Monday, 23 July 2012

Glang, glang-a-lang-a-lang, glang-a-lang

The most jingoistic titles ever?
Roger's third jaunt is Bond's tenth big screen outing. Except this isn't really a Bond film.  Having flirted with blaxploitation and kung fu in his past two outings Moore is now fully exposed to Carry On.... treatment.  At times this is a nonsensical sequence of set pieces loosely brought together by a tedious game of one upmanship between Moore and Mrs Ringo.  Looking back there's a horrible feeling that Bond is about to get left behind as summer blockbusters really take over.  We've already had Spielberg and Jaws and Lucas is about to spew out part one (four) of the Star Wars saga.

Alan Partridge might extol the virtues of The Spy Who Loved Me but to me it's the turning point for Moore's Bond.  And it's a turn for the worse.

The Spy Who Loved Me is a lighthearted faff around the desert and Europe which is in no ways taxing as Bond pursues the villains who have stolen a submarine tracking system.  If you close your eyes the pre credit sequence is practically a copy of You Only Live Twice. Have Eon and Cubby got so lazy, so quickly?  This, of course, comes before that parachute jump.  Hurtling towards the edge of the cliff you genuinely wonder what Bond will pull out of the bag.  The huge jump is breathtaking but, as now seems customary,  the tension is diffused with a tongue planted firmly in cheek as a massive Union Flag unfurls.  We'll let them off though as Carly Simon belts out a bloody great theme tune.

Right stop listening to Carly, one of our submarines is missing!  So Bond pops on his commanders' uniform and heads for M.  With the help of a roll of cling film, Inspector Wexford and the soon to be exceptionally annoying Minister of Defence, it's established that someone has mastered a way to track nuclear submarines.  Quelle surprise the indications are that the system will be sold to the highest bidder. But what's this? The Russians have lost a nuclear sub as well? Bummer.  Up steps Triple X.  The Russian equivalent of Bond is a lady and it just so happens we've already seen Bond dispatch her uber hairy lover.  It's not long before our competing heroes cross one another's path as they seek out the buyer.  After a run in with Jaws and a sleepy cigarette the two are put on a joint mission.

This is where Bond makes one of his classic mistakes.  He takes the train.  AGAIN.  Will he ever learn?  After From Russia With Love, after Live And Let Die here he is again on a choo choo.  I give it five minutes before it kicks off.  Oh look, Jaws was in the wardrobe (somehow he fit.)  The toothy bastard has hands bigger than Moore's head and yet still ends up out the window.  Nothing like a train based dust up to help Bond do away with foreplay.

We arrive in Sardinia as the pair target Stromberg and meet Q.  Or is it Q?  He's in the field and yet not wearing one of his ludicrous shirts and what's this? A Lotus Esprit?  It had better be decent or I'm going to petition for the Aston Martin.  Now we get into silly season.  The helicopter.  The massive War of the Worlds Martian base Stromberg lives in.  The inexplicable and endless supply of goons appearing from nowhere to chase Bond.  All completely devoid of tension.  Curt Jurgens tries to be menacing and a little sinister as Stromberg but it's hard to look passed the fact he just sits around a lot pressing the odd button.  It's as if he was cast for his voice more than anything else.

Goons submarines have to be yellow. Them's the rules
Turns out the Lotus can swim.  This can mean only one thing.  Baddies in yellow submersibles and a slow motion underwater fight!  Hurrah!  The updating of Thunderball, punctuated by Moore's bizarre 'brace yourself', is all a little tiresome.  Cue amusing drive up the beach.Punter checks his bottle of vino and kids queue up for a fish.  No sign of Mr Whippy just yet.

Mind you, we haven't had the fucking pigeon yet so count your blessings.

In all the splashing about you'd forget there was some espionage going on.  A buxom reminder is delivered as we find out that Stromberg's massive tanker has never put into port.  This can only mean one thing.  That big ship is eating submarines.  Is that being a little presumptuous?  No, I've seen You Only Live Twice so I know how this works.  If only there was a way for Bond to get aboard that tanker.  Why not drop in on an American submarine and see if it gets eaten?  Everyone needs a hobby.  Now we just need to storm the volcano lair.  Cunningly disguised as Stromberg's massive tanker the volcano lair is everything you'd expect. Chock full of random barrels of oil, fully equipped with an armoury to supply any and all imprisoned sailors or soldiers and including an impenetrable control room.  THERE'S EVEN A MONORAIL.  Many henchmen in Star Trek red are dispatched as Bond sets about foiling Stromberg's dastardly plan.  His plan to wipe out the world in nuclear holocaust and live beneath the sea is a little deluded.  Surely most of the nuclear fallout will end up poisoning the seas and making his new civilisation a prison?  Obviously details like this aren't high on a megalomaniacs agenda.

Bond has time for a quick game of Operation! before he rescues Triple X via jet ski.  Stromberg's demise is almost as pointless as the rest of his performance thus far, the last battle being left for Jaws.  Being mindful of his surroundings sees Bond triumph and Jaws plunge into a shark pool.  It's not quite a pressurised air pellet but then Jaws isn't dead.  Sarcasm dictates that I can't wait to see hm again.  I miss the days when the Russians and S.P.E.C.T.R.E. were the baddies.

Triple X is a woman. Do you get that now?

The Spy Who Loved Me has set the stall for the foreseeable future.  Bond films must now be full of gadgets and breathtaking, if implausible stunts. God forbid a story will help the franchise compete with Hollywood's cheesiest summer blockbusters.  Moore has definitely peaked already as Bond and the slide into torpor continues.  The 1970s really are becoming Bond's lost decade and they're not over yet.

James Bond will return, and it's ALL George Lucas' fault.