‘You Only Live Twice’ Review: The Things We Do

Posted in The Screening Room by - January 06, 2016

Like my fellow critics, I was excited to dive headfirst into classic Bond cinema this month. I’ve only ever been exposed to Daniel Craig’s run on the series, and while I enjoy a gritty spy thriller I’ve always wanted to see the 60’s ridiculous gadgets and exposed chest hair Bond. Thankfully I got exactly what I wanted and more when I was watched You Only Live Twice. The 5th entry in the series, Sean Connery stars once again as super-spy James Bond. Tensions are high between the U.S and Russia as both countries lose space capsules to a mysterious unidentified object and blame each other. As they arm for war, England steps in and gives Bond the task of figuring out who really stole those capsules.

I’m a bit disappointed that I couldn’t see some more notable entries in the 007 saga before watching this movie. Mainly because I wanted some familiarity with the older Bond movies before setting out to review a couple. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the time to watch any, as a result this review will be about as objective as possible. Now the movie begins with 007 faking his death at the hands of Chinese assassins. After his funeral and being tossed into the ocean as is tradition with British Naval Officers, he’s retrieved by MI6. M soon gives him his assignment and after some sexually suggestive bantering with Moneypenny (as is tradition), Bond heads off to Japan to investigate rumors of the unidentified object landing there.

Now the movie progresses simply enough, the plot isn’t very difficult to follow and is filled with the usual twists and turns of a Bond movie. Sure enough most of the movie is very much like other Connery entries. He plays the role of Bond with ease and familiarity, he drinks fine vodka, he shoots bad guys, and he lays the misogynistic undertones. There are Bond girls and dastardly villains galore, most importantly however, there are the complex and unfeasible gadgets that define the franchise.

Bond’s arsenal consists of his signature Walther PPK, cigarette guns and exploding cartridges. The main attraction of the film is his lightweight helicopter designed by Q, almost immediately after using it for reconnaissance he encounters enemies in larger helicopters. As he defends himself Bond uses heat-seeking missiles, flamethrowers, mini-gun and air mines. After the encounter he’s left unscathed, but disappointingly he disposes of the helicopter off-screen. Though I’m not completely familiar with all the gadgets of the series, it seems a tad anti-climactic to build up this ludicrous contraption then use it for 8 minutes and never see of it again.

The movie is well-made in terms of special effects, and though the green-screen has suffered with time, the explosions and sound effects leave you satisfied. As with the film’s predecessor (popularly) however, the plot does not. It’s far from bad, but it’s not very good either. The best way to describe it would be thin, there’s a very linear story – 007 goes from one objective to the next until he reaches the mastermind, has a daring confrontation, is captured and subsequently rescued and saves the day. The problem with the story is not its lack of originality, it’s that the film is setting a very serious tone with the story but not living up to it. The world may end as we know it, two of the greatest superpowers in the world are at arms and we don’t see the potential consequences in full. This lessens the weight of Bond’s actions and breaks the audience’s interest. Though it makes the movie feel pointless in a sense, it’s not totally unsalvageable. The colorful cast and beautiful scenery make up for most of the movie’s obvious lack of depth.

In the end, You Only Live Twice was not a wasted two hours and was a fine adventure. With beautiful girls, an exotic location and a fantastic opening theme by Nancy Sinatra, You Only Live Twice is definitely worth a look. Just don’t expect another Goldfinger.

Final Verdict: Watch It

This post was written by

When not drowning in school work or ignoring social obligations he enjoys watching movies on just about anything. Currently making his way through the cinema classics he hopes to one day write a novel, but he’ll probably end up playing The Witcher 3 instead.

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