After defeating the nefarious Dr. No, James Bond is back in action in From Russia with Love, which is debated as the best of the series alongside Goldfinger. Sean Connery returns to the role of 007 to face SPECTRE once again with agents avenging the death of Dr. No while attempting to get a cryptographic device from the Soviets to use for their own personal deeds. SPECTRE’s top man, Number 1 aka Ernst Stavro Blofled, enlist ex SMERSH (Death to Spies) agent Number 3 Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya) to head out the mission. Klebb decides upon the assassin Red Grant (Robert Shaw) and the breathtaking cipher clerk Titania Romanova (Danielle Bianchi). M calls upon James Bond to escort Romanova via the Orient Express from Instanbul, but isn’t aware of Romanova involvement of the vengence plot by SPECTRE. Before then, Bond teams up with Ali Kerim Bey (Pedro Armendáriz) to investigate SPECTRE even further. After a bombing at Kerim Bey’s office, they seek refuge at a gypsy camp where Red Grantand the Soviets catch up with them, with James Bond saving the gypsies from peril.
Bond returns to his hotel he is staying at to find Romanova lying naked in bed, waiting for Bond to ‘bed’ her down. Romanova quickly falls for Bond and endangers SPECTRE’s plans and Bond’s life as the travel on the Orient Express. Red Grant soon finds Bond on the train and corners him. Grant attempts to open a suitcase he believes has the information he needs which is in fact a trap as tear gas blows in his face, leading to a fight between Grant and Bond. Bond and Romanova soon escape and head into Venice, hijack a vehicle, fight against a helicopter, and then enter a boat chase ending in a pure blaze of fire and glory. Foiling the plot and retiring to a hotel to relax, Rosa Klebb appears in the room ready to attack until Romanova tackles her down and kills her. Bond and Romanov are last seen ready to make love on a gondola ride through Venice.
I really did not want to give much away in the synopsis above because this is truly a step up from Dr. No and is even better than its predecessor. The moments in this film are something to be experienced. The gypsy fight leading to the Soviets attacking, the boat chase to Venice, and the fight between Red Grant are some of the best cinema moments that will make you cheer for Bond. They are the definitions of action at it’s finest with great cinematography and a sense of adventure. The theme for the film comes at the end, which may seem odd for a Bond feature, but the theme is a perfect love themed end cap to a perfect film.
The romance between Bond and Romanova is believable than Ryder and Bond’s romance from before. Bianchi plays Romanova with such grace and seductiveness and may very well be my favorite Bond girl (for now). Robert Shaw as Red Grant is quite astounding as a silent menace with as much poise and suaveness as Bond that you can’t help but believe him. Lotte Lenya is great in her role and dominates a presence of fear throughout, just like Dr. No. Blofled isn’t seen, but you can see him as the foil to M ready to seek revenge on MI6 and Bond. Q, played by Desmond Llewelyn, finally appears in a small part to set a long career of playing one of the most love characters in the series. Q provides Bond with his gadget filled suitcase and a secret sniper rifle, which is my personal favorite Q provides him in the film.
Everything I can say about From Russia with Love has already been said. It is a fantastic film and a true classic. I even have to admit that it may not just be the best films in the series, but possibly one of the best films made in the action genre. From Russia with Love is filled with the classic thrills of Bond, menacing villains, and a quick pace plot that never gets boring.
Assignment Status: 5 out of 5
Next time, Bond goes on to investigate an gold magnate by the name of Auric Goldfinger as he plans to attack Fort Knox. In a mission filled with car chases, high stakes golf, and Pussy Galore, the Bond franchises becomes what it is today.
Next assignment: Goldfinger