James Bond is Back (1963)

We are now one month in and late as ever. With only 21 months to go until the release of Bond 23 shit is about to get real. With one supervillain lamenting his lack of hands and a brand spanking new mission to Turkey, From Russia With Love cranks the action up a notch with…a game of chess?


Strangled to death within the opening minutes, James Bond gets a second lease of life when the corpse is revealed to be that of a ‘live target’ forced to wear a Sean Connery mask so that SPECTRE can train its newest recruits. Revealed to be on a punting holiday with Sylvia Trench, Bond is quickly ordered to Istanbul to acquire a decoding machine. Assisted by a Soviet cypher clerk and a station chief, Bond must complete his mission while evading an assassin dispatched in order to avenge Dr. No’s death at 007’s hands.

Having struck Goldmember with Dr. No, there is an air of confidence about From Russia With Love that marks it out from its somewhat inconsistent predecessor. Gone are the dancing dots, replaced by a group of belly dancing women interrupting the projection of the film’s opening credits. Remixed with the traditional theme, the late John Barry’s “James Bond is Back” (which re-entered the U.K. charts for a further thirteen weeks when renamed “From Russia With Love”) immediately preceeds the film’s cold open.

Again opting to play it slow, From Russia With Love wastes all of the time in the world before finally re-introducting James Bond’s burgeoning libido. We meet Red Grant’s garrote wire wielding assassin, Tatiana Romanova’s unsuspecting pawn and Blofeld’s cat before Bond even bothers to get dressed, the plot simmering along nicely before 007 must worry himself with guns, henchmen and cat-fighting gypsies. The plot, as it stands, is relentlessly linear and continues Dr. No‘s introduction of franchise tropes to be later lampooned by Austin Powers. Who knew Frau Farbissina could ever be so menacing?

Throwing Q into the mix, James Bond’s universe is finally taking shape as the gadgets unfold; a throwing knife and exploding briefcase keep this sequel more technologically advanced than the original’s ingenious use of hair, while our Bong girl and villain enjoy a more effective screen presence. That said, while pretty, Tatiana Romanova makes nowhere near as lasting an impression as the previous film’s bikini-clad Honey Ryder – largely as victim to the beautifully merciful act of suppression.

However, while the restraint is welcome in an age of car chases and free running, From Russia With Love really is distractingly slow, particularly in the light of the movie’s newly amped up set pieces. There’s a considerable number of action sequences, whether Bond vs. Grant, Bond vs. Helicopter or Bond vs. Poisoned Shoe Spike, but the film still seems to lag impossibly far behind the second act’s Orient Express. It’s just all so stoic, call me new fashioned but isn’t it about time we had some light hearted cheese and a death ray from space?

Although confident, menacing and endlessly promising, the James Bond franchise hasn’t quite yet reached completion. With Blofeld officially teased and Eunice Gayson’s steady-ish squeeze Sylvia Trench finally sent packing, I have a feeling that the best is still yet to come.

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About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

One Response to James Bond is Back (1963)

  1. Pingback: February 2011 – Do you know the “f” word? « popcornaddict

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