I’m torn as to whether I like The Spy Who Loved Me. In theory, a movie with Bond teaming up with a Soviet secret agent who wants to kill him for killing her boyfriend in the flick’s pre-credits action sequence that also features a classic Henchman like Jaws, moves from tropical locales to the deserts of Egypt and also includes a big set piece involving a villain’s underwater headquarters that looks an awful lot like the Legion Of Doom’s HQ. All of those things are great, except for how the filmmakers handle Soviet Agent XXX. Aside from hardly being able to handle herself in skirmishes with Jaws and getting tied up towards the end of the movie, she spends most of her time threatening to kill Bond and screaming at what’s going on around them. I really wish they had taken her character more seriously and instead of SPOILER ending with Bond hooking up with her in an escape pod, actually had her stick to her guns and try to kill him (even though he came back and saved her in the end).
Okay, all that aside, there are some supremely cool moments in this flick. The pre-credits scene involves Bond leaving a remote cabin in the mountains after getting a transmission on his watch (a cross between a text message and a label maker) on skis and trying to avoid getting killed by some pursuers. He knocks one down and blasts another with a gun hidden in his pole, but the real fun comes when he jumps off the mountain, falls for a bit and then pulls a parachute emblazoned with the Union Jack. It’s so impressive because it’s so real. You can tell from watching it that a stuntman actually pulled this inhuman feat off and the filmmakers captured it. Scenes like this might seem over the top, but the more realistic they look the more grounded the film becomes, which is important when dealing with villains who want to blow the world up and start over.
As far as bad guys go, I liked Stomberg, though I enjoyed his hideout even more with it’s false bottom elevators that drop one into a tube leading straight for a shark tank. Of course Jaws is the most memorable villain from this movie with his metal mouth, but seeing Roger Moore and his stuntman fight the man mountain really shows how not-great some of these fight scenes are. It makes sense that Bond wouldn’t be able to best him right away, but their fights have a tendency to come off as stagey.
The film also has an interesting look to it that I noticed, which sets it apart from the previous Bond movie installments. The film steers away from the tropical locales we’ve become used to and focuses on a world filled with browns and tans. There’s also a quality in the beginning of the flick, in a scene when Bond is walking along a wharf and talking with a colleague, that seems to fully place it in the real world. That scene just looks real and gritty, which is something we haven’t seen since the scenes set in Harlem in Live And Let Die.
All in all, I think I like the movie, but just wish they had gone in a bit of a different direction. I know these movies don’t come anywhere close to feminist sensibilities, but Triple X’s treatment in the movie does border on offensive even to me. I don’t think this will be the first Bond flick I share with my daughter.