From Russia with Love is a 1963 Bond film directed by Terence Young and starring Sean Connery and Daniela Bianchi. It is according to critics one of the very best in the franchise and I have to agree as it is an improvement over its predecessor.
The story is again too complicated to explain, but unlike ‘Dr. No’, it is later on pretty easy to understand and even too simplistic at times. But what is great is that it is always engaging and purely entertaining. As for the entertainment factor, it is a lot more interesting than the original and that is what drives this movie as it flies by quickly. I like that the beginning is not that convoluted and difficult to understand as in the earlier film and I like the conclusion which is so effervescent and a very satisfying finale.
The characters are here better developed. Bond is still shallow, but he is much more aggressive and sexually charged here which is both good and bad. It gives him much needed character development and realism, but it is still very annoying to watch this sexually fused man as well as women that somehow all want to be with him. Speaking of the girls, Tatiana is pretty forgettable and she is too much obsessed with James to the point of being rather obnoxious. But the villains are great here and much better than our protagonists. Red Grant is superb as this very capable villain and I absolutely loved their fight near the end as they finally present us a worthy villain who gives Bond quite a beating which I really appreciated. Klebb is also very memorable, too theatrical, but still a capable woman and the best female character in From Russia with Love for sure.
In this picture, the highlights are naturally the locations and action. The locations are marvelous – from Istanbul to Orient Express to Venice. It is one of the most appealing to the eye movies as it is stuffed with great cities. The set pieces are absolutely amazing, they recreated perfectly the locales along with the action. This movie sets an example of how to do action. It is fun and because they actually shot them on the spot, it is very realistic. There are a bunch of memorable action sequences here, from the helicopter chase scene to the boat chase to the train fight. They are perfectly executed and purely entertaining. However, the helicopter chase is too much a rip-off of the same scene in ‘North by Northwest‘. I know that they intended it to be an homage, but they failed at that as it is too similar and not as good as in that classic movie. Also, the action gets overwhelming from time to time which is unfortunate as the original had just the right amount of it, but here there is too much.
The cinematography is splendid with a lot of iconic imagery. The pacing is mostly good and, apart from too prolonged action scenes, it is mostly nicely edited and rarely dull or too fast-paced which is a problem that bothered the previous feature. The acting is solid as is the directing from Young. The score is once again superb and the realism is evident. I did not like the approach with characters that is too stereotypical in nature. I was not a fan of its sexual approach as it was at times too sexual. I dislike strongly his machismo and the girls’ obsession with him, I find all of it rather annoying and unrealistic. But it is mostly comedic in tone with some amusing lines. And the humor overall in this movie is much more present which was refreshing to see. Comparing it to ‘Dr. No‘, From Russia with Love is in some respects weaker, but it is mostly a much better film and an improvement especially in the areas of cinematography, locations, characters and action.
From Russia with Love has some amusing humor, superb locations, excellent villains, terrific cinematography and action that is executed wonderfully, memorable and entertaining. It is too sexual at times, the action can get overwhelming and some choices are quite annoying, but it is mostly a very entertaining and fun film that is very appealing to the eye and it is definitely an improvement over its predecessor, especially in set pieces and action execution.