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(Review originally written at 16 August 2006)

This is more than just a great Bond movie, it also is a great movie on its own. It's well constructed and has a solid, fast paced story, with some great memorable action sequences and characters in it.

This movie is quite different from other Bond movies in many regards. First and foremost reason of course for this, is that this movie is the second Bond movie ever made. The creators obviously tried to surpass the success of "Dr. No" and make this movie an even bigger and spectacular one. They certainly succeeded in this but it also means that this movie is at times lacking in its special 'Bond' kind of feeling. Sure it has Q, M, Moneypenny and gadgets but its not as fun to watch, mainly because the movie obviously tries to take itself as serious as possible. However none of this matters, since it makes this movie a really good genre movie and quite frankly one of the best ever created. Also keep in mind that back in the early '60's there wasn't really an 'action-movie genre' yet. That probably is also the reason why this movie feels quite different from other movies genre- and also later Bond movies in particular.

Overall the older Bond movies are of better and higher quality than all of the later ones, of course with some exceptions left out here and there. My theory is that it is because the early movies still take themselves serious, while all of the most other later Bond movies go over-the-top with its action mainly. Basically the Bond character himself also fits better in a '60's atmosphere, also obviously due to the way how he handles women. Nothing wrong with Bond movies these days, after all I enjoy (most) of them highly and they serve as good mindless entertainment, especially the Roger Moore Bond-films but honestly, they can't beat the oldies.

Unlike many other Bond movies, the story plays a significant part in the movie. At first its slow without any action but thanks to its fast and spot on pace the movie still is exciting to watch. Surprisingly the movie at the end still turns into a spectacular one, when lots of action occurs on screen. The boat and the later following helicopter chase sequences are one of the best and most memorable Bond action sequences ever. They are surprisingly big and spectacular. But also the confrontation sequences between Grant and Bond are memorable and spectacular, even when no action occurs. Kudos to Sean Connery and Robert Shaw's acting for that.

What makes this Bond movie also a highly memorable one are its characters. The villain always is an important element of a Bond movie. This movie its main villain is Ernst Stavro Blofeld of SPECTRE but as we are used of him, he doesn't get to do any action. Real 'action' villains of this movie are the hit-man Grant (Robert Shaw) and Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya), a former Russian she-man colonel now working for SPRECTRE, who has lesbian tendencies and pointy shoes. Both of them are portrayed by some very solid actors, which helps to make them both very memorable Bond villains. Especially Shaw is wonderful. In the first halve of the movie he doesn't say a word but from the moment he meets up with Bond and starts to speak his character becomes a different one and Shaw's acting ability and versatility becomes obvious. Also look out for Walter Gotell, who plays a small part as a villain in this movie but later went on playing the Russian general Gogol, who appeared in numerous Bond movies over the years. But not just the villains are great. Pedro Armendáriz plays a real good and likable 'criminal' character, in his final role. Daniela Bianchi is a good Bond girl. Nothing too spectacular, she just mainly serves her purpose well. It also of course helps the movie that it has Bond regulars Miss Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell), Q (Desmond Llewelyn) and M (Bernard Lee) in it, who would all later re-appear in more than a dozen more Bond films.

This is simply one of those movies in which everything just adds up and works well. The pace is incredibly good and makes the movie even tense and spectacular to watch when no action occurs. The acting and characters are great and the movie is big in spectacular in its action. Everything in this movie fits and it helps to make this one of the best and most memorable Bond movies but also one of the best and earliest action genre movies ever made.

9/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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