Mission Dossier: The Spy Who Loved Me
The Year: 1977
The Director: Lewis Gilbert
The Bond: Roger Moore
The Girl: Barbara Bach as Anya Amasova, the Soviets’ best agent.
The Baddie: Karl Stromberg, along with that coolest of all henchmen, Jaws.
The Spy Who Loved Me sees the finest spies from either side of the East/West ideological divide go head to head. On the Pommy side is our very own James Bond, whilst on the Russian side is Anya Amasova, otherwise known as Agent Triple X.
The film opens with one of the Brits’ nuclear submarines getting into trouble and going missing. In a really clever end to this little sequence, one of the sailors looks into the periscope and simply mutters “oh my God”, without revealing to the audience what they have seen. As a result of the disappearance, James Bond is dispatched to Egypt to establish what is happening. It turns out that the security of the British network of nuclear subs has been compromised. This sees the Russians enter proceedings. First as adversaries and then quite quickly as allies against the unknown enemy. There is so much scope for really clever things to be done with Bond and Amasova sparring with each other. Initially, the subjugation of and condescension toward the Russian are frustrating. Bond easily gets the upper hand, for the mere fact that he is a male. The filmmakers seemingly want us to forget that Amasova is the USSR’s finest spy, surely she would have a fair fight to put up, even against the great James Bond. Gradually though the filmmakers get to grips a little with the great opportunity they have on their hands and they do something rather clever. Amasova appears to fall easily to 007’s sexual charms which had me up in arms. But really, she is playing Bond and in fact utilises her seducing charms to get a big one-up on him. His smugness, believing that no woman on earth can resist his charms, comes back to bite him on the arse bigtime. So that was a nice moment, but the film is a mixture of doing the premise justice and coming up short. Most disappointingly, despite touching on it briefly, the film does not examine in great detail the ideological divide the two when they become allies and eventually lovers, which if done well could have really made the film really stand out from the Bond crowd.
The main villain of the film is Karl Stromberg, whose goal is the slightly Nazi-esque idea of killing off most of society so that he can create a new undersea utopia. Unfortunately though Stromberg is not a very strong villain, actually one of the more forgettable ones in the Bond films. As sheerly forgettable as Stromberg is, the film introduces the only henchman to go any where near matching Oddjob’s popularity in the series – Jaws. Seeing Jaws in Moonraker was one of the things that made me fall in love with the Bond films as a child. And even today, he is such a fantastic character. Richard Kiel is a huge dude, and conveys a lot through his physicality. Plus he has deadly metal teeth so that is pretty darn cool. Fully kitted out gadget laden cars have not really featured in the series so far except for Goldfinger. So it is great to see one of my favourite of all the Bond cars here, the Lotus Esprit submarine car. The car is awesome, on land it seems lightning quick and when it gets wet, it turns into a sub which comes in rather handy.
This is the best of the Roger Moore films thus far. I can’t help feeling that a little more could have been done with the phenomenal premise involving these two spies. But there are some fine moments and definitely a fine car. Plus for me, any Bond film featuring Jaws is a Bond film well worth seeing.
Verdict: Stubby of Reschs
- Thunderball (1965)
- Goldfinger (1964)
- Dr No (1962)
- From Russia with Love (1963)
- The Spy who Loved Me (1977)
- The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
- Live and Let Die (1973)
- Diamonds are Forever (1971)
- You Only Live Twice (1967)
- On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
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