Movie Review: ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’

Spy Who Loved Me posterDirector: Lewis Gilbert

Cast: Roger Moore, Barbara Bach, Curd Jurgens, Richard Kiel, Caroline Munro, Desmond Llewellyn, Lois Maxwell, Bernard Lee

Plot: Bond heads to Egypt to obtain a microfilm and crosses paths with Russian Agent Triple X, who has the same agenda. The two make a good team and an alliance is formed when they’re ordered to worked together. Things get complicated when Triple X discovers that 007 killed her lover on his last mission.

Review: By this stage in the Bond series things had gotten well and truly entrenched in formula, with only the gimmick of the day setting the movies apart. It feels as though the producers are setting out the car, gadget, stunt, exotic location, famous girl and wacky henchmen and then piecing them together with the basic elements of a plot. This sense of deja vu can hit home pretty strong in The Spy Who Loved Me when the grey haired megalomaniac villain sets out to destroy the world and nobody really questions why he’s doing it. He’s doing it because that’s what the villains in Bond movies do. Likewise the women all throw themselves at him and Q just so happens to hand Bond a gadget that will coincidentally be just the thing he’ll need for a totally unpredictable situation.

The Spy Who Loved Me

Actually this one is a little predictable.

If we accept that Bond films during the Moore era are mostly cookie cutter revisits and are judged primarily on their gimmicks, then this is certainly one of the best ones. The arch-villain is all kinds of bland, but he is easily forgotten among all the cool stuff happening when he’s off screen. Since the debut of the Aston Martin there hasn’t been a car that stands out as much as the Lotus that features a submarine mode, and the preceding action sequence wherein they get chased by an assassin flying a helicopter is downright awesome. Jaws stands (very, very tall) as the most popular henchmen in Bond history and although his image gets overused in the merchandise it is always impressive seeing him tear apart a jeep to get at Bond and Triple X, looking as though it wouldn’t actually cause him much trouble to do so in real life. It’s hard to get past the notion that Bond’s problems would be wrapped up quicker if he’d stop punching Jaws in the mouth…

Jaws Spy Who Loved Me

“Be gentle…”

The relationship between 007 and Triple X is the main selling point in this adventure. Like Scaramanga in the previous film, who represented a version of Bond with a criminal mind, Agent Amasov provides a strong counterpoint to Bond. She certainly holds her own against the British spy by making use of her own gadgets and it’s almost a disappointment when she succumbs to his charms (perhaps the notion of an entirely strong and independent heroine was a bit much to expect from the era). The dynamic that generates after Anya discovers that Bond was the agent who killed her lover is especially interesting, with Triple X declaring that she will kill Bond after their mission is finished, except that it fizzles out at the conclusion. This is a plot that would be good to revisit in current state of the franchise.

The Spy Who Loved Me

She married Ringo Starr. Perhaps being in the biggest rock band of all time makes women take a second look.

It’s a huge action film (with the world’s biggest stage making a debut) with plenty of imagination, colourful characters and lots of fun to be had. One of the best the Roger Moore part of the franchise has to offer.

Score: EIGHT outta TEN