When both Soviet and Western submarines start disappearing, both sides decide to unite to hunt down the culprit. Tracing a tracking device that follows the course of top secret submarines, British agent James Bond (Roger Moore) and Russian agent Triple X (Barbara Bach) discover that a millionaire named Stromberg (Curt Jurgens) has big plans for the world - plans that don't include anyone above sea level.
The least tacky of the seventies 007 adventures, The Spy Who Loved Me was written by Christopher Wood and Richard Maibaum, ostensibly an adaptation of Ian Fleming's novel, but more like a mix of two of the Sean Connery Bonds, From Russia with Love and You Only Live Twice. In the seventies, Bond seemed more like a trend follower than a trendsetter - blaxploitation in Live and Let Die, Star Wars in Moonraker - but apart from a nod to Steven Spielberg's Jaws with Stromberg's pet shark and the main henchman's name, TSWLM has a more confident air.
As usual, Roger Moore has enough charm to carry off the love scenes and witty lines, but doesn't convince when it comes to the action sequences, where his busy stuntmen do most of the work. Not that I would have expected Moore to ski off a cliff in the film's spectacular opening, mind you. He even gets a little more serious when Bach's Anya promises to kill him after their mission is over due to Bond's shooting of her boyfriend, but the tone is too light-hearted for this to be really believable.
Stromberg's plan isn't very well thought out (I mean, what's he planning to eat when he's destroyed the world? Fish every night?), and Jurgens' humourless villain is completely overshadowed by his chief heavy, Jaws (Richard Kiel). A great adversary, eight foot tall Jaws appears invincible (he doesn't even die at the end), murdering victims with his steel teeth, possessed of enormous strength, and always bouncing back from certain death with a shrug or a sly grin.
It's a nice idea for Bond to be teamed with his female equivalent, but Bach makes Moore look like Robert de Niro as far as acting goes. As it is, TSWLM was considered Moore's best Bond for a long while, but now For Your Eyes Only looks like being the favourite amongst fans. I still prefer this one, if only for the adaptable Lotus Esprit, and Marvin Hamlisch's score, which includes a groovy disco version of the Bond theme, and Carly Simon singing "Nobody Does It Better".