If you had to pick one expression to sum up Sir Roger Moore’s time as James Bond then it’d be ‘from the sublime to the ridiculous. And no film in Moore’s 007 tenure embodies this more than The Spy Who Loved Me (1977).
The opening scene, where 007 skis down a mountain pursued by Russian spies, is quintessential Bond. The action choreography is excellent, the location stunning, and it all ends with the legendary cliff jump stunt and an unfurling Union Jack parachute. (What the seventies disco soundtrack adds is not clear, but never mind.)
The trouble is, the scene is bookended by end-of-the-pier inspired smut, terrible gadgets (a label printing digital watch) and some awful wardrobe choices (with his day-glo yellow ski-suit Moore looks uncannily like Bob the Builder).
While Die Another Day, with its invisible cars, kite-surfing hero, and face-changing villains, is commonly thought to be the most ludicrous Bond outing, they should perhaps take another look at TSWLM.
Lest we forget, the film’s super-villain is plotting to destroy the world so he can live at the bottom of the ocean. Bond is only able to avert disaster through use of an underwater car and hanky-panky with a Russian spy codenamed Triple XXX (ooh, err missus!). Preposterous barely covers it.
Exploding helicopter action
Still, we have a unique and well-executed rotor-related combustion to enjoy. Stromberg, the villain, orders Bond and Triple XXX to be killed. They flee in a Lotus Esprit pursued by a motorbike with a detachable exploding sidecar. After our heroes despatch these henchman the chase is taken up by a shiny chopper piloted by Caroline Munro (Phwoar!).
At one point, she flies alongside Bond’s Lotus which gives Moore the opportunity to raise an eyebrow. Suddenly, the road runs out so Bond drives straight off a jetty into the sea. At this point, the Lotus Esprit turns into a mini-submarine.
TSWLM scores well here, I must say. With the delicious Munro hovering above the sea in a low-cut dress looking for the Lotus Esprit, Moore decides it’s “time to get rid of an uninvited guest”.
Activating the car’s weapons system, he fires a rocket out of the underwater Lotus and turns poor old Munro into a fireball.
The explosion is meaty and the director resists the temptation to have the chopper turn into a million pieces. Instead, there’s a decent fireball, and lots of smoke before it disappears from view.
Exploding helicopter innovation
Well, destroyed by an underwater car. What more can I say?
No. of exploding helicopters
Earlier in the film Stromberg establishes his megalomaniac credentials by bumping off a couple of businessmen.
They board their helicopter to fly away from Stromberg's lair, unfortunately he’s planted an explosive in their chopper. It all seems unnecessarily elaborate. Then again, I guess you don't want to over feed a shark.
The end credits state that James Bond will return in ‘For Your Eyes Only’. While he did ultimately return in this film, Bond’s next adventure was ‘Moonraker’ which was rushed out to capitalise on the popularity of ‘Star Wars’. Oh dear.