REVIEW: From Russia with Love (1963)

from_russia_with_love_xlgJames Bond (Sean Connery) is caught up in between the Russians and the British as SPECTRE lays a cunning web all to get their hands on a Soviet encryption device and to get their revenge on Bond for his actions in Dr. No (1962).

From Russia with Love is action-packed, fast-paced and has a bigger scope than its predecessor. There scenes in Venice, Istanbul and London, there’s boat chases, helicopters shooting at trucks and better fight scenes. I especially liked the fight scene between Bond and Donald “Red” Grant (Robert Shaw) in a train carriage – it’s tense and claustrophobic and feels like something that could have been filmed today.

Grant is a SPECTRE agent put on to James Bond’s trail and he is like the dark to Bond’s light. They both wear very similar grey suits but while Bond is dark haired, Grant is blonde. There’s a scene towards the end where Grant is almost mirroring Bond’s movements and it shows how alike they are yet they work for the opposite sides – the phrase two sides of the same coin comes to mind.

SPECTRE has a bigger presence in From Russia with Love and even has the first appearance of Blofeld – though you never see his face, just his chest as he strokes his white cat in his arms. With SPECTRE as well as the British and Russians, from Russia with Love is very much a Cold War thriller.

I really liked Ali Kerim Bey (Pedro Armendáriz), the Turkish station head who helps out James Bond. He was funny and competent but I hope the rest of the older Bond films don’t kill off Bond’s allies (who happen to be people of colour) like I’ve seen so far in From Russia with Love and Dr. No.

From Russia with Love is bigger and bolder than Dr. No and builds on the James Bond-lore – there’s a very cool, gadget-y briefcase this time. 5/5.

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