Many critics believe that The Spy Who Loved Me was laced with a love story. It was the only Bond film of the past to have one. I beg to differ. I watched closely to find any trace of love whatsoever between Bond and his Russian counterpart Anya Amasova (Barbara Bach) but I failed to see any of it. If Bond coming back to Atlantic to rescue her in the end was anything then it was simple professional courtesy for his counterpart who had walked all this while with him. Their chemistry never for once rises above what we have seen in the previous Bond films.
Anya was in love with another Russian agent whom Bond killed during one of his mission. By the time the film reaches its pinnacle, Anya learns of this secret and tells Bond that she will kill him but all too easily ends up in his arms. This sudden surrender of Anya even after Bond had saved her life, feels awkward and makes you feel pity for the man who thought her to be the true love of his life. Bond on the other hand is supremely confident and happy of the fact that his charm bedded another pretty girl and this time a Russian. He exclaims about the Briton superiority as the end credits roll with a pervasive smile. This one sequence feels shallow and unwanted in what otherwise turns out to be a superbly entertaining and beautiful adventure.
In his latest adventure Bond (Roger Moore) is tasked to find out a missing British nuclear submarine. At the same time the Russians who have also lost one of their nuclear submarines send in their own agent to track down who might have hijacked the vessel. Realizing this to be a situation which might require a joint effort, the Russians and English join hands to track down the vessels. Bond and Anya follow several leads through Egypt to track down a Marine Researcher who might be at the helm of the hijacks.
Karl Stromberg (Curd Jurgens) is a la Blofeld character with webbed fingers added for an effect, who disposes off his enemies by feeding them to sharks. He believes that the age of the world above water is over and one should find their refuge in The Atlantic. He has Jaws (Richard Kiel), a man with iron teeth, as his henchman. Jaws is sent after Bond and Anya to kill them off as Stromberg realizes that they may spoil his plans. This results in some interesting and climatic battles between them. The most interesting of the lot is the one in which Jaws rips apart a van with his bare hands before Anya and Bond drive off.
The film is complete with some breathtaking locales. The overhead shots of the many Egyptian building, showing bond enter and leave provide a pretty picture. Egypt is full of such ravishing architecture that very few countries can boast of and the cinematographer here makes most of what he has in hand. The gadgets make their presence felt yet again. This time we have a car that Bond rides straight into the sea where it transforms into an underwater boat and literally propels itself through the sea and back on the land where it transforms again into a car. Outrageous as it may be but it does look pretty on the screen. Oh! I forgot to mention that there is a sequence where it launches a torpedo overhead to shoot down a helicopter.
Barbara Bach is a picture of beauty. She looks the part and interestingly enough she has to act a lot more than any other Bond girl till that point of time. I have to admit that even if it was not exactly a love story, it surely was one of the first Bond films where Bond had to share his thunder with his female counterpart. Bach here shares almost equal screen time with Moore. Moore on the other hand is getting better and better with each Bond film. Here, in his third outing as Bond, he not only proves to be suave and a handful in terms of action, but also lets out just enough dramatics to make an impact in some of the scenes which needs him to do so. I thoroughly enjoyed his one on one with Bach. Richard Kiel as Jaws takes on the mantle set forth by Oddjob in Goldfinger. While Oddjob was a serious and dangerous adversary, Jaws is dangerous but has a comic charm to him. He is almost impossible to kill. He comes out of the most dangerous accidents tiding up his jacket.
Overall, The Spy Who Loved Me is good entertainment. It is reminiscent of the changes that Roger Moore and the gadgets brought to the Bond series. It may not be traditional Bond, but it entertains enough to keep you happy. The wonderful locales aided by some terrific cinematography, which renders such beauty to the sequences that you can literally save any moment as a desktop background, makes for some rewarding viewing. Watch this film for the action, entertainment and the visuals.