When Soviet and British submarines disappear, the KGB and MI6 make moves to investigate. Super spy James Bond (Roger Moore) is led to Egypt, where plans for a submarine tracking system are apparently on the black market.
Bond’s travels turn into a cat and mouse game as he searches for contacts, only to find them murdered just prior to his arrival. The killer, Jaws (Richard Kiel), is one of the most campy Bond henchman in the series. The reason for this is immediately evident.
When he isn’t carelessly brutish in his handling of human life, Roger Moore’s Bond is sleek and cool. His play off of KGB agent “Triple X” (Barbara Bach) is mostly effective. Bach herself is on and off from scene to scene, but when they are both on we get some of the better acted scenes in the entire film.
The conceit of this film is rather strong. Pairing Bond with a Soviet spy of equal caliber works very well. This being said, the villainous plot is largely overshadowed by this pairing. An evil man who steals submarines in an attempt to spark a war that leads to civilization going underwater to live in undersea cities is not only crazy, but it is a plan that is easily lost in the film until the very end.
As such, Stromberg (Curd Jergens), our main villain, takes a backseat. Jergens gets little chance to be visible as the film’s villain. His performance, thus, is difficult to measure. It is far easier to gauge the performance of Kiel, which is one of modest fist fights and ugly facial expressions. Perhaps due solely to uneven scripting, Stromberg doesn’t come close to the more memorable Bond villains.
The action throughout this film is passable. There are plenty of hand to hand combat scenes to go around, and the car chase sequence is perhaps the best part of the movie. When it comes to the climactic battle in Stromberg’s marine hideout, though, we get an overlong array of grenade explosions and rifle fire that is disorienting and unnecessary.
For everything it does right, The Spy Who Loves Me also serves as a precursor to the absurd turn that Bond films take going forward. Midway through the film, we get a look into the Egyptian MI6 office, and in it a series of Q branch gadgets that are over-the-top even for Q branch. These gadgets include a decapitating tea tray and a spring that shoots people into the air (for some reason). This isn’t to mention the pure zaniness of Stromberg’s plan.
I didn’t find a place for it in the body of the review, but The Spy Who Loves Me has notable mise-en-scene. The sets in this film are the best of the Roger Moore Bond’s up to this point. On an opposing point, the score and soundtrack simply do not age well.
The Spy Who Loved Me: B-
As always, thanks for reading!
Have you seen The Spy Who Loved Me? What is your favorite Roger Moore Bond film? Who is your favorite Bond? Let me know in the comments!
The Spy Who Loved Me is currently available to rent/buy on Amazon Video here.
- The Spy Who Loved Me: B-
- The Man With the Golden Gun: C+
- Live and Let Die: C+
- Diamonds Are Forever: C-
- On Her Majesty’s Secret Service: B+
- Casino Royale (1967): D+
- You Only Live Twice: C+
- Thunderball: C-
- Goldfinger: A-
- From Russia With Love: A-
- Dr. No: B
—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)