HLS Review Briefs: All-Bond Edition

BY MATT JUSTUS

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If you’re like me, you probably spent your Thanksgiving break, when not eating pie or slipping into a tryptophan-induced coma, watching Spike TV’s James Bond marathon (yet still somehow not managing to see a single movie from start to finish). Said marathon, along with the release of Casino Royale, means you get a few reviews of Bond films I have made it all the way through.

Dr. No (1962)Starring: Sean Connery, Ursula Andress, Joseph WisemanDirector: Terence YoungIn the first Bond film, based on creator Ian Fleming’s sixth novel, British agent James Bond is sent to Jamaica to investigate the disappearance of another agent, gaining the help of CIA agent Felix Leiter and a local girl named Honey Ryder along the way. The search takes him to the mysterious island of Crab Key, where a metal-handed madman named Dr. No plans to sabotage American missile launches out of Cape Canaveral.This film really set the pace for the rest of the series, as it introduced a formula for good action-thrillers that has been sustained more or less consistently for nearly forty-five years. Bond represented a departure from prior movie heroes played by people like John Wayne – he works for good, but in a morally ambiguous way (represented in this film through the casual murder of a helpless foe). Further, he smokes, gambles, drinks like a fish, and sleeps with nearly every beautiful woman that he meets, and is absolutely unrepentant about any of this. Basically, he is a sociopath with a love for his country. This character archetype has become immensely popular within the action genre since the film’s release (see also Jack Bauer).Apart from introducing the character, Dr. No is a fun action movie in itself. The pacing is very well done, increasing the action steadily until the disturbing dinner scene with Dr. No. Though the film does not include any of the gadgets that would become a staple of the series in later movies, and the introduction of the Bond girl makes little sense (he simply stumbles upon her on the beach of Dr. No’s seemingly impregnable island), plot holes can be overlooked based on the ride the rest of the movie gives.Rating: ***

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