The Spy Who Loved Me Review

The Spy Who Loved Me

The Spy Who Loved Me is a hard film to sum up. It has some plusses, especially mysteriously invincible henchman Jaws, but it also has one of the most stupid lead villain schemes ever and some pretty lazy writing, leading to scenes that just don’t make sense if you stop and think about them… Still, should be fun to review, if nothing else!

Synopsis:

British and Soviet ballistic-missile submarines are mysteriously disappearing. James Bond—MI6 agent 007—is summoned to investigate. On the way to his briefing, Bond escapes an ambush by Soviet agents in Austria, killing their leader during a downhill ski chase. A short while later Soviet agent Triple X is devastated at the news of her lover’s death on a mission in Austria, but accept the mission to investigate the submarine disappearances regardless…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

The Spy Who Loved Me 1

Our dynamic duo, one of whom must be absolutely baking in that suit…

James Bond (Roger Moore) – Agent 007 of the British secret service, Bond is always at the beck and call of M and his other superiors, even if he’s in the middle of a job when they contact him… In the middle of a job… Yeah, my mind went that way as well, so don’t feel bad. I’ll leave the sentence in anyway.

Anya Amasova/Agent Triple X (Barbara Bach) – Agent Triple X of the Soviet secret service, Anya was romantically involved with a fellow agent who Bond kills in the opening ski chase. Wouldn’t you know it, she’s soon put on a case which involves James Bond! Fate, you cruel mistress…

Karl Stromberg (Curd Jurgens) – Karl is a rich… crazy man. He wishes to incite nuclear war between the US and Russia so people will come and join him in living under the sea… Yep, that’s his plan. Why so many people work for him I can’t tell you, maybe he hasn’t told them what they’re working towards?

Jaws (Richard Kiel) – Jaws is Stromberg’s top henchman, and at 7 feet tall with a set of metal teeth, he’s certainly got the intimidation side of things down. Why he chooses to bite the necks of his victims I don’t know, I’m pretty sure just carrying a gun would be better, but hey-ho…

Naomi (Caroline Munro) – Naomi is a very attractive girl who is also a henchwoman (is that phrase?) for Stromberg. She is a capable helicopter pilot, which is handy for going to and from Karl’s crazy sea base.

Q (Desmond Llewelyn) – The MI6’s quartermaster, he creates all of Bond’s gadgets. While his car-to-submarine invention is pretty amazing, his large array of devices hidden in Middle Eastern stereotypical items is a bit on the racist side.

Plus more!

The Good:

The Spy Who Loved Me 2

I’d say that’s about the proper facial reaction to what’s happening…

The main storyline of the film is that Bond has to team up with a female Russian agent, and we as the audience know that James had previously killed her lover. It’s a unique idea, and works well… If you ignore Bond being a complete sexist git (more on that later!). Roger Moore is actually on fine form in this film, the right kind of swagger and charm without over-egging it, and “Agent Triple X” is also entertaining, and fends off 007’s advances for a good chunk of the story. Having an entertaining duo helps a lot of this film stay together. It’s also thankfully devoid of most of the slapstick nonsense of the previous few films…

What also helps is Jaws, who stalks the two throughout the runtime. It’s really like a horror movie, with Bond and Anya constantly “killing him”, only for a hand to pop out of the rubble, or for Jaws to just stand up, brush his suit off and walk away. I had to laugh when the two agents have a conversation in Anya’s train room for a while, then Bond leaves and Anya opens her cupboard to find Jaws standing in it smiling, and then he attacks her. I just imagined Jaws standing in their for ages listening to them talking, waiting for someone to open the door so he could surprise them like an eager child. He’s eventually defeated because he ends up fighting Bond in a room that happens to have a giant magnet in it for some reason, which was lucky. Jaws is seen escaping though, as he is the only henchman to appear in more than one film, but I’ll get to Moonraker another day…

This is the film where we get our first sweeping shot of loads of bizarre gadgets going off as Bond arrives as Q’s testing floor. It’s a classic now (or was before Daniel Craig’s era) but this first version is on the racist side, because they’re in Egypt there’s loads of really stereotypical objects having nasty gadgets in them, plus dummies made up to look like Arabian Sheiks for some reason… Anyway, it only slightly dampens the joy of seeing this sequence debut. The main “gadget” of this film is the Lotus car that turns into a submarine. It’s a very cool sequence even now.

The climax of the film is your standard mass shoot-out in a large open space, in this case a large tanker interior that has three submarines in it (impressively constructed in a single soundstage!) followed by Bond confronting Stromberg and dispatching him rather easily (he was just a guy in a chair, after all) and the usual Bond having sex to the surprise of the higher-ups ending. It’s fine.

Oh and on the opposite side of the film, the opening ski chase that ends with Bond jumping off a cliff, only to open a parachute and get away is a fun and thrilling start to the film (even if a union jack parachute is just asking to be spotted and shot before you touch the ground…)

The Bad:

The Spy Who Loved Me 4

I like to think the henchman in the orange jumpsuit is pulling that face because he’s only just heard what his boss’s plan is…

There is some wasted potential here. When Anya finds out Bond is the one who killed her former lover, she says once this mission is done, she’ll kill him. The thing is, we never get the scene where she decides not to, all we get is her ending up shagging him just before the end credits… nice way to honour your lover’s killer there, Anya!

Now let’s talk about Stromberg: what a nut job! He lives under the sea in his weird spider-looking base thing, and wants to create a nuclear apocalypse so the survivors will accept his invitation to create a settlement underwater and live with him. Hmmm… Then there’s the scene when he thanks two engineers who helped create the submarine detector he used to capture the two nuclear subs he needs, shows them that if they betray him they’ll be killed by killing his assistant (who presumably had betrayed him…), tells them ten million has been put into each of their accounts and watches his men take them away in a helicopter… then he blows the helicopter up with the press of a button and tells someone on the phone to cancel the transfer of twenty million. Jesus! Just kill them right there, don’t waste a couple of helicopter pilots’ lives and the presumably expensive helicopter just to what, have a laugh to yourself?

Now I have to talk about a scene that baffled me this time round watching it. Bond and Anya hide in the back of the van Jaws uses, and soon the metal-teethed henchman gets in the drives off. We see Jaws listening to the two agents talking with each other and he smiles, proceeds to drive many HOURS to Luxor, parks the van and walks away. Bond and Anya leave the van and walk around some Egyptian ruins with Jaws walking on planks high above them without their notice, until eventually he suddenly jumps down and attacks them hand-to-hand… What?! Why did he drive all these hours and let them walk free only to try and jump them and take them on hand-to-hand? The funniest thing is only a minute or two into the fight Anya pulls a gun on him and he is forced to give up the microfilm both agents were after. It’s just when Jaws was walking high on the planks above, I just had this thought enter my head: “This makes no sense at all!” It’s clear they just wanted to film a scene in some Egyptian ruins and didn’t care how they all got there.

Finally let’s talk about a few scenes where Bond just becomes a complete arsehole, specifically after the above scene when they try and get away from Jaws in the henchman’s van. Anya stalls the van a bit, and then reverses into their foe, and then goes back and forth a bit before driving off. Sound innocent, right? Well in between each cut to Jaws and the back to the two in the van Bond says some insult about her ability to drive in a very “oh, women drivers, eh?” kind of way. It’s supposed to be funny, but I couldn’t help but think how the poor woman is trying to stop their attacker and get them to safety and all Bond can do is mock her attempts to drive! When they do get away some comedy children’s music plays as the van breaks down and Bond looks at her like it was somehow her fault that the engine packed in. Man that whole thing was annoying.

Oh and there were a few too many Carry On style innuendos here. It stopped being “ho ho! Bit of a Bond sexual reference!” and became “I get it! Bond has sex a lot, stop trying to be clever!”

Overall Thoughts:

The Spy Who Loved Me 3

Along with Jaws, this is the only thing anyone remembers about the film…

The Spy Who Loved Me is thankfully not as comedy based as, say, Diamonds are Forever or Man with the Golden Gun, and is all the better for it. Jaws is a great villain and our lead duo make for good entertainment… most of the time. There are some poor writing skills on display though, making scenes I never really thought about when I was younger come across as just bizarre. Often so bizarre it made me laugh, so it kind of added to the fun, but still odd. By no means a perfect film, but it was a very fun two hours, even if some of the fun was “fun because it was so bad” fun…

4 Star Watch

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