Thursday, 8 March 2012

Keep the love, I want a Lektor

No, not Hannibal from Manhunter, a crypto-typewriting-code-breaker-thing. I'll send my best man to pick it up, James Bond and you make sure that fit blonde bird drops it off. And there we have the basic premise for the best Bond ever.  And yet the pre-credit sequence sees Bond die.  Hang on, it was just a stooge in a face mask. Phew.

S.P.E.C.T.R.E., the evil bastards who Dr. No worked for have got the hump with Bond and want to set him up whilst making a few quid by stealing a Russian code machine (the lektor) and selling it back to them. The plan has been devised by a chess genius Kronsteen and an faceless, but frankly terrifying, Blofeld instructs evil lesbian Rosa Klebb to put the plan in action, keep an eye on her sensible shoes.  He even finds time to do an Attenborough impression regarding his Siamese fighting fish.  Apparently chess was sexy is the 60s as alluded to in a Manics video and Kronsteen's plan is seen as flawless. It just needs a nutter freshly escaped from Dartmoor and a pretty but easily manipulated blonde bird. Cue Donald 'Red' Grant and Tatanya Romanova.  Grant can take a punch to the gut and Tatanya doesn't like her hair being stroked.

After a meeting with 'Q' (he's not Major Boothroyd anymore) Bond trots off to Turkey with a suped up attache case and with a oversexed and likeable Karim Bey has a barney with some Bulgarians whilst having a party with some gypsies.  Proper gypsies with scratchy nails and spitting. None of the fake tanned Barbie shite you see on Channel 4.  It's about now that Red Grant develops a handy habit of saving Bond's life every now and then, just to make sure he gets his hands on the Lektor machine and an opportunity for a damn good fight on a train.  Grant has the relentlessness Arnie's Terminator and thankfully plenty of charm.

Bond challenges Russian pride by questioning their timekeeping before a limpet mine facilitates the acquisition of the Lektor. There's still half an hour or so left and Bond is already ready to escape. And what an escape route it is. With just one small obstacle; Red Grant.

The escape plan is a sleeper train through Eastern Europe towards Blighty and Bond's cover requires him (handily) to shack up with young Tatanya. On the way he is to rendezvous with a representative from Station Y who Grant eliminates and impersonates. To come is possibly the best death of a Bond villain ever. The tense standoff in the train cabin is great. Just the right balance of tension and jeopardy. The battle ebbs and flows before Bond prevails. If only Bond had questioned the choice of wine with the fish earlier.

Bond's escape plan is redesigned after Grant's exit and takes in a quite unexpected maritime battle. A S.P.E.C.T.R.E. henchman who looks suspiciously like a young Major Gogol takes charge of two ineptly crewed boats and Bond dispatches his foes with a flare and some tactical oil dumping. Simple and quite brilliant.  Bond is now firmly established as a character and rather than a sequel, From Russia with Love proves that he is worthy of a franchise.

James Bond will return, with some French nail varnish, a proper theme song and an attack on The Beatles.