I stand by my assertion that Casino Royale is the best Bond movie ever. After that, it’s probably Goldfinger, and then probably one or two I haven’t seen yet like From Russia With Love or On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. But before I watch those and change my opinion, You Only Live Twice is going to live pretty high up on my list of favorite Bond movies.
It’s silly in the same way all the Connery and Moore Bond movies are but You Only Live Twce has a distinct, exotic feel that hasn’t been felt in any other Bond movie since. The movie takes place in Japan, with much of Bond’s escapades happening in the streets and skies of Tokyo. It’s a bit more of a lavish, easterly Bond, one that departs pretty distinctly from Ian Fleming’s hoity-toity style.
It’s also worth noting this is the first Bond movie that Connery doesn’t really feel like a sex god or a super macho man. He’s still very clearly Bond with all his confidence and martinis, but seems to be a bit more matured and refined, a scotch that’s been sitting on the shelf for a few years instead of immediately poured into our moviegoing glass. He still gets the girl and saves the world (oh sorry, spoiler alert), but he seems like the stakes are a bit higher for him personally.
This Bond still ends up treading on familiar territory with Blofield, the ultimate super villain archetype with his cut eye and pure white cat. And that final scene where Japanese forces are infiltrating Blofeld’s facility is so zany and over-the-top, it amounts to nothing but pure delight. It’s not the best Bond movie, but its the first to realize that a Bond movie doesn’t necessarily have to be just a Bond movie, and the franchise is all the better for it.