Logline: Bond teams up with a Russian agent to defeat an ocean-obsessed millionaire who has hijacked two nuclear missiles, planning to start a nuclear war and create a new civilization underwater.
After the lukewarm reception of The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), producer Albert R. Broccoli doubled the budget for The Spy Who Loved Me, knowing that James Bond’s future lie in the balance. The general consensus is that The Spy Who Loved Me, Roger Moore’s third outing as Bond, is his best and I would have to agree. Whereas Live and Let Die (1973) and The Man with the Golden Gun were lacking in many areas, The Spy Who Loved Me is bigger and better, sporting a solid script and some of the most iconic scenes in all of Bond’s history.
In the excellent pre-title sequence, Anya Amasova (Barbara Bach), a KBG agent, is introduced. Even though Bach’s performance is pretty wooden, she plays a strong Bond girl, who even outranks the British agent. After catching up with 007, the viewer is treated to an incredible ski chase sequence in which Bond twists, turns, and does somersaults before skiing off the face of a mountain. The ski jump makes for the single most impressive stunt in the series and one of the greatest movie stunts of all time. After the relatively action-free pre-title sequences of the last two films, The Spy Who Loved Me set a new precedent for an action-packed opening that features amazing, death-defying stunts.
The title sequence features one of the absolute best theme songs of the series – Carly Simon’s “Nobody Does It Better.” The song proved to be a huge success and even earned an Oscar nomination. The film’s score, composed by Marvin Hamlisch, is a good one and features “Bond 77,” a disco rendition of the James Bond theme that places the film firmly in the 1970s.
In the Bond series, plots and elements are recycled time and again. The Spy Who Loved Me is more or less, a retread of You Only Live Twice (1967) but is undoubtedly the superior of the two. Spy is one of the more outlandish entries of the series and yet, it works remarkably well. The Austrian actor, Karl Jürgens gives a solid, if understated performance, as the megalomaniacal villain, Karl Stromberg. His steel-toothed henchman, Jaws, played by the 7’2″ Richard Kiel, is one of the most memorable Bond baddies and would return in the following film, Moonraker (1979). As Bond, Roger Moore is great and has settled nicely into the role.
The Spy Who Loved Me features a plethora of great sequences. I love the scenes in Egypt, particularly the confrontation between Bond, Anya, and Jaws at Karnak. In Sardinia, Italy, Q (Desmond Llewelyn) gives Bond his new ride – the Lotus Esprit, a sleek sports car. The chase sequence with the Lotus is one of the best – a non-stop thrill ride that takes Bond and Anya on the highway and into the ocean, as the car converts into a submarine.
Commonly regarded as Moore’s best Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me is a lot of fun. Not only does it feature some of the most iconic moments in the series, but it has a solid script and memorable characters, proving that nobody does it better.
Rating (out of ****): ***1/2