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Mark Stepanov
Mark Stepanov

007 From Russia With Love

A tantalizing espionage theme-park-ride. Flows from pulp to mystery and pleasurable thrills without a jarring moment. Bond movies often fall flat in their sexual tension, operating as forced depictions of their inherent misogyny masquerading as complicated gender dynamics, but this wrestles with the text and, at the least, knows when to embrace the nature of its own masculinity without collapsing into being about Bond as a Character. The opening credits, with the cast and crew names projected over sets of writhing bodies, heavily abstracted but never to the point of being incomprehensible (don't want to run the risk of ruining its main function: titillation) is pretty much dead-set on letting the viewer know exactly how it's operating. Super fun!

007 From Russia with Love

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Penned by James Bond veteran Bruce Feirstein, the game follows the storyline of the film, albeit adding in new scenes to make the game more action-oriented, as well as changing the affiliation of the main villains. Additionally, it features many elements of later James Bond films to recreate the feel of the era such as the Aston Martin DB5 that debuted in the 1964 film Goldfinger (1964) and the jet pack from the 1965 film Thunderball.[2] From Russia with Love is also notable in that it is the first video game to use Sean Connery's younger likeness as James Bond and the first to include all new voice work by the actor after 22 years off the role.[3]

Bond storms the adjacent Russian facility through the underground waterways and steals the plans for the consulate, escaping the cisterns by means of a stolen Russian jet pack. He meets up with Kerim Bey at the gypsy camp and fends off an attack led by Krilencu, during which a stealthy Red Grant saves 007 from narrowly being shot by the KGB operative. The round intended for Bond instead wounds Kerim, leading the pair to hunt down the fleeing Krilencu and kill him. When Bond returns to his hotel suite, he finds Romanova in bed waiting for him and discovers that the Lektor is locked in the consulate vault. She explains that she will meet him the next day at 12:45 in the consulate operations room, where she will provide him with the codes to the vault.

The following day, 007 arrives at the consulate and has Kerim's men create a distraction, allowing him to infiltrate the building. Bond meets up with the girl and the pair make their way to the consulate vault through waves of Soviet troops, who flood the consulate with gas to impede Bond's progress. Eventually they take the Lektor from the vault and, following a high-speed chase in one of Kerim's vehicles, the pair board the Orient Express. It is there that Red Grant gains 007's trust, posing as a British Secret Service operative sent by M to help, and boards the train. He shoots Kerim Bey in his compartment and proceeds to meet with Bond in the dining car. Grant holds him at gunpoint and explains Octopus' scheme to him. After failing to murder 007, Grant unleashes his men on Bond and escapes with Eva Adara and the Lektor device through the Zagreb train station. After a firefight, a defeated Grant stumbles onto the tracks, and is seemingly hit by a train.

Leaving Romanova in the protection of one of Kerim's sons, Bond follows Adara and the Lektor to a Soviet factory and smelting plant which is acting as a front for Octopus' operations. Stealing a jet pack from a downed Octopus pilot, Bond flies through the factory and demolishes the adjacent Octopus warehouses, eventually catching up with the fleeing Adara, who attempts to run him down on a motorbike. He knocks her from her bike and takes the Lektor from her, egressing from the facility in a stolen armoured car. Bond meets up with Tatiana shortly afterwards, pursued by Octopus operatives, and attempts to flee in a stolen patrol boat. The pair make it across the border and reach Venice. At their hotel, Rosa Klebb, disguised as a maid, attempts to steal the Lektor. She gets the drop on Bond, and holds him at gunpoint, but is hit around the head with the Lektor case by Tatiana. Dropping her sidearm, she attempts to kill Bond with a poisoned toe-spike, but ends up being shot by Romanova.

On April 5, 2005, Sean Connery was slated to lend his voice and likeness for the game. Connery said "As an artist, I see this as another way to explore the creative process. Video games are an extremely popular form of entertainment today, and I am looking forward to seeing how it all fits together".[6] In an interview with Eurogamer, Singer and songwriter Natasha Bedingfield described how Connery had recorded his dialogue from his home in the Bahamas, with Bedingfield recording her material at Signet Sound, Los Angeles.[7]

Many of the cast from the film, From Russia with Love, return in likeness. Sean Connery, the first official actor to portray James Bond in the EON Productions film series returned to the role for the first time in 22 years (previously the unofficial 1983 film, Never Say Never Again). Connery not only allowed for his likeness of Bond to be used (appropriately from the 1963 film), but also recorded all new voice work for the character. By the time of the game's production, he was one of the only surviving main cast members; Daniela Bianchi, also still alive, had retired from acting in the 1970s and her voice in the original film had been overdubbed anyway.

"From Russia with Love" deals with the defection of a beautiful Russian embassy employee in Istanbul who seeks political asylum in the U.K. in exchange for a Lektor decoding machine, an intriguing-sounding Maguffin that, as such, is of no further consequence. Her only other condition is for Agent 007 to be the one assigned to collect her in Turkey, claiming she has fallen in love with him through his photograph. Behind what the English see as an obvious trap from the Russians is SPECTRE's nefarious plan to pit the superpowers against each other. They provide Bond with an evil guardian angel of sorts to assist him in unwittingly accomplishing their own goals. Ian Fleming's original novel had the Russians from SMERSH playing the part of the manipulators and even though the film opened shortly after the Cuban Missile Crisis, it tried to downplay the political connotations by making chess master Kronsteen (Vladek Sheybal) the brains behind the scheme. The end result is still a Cold War thriller in the best sense of the word.

"From Russia with Love" has one of the most complex plots in the series, but despite its abundance of twists and turns, it is surprisingly easy to follow, unlike some in the later entries (case in point: the confusing opium, diamond and weapons trades between the Soviets and Afghan rebels in "The Living Daylights"). The story takes a while to be set up; it's almost twenty minutes into the movie before our (real) hero finally makes his appearance. There are plenty of witticisms uttered throughout but the picture is dead serious about its subject, and a sense of menace is present from its very first frame.

The movie successfully creates one of the rare instances in the series where Bond is put in a situation with no apparent, possible escape and even though its resolution is based on the always reliable "fallacy of the talking killer," director Terence Young gives it the intriguing facet of having our hero outsmarting Grant by resorting to his greed. He features what is surely the best fight scene in the series (and one of cinema's all-time greats) and it's all the more remarkable coming from the days when movie clashes were mere stylized exercises. Here for the first time you had two adversaries with an intense mutual hatred and a clear intent of causing damage with every vicious blow.

"From Russia with Love" is among the top Bonds, but I don't see it as the very best. Except for a truly dangerous helicopter chase (obviously inspired by Hitchcock's "North by Northwest") the rest of the action sequences aren't nearly as good as those in later entries. The gypsy cat fight is more laughable than anything else and I've never been terribly fond of the usual Bond battle sequences like the one taking place at their camp, with opposite teams facing one another in the fashion of the old Universal Studios stunt shows. After a while one tends to forget who's fighting who and for what purpose, especially since the players here aren't given the customary opposite-colored uniforms to distinguish one group from the other (Bond appears confused as well, attacking members of both sides).

Even though mild by today's standards, "From Russia with Love" was fairly controversial when it first opened. As kids, this was the one Bond movie we couldn't see until adulthood. It's curious that we have to go all the way back to the second entry in the series to find the closest thing to a nude scene. The film makes no excuses about portraying its title character as the true sexist that he is; we get to see him volunteering to select the more "gifted" of two gypsy women or playfully spanking his leading lady (and even slapping her to extract information). I'm not a big believer in the recent axiom that every Bond girl necessarily has to be his equal; some of the best female characters in the series have been played by the most beautiful women from their time, whose lines were often dubbed in post production (think Ursula Andress, Shirley Eaton and Claudine Auger).

"From Russia with Love" is an extremely taut entry and it has perhaps the best story among all Bonds, but "Goldfinger" is definitely the better all around feature. Ironically, the latter's influence eventually brought more harm than good. The magnificent depiction of megalomaniac Auric Goldfinger inspired the 007 producers to abandon the mold of the sinister Blofeld and to go instead with grandiose portrayals of the character that made him lose most of his edge. They ranged from the campy (Donald Pleasence), to the bland (Telly Savalas) and the plain absurd (Charles Gray) in what was surely the lamest period in the series. Instead of showing him as they do in "FRWL," finding perverse fascination in things like the duel of his Siamese fighting fish and uttering perverse lines like "let his death be a particularly unpleasant, humiliating one!", Blofeld eventually went the way of volcanoes for lairs ("You Only Live Twice") and dressing in drag for inexplicable reasons ("Diamonds Are Forever"), the kind of material that inspired the creation of Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers spoofs that doesn't really have anything with the characters we first got to see here. 041b061a72


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