The Spy Who Loved Me stars Roger Moore, Barbara Bach, and Curd Jurgens and was directed by Lewis Gilbert. It tells the story of MI6 agent James Bond, played by Roger Moore, who must team up with Russian agent Anya Amasova, better known as Agent XXX, played by Barbara Bach, in order to stop an eccentric recluse from starting World War III. The Spy Who Loved Me is the tenth installment in the Bond franchise, Moore’s third time in the Bond role, and my first time truly loving the opening sequence of a Bond film. When I saw the initial underwater shots of a submarine, I was nervous and may or may not have experienced some PTSD flashbacks of Thunderball.
Luckily, dull aquatic gloom was nowhere to be found this time around and I was treated to a tight and intriguing story set-up. I was already on-board at that point, but there was even more greatness to come before the title sequence even began. A wonderful innuendo, the best ski chase of the series so far (set to cowbell-laden funk-tastic spy music), and an amazing, oft-imitated escape stunt. It may have taken three films, but I really think Moore hits his stride here. I’ll admit that I enjoyed him in Live and Let Die, but I wasn’t as big a fan of his second outing. Here, he balances the suave charm of Connery-era Bond with his own brand of well-timed humor to create a likable and entertaining James Bond.
Even at his crazier moments, he’s still incredibly likable. In one early instance, he cavalierly backhands a foe right off a roof, casually straightens his tie, looks over the edge, and tosses down a witty pun at the corpse below. And I still liked him. And it’s not just Moore who finds the right balance in this film, but also the filmmakers. The underlying plot follows the story beats of a more serious Bond movie, but The Spy Who Loved Me is a very humorous movie as well. It’s the right kind of entertaining, with just the perfect number of fantastical elements and characters (like Jaws) to make it fun, but not so many that the film becomes ridiculously over-the-top or loses focus.
There are some great gadgets too, including possibly my favorite in the series so far: the submarine car. In other Bond films, a prop like this could’ve easily fallen into eye-rollingly goofy territory, but here it really works. Not only is it legitimately cool, but the film recognizes the silliness and emphasizes it with a great scene involving the car’s reemergence from the water.
The primary threat of this film returns to the somewhat redundant villain-wants-to-start-WWIII-to-take-over-the-world plot that’s arisen many times in the franchise already, but the path it takes to deal with it is a little more original and Bond even gets to return to his Navy roots. We’ve seen deceitful and duplicitous Bond girls before, but this is the first time the Bond girl has been a proper spy. The semi-reluctant partnership between Bond and Agent XXX provides some unique character dynamics and playful tension throughout the film and it’s nice to have a strong female character in the series again, especially after the disappointing Goodnight in The Man with the Golden Gun. Alright let’s talk about the pros and cons. Pro number one is definitely the interplay between Bond and XXX.
It’s refreshing to have a strong female character in the franchise again and the competitors-turned-reluctant partners relationship offers us a unique character dynamic we’ve yet to see in the franchise before now. The two of them have some good chemistry that goes beyond Bond’s typical romantic charm and some revelatory plot points that emerge partway through the film offer an even more complicated relationship for us to sink our metallic teeth into. The second pro is how adventurous this movie feels. The Bond films have always been known for their globetrotting and exotic locations, but this one really feels like an action-adventure movie at points.
Egypt, Italy, submarines, trains, on the water, under the water. We’re all over the place in this one and all the locations feel fresh. On the cons side, my only real issue with this movie is how familiar the evil plot feels. It’s far from bad, but it’s definitely an only slightly altered, recycled version of what we’ve seen several times before in this franchise. And much like those other films, the third act does drag a bit in the sequences immediately before the finale. Like I said, it’s not bad, but it was a bit of a disappointment after the unique villainy of Scaramanga in the previous film. I’m gonna give The Spy Who Loved <e 4 out of 5 paws.
This is a really good Bond film that manages to combine and nearly perfectly balance the serious espionage story with Moore-era humor. I would recommend The Spy Who Loved Me to anybody interested in the Bond franchise. This is one of the best movies the series has to offer. If you’re looking for a solid story, it’s got it. If you want some of Moore’s trademark humor, it’s got it. If you want a great Bond girl and a memorable henchmen, it’s here. Cowbell in the soundtrack? Look no further. If you liked The Spy Who Loved Me, I would recommend the 11th Bond film, Moonraker. It’s widely regarded as one of the worst films in the franchise, but if you liked the character of Jaws and want to see some more of his shenanigans, you’ll probably enjoy that one.
If it was the villain and evil scheme you liked, you should check out the 5th Bond film, You Only Live Twice, which features a very familiar villain plan and another evil lair with killer fish. And if you’re interested in another legitimately good Bond movie, be sure to check out the 3rd film in the franchise, Goldfinger, for another great Bond girl and one of the best henchmen in the series. Alright, a couple questions for you guys. Number one: Have you seen The Spy Who Loved Me? If so, what’d you think of it? And number two: Which Bond villain has the best evil lair? Be sure to leave your answers in the comments below so we can get a discussion going.