From Russia with Love
- Terence Young
- Reviewed by
- Gon Curiel a.k.a. Groucho
- Review date
- Monday, August 09, 2004
This time around, we get to know even more members of SPECTRE (Special Executive for Counterintelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion), of which Dr. No was a distinguished member. These guys plan on stealing a valuable decoder from the Russians, which would give them access to many of that country’s secrets, and to do so, they play the British against them. For this, a former KGB Agent, Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya), instructs a naïve, young, and loyal Russian Agent, Tatiana Romanov (Daniela Bianchi), to romance James Bond and make him steal the decoder for her. The British suspect a trap of course, but not from SPECTRE, but from the Russians, so they decide to play along and get the decoder for themselves.
Bond goes to Istanbul, where the decoder and Tatiana are, and soon finds himself immersed in a world of constant double-cross and the possibility of a greater enemy coming out of nowhere all the time. Eventually he’ll have to fight one of SPECTRE’s deadliest killing machines, Red Grant (Robert Shaw).
Does it sound exciting? It is! And its tone is surprisingly serious. At first the SPECTRE Agents are so over-the-top that it almost seems a joke, but later on, their sinister intentions become everything but joke material. The movie takes a surprisingly serious path as we realize those people are really up to no good and they really won’t stop at anything. Klebb becomes a creepy villain in every single aspect of her personality (including her homoerotic way of treating Tatiana), and Grant’s presence becomes a constantly scary element too.
Among the awesome action scenes of this movie, there’s an unforgettable helicopter sequence, a sexy and violent sequence in a gypsy camp, and an outstanding fight sequence in a car of the Orient Express (Bond vs. Grant), usually regarded as one of the finest ever staged.
The performances are also top-notch. As I said, Connery lacks the spontaneity he showed in Dr. No (1962), but that doesn’t mean he’s not perfect at every turn, never lacking charisma but also letting his fears flow; Bianchi, as his feminine counterpart, is also terrific. The villains, as usual, threaten to steal the show, and I’m talking specifically about Lenya and Shaw. Oh, and let’s not forget Pedro Armendáriz, in his last performance as Kerim Bey, a member of the Turkish Government who aids 007. In the meantime, Bernard Lee and Lois Maxwell return as M and Miss Moneypenny, while Desmond Llewelyn embodies Q for the first time (he would do it again several times).
Another asset: John Barry’s outstanding, atmospheric music score, and main theme, also presented in the end of the film with lyrics by Lionel Bart and performed by Matt Monro.
Followed by Goldfinger (1964).
“You look surprised. I thought you expected me.”
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