The film starts with Bond visiting his wife’s grave, before he’s abducted in a helicopter that is remote controlled by Blofeld. Watch out for the glimpses of post-industrial London as the helicopter swoops around the abandoned Beckton gas works.
We swing into the opening credits and – oh, this is new. Here is Sheena Easton, not just singing the theme song, but also appearing in the credits. Another Bond-song-that-doesn’t-sound-like-a-Bond-song. It’s a nice enough tune, but… meh. And all these watery women in the opening credits indicate this film will have something to do with water.
And indeed it does. A British spy ship has sunk off the coast of Greece and the government need to get some top secret tech back before it’s stolen and sold off to the other side. Bond finds himself working with Melina, the half-Greek daughter of a British spy, who is keen to avenge her murdered parents. (“Greek women always avenge their loved ones.”) They meet outside the villa of the hitman’s who killed her parents, which looks more like the Playboy mansion. (I think this hitman is paid too much.) Melina is a dab hand with a crossbow, it seems and she is determined to follow Bond to find those responsible for her parents’ deaths.
Melina is the main woman is this film, but Bond cannot live on one woman alone, and so we have Bibi, the ice skater protege of Kristatos, Greek businessman and informant, who develops a keen crush on Bond and in a bizarre copy of the scene with Romanova in From Russia with Love, she turns up in Bond’s bed with nothing on. This time however, Bond declines her offer (is she really too young for him?) and makes her get dressed.
The film’s locations are mostly in Greece, with a lot of scenes filmed in Corfu; and a final scene in Meteora. (Although the underwater scenes were filmed at Nassau in the Bahamas, a spot we’re learning is a favourite for Bond films). We also visit the snowy Italian alps for some chase scenes on skis, in a bobsled and on a hockey rink.
From Greece to the Italian Alps and back to Greece again (Corfu looks like a lovely spot for a holiday), we go to a casino and Bond again is gambling. (Someone should tell him about GambleAware.) At the casino he catches the eye of Countess Lisl von Schlaf, who turns out not to be a Countess at all, but girlfriend of Columbo, another Greek businessman and smuggler.
But who is the villain? Is it Kristatos or Columbo? Whichever is the villain, his villainous plot is to secure the lost British military tech and sell it to the KGB. Colonel Gogol is still sitting in his strangely sparse office conducting negotiations for purchase.
Interesting side note: the Countess is played by Cassandra Harris, at that time married to Pierce Brosnan, a future Bond actor himself.
Bond and Melina locate the sunken ship and retrieve the military tech (after all, she has access to her parents’ marine research vessel which has everything they need, including a mini submarine) but the bad guy snatches it from them, and their only alternative is to climb up to Meteora monastery and snatch it back. “But we are only five men.” “Five men and one woman,” Melina reassures them.
The film ends with Bond and Melina smooching on a boat, and Bond getting a call from the British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. The film turns suddenly from gripping spy action drama to comedy spoof with an impressionist portraying Mrs T., and it jars, badly. Oh please just roll the end credits and play the song again.
Film epilogue: Melina continues her parents’ research into marine matters, becoming a founding member of an organisation devoted to preserving the cleanliness of the waters of the Aegean sea. She is frequently seen on Greek TV talking about the importance of preserving Greece’s marine heritage and the purity of its waters, and of balancing the economic benefits of tourism with the importance of keeping Greek waters clean and preserving a way of life for future generations.