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Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Superficial Bond Reviews --- #02: From Russia With Love

* The opening sequence of From Russia With Love is really exciting, with a fun twist. That whole sense of lurking danger is established right away when the bad guy murders a Bond double, and you carry that anticipation of a showdown with you for the whole movie.

* The big, bad henchman is introduced to the series, and we've only reached the second movie. Cool.
Also, that henchman is a Nazi version of Quint. I'm crapping my pants on behalf of Bond... and that's a good thing.
The scene where Frau Blücher punches Nazi-Quint in the gut with brass knuckles is fantastic. Makes one laugh and say "aaawwwwyeahhh!" at the same time.

"'Bond'? Isn't zat a Jewish name?"
* Bond finally gets a suitcase that does more than carry documents. It does cool stuff. This, finally, qualifies as a gadget, and makes up for the lack of gadgets in Dr. No. It's also a kind of general gadget, like a Swiss Army Suitcase. It's not one of the gadgets that is painfully specific, and that coincidentally is exactly what Bond needs to get out of trouble. More on this later.

* There's some genuinely sexy moments between Bond and the Russian chick, and also some interrogation via the "smacking the bitch around a little" technique. I've always found this element to be very good for the James Bond character. It de-romanticizes him and lends credibility to 007.

* The whole SPECTRE thing starts to unfold, and that's exciting. It expands the Bond universe and hints to real ambitions concerning the film series.

* From Russia With Love is also about 20 minutes too long.
There's a pretty random sequence with the Gypsies that has a genuine WTF moment in it. Chick fights aren't always entertaining.
Also, there's a half-hearted North by Northwest ripoff that I don't care about (with a helicopter), and an equally unexciting boat chase.

* Scratch that - it's probably 30 minutes too long. The climactic train sequence is slow and boring. It doesn't really build up to Bond's fight with Nazi-Quint, as it should, it just drags on. If they just gave Bond a car already, he wouldn't have to travel by train like some hobo.

* The Train Fight is excellent, though. It looks real and intense, it uses the confined space brilliantly, Connery gets to use his obvious athleticism, and the two combatants seem evenly matched. It even ends in a nasty, gritty way.
You useless, untalented, upstart directors who feel you have to shake the camera around in every fight scene like the camera operator has cerebral palsy, you can all piss off and die. Or learn from this.
Jason Bourne my ass.

* There may be some lame scene with Frau Blücher and a knife shoe at the end of From Russia With Love, but I'm not sure. This whole movie is dead after that train fight anyway, and I don't care.
The second film is also, like Dr. No, a "valiant effort", in that it shows promise of something that may become cool at some point of time... but by itself, it's pretty bland. Some sex and one great fight, with lots of fluff around.
Better luck next time.

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