekicks, a lumbering man with metal teeth who is known only as Jaws (Richard Kiel). It proves another thing about the movie—it rides off the success of the films that have come prior to it. True a steel-toothed character does appear in Ian Fleming's novel of the same name; but the name was changed from 'Horror' to 'Jaws'. "Jaws" (the sensational Spielberg flick...released in '75) was currently the largest blockbuster of all time and "Lawrence of Arabia" was one of the biggest hits at the Oscars in recent years. Playing it safe, we get a movie that barely registers above mediocre.
The chase scenes, the incredible sets, the explosions, and Roger Moore's comical indifference make this film somewhat enjoyable.
For a movie that has a great villain, it doesn't show much of the bad guy, instead focusing on the giant, toothy hit man.
Sadly "The Spy Who Loved Me" is a movie that's full of barking and lacking in the biting.

Score: ★★½

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