You Only Live Twice

“At least he died on the job… he would have wanted it that way.”

In this fifth James Bond (MI6 agent 007) film (1967) in the long-running series, the British intelligence agency gets little respect from the world powers when a crisis in space puts the world on the brink of nuclear war.  Bond must quickly (and unrealistically) receive special training to save the world again after a precarious beginning.

Loosely based in the 1964 Ian Fleming novel, Sean Connery again stars as Bond and is joined by MI6 leader M (Bernard Lee), MI6 technical lead Q (Desmond Llewelyn), and M’s secretary Miss Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell). Akiko Wakabayashi stars as Bond’s counterpart agent Aki along with Teru Shimada as Mr. Osato, Karin Dor as Helga Brandt, Mie Hama as Kissy Suzuki, and Tetsurô Tanba as Tiger Tanaka.

This time Bond discovers an evil plan created by the terrorist organization called SPECTRE organization led by Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Donald Pleasence) as Cold War tension between the U.S. and Soviet Union rise. The overall plot, written by Roald Dahl and Harold Jack Bloom, is somewhat confusing in the second half.

The direction and overall filmmaking is pretty good featuring a great crowd sequence at a sumo wrestling match. You don’t see to many shots like that anymore. Unfortunately, the music score quickly diminishes when the scene cuts to the head antagonist retiring to his apartment.

Helicopters and volcanoes spice up the action sequences while Connery makes jokes about oysters.  It’s a bit puzzling that a character introduces ninjas as using “the art on concealment” when everyone is running around loudly and training out in the open, but it’s a fun, entertaining film with amazing locations, epic scenarios, great sets from Ken Adam, and, of course, the best gadgets and cars (e.g. the Toyota 2000GT). Another solid musical score from John Barry and memorable theme song from Nancy Sinatra.

You Only Live Twice comes recommended (*** out of four stars) and is a good Bond vehicle that’s a respectable addition to the wildly popular series of movies.

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