Editorials

James Bond: From Worst to Best – From Russia with Love

From Russia with Love

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Robert Shaw as Red Grant

When I was little, my dad bought a James Bond collection on VHS that consisted of Dr. No, From Russia with Love, and Goldfinger. I watched these basically on a loop while I played with my action figures sitting in front of the TV. While it may be nostalgia to have those three so near the top of this list, having watched them again recently, I can firmly say that they hold up well. These first two Bond films are great spy films, much more down-to-Earth than what would come later on. I think what really sets this one apart from Dr. No for me is the addition of Red Grant, played by Robert Shaw. Hired by SPECTRE to kill Bond, he is 007’s equal in every way and is perfectly portrayed by Shaw who seems like a big, imposing guy (even though is much shorter than Connery in real life). Their entire sequence together in the train is spectacular, but I will get to that later on.

Right off the bat we are introduced to Shaw’s Red Grant as he tracks and kills a man made up to look like Bond. Why the extensive make-up and mask is needed is beyond me, but it’s a fun way to open the film and sets up Grant’s character well as Bond’s physical superior. From Russia with Love introduces us to Q and our first real gadget in the Bond universe…a briefcase! While that may seem ridiculous, it’s no ordinary briefcase, and it holds its place as one of my favorite Bond gadgets. It’s loaded with hidden gold sovereigns, knife, hidden compartment for a sniper rifle, and can be rigged to blow tear gas in someone’s face if opened. It’s a pretty cool gadget and made quite the impression on a five year-old Kyal.

I feel like there’s not much to say about this one. It’s a very solid Bond film an seems like a go-to for anyone who grew up on the franchise. It’s got a solid story and fantastic set pieces. Once Bond and Tatiana board the train, the film is perfection. Close quarters and a lot of paranoia run through the sequences on the train and the climax between Bond and Grant is electric. It’s a well choreographed fight that doesn’t hold back on its brutality. When you consider the bulk of the fight scenes in Bond’s early years, it’s no more than throwing people around. The sequence on the train is really what I feel sets this film apart from most on this list. They pay homage to it in SPECTRE and do it well, not holding back on the close quarters brutality of it all.

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Q showing Bond that badass briefcase!

Apart from a quick scene in a Gypsy camp, this is not only a great Bond flick but a solid spy film overall. Connery is on his game, the action is intense, the villains are intimidating, and the story is one of the best of the bunch.

 

Worst to Best so far:
24. Live & Let Die
23. The Man with the Golden Gun
22. A View to a Kill
21. Die Another Day
20. Octopussy
19. Moonraker
18. Diamonds are Forever
17. Quantum of Solace
16. Licence to Kill
15. The World is Not Enough
14. You Only Live Twice
13. For Your Eyes Only
12. The Living Daylights
11. Thunderball
10. Tomorrow Never Dies
9. SPECTRE
8. The Spy Who Loved Me
7. Dr. No
6. From Russia with Love

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