Director: Lewis Gilbert
Cast: Roger Moore, Barbara Bach, Curd Jurgens, Richard Kiel, Caroline Munro, Walter Gotell, Bernard Lee, Lois Maxwell, Desmond Llewelyn, Robert Brown
Film matched beverage: Angelo Azzuro
Synopsis: A British submarine on a secret route has been abducted, along with a Soviet vessel. Bond must work together with Agent XXX, Anya Amasova, whom is essentially his opposite number in the service of Russia. National and personal ideals collide, especially as Band is responsible for the death of Amasova’s previous lover.
My vitriol towards Moore as Bond will be less prominent during the review for this film, as of this era in Bond, this is a superior film. Moore is still very much the same portrayal of Bond as he has done in the other films, but all the other pieces around him work so much better. A large part of this has to do with the introduction of fan favorite henchman Jaws, as well as stellar Bond Girl performance from Barbara Bach.
Before getting into performances, though, lets look at the plot. The big bad, in this case Jurgens as Stromberg, has a beef against the entire world because he prefers preservation of life in the sea. Far fetched, true, but the stuff of true megalomania, and Jurgens never makes his motives seem far-fetched. Though not a memorable villain, Stromberg is at the very least believable. He is kidnapping the submarines and their crew to create nuclear devastation above sea level. Unfortunately, a leak in his organisation gives both Amasova and Bond their first clues to get on his trail. It is clearly a very simple plot, but it is effective to create plenty of exciting set pieces, as well as visiting exotic locations like Cairo and Sardinia.
Jaws is Stromberg’s hired hand, and was a surprise hit with the fans, so much so that they also wrote him into the next Bond film as a result. A massive man with teeth that chew through metal like it was butter, he is a very threatening assassin, and though larger than life, poses a very credible threat. It was a wise choice to never show Moore’s Bond ever overpowering the beast (Moore’s only powerful move in his hand-to-hand repertoire is to find some high hand hold and kick at his opponent with both feet). Rather, they opted for Bond ingenuity to be the key to escape, using Jaws;greatest asset as also his greatest weakness, on more than one occasion.
Another character also deserving of a full paragraph is Barbara Bach as Major Anya Amasova. It has been my personal opinion that every Bond has had one lead lady that eclipses all the other Bond women that actor has had combined. For Connery it was Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore, for Lazenby it was 007’s only wife, Tracy di Vincenzo. played by Diana Rigg. Dalton it was Carey Lowell’s Pam Bouvier, Brosnan it was Michelle Yeoh’s Wei Lin, and Craig it was Eva Green’s Vesper Lynd. For Moore, it was a closer call, as Carole Bouquet in For Your Eyes Only is a strong contended. Bach for me is the best Moore Bond Girl though. She is a strong character, independently strong, and her eventual seduction appears less weakness as it does her own motivated decision. The fact that she learns Bond murdered her former partner also adds a little extra bite to the relationship, as she could just as easily murder him at the end of the film as much as she could share his bed. Plus, in high def, she looks just amazing, and is perhaps the most gorgeous woman to appear alongside Moore in a 007 feature.
This film was made for high-def upgrade. In addition to Bach’s beauty, Cairo is just amazing. It makes the musical references to other films, a trend that begins here and continues throughout the Moore era, even more regrettable. Cairo looks amazing as it is, and we do not need musical nods to Lawrence of Arabia to appreciate it any more. Sardinia also looks fantastic, and both Stromberg’s base and the tanker he uses to capture the submarines are believably impressive feats of engineering.
This is not the perfect film, and my opinion of Moore stands, but this is an entertaining film, thanks in a large part to two significant supporting characters.
3.5 stars out of 5
1.5 parts Triple Sec
0.5 parts Blue Curacao
Shake ingredients over ice and serve in a cocktail glass.