Time: 125 Minutes
Age Rating: Violence
Roger Moore as James Bond
Barbara Bach as Major Anya Amasova
Curt Jürgens as Karl Stromberg
Richard Kiel as Jaws
Director: Lewis Gilbert
After the Royal Navy Polaris submarine carrying sixteen nuclear warheads mysteriously disappears, James Bond (Roger Moore) teams up with Major Anya Amasova (Barbara Bach) whose lover he had killed in Austria.
I had been rewatching the Roger Moore James Bond films, and it didn’t start the best. I found Live and Let Die to be a rather dull and disappointing introduction for Moore’s Bond, and while The Man with the Golden Gun was more entertaining, it was very messy and made some baffling decisions. However I was looking forward to rewatching The Spy Who Loved Me since many people did say it’s the best Bond movie starring Roger Moore. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked the film.
The story is much better compared to the last two, it’s actually great. From beginning to end it keeps you riveted, with not a single dull moment. The plot is much larger in scale and occasionally it gets complicated but I was always on board with what was happening. Something it got right over the previous two movies was its tone. Tonally, it is consistent and has the right blend of elements. It has a coherent spy thriller plot that you are invested in and a fair amount of tension. At the same time, there’s a quite a lot of goofiness, and it was the right amount. Not only that but the comedy and gags are very well executed. Above all else, it knows what kind of movie it is, and is very confident in that. To a degree it is predictable and follows the Bond formula as you would expect, but it is well executed and still feels refreshing. The film is just over 2 hours long and that was the right length, helped by the great pacing.
Roger Moore here finally clicked for me as James Bond. It seems that the writers and directors figured out what they wanted to do with this interpretation of the character. He’s not just a more comedic Sean Connery, Moore really makes this role his own. He is witty and charming, but can play it seriously when he needs to. He still has a problem with not looking believable in the fight scenes, but I can overlook that here when he’s fantastic otherwise. Barbara Bach is the Bond girl as a KGB agent that Bond teams up with, the two of them have believable chemistry and the two characters are shown to be equally matched. Their dynamic was one of the highlights of the film. The weakest part of the movie is the villain, Curt Jurgens as Karl Stromberg, who was a very stiff and average antagonist. He makes a strong impression in his first scene and his plan is certainly memorable with him wanting to create an underwater society. However the character overall is not fleshed out or memorable enough. Thankfully the henchman more than makes up for it, that being Jaws as played by Richard Kiel, one of the most iconic Bond henchmen. He’s a silent towering force with metal teeth, constantly popping up to pose a significant physical threat to Bond.
The direction from Lewis Gilbert is polished and spectacular. It’s a great looking movie too, with dark and stylised cinematography, and the set design is fantastic. The action is great, beginning with a memorable pre-title sequence with Bond in a downhill ski chase and continuing to deliver memorable action scenes all the way through to the end. The stunts and set pieces are bigger and better, and the practical stunts are solid. Even the special effects work is great. The musical score from Marvin Hamlisch is great, and the Bond theme song in “Nobody Does it Better” from Carly Simon is iconic.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Spy Who Loved Me. It has an engaging and fun story, great action set pieces, and Roger Moore was a great James Bond. Very likely one of the best films of the whole franchise.