Starring: George Lazenby, Diana Rigg, Telly Savalas
Director: Peter Hunt
Running Time: 142 mins
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is a British film and the sixth instalment in the James Bond series. After discovering Blofeld is conducting secret scientific research in the Alps, Bond goes undercover to discover a bizarre plan in operation there.
This is a much more intelligent and realistic James Bond film in comparison to the previous two, which went overboard with high-stakes madness. However, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is ultimately a disappointing watch, suffering from painfully slow pacing, a huge lack of big action, and not great performances across the board.
The difference between this and something like You Only Live Twice is that it creates a coherent, intelligent and sensible story for Bond to take part in, with no sheer insanity and emphasis on cool underground lairs or just innuendo, which is commendable in some respect.
However, as we see 007 actually doing some proper spy work by going undercover for half of this film, we discover that proper espionage is actually pretty dull. This film, intending to be more realistic and intelligent, has far too much emphasis on dialogue-based thrills and slow build-ups during Bond’s spying, ultimately leaving it as a much more boring watch than you’d want.
It’s the polar opposite of You Only Live Twice, with intelligence right the way through, but it very rarely has a genuine sense of fun, rendering it less entertaining and pleasant to watch. So, we now know that a perfect Bond film (i.e. Goldfinger) is something in the middle.
In terms of the action, it’s good news and bad news. The bad news is that there just isn’t enough of it. Too much time is spent watching Bond snooping around and investigating Blofeld’s evil plot, and, in a two and a half hour-long film, you really feel starved of exciting action.
The good news, on the other hand, is that when the action does come along, it’s fantastic. In the three main action sequences, the directing is excellent, the fighting feels so much more realistic and intense, and, particularly in the climactic scene, it’s a lot of fun to watch, giving you at least some enjoyment from time to time in this overall sluggish movie.
Finally, the performances are a little disappointing. It was always a hard task to live up to Sean Connery, but George Lazenby’s portrayal of Bond just wasn’t that captivating. He doesn’t have the humour of Connery, nor the qualities of a maverick agent whose primary concern is seducing every woman he meets. Of course, Lazenby may have been going for something a little less dinosaurish, but it still remains that he’s just not fun to watch. What’s more is that Blofeld, played by Telly Savalas, is also pretty dull. He doesn’t have the mystery or eccentricity of the original Blofeld, and just appears as some random guy, another disappointment.
Overall, I’ll give On Her Majesty’s Secret Service a 6.8, because despite the roaring success of the odd action scene, this is a film that is simply too slow, lacking in big thrills and memorable performances.