Top positive review
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The best of the Roger Moore James Bond movies and the apotheosis of the over-the-top spy romp.
on 3 February 2016
Logline: When British and Soviet submarines are stolen, Bond and his female Soviet counterpart must work together to prevent a megalomaniac and his indestructible henchman using the submarines’ nuclear missiles to provoke world war three.
Although The Spy Who Loved Me is an enjoyable movie, it was made in the nineteen seventies, has dated somewhat and has faults, some a more forgiveable than others – the movie can’t really be blamed where film-making technology has improved.
The locations and sets are great: the gigantic supertanker set, Stromberg’s underwater base, the Egyptian pyramids and temples. But movies have better cinematography now, and a lot of the sets, the train, the submarine, various hotels and clubs, seem overlit and stagey.
The fight scenes are tame by modern standards, but that has its good and bad side: real fights aren’t the ‘ballet with fists’ we see today, and real punches don’t make a noise like an iron bar hitting concrete. And Bond actually looks scared when Jaws is beating the crap out of him, which is good.
The action set pieces and stunt work in The Spy Who Loved Me are some of the best in any Bond film. Iconic moments like Bond skiing off a cliff and then his parachute opening, the Lotus Esprit turning into a submarine, and the bows of the supertanker opening to swallow the submarine, are great and work perfectly. On the other hand, special effects to include the actors in the action scenes have come a long way. Some of the back-projection used to include close-ups of Roger Moore in the action scenes looks poor now.
Less acceptable is the script which is clunky, both in dialogue and plot mechanics, with a lot of brief logistical and plot exposition scenes. It also has Bond spout endless one liners, hardly any of which are actually funny. Scenes like Bond in Arab dress on a camel for no good reason are just an embarrassment. Also, by modern standards, the movie is quite slow – the opening half an hour in Egypt would be cut to about ten minutes these days – compare the pyramids scene in The Spy Who Loved Me to the similar scene at the opera in Quantum of Solace for example.
The acting is mediocre all round. Roger Moore is okay when he’s not leering or smirking, which is not often. His occasional serious scenes such as when he explains to Anya why he killed her lover are good, but there’s not many of them. Barbara Bach is beautiful, but wooden, and considering she’s supposed to be the KGB’s top agent she doesn’t get much to do.
Having said all that, The Spy Who Loved Me does still work, and I can forgive it a lot for the sight of Bond’s union jack parachute and the Lotus Esprit turning into a submarine.
See my full review, including full plot synopsis, on my website.