From Russia With Love (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 9 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

A defecting Russian agent has possession of a cypher machine known as Lektor, which would unlock the secrets within even the most cryptic code sequences. This is of course a highly sought after item and as such, the British government wants to gain control of the device and then use it to aid their operatives in the field. The Russian agent with the Lektor device is to meet with a British special agent and during this time, exchange the device and then proceed with the defection process. But the Lektor device is just a baiting unit, with which an evil faction hopes to lure a certain British agent to his death. This team knows how bad the British want the device and as such, will send their best agent and that means high stakes. This trap seems flawless and whichever agent is sent will meet with certain death, except for one man that is. That’s right, Agent 007 himself, James Bond (Sean Connery) is on the clock and if anyone can survive this trial and emerge with the device, it would be him. But in the middle of this lethal game of revenge, can even James Bond come out alive and with the goods?

This one has all the elements we expect from Bond to be sure, action, adventure, near misses, escapes, evil men, beautiful women, and of course, Agent 007 himself in fine form. So this might seem like another one by the numbers for this series, but that is a mistake to think as this film turns out very well and stands as one of my favorites entries in the series. This movie sports Sean Connery as James Bond, which is always a plus and features some nice stunt sequences, but this one is far from the type of Bond adventure we’ve seen for some time now. This is due to the pacing of this film, which runs slower than you’d expect from a movie like this, but never becomes too dull or meandering. So yeah, some more modern fans might feel a little bored at times, but I don’t feel much time is wasted in this one at all. Some nice action sequences are wedged in of course, but I think this one focuses more on the storyline and characters, which works just fine in this case. The mix is good though, as more intense pieces appear just when they should to relieve the pressure and help the movie flow along. I recommend this film to all those interested and even if you find this one a little slow, give it another chance here. This Blu-ray release looks excellent and has impressive extras, so if you’re going to see 007 in action, make it on Blu-ray.

Back for his second spin as James Bond is Sean Connery, who turns in a superb performance and makes sure we never become bored. The lack of action allows Connery to bring out this character more and it shows, as he oozes charm and coolness throughout this movie. If you thought he was a smooth operator before and haven’t seen this film, you’re in for a real treat. I think this is his finest work in the series and I like his refinements within the character, which help to make the role more natural this time around. His performance is also helped by a tremendous supporting cast, which Connery is able to work with very well. I know I’ve listed them before, but other 007 films with Connery include Diamonds Are Forever, Thunderball, Goldfinger, Dr. No, and You Only Live Twice. This Bond flick doesn’t contain a central foe, but that doesn’t hinder the movie in the least. The rest of the cast is excellent and includes Robert Shaw (The Deep, Jaws), Eunice Gayson (Dr. No, One Just Man), Francis De Wolff (Jesus Of Nazareth, The Fixer), Pedro Armendariz (The Conqueror, Beyond All Limits), Bernard Lee (Percy’s Progress, The Man With The Golden Gun), Lotta Lenya (Semi-Tough, The Appointment), and Daniela Bianchi (Slalom). The director of From Russia With Love was Terence Young, who also helmed the Bond adventures Dr. No and Thunderball.

Video: How does it look?

From Russia With Love is presented in 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen. The restoration work done on this print yields immense dividends in high definition. The image looks clean, but still retains a film like texture, while detail is impressive. The visuals offer depth well beyond any other home video release, so you will see much more subtle detail in this transfer than ever before. The results might not be the eye popping kind we’re used to, but for a movie that’s over four decades old, this is simply stunning and fans will be beyond delighted. The colors look natural and accurate, contrast is smooth and consistent, we simply couldn’t ask for a much better visual presentation than this.

Audio: How does it sound?

This DTS HD 5.1 option isn’t on par with more modern action soundtracks, but it still packs a nice wallop. The surrounds come to life often, whenever the guns come out, chases ensue, or other tense, action driven scenes pop up. In those instances, the punch is effective and enhances the experience. The overall sound is still natural however, so this hasn’t been punched up too much. The music also benefits greatly, so the score really shines and has a lot of life here. I heard no issues with dialogue either, so vocals never pose any kind of concern. This disc also includes the original mono soundtrack, Spanish and French language tracks, and subtitles in English and Spanish.

Supplements: What are the extras?

An audio commentary track with director Terence Young and various other cast & crew members is up first, which is loaded with information though dull most of the time. I weathered the storm however and learned a lot, but I wish this track was more screen specific instead of an edited collection of interviews. We also have some featurettes, one on Ian Fleming & Raymond Chandler, an interview with Fleming from the CBC, and a Desert Island Discs piece with the author. We also have two other featurettes, both of which are worth a look. Inside From Russia With Love is a half hour piece which covers the production, through interviews and behind the scenes footage. This isn’t that in depth at all, but still makes for an interesting thirty-four minutes if you like the movie. The other featurette is Harry Saltzman: Showman, which deals the title person and his work on this series. Saltzman of course left the series to pursue other interests, but it is nice to see a nod to him included on this disc. This disc also includes an animated storyboard, tv promos, radio spots, still photos, and three of the film’s theatrical trailers.

Disc Scores