|"Did I tell you about the time I was a rich man, James?"|
1) Oh, Lord...the sequences that bookend this film are brutal to watch. They’re so bad, so broadly performed, and so transparent in their purpose (particularly the big ‘Fuck You’ Broccoli throws to Kevin McClory in the pre-credit sequence) that they actively work against the mood this film is trying so hard to maintain...
2) ...as is, for that matter, the disco-fied score by Bill Conti. It’s woefully out of place in a Bond film, and actually actively reduces the tension in what are some effective action sequences. Imagining how the centerpiece ski chase would feel with a John Barry score only emphasizes how unsuitable these synth-heavy, rhythm propelled pieces are.
3) Even though there are still moments where the John Glen we know and loathe shine though (particularly the gratuitous slapstick and animal noises), his direction is uncommonly focused here. The choices he makes are more subtle and nuanced than the ones he makes in other films, and he shows a restraint that fits this film’s more grounded and, for lack of a better word, realistic orientation. It adds to the refreshing feel of the production as a whole.
4) Even though we are at a point where Roger Moore looks noticeably--some would say alarmingly--older than his leading ladies, the relationship that develops between him and Carole Bouquet’s Melina makes sense for a number of reasons. The script makes certain that Melina has plenty of screen time with Bond (more than a lot of other Bond Girls before and since) and gives her roles in both the plot and the theme that are integral. On top of that, Bouquet and Moore do have something of a chemistry that makes their relationship seem organic.
|There's no jokes about birds in this moment, no sir....|
5) This is one of the performances of Moore’s that gets me angry, as it gives us a hint of the Bond that could have been. Moore plays it more or less straight here, and it gives Bond a little bit of a harder edge. It’s the darkest Bond’s been since Moore threatened to break Maud Adams’ arm in The Man With The Golden Gun, and seeing this more serious interpretation welcome.
6) I like Topol’s Columbo quite a lot. In many ways he reminds me of Kerim-Bey in his lustiness and good humor. More importantly, he’s the most effective ally character we’ve had in a long time.
7) Go away, Lynne Holly Johnson. Just...go away.
|"Go away, little girl...."|
8) I know they’re not going to kill Bond, but the climactic set piece is extremely tense, most likely because of the lack of scoring. Because the music is at a minimum, we focus on Bond and his enemy and hear the creaking of the pitons and cord as Bond dangles miles in the air. It’s a show of restraint in an era that didn’t know what restraint means.
9) You know, when you’ve got Charles Dance’s Locke, who is an effective killer and, more importantly, somewhat anonymous-looking...why do you farm out your murders to a crazy-eyed, balding Cuban who might as well have ‘mad dog killer’ stamped across his forehead.
10) Considering how much I derided Thunderball for being scuba-tastic, I find the underwater sequences here rather engaging. Granted, part of that might be because they don’t take up all of the third act, and part of it might be because the script uses a lot of cutting edge (at the time) tech that gives them a particular flavor.
Overall...a pulling back from the excess of Roger Moore’s era, this film is actually pretty dark and engaging.