From Russia with Love ★★★★

James Bond falls into a trap by SPECTRE as they lure him by getting a decoding device AND a very nice looking lady...
After DR. NO the second Bondfilm is still very much set in the classic spy genre more interested in creating tension by character interaction than using action spectacle. It's also the Bondfilm which takes place on a train for almost the entire third act which is always a good choice.
Connery is still strong on machismo but surprisingly gets saved by the girl in the end. But then you can say that it was his (dicks) achievement as he managed to turn a Russian agent into an ally after all.
Bond has no main antagonist but deals with SPECTRES henchmen/women making FRWL quite realistic and timeless in its portrayal of a menacing entity. The leader (which will later be revealed as Blofeld - a wrong choice in my opinion especially as casting went very wrong in that regard) - remains faceless here adding to the threat of that terrorist group.
Although being almost en par with DR. NO I felt the first half dragging a bit indulging too much in sexist stuff while the whole Bulgarians vs. Gypsys could have been cut out making it a much tighter movie.
Connery was still enjoying playing Bond here and after Ursula Andress they actually managed to find another stunning lady for Bond's love (sex) interest. Robert Shaw is decent as Bonds main opponent but it's Lotte Leyna's Klebb who gets the best scenes: an evil lesbian who likes to penetrate (rape) men with pointy shoes. Throwing in a sex tape also makes FRWL a rather daring affair considering the time it was made in.
Where the first action set piece didn't set the world on fire at all we get a nice boat chase in the finale and another nod to Hitchcock's NORTH BY NORTHWEST (the first unofficial Bondfilm for me) with Bond getting chased by a chopper.
Overall this isn't Bond pantheon but one of my favorites for sure.

Bond: ****
Bond Girl: *****
Locations: ** (and ***** for the train)
Bond Villain: ***
Bond Song: **
Action: ***
Gadgets: **** (very nice debut of Q's merchandise)
Bond Helpers: ****

Make or Break Scene: Connery vs. Grant

MVT: Train!

Score: 7.5/ 10

Rolf liked this review