007: From Russia With Love (1963)

Rating: 8/10

After the death of Dr. No, one of SPECTRE’s head operatives, Blofeld and his crew of criminals concoct a plan to both steal a Lekter, a high-tech, code-breaking device, and simultaneously kill James Bond once and for all.

A lot of firsts for the James Bond series in this film. The first appearance of Q (Desmond Llewelyn) as the gadget expert, and also the first time Bond is given gadgets to use (in Dr. No, the scene where he would usually get a gadget he instead gets a new gun, the Walther PPK). It’s the first major Bond Goon of Donald “Red” Grant (Robert Shaw), a smart spy with a watch-garret with Bond’s name on it, very different from the silent Jaws, or Odd Job. Also, the first time there was a Bond song written just for the movie, though played during the ending credits in this one and not at the outset, still a lot of firsts that quickly became staples of every Bond film.

Unlike later Bonds though, this one is much more of a spy thriller than an action-packed adventure movie. Actually, it’s more a very slow paced mystery, but with one of the most intense conversations I’ve ever seen between two characters while one is at gunpoint. However, and I know this is a staple of the sixties, for all the intense and thrilling scenes there’s also a few that are just boring and don’t really go anywhere. This doesn’t happen nearly as much as it does in Dr. No, but it’s enough to be noticable.

Also, much like the last film, it seems like things really get going in the last half-hour. This is exciting and might be more of what present-day Bond fans would prefer. I’m fine with having a slow build to some great action like this, but hopefully the filmmaker’s realize that they can do some action as well as setting up a mystery/spy-thriller and don’t have to wait until the end of the movie to do something cool.


+8: Bond is starting to find his form in a pretty great spy thriller

+1: Great villains really make this film

-1: Some scenes are a bit pointless

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