After the two disappointments that were Live And Let Die and The Man With The Golden Gun (I’ll give you one guess about who my least favorite Bond is), I’m happy to report that The Spy Who Loved Me is a big step up for 007, and the first Bond movie I’ve really enjoyed since On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
I was feeling pretty down about my 007 Marathon after the last few stinkers, but was pleasantly surprised and re-energized by The Spy Who Loved Me, easily the best of Moore’s entries to date. It’s still a bit campy, but the plot is strong enough and the story compelling and well paced enough to make up for some pretty cheesy moments (car submarines chief among them).
I was at first disappointed in this film for opening with Bond making out with a woman for the third consecutive time, but was happy to see the sequence quickly turn into a high speed ski chase, making it one of the coolest cold opens of the series thus far. I had a big gleeful smile on my face when Bond jettisons himself off that cliff, loses his skis, and opens a big English flag parachute (again, I now get where that particular Austin Powers joke comes from!)
There’s a lot to enjoy in The Spy Who Loved Me, from the introduction to Richard Kiel as Jaws, perhaps the most iconic henchman in the series, and Barbara Bach as Russian secret agent Anya “Triple X” Amasova. Amasova is a breath of fresh air, as the last (five?) Bond Girls have been nothing but hapless damsels in distress. I absolutely loved Triple X’s introduction – the bait-and-switch with the other male agent was a great bit of subversive storytelling.
Not only does The Spy Who Loved Me deliver some pretty cool sequences, it has the most compelling narrative in quite some time, a larger-than life but good villain (with a pretty kickass underwater lair), and a more personal plot involving Bond and Amasova, who are constantly trying to one-up each other while also dealing with the added fact that Bond killed Amasova’s lover on his last mission. It’s literally got everything that makes up a great Bond movie.
Moore is still my least favorite Bond, but he’s much better here than he was in his last two films. Too bad Moonraker is up next, because I was actually starting to feel hopeful about his 007 run.