Ahhhhhh…the first James Bond movie. Back to the beginning. I remember watching this when I was much younger, yet a good 20-30 years after it had originally come out. This was not the first Bond movie I saw, and it took me a while to see all of the Sean Connery iterations. See, I grew up in the Roger Moore era. It was a fun era, filled with crazy gadgets, that Jaws fella, and an excessive use of goofiness (reference “Tarzan” audio played during the jungle chase scene in “Octopussy”). Needless to say I loved them. Then, possibly catching the Connery ones on TV or maybe through the parents rental capabilities I caught some of the Connery films, most likely “Goldfinger”. As I got older, and with each subsequent Bond release, I felt a pressing need to see all of the Bond films. While I always had an appreciation for all Bond movies and, in particular, thought Sean Connery was awesome, there was a decided disadvantage to action films created in the sixties versus…well…anything else I was watching in the ’90s. For those movies to withstand the test of time, there would have to be much more to the film than “impressive for the time” action sequences. Remarkably, there was.
The best thing they did was casting Sean Connery and developing how the character of James Bond was to be acted. In the Connery era, James Bond was ridiculously arrogant, always in control, and violent on occasions. While his fighting prowess was certainly put on display, the movies focused more on the stealthy maneuvers and his clever tongue. “Dr. No” was well-written in that regard. Several times in the movie he would talk circles around his suspects catching them in lies, but always playful in a way to never call them out on it so as to be able to use them later to catch bigger fish.
The story itself was an excellent start to the franchise. An agent has gone missing in Jamaica. James Bond has been sent in to discover what happened to him. In his discovery process, he begins to uncover something much bigger than a missing agent. He has to unravel a mystery while avoiding being killed to save the day.
The action falls short. In some sequences, it would almost be better if they had just eliminated the action. Not their fault. They used what they had at the time. However, my donut review system can be cruel and unforgiving and cares nothing for their resource shortcomings. It only sees some fairly ridiculous action sequences (not ridiculous in that many things James Bond does is seemingly impossible, but ridiculous in how badly it looked on film) and turns movie enjoyment into head-shaking groans.
Still, despite this brutal shortcoming (it was designed as a mystery/action movie after all), the enjoyment of watching this crazy master spy throughout is undeniable and his charisma is enough to come back a few more times.
David Stampor will return in his review of “From Russia With Love”.
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