From Russia with Love, 1963
Directed by: Terence Young
James Bond: Sean Connery
Also Starring: Pedro Armendariz, Lotte Lenya, Robert Shaw, Bernard Lee, Daniela Bianchi
Dr. No was so successful that they greenlit a sequel in the form of From Russia with Love, with James Bond (Sean Connery) tasked with retrieving a Lektor cryptographic device from Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi), who is apparently defecting to the West from Russia. Meanwhile, annoyed at the loss of Dr. No, SPECTRE begins training its agents to kill Bond, and their star pupil is Donald ‘Red’ Grant (Robert Shaw). SPECTRE also devises a plan to play British and Soviet intelligences against each other.
As a film overall, I personally preferred From Russia with Love to Dr. No, and I was extremely happy that the one major concern I had with Dr. No (the fact its soundtrack often went completely silent for a few seconds before adding in background noise) was eradicated by this film: its production budget was almost doubled, and its box office result, and its overall quality, reflected this.
James Bond felt more comical in this movie, with many more quick one-liners (‘she’s had her kicks’, at a now-dead woman who was trying to kick him to death). All of these jokes, despite now sounding cheesy and obvious, are still quite amusing and fit the character of Bond completely. Its action scenes as well were more effective and entertaining than its predecessor, with its main fight scene (Bond vs. Red) much more exciting and satisfying than Bond vs. Dr. No was; even if some extras did still die at the hands of a mighty chop from Bond (60’s actions films!). There were parts, however, when the plot felt a little convoluted, with multiple SPECTRE agents and 00-agents, and a plot which an outside party was trying to force British and Soviet intelligences against one another, with the train scene having many, many escape plans for its many passengers who needed one (except for Bond). And after the fight with Red there was still another two major fight scenes that Bond had to deal with, and just felt like there was a lot in this film.
One of the shining moments in this film was Q coming in with his gadgets; a staple I’ve been brought up with when it comes to James Bond films: this time it was a suitcase with an array of items (coins, knives, gas) and all of which came in useful during the film, as did Red’s watch-wire (he used this to kill a fake-Bond earlier in the film) and this continuity was nice to see.
For me an improved performance with regards to its action and its filming with only a few small hiccups. Q’s weapons brought along another staple of Bond films, and the Bond-girl had an overall better character arc than Dr. No’s. An enjoyable film.
Plot: * * *
Acting: * * *
Writing: * * * *
Presentation: * * *
Overall Rating: * * * ¼