Anthony's Film Review
From Russia With Love (1963)
The second of Sean Connery's James Bond movies is a nice Cold War thriller...
From Russia With Love is a notable film not just because of a great plot and characters but also for its political context. I have read the original Ian Fleming novel and think that it's a brilliant Cold War thriller novel. I can see why U.S. President John F. Kennedy loved this book so much. Now, it is true that the film version features SPECTRE as the villainous organization instead of the Soviet execution organization SMERSH, but it is still a story about a clever psychological blow to Western intelligence. Since this came out during the Cold War, it is easy for the audience to be frightened by the possibility that it could really happen.
But back to the film itself. Sean Connery maintains the seriousness and charm from his first performance as 007. Like the character of Quarrel from Dr. No, Kerim Bey makes a wonderful character as a friend and ally of Bond. As for the Bond girl, Tatiana Romanova is both seductive and innocent as she is unaware of the plot she gotten herself into. The villains, of course, are memorable here, from Rosa Klebb and Donald Grant to Kronsteen and Blofeld. All the necessary characters for a Bond film are seen here.
The action is pretty good for a film of its time. The gypsy camp gun battle is a real exciting one to watch. In between the action, though, are plenty of good scenes that drive the story forward and develop the characters. Of all the action scenes, the fight scene between Bond and Grant on the train is truly worth the price of admission. It's actually considered one of the best fight scenes ever captured on film.
While this isn't the Bond film that really made Bond gadgets a standard for the series, there are still a few neat things that Bond uses. His standard-issue briefcase, with hidden ammunition and gold sovereigns, is something that anyone would love to have. The sniper rifle, too, comes in handy for 007. Speaking of which, this is the first film in which Desmond Llewelyn appears as Major Boothroyd from Q Branch. Only after this film will he be forever known as the letter Q.
There is plenty to like about this movie: the plot, suspense, characters, and action. It's all here. This is also the second and last James Bond film that Ian Fleming had seen before his death in 1964. Fleming himself, from what I have read lately, did not like the film adaptation of Dr. No, but with this second Bond movie, it looks as if he came to accept Sean Connery as James Bond. The film, overall, was a successful attempt to be bigger and better than its predecessor. To this day, it remains a notable entry in the series among Bond fans.
For more information about From Russia With Love, visit the Internet Movie Database.
In addition, check out my reviews of the following:
Official James Bond Films
Unofficial James Bond Films