In the first James Bond movie, 007 is sent to Jamaica in order to find out what happened to one of MI7’s missing agents (it’s not MI6 until the next movie). In the process, he discovers Dr. No, has Bond finally met his match? Probably not since its the first movie.
Filmed on location in Jamaica, and the first feature-length film to film there as well, this film set the stage and added much to the mythos of James Bond right with it’s initial release. The PPK pistol is given to him in this one and becomes his gun of choice ever since then, we’re introduced to Moneypenny, his boss’ flirtatious secretary, along with M. And who can forget the James Bond theme playing during the pinhole shot down an actual gun for the very first shot of the film, copied in every Bond movie after. Yup, this is the movie that started over 20 films and 7 actors and is still going strong.
But, though there’s a lot of things that this film started for the Bond series, it doesn’t really feel like a Bond movie until about the last half-hour of screentime. It’s a very slow paced mystery and not your typical action-packed thrill ride you might expect from later films in the series. Exciting scenes are bookended by slow scenes filled with exposition when it might have been a bit better to show us then tell us. It was a style of the time, I know, but as the first official James Bond film, it’s a bit disappointing with how it’s presented. Also, it’s odd because Dr. No, the title villain with metal hands, isn’t even on screen until the last half hour in the film, when the films plot actually picks up and things get really exciting, also this is when the Bond girl for this film shows up, Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress), as well.
So, the part that should have started the second act is now the third act and instead we have what is sometimes exciting but sometimes boring filler in its place. It’s not bad filler, as long as your a fan of spies doing spy stuff like I am, but it’s still just padding the run time when Dr. No really should have taken center stage instead of stretching out his appearence as a “hidden villain” I mean, we all know it’s Dr. No from the title, and it’s not like him showing himself is a surprise since it’s not a twist of some kind (M: “Dr. No was Moneypenny all along!” 007: “I knew it!”). It does nothing but waste time keeping us from these much more interesting and exciting parts of the movie.
It does give a sense of Jamaica as a set piece but it doesn’t really do much in terms of plot progression. It works decent as a mystery though, but I expected more from the first Bond flick. I enjoyed the movie, but unless you’re a die-hard, James-Bond fan, you can safely pass on this one for better films in the series.
+7: Interesting beginning and amazing ending
-3: Middle just drags
+1: Amazing score
+1: Awesome acting from Sean Connery