Saturday, July 8, 2006
Saturday, July 8, 2006
On Her Majesty's Secret Service picks up about two years after the sub-par attempt with You Only Live Twice. Unfortunately a more accurate title for this follow up would have been, "It Only Gets Worse", as the sixth film in the Bond franchise goes through way too many changes to make it stand out as the ugly duckling in the franchise. Once again I say, it's no surprise why Sean Connery decided to part ways.
On Her Majesty's Secret Service sees the return of Ernst Stavro Blofeld (now played by Telly Savalas) who demands to be verified as a Count. If his wishes and a full pardon of all past crimes are not granted he will unleash a disease which will terminate the reproduction of all crops and animals, sending the world economy into a tail spin.
Taken off the hunt for Blofeld, after two years with no success, James Bond decides to take matters into his own hands by continuing his search on his two weeks of leave. Posing as a genealogist under the guise of assisting Blofeld in validating his claim to Count, and travels to Blofeld's secret institution in the Swiss Alps. It's there he discovers Blofeld has brought in a group of women whom he is curing of certain allergies, but it's quickly revealed that they are being brainwashed into releasing his toxin throughout the world.
The biggest problem with this film is it seems the writers were lost with what to do with the replacement of Sean Connery who had carried the series up until now. Surprisingly after watching this film again after some years, George Lazenby doesn't give that bad of performance. He has the look, the voice and the facial expressions down quite well, but that's all this film has in common with the past Bond adventures.
If you’re looking for something completely offbeat with the Bond name attached then you'll probably enjoy this installment, because other than reoccurring character names such as M, Moneypenny and Q, this film is off by itself in left field. For fans of the previous Bond's, On Her Majesty's Secret Service is sure to bore you for the first hour and a half as the film tries to produce the illusion that George Lazenby was the Bond who went on the first five previous adventures. It's all done through the horrible intro which plays back clips from previous Bond films, followed by numerous occasions where Lazenby recollects past missions.
Following all that mess you're forced into watching the makings of a love story as Bond's hunt for Blofeld leads him to a lesser crime boss with information on Blofeld's whereabouts, he's willing to part with this information if Bond dates his troubled daughter Tracy. This whole situation doesn't make a whole lot of sense, if any of the story does, and it's here that On Her Majesty's Secret Service quickly turns from being a semi-interesting Bond film to a wannabe love story. If we have learned anything from the past Bond films, Bond doesn't fall in love... well I guess he does now, even eventually leading to a marriage with an unfortunate ending.
Finally, about an hour and a half through the film, On Her Majesty's Secret Service begins to show signs of an actual Bond adventure with a few entertaining ski and car chases and a closing battle with Blofeld. But in the end the film doesn't have what it takes to match up to any of the previous Bond material. Bond's hand to hand combat was horrible to the point of hilarious, as he would swipe at villains as if he was performing a one handed "grandma shot" (basketball reference), or a Street Fighter move. He did this so much and the effect is so outlandish that you can't help but burst out laughing.
The meeting between Blofeld and Bond under his guise of George Baker was comedy as well, as Blofeld doesn't appear to recognize Bond at all, who isn't even in disguise, unless you call that puffy shirt and kilt a disguise! Well it is a different actor playing Bond, but if the writers truly expect us to believe this is the same Bond from the past five films then I would think Blofeld should be able to recognize him, instead its not until Bond makes an inaccurate comment about something that he as a "genealogist" should know that Blofeld reveals his knowledge of his disguise!
Overall, On Her Majesty's Secret Service suffers from too much change, most of it unneeded. It would have been better for the writers not to try and make us believe Lazenby is Bond by referring to so many past films, but instead by letting the actor do that himself, all it does is show their insecurity about the capability of Lazenby pulling it off. While this film was based on a Bond novel like the others, its seems to show a different side to Bond, something the trailer seems to promote far too much. It's a side that doesn't fit with what we've seen before. Many instances throughout the film I would think to myself that Sean Connery as Bond would never do or act like that. As the trailer keeps touting, it is a completely "different" film in every dimension complete with a very sensitive James Bond. But if that's what you’re looking for then maybe this is for you. Personally I would rather stick with the Bond that kicks butt and takes names later and whose relationships last one night, I happen to not be a fan of fixing what isn't broken.