Bond in Review: Never Say Never Again Part II

Fatima then sends Lippe to take care of Bond. While in the original movie, Lippe was more or less the mastermind of phase one of SPECTRE’s plan, Lippe here is more of a heavy, played by a guy who pretty much is skilled at this kind of thing: Pat Roach, who fought Indiana Jones three times in the Indiana Jones series (a fourth time was cut)

 

Image result for Count lippe Never Say Never again

Here, after a fight with Connery that destroys a good chunk of the clinic, Bond finally manages to defeat Lippe with his urine sample(!) which blinds him and causes him to back into a wall of syringes, killing him. Not quite as graphic as his demises in the Indiana Jones films, but ‘death by pee joke’ is kind of a weird way to go out.

M of course is kind of pissed (heh) at this, (whereas Bernard Lee’s M actually was kind of proud of the intelligence Bond picked up at Shrublands in the original film-

“If 007 says he saw Derval last night at Shrublands and he was dead,

that’s enough for me to initiate inquiries.”

Although to be fair, this is before the whole nuke-stealing plot unfolds, whereas in Thunderball, it was after.

Which of course, unfolds now, with Jack actually launching the nukes using his false eye to gain clearance, instead of them being stolen via plane like in Thunderball.

 

Image result for Jack never say never again

This replaces dummy warheads with real ones, and launches them, but to land safely on Largo’s yacht, the Flying Saucer, the Disco Volante. We get some fairly cringey blue-screen work here as the missiles fly over beaches and countryside, sort of reminding me of some of the lesser flying effects in the Superman films. (Such as when Superman has to stop two nukes on his own).

A bit of a word on the Flying Saucer, in real life it’s called the Kingdom 5KR, with a few different names.

However, shortly after this film was released, it was sold to a certain billionaire who seems to be in the news a lot lately….

and that’s all I’m going to say about that!

Anyway, in a slightly similar fashion to Fiona taking out Count Lippe in the original film, but a little more twisted, Fatima takes care of Jack by throwing a snake into his car, causing it to crash. She then recovers her poor snake before destroying the rest of Jack’s car.

Blofeld then gives his ultimatum, similar to Thunderball, although this time he’s got a camera inside a silver skull, instead of the usual Octopus images the organization are associated with. He demands oil money this time.

Of course alarmed at this, the secretary tells M to reactivate the 00s (I guess they were sort of ‘inactive’ or something? It’s not really made clear, apart from Bond saying earlier that he had “little use” for the section, and that Bond for some reason was teaching?)

We get a second scene from Moneypenny, as Bond is investigating a matchbox he found on Jack’s bed at Shrublands which features Largo’s flag symbol. Once again, M largely ignores 007’s idea about the eye and Petachi.

We then come back to the FS, where Largo is watching Jack’s sister, Domino (played by future megastar Kim Basinger in an early role), do some aerobics to some very funky music. It’s all so very goofy and so 80’s, even Largo can’t help laughing a bit at it.

 

He then gives her a necklace, which of course will become very important to the plot later (and sort of a critical error on Largo’s part) . He also warns her, that if she ever leaves him, he’ll cut her throat (he also strikes a bad note on the piano nearby when he hears it). The Thunderball Largo has nothing on this guy’s level of utter creepiness, even when he was torturing her at the end of that film. For all the film’s other problems, Largo is an effective villain.

Although we haven’t seen M technically order him to go to the Bahamas or anything, Bond’s going there anyway simply because Largo’s boat is docked there, at the moment, and I guess to incorporate a little bit of the flavor of the original Thunderball, which was set almost entirely at Nassau in the second half of the film.

But before we do that, we’ve got the “Q scene”.  Although this Q is certainly not Desmond Llewylnn’s Major Boothryd, but a guy named Algeron, whose lab, attire, and attitude is certainly less refined then either of his official counterparts (Boothryd and the new Whishaw version).

Image result for Q never say never again

This is clearly defined by his attitude to Bond, the polar opposite of the EON Q’s attitude to Bond’s lifestyle (and somewhat sort of defines Bond movies in general):

 

“Now you’re on this, I hope we’re going to

have some gratuitous sex and violence.”

A bit of a note here, it’s interesting that the gadgets in this film (apart from the motorcycle) in someway anticipate Goldeneye’s. Although it’s a pen weapon it fires rocket projectiles instead of functioning like a grenade like Goldeneyes (Plus it’s a vastly different pen).

Image result for Goldeneye pen

There’s also a laser watch, which also of course would be used in Goldeneye .

There’s even the gag of Bond mistaking something ordinary for one of Q’s gadgets-in this case it’s an inhaler for Q’s sinuses, instead of a submarine sandwich.

Finally, we’re capped off with Bond telling him he’s going to the bahamas, to which Q responds “Lucky bloody you!”

 

 

 

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Bond in Review: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service part two

Still in the area, Bond stops by a local hotel and casino, where the woman’s car is also parked. Inquiring as to the owner, he learns that she’s Count Tesera De  Vicenzo. As the night closes, Bond settles down for some baccarat in a nice casino. I’m drawing another Goldeneye connection here….first a small race with a red car, now baccarat in a fancy hotel.

However, instead of the innuendo and subtle interrogation of the later game, Teresa-who wishes to be called Tracey, as “Theresa was a saint”-makes a dumb move, and what’s worse, she has no money on her at all! So Bond bails her out, rescuing her for a second time, although perhaps from jail rather than drowning. During their little table chat, he flirts with her a bit, and the chemistry of Lazenby and Rigg here is very, very good.

Going to meet Tracey for a late night rendezvous, Bond instead meets Che-Che. He’s one of the few fights in Bond films in which Bond later becomes buddies with his opponent (The other being Quarrel/Pussfellow and I suppose Pussy Galore.) After knocking him out-with a gate no less (With Bond quipping about him being a “Gatecrasher”) Bond samples some caviar (originally intended for him and Tracey), and is able to figure out exactly what fish they came from (A Royal beluga sturgeon from the caspian sea). Maybe it’s from Valentine’s stock.

Cavier Torture

 

Bond returns to his own room, where Teresa is pointing a gun at him, but he quickly disarms her and wonders what her deal is. I kind of like how Lazenby’s able to play a mix of toughness and utter confusion here at the same time. After trying to figure her out, the two just give in.

Bond awakens to find her gone, but on the way out, Cheche and a few other guys show up, and direct Bond to a car which then takes him to some facility, and we get an instrumental version Listen closely to the janitor here as they take Bond in-he’s whistling “Goldfinger”.

Bond’s able to fight them off and enter the office-and then we get this great shot of Bond about to throw his knife-which hits the calander behind….

Marc-Ange Draco.  Draco fits the sort of “Kerim Bey” or “Columbo” role here, as Bond’s ally who has a bit of a rap sheet, but one that works with Bond regardless. In this case, Draco is the fictional head of the (actually real life group) Unione Course, as well as his own construction company as a front.

However, his meeting with Bond is not really about that-he’s actually Tracy’s father…it turns out he spoiled her too much, she became rebellious and now is pretty much just depressed. The men Bond fought earlier (and probably killed at least one!) were actually just keeping an eye on her, more or less. However, he think’s Bond’s rescues are starting to make her feel better-and he actually wants Bond to get engaged and married to her-but Bond wants to live the bachelor lifestyle and doesn’t have too much faith in his own ability to help Teresa (Maybe his failures with Fiona and Helga blew his ego a bit). However, Bond knows that Draco has connections, and might know where Blofeld is hiding….and he might consider it.

Next we get a more typical Bond scene, of sorts, as Bond stops into M’s offices, with the usual Moneypenny flirting (Lois Maxwell looks a bit older here, especially next to Lazenby, who was 30 at the time. However her aging worked a bit better with Roger since they were pretty much the same age anyway). However, the meeting with M is unusual-it’s not a mission briefing, but a bit of a scolding-M wants Bond off of Operation Bedlam since he can’t seem to find Blofeld yet. Bond isn’t too happy about this, and tells Moneypenny to tell M that he wants to quit.

Along with the opening credits and the guy whistling Goldfinger, we get another reminder to the audience of the legacy of the older films,  as Bond goes through various gadgets and mementos from the previous films, complete with their associated themes (with “Underneath the mango tree” for Dr.No and Honey’s knife). Funny that the film most often associated for beginning the whole “Bond is simply a code name” thing is also the one that hits the audience on the head over and over again with the whole “This is the same guy!!!!” thing. While Bond films do of course reference the past films-most notably in the anniversary films Die Another Day and Skyfall-it’s still fairly early days here, and mainly to establish Lazenby as a legit 007. Other Bond debut films wouldn’t quite do this-“Live and Let Die” in many ways did it’s best to distance Roger Moore from Connery (Roger, for instance, smokes cigars while Connery smokes cigarettes) as did “The Living Daylights”, “Goldeneye” (Especially with Judi Dench’s M) and most of all, “Casino Royale”. But here it’s pretty much part of the sell.

However, Bond doesn’t have to quit, as Moneypenny reworks his request into simply asking for leave. Which also is sort of James Bond movie doublespeak for “You can still do your mission, but just be discreet about it.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

James Bond in Review: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service Part One

In 1967, Sean Connery left the series, due to being typecast and also the strain of too much publicity and paparazzi. In an unexpected move, the producers then cast George Lazenby, an Australian model and commercial actor, in a controversial choice, which only became more controversial with rumors of trouble on the set and then Lazenby bowing out of the role as the film premiered (While the film didn’t do as well as the Connery films, Lazenby still had a chance to do six more films-but declined. He wasn’t fired).

 

OHMSS starts with an interesting gunbarrel, which, like the Dr.No Gunbarrel, pauses to briefly bring up the producers. The theme has changed a bit-it’s certainly a bit less grand, and the spanish guitar is pretty much gone (although it would show up again in the next film).

 

We open on Q and M, oddly enough, with Q showing off some new magnetic lint that can be used as a tracking device…. (Q by the way, doesn’t do too much in this film, as it’s fairly light on the gadgets) but M wishes he could put a tracker on 007, who seems to not be up to much. Turns out, since the events of You Only Live Twice, MI6 has put into effect “Operation Bedlam”-an attempt to track down and capture the SPECTRE leader before he strikes again. But the trail’s gone cold.

We cut to Bond on some beachfront somewhere, driving a new Aston Martin DBS (Which bears some cosmetic resemblance to the later Valante used in The Living Daylights). He’s wearing Bond’s trademark hat, what appear to be sunglasses and smoking a cigar, but he’s mainly obscured in semi-darkness (Dalton and Brosnan would have similar slow reveals)

A woman in a red car cuts him off. Wouldn’t be the last time, as “Goldeneye” proved…(although Xenia Onatopp was far, far more nefarious than Tracy here)

 

Although instead of a race, she just wants to get to the ocean. Bond, intrigued, uses his scope to check her out-until he realizes’s she is in fact trying to drown herself. The gallant Bond saves her, although it’s a reluctant rescue for her-and Bond does his trademark name catchphrase-revealing Lazenby for the first time in full.

 

…and of course, this being a Bond pre-credits sequence, there’s got to be action…and in this case, Bond and the woman are quickly surrounded by armed men, who seem to want to take her away. Bond quickly gets free though, and we’re given a fairly chaotic fight on the beach and in the waves, a bit hampered by the dark early morning setting (You can’t really make out too much going on). There’s a lot of fast cuts and sped-up shots-Peter Hunt, the director, after all edited a lot of the other films and seems to have pretty much been given more free reign here, although if I’m not sure the edits are to show Lazenby’s weaknesses as a fighter or what (He’s certainly better than Moore at it though). This Bond seems to use a lot of judo as well.

In all the chaos, the woman slips away, using Bond’s car to drive up to her own and then escape, but leaving her slippers behind. Picking them up, he remarks “This never happened to the other fellow!”

 

 

It’s sort of a meta-joke about Sean Connery, although in the context of the movie, it’s probably intended as a reference to Prince Charming from Cinderella (hence the slippers). Although it’s certainly spawned about a gazillion “Bond is really just a code name!” theories to explain the change in actors throughout the series.

We then come to the title sequence, which is really brilliant. A martini glass also functions as a bit of an hourglass, and Bond hanging from a clock arm also deals with the concept of time. One of the themes of the movie is “We have all the time in the world”-but it’s kind of clear that time may not be on Bond’s side with the draining of the hourglass/martini.

The opening credits also use various stock footage from the first five films, in part perhaps to sell that this is the same Bond we’ve known for the past decade-there’s villains, girls, actions and some other elements. Of course there’s also shots of the union jack, the crown (Given the movie’s title after all!), and of course the silhouetted  girls.

 

…..and then there’s the theme, which has no lyrics and is pretty much the best non-Bond theme instrumental theme in the series. It’s influence can certainly be felt in the score for the (Far inferior IMO) View To A Kill, and one of the trailers for SPECTRE likewise used a version of the tune. It was also memorably used in the 2003 teaser trailer for the Disney/Pixar film the Incredibles:

 

 

 

 

Bond In Review: You Only Live twice Part Two

As I go on, one note-the script to You Only Live Twice was written by Roald Dahl. Yes, the same guy who was notable for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the BFG, James and the Giant Peach etc. wrote this film, based on a novel from a fellow World War II veteran, no less…..

You Only Live Twice dives right into Japanese culture with Bond meeting contact Aki at a sumo match, and this would become more of a trend in later films as well, of showing prominent cultural events and landmarks in Bond films (Which we sort of had in the earlier films-the gypsy camp in From Russia With Love, the Junkanoo in Thunderball; but not quite to this extent)

Aki takes Bond to Dikko Henderson, a British contact living in Japan (Henderson had a much larger role in the novel). A few things I’ve noticed about the film so far-I think Connery’s starting to look a little different, and he appears somewhat subdued in his acting. While some fans think he look “tired” in Thunderball, he seems far more ‘going through the motions’ here, and I think part of his delivery lacks punch. Apparently YOLT took it’s toll on Connery, as his popularity as Bond was at it’s peak and he was constantly hounded by Paparazzi. This was his last sequential Bond, and the only reasons he returned in Diamonds Are Forever and Never Say Never Again were largely due to monetary factors (He got a huge paycheck for Diamonds which he donated to a Scottish fund), or some more creative/producer input.

Henderson gives Bond a wrongly mixed martini (“That’s stirred, not shaken, is that right?”) but Bond isn’t particuarly offended (Saying “Perfect”-probably a bit of a joke and not a blooper). Henderson BTW is played by Charles Gray,  who would later go on to play what some feel is the worst incarnation of Blofeld in Diamonds Are Forever:

Although he did play a memorable role as the Criminologist in “The Rocky Horror picture show”

 

Henderson, before he’s about to spill the beans over what company could be causing all this trouble, is killed by a knife to the back, but Bond is able to knock the guy out and disguise himself as him, and is taken by a fellow killer to the Osato office building, obviously tied up in this mess. Looks like Bond will get his answer after all, as he takes out the other man and manages to get some papers from Osato’s safe-and also sample some Siamese vodka while he’s at it.

 

Bond is rescued by Aki, but then she runs off, and Bond finds himself falling down into a chute….with Tanaka at the other end. Tanaka’s main office is a pretty nifty set as well.

After some gentle ribbing from Tiger Tanaka-and a slightly uncomfortable exchange of the “I love you” password-Tanaka and Bond get down to business, sharing their intelligence-including the stuff from Osato’s safe-which includes a photograph and an order for rocket fuel-and also, that there seems to be something going on with a tanker distributing said fuel.

 

Tanaka is somewhat similar in demeanor a bit to Kerim Bey, although he’s a bit more critical of Bond’s western attitudes (although not nearly as much the novel version!). Plus he’s a bit less jovial and has no family payroll. He also gives Bond a taste of his hospitality, with a bath being tended by several Japanese women. Hey, it was the 60’s!

 

Bond says that it’s probably SPECTRE who are behind this, and they’re probably using Osato as a front. One of the frames here might have been inspiration for the For Your Eyes Only poster, although Bond is certainly more dressed and the woman is certainly more well-armed.

 

Bond is also reunited with Aki, the woman from earlier….and on more formal terms, to put it likely.

Bond’s next port of call is a ‘social’ visit to Osato chemicals, posing as a Mr. Fisher, sort of one of his more generic aliases such as Somerset, Sterling etc. although not nearly as obviously fake as Sir John Smithye.

 

Osato is an interesting henchman, played by actor Tero Samada, who did a lot of American and British film. Like Largo in the previous film, he makes a lot of veiled threats. We’re also introduced to his secretary, Helga Brandt, who as played by Karin Dor mainly comes across as a weak, more bland copy of Fiona Vulpe.

 

No sooner has Bond exited Osato chemicals again, then he once again finds himself being chased by Osato’s men-and rescued by Aki yet again. There’s a brief car chase, and while the car doesn’t seem to have many gadgets apart from a video screen, Aki is able to get Tiger to summon a helicopter with a magnet to grab and drop their pursuers into the ocean. Bond would use a similar tactic on Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me, also directed by Lewis Gilbert.

This also features the film’s very fast-paced action theme, a bit more fun and less ponderous than the 007 action theme used in earlier films. After the bad guys are taken care of, Bond asks for Tanaka to relay M to send “Little Nellie” and her “Father.” Tanaka also tells him that Ning-Po is sitting at a local dock-and now we get another action scene, with Bond and Aki facing off against Osato’s workers. This leads into a soaring instrumental rendition of the You Only Live Twice theme, and an interesting overhead shot a Bond battles his way through.

 

Sending Aki back to Tanaka, Bond manages to *almost* escape, but gets knocked out from behind-something which tends to happen a lot in these films. From Russia With Love had Bond, Goldfinger (With tragic consequences for Jill) On Her Majesty’s Secret Service  Diamonds Are Forever, Live and Let Die, Man with the Golden Gun, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, and Octopussy all have Bond suffering blows from the back of the head, and usually waking up in the villain’s lair. At least some other times it’s due to drugging or a car crash or something.

Bond in Review: Thunderball Part III

In the dossier, Bond is disturbed a bit that the man shown in them is the same man he saw dead at the clinic (or rather, his double). So he asks M to send him to Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, based on that hunch. M trusts him, despite the protests of his air force liaison (Who would’ve gone with him to Canada). Moneypenny naturally thinks he’s in it for Duval’s sister, who might have a link to the whole thing-which leads to an awkward moment between M and Moneypenny, with Bond wondering what’s happened to his hat….a bit of an in-joke, perhaps, as Bond would seldom wear the hat from now on (Although it would still show up in the gunbarrels until “Live and Let Die”, and the hat gag would reappear in “one Her Majesty’s Secret Service” and the later Moore years. Bond would also throw his naval hat in the next film. However, by Dalton it’s completely gone).

 

Next, we go to Nassau, and one of my all-time favorite Bond settings, Nassau in the Bahamas, and Bond starts rapid-fire flirting with domino after saving her from getting stuck in the reef.

Bond:I arrived soon after you went down. I’ve been admiring your form.

Domino:Have you, now? Your name’s James Bond and you’ve been admiring my form?

Bond:Most girls just paddle around. – You swim like a man. –

Domino:So do you.

James Bond:Well, I’ve had quite a bit of practice. – Do you come here often? –

Domino:When I’m bored. Practically every day.

Bond:What else do you do, and where? –

Domino:You don’t waste time, do you? –

Bond:No.

Domino (hands him starfish): For effort. 

Bond:Thank you. I’ll wear it, so you’ll know me next time. I was right. Couldn’t miss.

Domino:I’m not with you. 

Bond:Oh, you soon will be.

 

I find Auger-or rather, the woman who dubbed her’s-performance, a bit bland, which is kind of a bit odd since she’s actually the dub artist for most of the early Bond girls-Honey Ryder, Sylvia Trench, Jill Masterson-that’s all her (She even dubbed over some of Jane Seymour’s dialogue in Live And Let Die). Maybe because it’s her trying to do a French accent instead of a British one. However, she’s certainly written as a smart and sassy Bond girl.

We are also introduced to another Bond girl, of sorts, Paula Caplan.  She’s Bond’s main aid here, although it’s unclear if there’s any relationship between them apart from a professional one, although she’s certainly knowledgeable about Bond’s ways:

Bond: Tell London I’ve made contact with the girl.
Paula:It’s not what I’d call contact, but I’ll pass it through. You’ve seen the girl.

Faking a motor malfunction, Bond hitches a ride on Domino’s boat and he continues his flirtation with her, but they’re both being watched-Domino by one of Largo’s henchman, and Bond, by a mysterious man in sunglasses. Gee, where have we seen that before? Bond appears to slip up for a second by mentioning Domino by her name before she told him, but luckily for him she has it on her ankle bracelet.

 

Next, we come to the Casino scene, where Bond and Largo meet formally and each tries to measure each other up, with Bond pretty much trolling Largo’s SPECTRE affiliation: “Yes, I thought I saw a SPECTRE at your shoulder; the SPECTRE of defeat, that your luck was about to change”. Largo doesn’t seem too bugged by it, in fact he shows off his fancy SPECTRE ring. SPECTRE’s got quite a lot of vanity; in fact it’s what gives them away in a different continuity, and it’s certainly what got the ball rolling on this film when Bond noticed Lippe’s Tong tattoo.

After beating Largo at cards, Bond takes Domino for a short dance, still subtly asking for information, and starting to win her over a little.  Largo-although jealous-invites Bond over to his estate. Despite the ring, he’s less obviously up to no good as say, Goldfinger.

 

…and there’s sunglasses guy again.

Bond returns to his hotel, but there’s somebody waiting for him-inside and outside his door. Thankfully, Bond has a hidden recorder. Outside, the man with the sunglasses tries to get in, but Bond sucker-punches him as he says “00….” Bond then quickly turns on the hot water in the shower, stunning Largo’s henchman Quist and disarming him.

Turns out the man with the sunglasses is in fact Felix Leiter-who has once again changed into a different actor, this time more in the Jack Lord style than Cec linder’s kind of clueless goof. The sunglasses he wears are even a callback to that, as Felix wore sunglasses early in Dr.No and we were unsure of his motives then…

Giving Quist his gun back-minus the bullets-Bond allows him to escape, “letting the little fish” back into the sea-and letting Felix know he’d like a look at Largo’s yacht-the “Disco Volante” (Italian for Flying Saucer-although in the remake Never Say Never Again, it actually called simply “Flying Saucer”).

 

Meanwhile, Qwist the “little fish” certainly gets thrown into a body of water for disappointing Largo.  One pool filled with Sharks, which make quick work of Qwist.

 

 

And thus begins the series’s fascination with sharks, who we’ll see even more of later in the movie. Sharks will appear again in “Live and Let Die”, “The Spy Who Loved Me” (as well as the man named “Jaws” after THE Shark movie) “For Your Eyes Only” and most spectacularly in “License to Kill” where they ate poor Felix’s legs…and later the guy who betrayed him. They don’t seem to have shown up that much in the Brosnan and Craig films. I wonder if a certain Bond parody had anything to do with that?

 

Next: Bond pays Largo a few visits, and goes searching for the missing plane and it’s lethal payload, but also comes across Fiona Volpe. Plus, Q stops by with some special toys.

 

 

Bond In Review: License to Kill

Although he wasn’t the first choice for the role (which was Pierce Brosnan) in 1987, Timothy Dalton’s The Living Daylights was mostly a critically and financial success. Unfortunately, it’s follow-up-more tailored toward Dalton’s tougher, more dangerous Bond that TLD was-did not match the success of it’s predecessor, and due in part to it’s low box office (It’s still the lowest-grossing Bond film), and a number of other factors such as legal issues and trouble getting a planned third film off the ground, the next Bond was delayed until 1995.

 

 

Right off the bat in the film we’re introduced to a more intimidating villain than The Living Daylights, in Drug lord Franz Sanchez (Robert Davi) and his sadistic henchman Dario. Although he’s clearly violent and ruthless, Sanchez also has a weird sort of reptilian charm-he prizes loyalty and trusts almost too easily-something that Bond also exploits to bring him down. Also, like Bond’s arch-nemesis Blofeld, he has a pet-in this case an Iguana-constantly around his shoulder. Bond’s first encounter with him is when Sanchez runs out of his sanctuary country of Ithmus to retrieve his girlfriend Lupe, who is trying to escape him-leaving him vulnerable to the DEA.

Bond’s old CIA buddy Felix Leiter (Played for the second time by “Live and Let Die’s” David Hedison)-now with the DEA-is on his way to wed his fiancee Della when he’s informed of this, and best man James Bond tags along, helping to capture Sanchez-which he succeeds at, with a bit of ‘fishing’ his getaway plane.

 

Fortunately for Bond, but unfortunately for Felix and Della, Bond isn’t spotted capturing Sanchez, but Sanchez witnesses Felix and his wedding, and also has a mole that he’s bribed within the DEA, allowing him to quickly escape.

The opening credits are okay, but not really anything particularly special. Glady’s Knight’s tune is pretty good, although the first part seems to borrow a bit too much of Goldfinger. Interestingly, the Asian woman seen in most of the credits-Diana Lee Hsu-has a small role in the film as a Hong Kong Narcotics agent.

 

 

Bond attends the wedding as best man, and gets a present from the Newlyweds-a Lighter, funny enough, with a pretty large flame. However, as soon as Bond leaves (with a small reference to Bond’s own ill-fated wedding to the murdered Tracey Bond in OHMSS), Felix unfortunately has to live in his own version of his friend’s worst day ever, as Sanchez’s goons kill Della and feed Felix partially to a shark, leaving him in critical condition. When informed of Sanchez’s escape, Bond rushes back to his friend’s place but is too late. In many ways, this is one of the darkest, most disturbing scenes in all of the Bond films. Although many of Bond’s friends and female characters have been killed in the films, this seems somewhat more graphic and traumatic, especially since Felix has appeared in several films (although usually with different actors)

 

 

Frustrated that the DEA is unable to find Sanchez again, Bond-along with another friend-Sharkey, a local fisherman-take matters into their own hands, investigating first where Felix was wounded, with Bond killing the DEA mole. Unfortunately, another lead-Milton Wavecrest, an alcoholic, lewd henchman of Sanchez who runs a cover-escapes.

After this, the DEA brings in M, who is mad that his agent has taken the law into his own hands, with an interesting use of Hemingway house (complete with cats, perhaps a subtle nod to Bond villain Blofeld along with Sanchez’s Iquana). It’s at this point where his Licence is semi-revoked, but he’s able to escape before surrendering his Walther PPK. This is actually the last scene between Bond and the Robert Brown M in the series as well.

Bond’s next port of call is Krest’s ship the Wavekrest (unfortunately Sharkey is killed by Krest’s men, furthering Bond’s desire for revenge) where he encounters Lupe, but is also able to escape with Sanchez’s drug money, allowing him enough funds to get to Isthmus and continue his revenge. It’s a fun action sequence too, with Bond doing some underwater fighting ala Thunderball, water-skiing and dropping guys out of small planes.

Along the way he comes to the aid of one of Felix’s DEA agents Pam Bouvier, who agrees to help him after a somewhat goofy bar fight sequence with Dario (Benecio Del Toro). She’s certainly more of a ‘tough’ Bond girl, something that Dalton’s first adventure didn’t have really, and especially not Roger Moore’s final one. Then again, Lupe’s played as kind of week and overly smitten, although like Kara she’s kind of more of a victim too.

In Ithmus, we get the semi-regular Bond casino scene which wasn’t in The Living Daylights, that Bond is using in part to get Sanchez’s attention so he can make a tactical recon of his office-so he can of course, take him out as part of his revenge. Bond introduces himself to Sanchez as a sort of ‘problem solver’ who could come in handy, but he’s really only got eyes for his heavily-armored window.

Although he’s not well-armed for this, Q comes to the rescue, on “holiday”, giving him what he needs to take out Sanchez. On a side note, Q actually has more screen-time in this one, aiding Bond and Pam in their mission throughout the film.

 

Unfortunately, Bond’s attempt is thwarted when something unexpected happens-he spots Pam with Sanchez’s henchman Heller, and then Hong Kong narcotics attack and capture Bond. He’s unwittingly stumbled into their operation to catch Sanchez.

 

Unexpectedly, Bond is rescued by Sanchez, and starts to unexpectedly gain the villain’s trust, convincing him that the window attack was in fact carried out by mercenaries (in fact, the now-dead Hong Kong team). Also, it turns out that at least one of Sanchez’s lieutenants-Hiller-wants immunity, hence Pam meeting with him. Bond starts to use this opportunity to literally kill two birds with one stone. Using the drug money and both Pam, Q, and Lupe’s helps, he frames Krest, a scene that’s probably one of the most violent and disturbing villain deaths in the whole series. Without actually posting the gory aftermath here, it’s pretty much explosive decompression for Krest.

 

The final battle takes place at a “temple” which is actually a cover for Sanchez’s drug labs, and has a phony new-age operation running out of it that’s actually turning a sizable side profit. Sanchez’s henchman Professor Butcher is played by no less than Vegas entertainer Wayne Newton, who adds some fun to the movie without being too annoying.

 

Unfortunately for Bond his attempt to get close enough to Sanchez to take him out is spoiled by Dario, who recognizes Bond from the bar earlier and blows his ruse in a tense scene. However, Bond is able to use a distraction to destroy Sanchez’s labs, throwing his organization into disarray. Nevertheless, he tries to kill Bond with a cocaine shredder.

However, it soon turns out to be Dario’s death instead, as he’s probably too high off the fumes and seems to mistake Pam in a white suit for an angel (He believes he killed her in the earlier bar fight), causing Dario to wind up in the shredder instead, in another particularly violent villain death.

Finally we get the epic tanker chase scene, which has some cool stunts such as the truck flip Bond uses to avoid one of the stinger missiles:

and later, a wheelie.

There’s also a lot of pyrotechnics around in these, as each of the tankers are eventually destroyed. Definitely one of the most spectacular chases in the series, and this time, with no real gadgets, just good old fashioned stuntwork.

Bond finally is able to avenge his friends with the help of their lighter, igniting a gasoline-soaked Sanchez, who realizes too late the reason Bond came after him in the first place.

At the party afterwards, we learn that Felix has thankfully regained consciousness (although he is unfortunately still widowed), and that M seems to be willing to let Bond back into the secret service after all (Which of course happens, as the Brosnan films make clear. Still I can picture a bit of a tense scene there, if it existed!). He also chooses between the more shallow Lupe and Pam, eventually ending up with Pam at film’s end, to the tune of Patti Labelle’s If You Asked Me to which became an eventual big hit, even if the film it came from was disappointing box office wise.

License tends to get a lot of grief-many people feel it’s kind of not Bondish enough, but in fact it does borrow fairly heavily from Fleming’s novels, in particular Live and Let Die (Felix’s maiming, and Sharkey is pretty much another version of Quarrel) and Sanchez’s drug operation is similar to Both LALD and Man with The Golden Gun, especially with Bond earning the villain’s trust in order to get close enough to take him out. The film is somewhat more violent than other Bonds, in particular the fate of the Leiters and the villain’s deaths by compression, shredded to death and immolation (Most of the other villains seemed to mostly just get shot, captured, or thrown from a great height).

Nevertheless the film isn’t totally dark and depressing. Q brings some levity, and although he isn’t quite as good with the humor as his predecessors, Dalton does get some amusing moments, such as his double-take when Pam redoes her hairstyle and dress. (He also tends to oggle her a few times). Davi and Del Toro are pretty effective, sinister villains, and as I stated Davi’s got some good charm as well. There are also many fantastic stunts.  The plot is relatively simple compared to the espionage heavy Living Daylights, as well.

Michael Kamen’s score is a bit different in some ways from the John Barry work, with it’s spanish guitar giving flavor to the film’s mostly central American setting-and returning that element to the Bond theme as well, where it belongs.

However, despite it’s strengths, many were unimpressed, and 1989 was already a crowded summer already, with Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Batman, Ghostbusters II, Honey I Shrunk the Kids and several other films as direct competiton. Plus the 80’s were already fairly heavy with revenge flicks, and people probably didn’t want to see a Bond film just for that. Bond would remain in limbo until 1995, with Dalton giving up the role in the interim. So Dalton’s run unfortunately came to an early end…but the series would return, and Dalton’s tough, true-to-the-books Bond would later become more accepted, when Daniel Craig came onboard…

 

 

 

 

 

Bond in Review: For Your Eyes Only

tchOriginally, “For Your Eyes Only” was going to be the Bond film that would follow “The Spy Who Loved Me”-something made clear by the end credits of that movie. However, the success of “Star Wars” prompted them to (extremely loosely) adapt “Moonraker” instead. After that film was released, FYEO was back on the table. However, perhaps due to negative critical reaction to Moonraker (although it was a box office success), the producers decided to bring Bond back to earth-literally-with a more traditional story, and one heavily based on Fleming material, specifically, Fleming’s short stories For Your Eyes Only and Risico, as well as a sequence from Live and Let Die (I won’t go into details, since I already have in another article).

The film begins with Bond, visiting his wife’s grave, before being called back to MI6 but then his helicopter is commandeered via remote control by a bald guy with a cat-obviously meant to be Blofeld,  but due to rights issues he’s never named (Blofeld’s basic look and white cat however were never in the original books and are pretty much fair game, although I’m a bit unclear how that worked in reverse with “Never Say Never Again”), but with both Tracey’s grave, and Blofeld sporting injuries very similar to the end of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the callback is very clear.

The scene is merely played for camp, with Blofeld sporting a cartoony accent that sounds like an attempt to mix his original “From Russia With Love” voice with Donald Pleasence, but not quite making it. He’s also got some strange lines, most notably the infamous: “We can do a deal! I’ll buy you a delicatessen…in stainless steel!”

However, the opening is one of the few sequences in the film that’s comparable in tone to the campy nature of pretty much every other Roger Moore Bond film. We then come to one of the more unique Bond openings, as singer Sheena Easton actually physically appears and sings the song among the usual footage of Bond, guns and girls.

It’s a pretty decent song, sort of following the lead of Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker as having a love song as the main title, which would continue with “Octopussy”‘s “All Time High” before Bond returned to rock/pop with View To A Kill and Living Daylights.

The movie’s main plot begins with sort of a Bond trope of a British ship being compromised (although this time by accident, more or less). This kind of plot point is used in Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, Spy Who Loved Me, and Moonraker, and although taking a break for a bit, it returns with a vengeance in “Tomorrow Never Dies”. In this case, it’s the St. Georges, which contains the ATAC Automatic Targeting Attack Communicator, used to coordinate submarines….and this sets in motion the plot, as Bond-teaming up with this film’s “Bond girl” Melina Havelock (The daughter of an archaeologist killed in the search for the ship) and Greek smuggler Columbo (Topol)-races across the Mediterannan to uncover the wreck of the Georges and recover the ATAC before it falls into the hands of the KGB, who are being aided by the film’s villain, Kristatos (Julian Glover). It’s definitely a bit different from the plots of both “Spy” and “Moonraker”, where the villains hoped to create Armageddon so people could live in the sea, or repopulate Earth with “perfect” people.

Glover is an actor well-known for villanous roles in media-having played the AT-AT Commander General Veers in The Empire Strikes Back, the multiple incarnations of the masked alien Scaroth in the Doctor Who serial “City of Death” and also the main villain Donovan in Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade. Initially, we’re led to believe he’s actually a good guy, helping to sponsor a talented young skying girl in  the Winter Olympics and appearing to aid Bond in his search for the ATAC and the murderers of the Havelocks. However, he’s mainly trying to frame fellow smuggler Columbo, and his true, more sadistic side is unveiled in the film’s half-way point. Glover plays both sides of the character well.

Equally and entirely sadistic is Locque, his main henchman. Like a great deal of Bond henchmen, he’s rather quiet (although not mute). Although not quite a strongman like Jaws or Oddjob, he’s still an intimidating presence with his cold stares, only really smiling when he runs over Columbo’s mistress Lisl (played by the late Cassandra Harris).

He’s also the subject of one of the film’s best moments-and one of the coldest kills by Roger Moore’s Bond in any of his films-as Moore kicks his car off a cliff. 

However, we do have a somewhat more ‘strongman’ henchman in Eric Kreigler, a KGB agent assigned as the go-between the KGB and Kristatos. Bond’s main confrontation with him is a thrilling winter sports ski chase.

Future “Game of Thrones” star Charles Dance also has a small role as a minor henchman, Claus.

Girl-wise, we’ve got Carole Bouquet as the Bond girl. Her character is given better motivation-and acting I think as well-than Anya and Holly before her, and Carole Bouquet plays her as both really sympathetic but also a bit badass as well. She also doesn’t really fall for Bond until the end of the film either, which is a bit of a departure.

Speaking of falling for Bond, Kristatos’s ward Bibi-a kind of more bubbly, dumb Bond girl certainly does. Bond pretty much rebuffs her advances (and with good reason too-she’s in her late teens or early twenties and Roger Moore is in his mid 50s at this point, so that would just be weird). She’s kind of one of the goofier aspects of the film, but Moore’s reactions to her relentless flirting are some of the film’s best laughs, and she’s not quite annoying as Mary Goodnight a few films ago.

Finally Bond-girl wise we have Cassandra Harris in a small role as Countess Lisl, Columbo’s mistress and collaborator,  who has a brief fling with Bond before she’s murdered by Locque. Harris plays it pretty well, although we don’t see too much of her and it’s not quite clear why Lisl is faking an accent. Fun fact about Harris-before her death, she was married to future Bond Pierce Brosnan, and it was she who introduced him to the producers. This led to Brosnan eventually almost replacing Moore in 1986, however due to TV contract things Brosnan couldn’t play it at the time. He eventually of course got his chance in 1995.

Gadget-wise, the film is a bit light, especially compared to the previous two films. In fact, Bond’s original Lotus is taken out of action early on when the bad guys attempt to break in, triggering it’s self-destruct!

Apart from that, the ATAC itself and a radio watch which really isn’t used that much except for the film’s comic relief ending, we really just get the Identigraph which Bond uses to identify Locque. It’s used entirely in Q’s lab, which, like in many of the other films, shows off a large group of gadgets being developed, but not used by Bond in the field at all.

Speaking of that watch, it’s used in a pretty hilarious scene that closes the film, in which Margeret Thatcher-England’s PM at the time (played by a look-alike actress in this of course) congratulates Bond on the sucess of his mission, but ends up speaking with Melina’s parrot instead while she and Bond have a “moonlight swim.” It’s kind of interesting that the most serious of the Moore films is pretty much book-ended by goofy scenes-The Blofeld stuff at the beginning and then this.

Music-wise, like “Live and Let Die” and the “Spy Who Loved Me” For Your Eyes Only doesn’t have John Barry as composer, instead using the talents of “Rocky” and “Karate Kid” composer Bill Conti. Although a bit different than Barry’s talents, Conti’s music really kind of fits the “Winter sports” feel of the middle of the movie.

 

Overall, FYEO was a pretty good return to form for the series to it’s espionage roots and more serious tone, with Moore being able to adapt to it pretty well. Although by this point he’s aging and starting to lose some of his credibility as a convincing Bond, he still gives it his best in my opinion, proving that he’s got some dramatic teeth beyond the One liners. Next “Octopussy” would attempt to put a bit more comedy back into the series, while still having a semi-serious tone….