Saturday, March 2, 2013

"50 Years of Bond" Retrospective - #2: From Russia With Love

After the success of Dr. No, Albert Broccoli and Henry Saltzman were quick to put out their next James Bond feature film From Russia with Love. The film was once again directed by Terence Young, and had Sean Connery come back as 007. So… I don’t know if it’s me, but this seemed like a step backwards. They tried to stay true to what made the first film a success, and while it does have its fair share of enjoyment, this movie really seemed to fail at engaging me like Dr. No had done.

When information arises about a decoding device called Lektor, MI6 agent Bond is sent to Istanbul to obtain it before the organization SPECTRE get their hands on it, while at the same time, Bond becomes romantically linked with a Russian woman. What Bond doesn’t see are all the strings in place, as SPECTRE remains one step behind him, not only attempting to steal the device, but also planning vengeance against Bond for killing Dr. No.

I’m not entirely sure what it was that I didn’t like about this movie as much as the previous film, but presentation is probably the main thing that I seem to keep thinking on for this one. I said before that I thought Dr. No was pretty light on plot, and this one is such as well. Not that it’s horrible, but the pacing just felt really off. I was able to get into the last one because of the breezy style and cool action, but this one goes a little slow for my tastes, and some of it couldn’t help but feel a bit confused as well.

And just like Dr. No, I have something against the villains, who I frankly can’t remember a thing about, except for the fact that one villain had a concealed blade in her shoe, most likely serving as the inspiration for a similar device Heath Ledger’s Joker used in The Dark Knight. All I can say is I’m less than impressed by the SPECTRE baddies.

Still, like I said, it still has moments of pure enjoyment. Connery is back in full force, further proving himself as a definitive Bond, as he totally elevates this film on the simple strength of his charisma. I also think it’s a bit of a nice breather with a focus on conversation, and when the action does kick in, it’s quite the rush. Certainly not the best of the Bonds I’ve seen, but fairly enjoyable for what it is. Just don’t expect anything close to Goldfinger status. Speaking of which, stay tuned for my thoughts on that film…

*** / *****

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