You Only Live Twice ★★

“I shall look forward personally to exterminating you, Mr. Bond”

The mission? With a plot stretched out to its thinnest form, this admittedly straightforward mission is clearly just here to get an excuse for the action and settings. World war three is imminent and it doesn’t show the least.

The villains? This is all about Blofeld and I have to say, Donald Pleasance is probably my favorite incarnation of the iconic villain. This menacing look paired with his polite style and short screen time makes for a looming threat as enjoyable as he’s scary.

The settings? While the japanese culture is arguably as fetichised as the women in this film I still have to admit that I really like the looks. The set design especially excels but the nature surrounding them isn’t too far behind.

The best side-character? For as little as he gets to do, Charles Gray turns in a quite memorable performance as Henderson here, although the aforementioned Blofeld is a safe pick for this spot as well.

The sexism? Oh good lord. Not only is this the same type of stone-age misogynism as before but with the added asian setting we’re also served a Bond with racism from both the character as well as the overall film. This is really one of the worst in the series in that aspect.

The song? Don’t hate me now but… I’m not a fan. It’s not a bad song really, not at all in fact. It’s just not fitting here, to a film of such silly over-the-top nonsense this kind of lo-fi background noise isn’t the best pick in my opinion.

The verdict? If Goldfinger is essential Bond in all the right ways, You Only Live Twice is essential Bond in the worst way possible. Packing all the problematic aspects of the series and also nailing the classic Bond-tropes this is certainly a lot of silly fun but also way too empty to be a good film on its own.

James Bond

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