It’s time for some more James Bond action. I would even say this was probably the strongest James Bond film from the originals up to this point. It’s fairly close I suppose and it does fall into most of the usual issues but gives us a lot of new landscapes and some pretty thrilling moments. The new Bond actor also did fairly well even if he couldn’t match up to the original.
The movie starts pretty quickly as Bond attacks a few enemy agents but is promptly defeated as they run off. Fortunately he is able to save the lady known as Tracy before she drowns. It turns out she is the daughter of the rich criminal Draco. Bond isn’t interested in taking this guy down though. He just wants to defeat Blofeld, the leader of Spectre. As long as he gets that information then he will overlook this other crime lord. Draco agrees to help Bond find Blofeld as long as Bond takes Tracy as his wife. Bond has completed many missions in his day but can he pull this one off?
Now while that is the main plot, the film is long enough where a great deal more happens along the way. For starters, Blofeld runs a clinic where he helps people get over their phobias. He seems to have an incredible success rate so obviously there is a catch. Bond goes undercover in order to get to the bottom of this and bring Blofeld down. I wouldn’t say it’s his best plan though. For one thing, I didn’t even get exactly what he was pretending his phobia was until the other characters started bringing it up. He flirts way too much for anyone to have bought that as he doesn’t even act all that different with the gang.
Yes, all of the patients are ladies of course so that means Bond will be having a good ole time there. As always he does tend to lower his guard as a result too. Bond may be known as the best agent on the planet but the guy gets suckered a whole lot. Blofeld’s main ally gets the jump on Bond…and she’s an old lady. Prepare for a whole lot of losses here.
Additionally as a character it’s still difficult to really root for Bond at all. Keep in mind that part of the big deal with this film is the whole marriage plot. Yet, he is still going around having affairs with everyone. Never for a moment do you think it’s possible that he will actually stay faithful here. I doubt he would even last a few hours and would probably start messing around with everyone right away. Bond just isn’t the loyal type.
Meanwhile Blofeld looks good here. His plan may be on the rather crazy side but it does veer into the territory of “so crazy that it actually works” so you have to give him some credit here. It’s hard to believe how it works but he does hold his own. He does fall into the classic trap of constantly letting Bond live just to rub his victory in the guy’s face though. That always comes back to bite him.
His subordinate Bunt also gets a big role here. She talks tough to Bond the whole time and is always one step ahead. Blofeld may come up with the plans but she is the one putting them into motion which takes a good amount of skill on its own. She’s quite the memorable villain as a result. She may not be a fighter but she always has a gun at the ready.
As for Tracy, she’s a good heroine. She can actually fight which is always handy such as when she grabs a broken glass bottle and actually fights off one of the henchmen. She has a strong personality and refuses to be used as leverage in any kind of deal. She’s always got a sharp comeback and would easily rank as one of the best heroines in the Bond series.
This film is famous for its ending but in case you are not familiar with it I won’t mention that here. Needless to say, it’s a pretty intense ending that you really don’t see coming. One character even goes insane temporarily because this is so much of a shock. After this film you could definitely see things getting really personal for all of the characters. Without this ending the Bond series may have really gone in a different direction with the franchise. It certainly has the most lasting impact out of all the films.
The action scenes in the film are good as always. We get a lot of shootouts as well as hand to hand battles. Some of the opponents even give Bond a really good run for his money. We have chase scenes as well both on cars, skis, and on foot. It wouldn’t be a proper James Bond adventure without all of that stuff right? The movie is long but it doesn’t drag on due to how much is going on. The story itself is strong as well. Bond even has a sidekick in this one although naturally things do not go very well for him at all.
As for the negatives though, the film has a ton of romance and affair type scenes that don’t work well. Again, you can’t take Bond’s romance seriously at all because you know he will cheat on her the very next chance he gets. It’s not as if this is his first serious romance either. The last one just ended up with the heroine getting poisoned to death and even in that film he had been cheating on her the whole time. Bond’s just not the kind of guy you can really trust in a relationship so any romance would be doomed to fail.
It also undermines him as an agent since the villains are able to use this against him. Bond’s always one step behind. If the films would cut down on the affairs they would be so much better. It would also result in a more likable cast. Right now the supporting characters have to try and hold the film together since Bond himself can’t stack up.
Overall, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is the best of the Bond films from the originals up to this point but that may not be saying a whole lot. It had some interesting ideas like Bond finally quitting M16 but that gets overturned so quickly it may as well not be a true plot point. It would make for a good story if in one film he is framed so he has to escape M16 while proving his innocence. In the meantime if you want a really solid secret agent film, I would defer you to Mission Impossible.