Thursday, January 1, 2015

Review: On Her Majesty's Secret Service

This James Bond excursion is a slightly surreal deposits from the usual bond fare. I don't think I've ever seen an equally sedentary portrayal of the famous globe trotter. I think he visits a total of three locations. I may be wrong, this movie lacked the usual clarifying title cards. Those departures noted this film did cover most of the expected  Bond tropes some in particularly glorious fashion.
So, confessions up front, I probably should have done some research before starting the "Watch All of James Bond" part of this project. I had intended to watch them in order. Then, right out of the gate I reached for the wrong movie. On well. According to people who know these things Dr. No is the first bond movie. I, thinking that surely Sean Connery wouldn't have taken a break midway through his tenure, assumed that this must have come first. Well, he took two breaks, so there's my assumption going wrong. So, as a result, I'm going to watch them all in order except this one which I'm kinda glad I got out of the way.
On Her Majesty's Secret Service opens with Bond in some seaside/tropical location. Perhaps it's said explicitly where they are (Portugal according to Wikipedia), if so I missed it. Bond is driving his car down a coastal road when he's overtaken by a beautiful woman in a red car. He continues down the coast to a point where her car is pulled off to the side of the road overlooking the beach. Here he meets Tracy (Diana Rigg). Who is trying to kill herself by walking into the sea until Bond saves her and then gets into a fight with some guys for no real reason. 
Tracy's uncle is a crime lord who apparently finds it charming when prospective sons in law beat up loads of his employee, which he does a few times before managing to actually meet the guy. From there the story takes us to Bond doing some actual research to use a connection between Tracy's dad and Ernst Blofeld (this connection in no way damages Bond's romantic interests in Tracy). Eventually he decides his best course of action is to pretend to be a gay representative of the London College of Arms. This totally makes sense. At least everyone he runs into seems to think so. He pulls his best "Superman being Clark Kent" act. You know, when Clark goes out of his way to not be able to do things or be amazed about things that Superman has done. 007 spends extra time establishing how he isn't sporty or physically fit. 
Suddenly, he arrives at his destination via sledge and helicopter and cable gondola. The destination in question turns out to be a fancy and remote complex in the Swiss alps which is chock full of hot babes. Finally! The perfect location for a Bond movie! We spend a little time here before blowing the whole place up and finally living up to the movie's promise. In a masterstroke Blofeld and Bond manage to get into fights on skis and bobsleds. This part of the movie is awesome and exactly what I thought the rest of the movie was going to be. In fact this bit is exactly what all of the bond movies should be. Blofeld's underground lair is like a parody of a bond movie. The brainwashed hot chicks as weapons who are all desperate to get in Bond's pants (and kilt). 
After the exciting conclusion there's another bit of movie. Bond gets married and then, as they drive away, Blofeld drives by out of nowhere and shoots the car killing Tracy. This would be devastating if it were set up for the audience to invest in. One certainly might care about this odd tag along ending. I wasn't compelled to. 
This movie has some great elements. If you thought the Austin Powers movies were a fun parody of Bond Tropes this movie will (for the second half) completely reward you with over the top fights, stunts and locations. All told, this is a good start to my bond watching. Blofeld is in it. Bond sleeps with several hot chicks. There is a remote mountain location with rotating rooms and an underground lair. For what more could one ask?

1 comment:

  1. Would you say Diana Rigg did a good job with what she was given with? I've never seen a film she was in where I didn't enjoy her performance, but it seems like this movie dropped the ball on making her plotline emotionally relevant?