You Only Live Twice (1967) United Artists/Action-Adventure RT: 117 minutes No MPAA Rating (mild language, violence, some sexual content) Director: Lewis Gilbert Screenplay: Roald Dahl Starring: Sean Connery, Akiko Wakabayashi, Mie Hama, Tetsuro Tanba, Teru Shimada, Karin Dor, Donald Pleasance, Bernard Lee, Lois Maxwell, Desmond Llewelyn, Charles Gray. Opening Song: You Only Live Twice (sung by Nancy Sinatra)
It's not considered a plot spoiler if I tell you that James Bond (Connery) is killed before the opening credits of You Only Live Twice, is it? Well, it wouldn't be much of a movie without the superspy, would it? British Naval Intelligence helped fake Bond's death for his latest assignment, so the man gets to live twice (hence, the title). It seems that a mysterious spacecraft has swallowed up an American space shuttle and the Russians are getting the blame. Actually, the craft originated from an isolated island in the Sea of Japan, so Bond is sent to investigate who is behind it. He has only three weeks to figure out who was really behind the incident or else the Americans will launch their nuclear missiles at the USSR. Bond hooks up with Tiger Tanaka (Tanba), the head of Japanese security and together they learn that a chemical engineering outfit (OSATO) is involved, then Bond is nearly killed (again) after he visits Mr Osato (Shimada) and his assistant Helga Brandt (Dor). Then a Russian space shuttle is swallowed up by the same spacecraft and the potential for World War III increases greatly. It turns out that SPECTRE is behind the whole thing, the Japanese want the USA and the USSR to destroy each other so they can be the world's greatest superpower. The evil outfit has an impregnable fortress concealed beneath one of the island's many volcanoes, where Bond (and the audience) finally meets Ernst Stavros Blofeld (Pleasance) for the first time.
It's another four star adventure for 007 as he tries, once again, to foil the evil plan of SPECTRE and save the world from complete annihilation. The action in You Only Live Twice is abundant, Tanaka provides Bond with an army of ninjas for the final assault on Blofeld's facility and that is one awesome battle between the good guys and Blofeld's baddies. Of course, Q (Llewelyn) stops by to provide Bond with a really cool mini-helicopter that can fire machine guns, launch rockets and aerial mines. It comes in handy when Bond finds himself in an aerial battle with some of Blofeld's men in their helicopters. That brings me to Blofeld himself, as we discover how depraved and evil he really is. He has a pool full of piranha and if somebody fails him, they become their next meal, this is what happens to Helga (aka Number 11) after she fails to kill Bond. He has some really good lines in this movies such as "This organization does not tolerate failure." and "I shall look forward personally to exterminating you, Mr. Bond", Pleasance does a great job as Blofeld, who, in my opinion, is the coolest of all the Bond villains.
The majority of the action is set in Japan, and since the movie was made in 1967, you're going to see some blatant political incorrectness here, such as when one character says, "In Japan, men always come first, women come second." to which Bond replies "I just might return to here." Then there's the scene where Bond is made up to look like a Japanese man, it's not all that convincing and, by today's standards, would be considered pretty offensive. However, since I am one of those people who believe that the whole "politically correct" thing has gotten out of hand, I just took it for what it was, a clever ruse for Bond to gain access to the island. He needs to get onto the island, so he can rescue the shuttle astronauts who are being held prisoner and stop Blofeld from initiating a major war between the two countries. The Americans are just about ready to strike first after another one of their shuttles disappears. So, time is precious, the clock is ticking down and Bond must make a bold move to defeat SPECTRE once again.
The usual elements are all present in You Only Live Twice from the cool gadgets to John Barry's classic score. Bond still manages to sleep with almost every female character and still likes his vodka martinis "shaken not stirred". Connery is the quintessential James Bond and it's ad to realize that this is one of the last Bond movies he would make. Another actor (George Lazenby) plays 007 in the next offiicial entry, but Connery does return one last time in Diamonds Are Forever. Meanwhile, this adventure is another great four-star flick with plenty of action and adventure along with the plots that reveal themselves at their own deliberate pace. The screenplay is especially well-written, the writer is Roald Dahl, who is best known as the mad genius behind Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971) and Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009). He does an excellent job with comparatively more normal material. The director keeps things moving at a brisk pace, it's another great James Bond action/adventure!