Collection of six films featuring Ian Fleming's stylish, cool-under-fire, secret agent-cum-ladies' man. In 'Dr No' (1962), James Bond (Sean Connery) is sent to Jamaica to investigate the murder of one of his colleagues. It transpires that the island is being used as a base for the terrorist organisation SPECTRE, which, under the guidance of the despotic Dr No (Joseph Wiseman), has developed technology to divert rockets launched from Cape Canaveral. In 'From Russia With Love' (1963), Bond (Connery) is sent to Istanbul to steal a Russian coding machine, but comes up against two fearsome opponents also interested in the device: East German spy Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya), who hides a deadly switchblade in her shoe, and Red Grant (Robert Shaw), an assassin posing as a fellow British agent. In 'Thunderball' (1965), global criminal organisation SPECTRE has stolen two nuclear bombs and is threatening to blow up the world. Bond (Connery) infiltrates the terrorists' underwater base off the Bahamas in order to foil their plan. In 'For Your Eyes Only' (1981), when a British ship sinks in foreign waters, the world's superpowers begin a desperate hunt for its cargo: a nuclear submarine control system. Bond (Roger Moore) also joins the search as he attempts to prevent global devastation. In 'Live and Let Die' (1973), Bond's (Moore) mission is to crack a voodoo-controlled drug smuggling racket in the Caribbean. 007 carries out the task with his customary verve, finding time for speedboat chases and crocodile encounters along the way. Admirable support is offered by Clifton James, as an irate Southern Sheriff, and Jane Seymour, as a Voodoo Queen whose power disappears when she loses her virginity by sleeping with Bond. Finally, in 'Die Another Day' (2002), 007 (Pierce Brosnan) has spent the last 12 months in a North Korean prison after being captured whilst on assignment by government agents. When he is finally freed his superiors are worried that he will not be up to the job. Until, that is, Bond discovers that one of his former captors, Zao (Rick Yune), has teamed up with the evil Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens) and the pair plan to put the fate of the entire world in jeopardy. Bond must once again save the world whilst also keeping his quota of glamorous women in tow (Halle Berry and Rosamund Pike), using the gadgets provided by Q (John Cleese) and travelling the world in the most expensive cars.
They’ve taken their time getting here, but the 007 back catalogue finally makes its bow in high definition, with a broad choice of films to get things started. And where better to start than with the film that started the James Bond saga off in the first place?
Dr. No, starring Sean Connery, is the first of the official Bonds, and regarded by many as one of the best. It’s inevitably quite raw by recent standards (and arguably better for it), but the balance of humour and action is superbly handled, and it continues to endure far beyond nostalgia value. From Russia With Love, also starring Connery, is even better (and this is the 007 film that plenty cite as their outright favourite), pitting Bond up against SPECTRE in an ambitious and outstanding adventure. The final Connery title in the set is Thunderball, which finds SPECTRE again up to no good, holding a city to ransom under threat of an atomic weapon. It, too, is premium Bond, and great to see in high definition.
Next up in the set is a pair of Roger Moore outings, starting with his debut in the role, Live and Let Die. The memorable title song aside, this is an often-underrated adventure, replete with dramatic boat chase, and drug smugglers needing to be taken down. Then there’s For Your Eyes Only, which pits Bond against Julian Glover’s Kristatos in the hunt for the ATAC weapons system.
The final film in the set is Pierce Brosnan’s swansong as 007, Die Another Day, which also introduces Halle Berry as Jinx, a massive ice castle and the oft-mocked invisible car. But it’s a harder adventure than you’d expect, and again, better than it’s given credit for.
It’s been some wait for James Bond fans eager to get their hands on high definition versions of their favourites. And while there are still plenty of Bond movies to make the jump to 1080p, this collection is a great way to get the ball rolling. Let’s hope James Bond will return to hi-def. And soon. --Jon Foster