'The Spy Who Loved Me' Review: "This Isn’t a Car"
I’ll admit that when I was watch my review assignments for this month, I wasn’t particularly looking forward to watching a Roger Moore Bond film. We’ve all heard the criticisms and the snarky comments on his performances during his tenure as Bond. After watching The Spy Who Loved Me however, I can say (like many others) Moore’s run on Bond did give something good back to the series.
The Spy Who Loved Me is Moore’s third film as 007 and this time we see him up against marine master of disaster Karl Stromberg (Curd Jürgens). After both the Soviets and British lose submarines under suspicious circumstances, the two governments send out their best agents to investigate. When their governments decide to work together, it’s up to Bond and his Russian counterpart Anya Amasova (Barbara Bach) aka Agent XXX to figure out who took those subs.
Now prior to working on a professional basis, Bond was already quite familiar with Amasova. When you sleep with someone names are generally exchanged. As the two work together as spies their mutual respect and more evident lust for one another grows. Unfortunately, both Bach and Moore provide performances that are less than stellar. You can blame the script for part of it, I certainly did. It wasn’t exactly watertight in its plot points and progression. However the chemistry between Bond and Amasova is there but the majority of their dialogue and mannerisms feel stale and forced. Moore has become comfortable in playing Bond but hasn’t quite yet grasped the level of suaveness that Connery so effectively delivered. Bach on the other hand plays the femme fatale character very well but her transitions from being Bond’s love interest and rival are rocky. It feels as though she plays two different characters who happen to look the same. You shouldn’t worry though; this film has a lot more going for it than bad acting.
If you ever, for any reason, needed to understand all that is classic Bond by watching just one movie, this would be it. Seriously, The Spy Who Loved Me excels at being a Bond film in every regard other than the main lead not being Connery (can you tell I like Connery?). Every woman in the film who has a speaking role is ridiculously attractive. The main Bond girl gives 007 a run for his money in being a spy and is as self-sufficient as Bond himself. The most important feature however, is found in its gadgets. I mean all the greats are here, the message-printing Casio, ski pole gun, attack side-car missile, Wet Nellie. Though, even those don’t even come close to the real attraction, which is the holy grail of Bond cars. Yes, I’m talking about the Lotus Esprit, the missile firing, depth charge dropping and submarine transforming mother of all ridiculous on-screen supercars. I mean seriously, it does not get better than this car. I practically lost my shit seeing Q deliver it to Bond the first time, the fact that I’d heard so much about it prior to actually watching the film just goes to show its reputation. Best of all, it’s used to its absolute fullest on screen and delivers just the right amount of awesome.
I have to address another gripe I had with movie sadly, it just simply felt unoriginal in regards to plot. It was a really fun movie and I would definitely watch it again but I felt like I’d watched the same movie last week with You Only Live Twice. Granted, the actors had different takes on Bond and the gadgets and scale of this movie succeeded Connery’s, but the story was essentially the same. The villains both wanted to take out the world’s greatest superpowers, they both had large and creatively placed bases of operation. They both had private armies and stole and imprisoned people from Russia and the U.S (seamen instead of astronauts in this case). The big fight in the villain’s base was very much like You Only Live Twice. Bond has his own force of fighters (British and US Navy instead of Ninjas) and battles the villain’s army. Though it wasn’t enough to dock significant points, the movie felt too familiar to give it a perfect score. If I were to pick the better of the two however, The Spy Who Loved Me would be it.
Moore’s Bond gave us a lot of things, many of them bad and delivered with cheap whisky instead of a vodka martini. The Spy Who Loved Me fortunately enough, was not one of them. This should be on any film or Bond aficionado’s to watch list. It’s chock full of one-liners, exotic scenery and ludicrously awesome gadgets. Do yourself a favor and watch it as soon as you can.