The James Bond franchise is one of those franchises that will never die. It has been going strong since the first movie rolled out in the early 1960’s, and new James Bond movies are still produced today. What makes this series unique is they use multiple actors to play the titular character over the years. They all bring their own gravitas to the role, and each Bond is a different man when compared to each other (although the martini, shaken not stirred and the beautiful women among other things remain a constant.) So my first James Bond review for this blog is 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me. This wasn’t my first look at the series, but it was my first look at the older movies. I really liked what I saw. This is an old-fashioned story that combines a spy drama and an action-packed war movie into one package. Like many of the older Bond movies, the story can get borderline preposterous. The cheesiness of the plot did come to grow on me after awhile, even if the main villain is Russian (remember, this came out during the Cold War) and wants to destroy the world. Also like older Bond (or 007 if you prefer) movies, this movie is invested in its gadgets. There is nothing quite like seeing Bond use these cool-looking devices that can do powerful things.
James Bond (Roger Moore) is back for a new mission! This mission involves finding a Royal Navy submarine holding sixteen nuclear missiles that suddenly vanished without a trace. Bond must team up with Major Anya Amasova (Barbara Bach) to take down the mastermind of the plot named Karl Stromberg (Curd Jurgens) and his henchman named Jaws (Richard Kiel), whose biggest weapon is his metal teeth. The clock is ticking as Bond must find the nuclear weapons before they are fired.
There are two questions to ask when watching a James Bond movie. Who are the villains? Who is the Bond girl? Both very essential to a Bond movie, as they can make or break the movie. In this case, we get two (mostly) effective villains, and a good-looking Bond lady. While Stromberg is the main villain with the plan, he is not too strong of a villain. I am more interested in Jaws. Jaws is actually labeled as one of the best villains in any Bond film, and I would wholeheartedly agree. He is quite a menace. He may be a little clumsy, but goodness once you see the teeth he has, you might rather face the shark that Jaws is named after. There are scenes here that can be quite gruesome when you see the teeth come into action. As for the girl, I think Major Anya is a good Bond lady. She is an undercover Russian agent, so the political side of that was an interesting concept given the time period.
I think the film was well-acted. I believe Roger Moore is one of the weakest Bonds, but he does a solid job. He plays a little older Bond, but his sense of humor and savvy attitude fits this film very well. Richard Kiel is the man who brought Jaws to life (sorry, Spielberg) and well he was terrifying as the sharp-teethed villain. Barbara Bach does a good job as Major Anya, and I liked the rivalry she brought to Bond. Curd Jurgens was a good villain, but his goals are similar to other villains of essentially every other action movie, so his role did not move me in one way or the other.
The Spy Who Loved Me is a fun, entertaining action flick and a worthy addition to the James Bond franchise. I liked the realistic tone the film was going for, given the tone of previous films. There is still cheesy parts, but what’s a James Bond movie without the cheesiness. I am rather impressed with the visuals of the film. This was filmed on location in the ancient, majestic parts of Egypt and they had some really cool underwater sets and quite frankly, I loved the visuals of Stromberg’s lair in the middle of the ocean. There is lots of action, although I feel the final act of the film chooses to do the obligatory action conclusions that many action movies do these days. However, the fights involving Jaws is just worth watching this movie for. If you are new to the franchise, this is a good beginning.
My Grade: B+