For Reel

Dr. No (1962)
June 12, 2016, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Terence Young
3.5 Stars
Dr. NoAs of 2015’s Spectre there have now been a total of two dozen films to star the now iconic James Bond, who in 1962 was first introduced to the movie-going public in Dr. No. Although all of Bond’s mannerisms are now cultural staples, one needs to divorce themselves from that fact to appreciate what a firm foundation Dr. No laid out for the series. It is a fairly grounded, low-key affair—its action sequences mainly limited to small, efficient fistfights, with the focus more on the intelligence gathering spy aspect than on the spectacle of outrageously choreographed set pieces. The early-goings do well to establish a world in which no one is to be trusted, and yet as viewers we can take solace in the fact that Bond tends to be one step ahead of both his adversaries and the film audience. Director Terence Young, a regular of the early films, does well to incorporate surrealism once Bond reaches the private island—the image of the feared “dragon” is memorable in its sheer audacity, and one that predicts that the emperor has no clothes (Dr. No (Joseph Wiseman), despite being built up as a menace throughout the picture, ultimately isn’t remarkably impressive). The third act is borderline incomprehensible, playing as a hodgepodge of loosely baked action movie tropes while failing to get across the sense of stakes, but everything leading to that point is irresistible fun.

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