The Spy Who Bored Me


Are you kidding me? This is supposed to be Roger Moore’s best outing as James Bond? The Spy Who Loved Me (’77) is not anyone’s best outing as anything. To say it’s glacially paced is to give glaciers a bad name. It’s so slow it makes Andrei Tarkovsky look like Baz Luhrmann. There is not a single interesting moment in this entire movie. I spent the last hour thinking about how badly my toenails needed trimming. Not a good sign.

Here’s the thing about James Bond movies. There are only three good ones. They are Dr. No (’62) and From Russia With Love (’63), both very good, and Goldfinger (’64), the best of them all. After that it’s just a matter of which suck less than the others. As far as I’m concerned, the only aspect worth considering in every one since Goldfinger, ninety-seven at last count (give or take), is entertainment value. Which has little to do with how “good” the movie is, where “good” is some measure of quality writing/directing/acting/etc. There is rarely anything very “good” about James Bond movies (the three named above being exceptions, at least partially).

an entire civilization is going to fit in here

an entire civilization is going to fit in here

That was the point of my recent post where I matched up the latest Bond snoozefest, Skyfall, with the one often cited as the dopiest of them all, Moonraker (’79). Turns out Moonraker, while being very dopey indeed, is insanely, hilariously entertaining. It followed quickly on the heels of the hugely successful The Spy Who Loved Me, and was widely considered a joke compared to its masterful predecessor. Maybe that was the case seen at the tail end of the ‘70s. But now? Now Spy has aged like eggnog.

Jaws shows up. He isn't funny.

Jaws shows up. He isn’t funny.

The problem is that while Spy is just as dumb as Moonraker, it makes the grave mistake of taking itself seriously. It pretends to be a real movie. It’s not a real movie. It’s a fucking James Bond movie starring Roger Moore. And so, imagining itself to be real, there are no abducted space shuttles, no race of superhuman sexy people, no plans to wipe out all life on Earth, no anything at all of interest. What we get instead is a semi-sexy Russian spy who teams up with Bond and travels around with him in an attempt to, well, what, exactly? To meet some people? Sort of? Because these two nuclear submarines have gone missing?

Get this: we don’t hear what the bad guy’s plan is until ninety minutes into this thing. Ninety fucking minutes! And what’s his plan? He’s going to blow up New York, thus allowing him to start a new civilization underwater. How exactly do those two things follow? Beats me. Earlier in the movie we get a glimpse of a model of his undersea utopia. It looks about as large and well-designed as your average Wyoming grade school, circa 1910.

I give up. I have no idea what draws anyone to this dud. If I’m going to watch a Roger Moore Bond movie, I want to see outer space laser battles, or at least evil Hervé Villechaize. That’s right, I’d take The Man With The Golden Gun (’74) over The Spy Who Loved Me in a heartbeat. At least it’s got Christopher Lee as the bad guy. And at least it’s gloriously stupid!


5 responses on “The Spy Who Bored Me

    • what i love about your comment is that i can’t tell if you’re appalled by my use of the word ‘sexy’ to describe a vacant-eyed model who can’t act, or if it’s the ‘semi’ you oppose, owing to her glowing, orb-like boobies.

  1. It is sad but true. Although I do think that Casino Royale (the latest one) is good. And there were moments in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service that weren’t ruined by what’s his name. But it’s been a long while.

    In terms of idiocy, it’s hard to beat From a View to a Kill and Live and Let Die.

  2. I wholeheartedly agree. Besides some of the usually fine cinematography featured, the ski-stunt intro is the only half-decent thing about the “The Spy Who Loved Me,” which quickly goes downhill from there. Truly the worst actor/actress of the entire series, Bach is vacant-eyed, indeed, and has no chemistry with Moore at all compared to other Bond girls like the more alluring Carole Bouquet in the superior “For Your Eyes Only” (as an example). Every engaging encounter between them, especially in the film’s closing scene, seems so contrived and unconvincing, where Bach’s masque-like face and weak acting ultimately represents the high-school production the whole thing actually resembles. Even Moore’s acting (facial expressions and reactions, especially) was substandard in comparison to him in his other movies in the series.
    The intrigue so integral in the best Bond films has gone missing in this one, and the only time I experienced a trace of suspense was as we viewed the missiles on the monitor narrowly missing each other after being launched towards the two warships.
    I certainly didn’t feel any such suspense during the scenes with the highly-touted Jaws doofus who, as a poor fighter and Dracula wannabe, projects next to no element of menace for me at all. And without a trace of tension, as if on the way to the beach, the lackadaisical way Moore and Bach slipped into the back of Jaws’ van before being driven out to the desert ruins was only eclipsed in inferior directing by the silly dinking around by Moore and Jaws within those ruins. Indeed, Jaws was used to much better effect in Moonraker!
    And while the Stromberg scenes nearing the climax rose a little above these disappointments, even they lacked the tension and dramatic gravity of many others in the series. I am utterly astounded at the favorable reviews of this film and have watched if for the last time.

Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man.

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