Many people believe that Sean Connery is the ultimate James Bond and I have to confess that I am one of those people. With this notion in my head I realized as I was starting From Russia with Love that I have not watched a Connery Bond movie in over 15 years. Could I be mistaken, am I simply fondly remembering the esteemed actor as the best in the franchise? After watching the second Bond movie, also Sean Connery’s second appearance as the superspy, I can safely say we are still right.
From Russia with Love is a landmark in the Bond franchise, it marks Connery’s second outing as the character, but it is also the film before Bond became a mega-hit franchise with Goldfinger. From Russia with Love is a more gritty look at the spy and had not yet established the premises of the over-the-top gadgets, intros, and femme fatales that the series is famed for.
Set (and filmed) in 1963 the story starts with Bond being called into MI6 to tackle a new mission. The Russians are in poised to take possession of a Lektor cryptograph that could allow them to decode secured communications between western allies. Bond is tasked to meet a Russian cypher clerk, Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi), and escort her safely as she defects. Of course she has been told to fake her defection and seduce Bond in the process to get access to the Lektor and Bond.
All is not as it seems and Romanova's contact Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya) is in fact not an agent of Mother Russia, but of the nefarious group SPECTRE who hopes to rule the world. They are using Romanova to gain access to MI6 and extract revenge on Bond. Bond has to face off against assassins, double-crossing agents, and his own emotions as he tries to deliver Romanova to a safe place.