Director: Terence Young
Starring: Sean Connery
This may surprise some of you, but for a while I really didn’t understand the hype around the James Bond franchise. My first experience of the character was Pierce Brosnan’s Bond in 1997’s ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’, and I found it an average movie at best. It never inspired me to advance further into Bond territory. Years later, I began watching films from all eras in history and ‘Dr. No’ proved to be my reintroduction to Bond. It was this film which inspired my love of 007 movies. The acting, the action, the Bond girls and the villains – it had a little bit of everything I loved in a spy action film.
‘Dr. No’ sees James Bond investigating the disappearance of a colleague, as the resourceful British Agent 007 goes in search of answers. What he finds is an elaborate plot to disrupt the American space program and a villainous foe he must thwart before it is too late.
There isn’t much to dislike about ‘Dr. No’ and perhaps the biggest issue is character development. It wasn’t until the recent movies with Daniel Craig where we witnessed James Bond become a much deeper character. With Craig, we witnessed the evolution of Bond through a series of events and villains that led him to become the agent we know and love. We saw his fears, his passions, his strengths and weaknesses. I never got that feeling with ‘Dr. No’, it was just Bond, in the moment. He was awesome from the very start with no need for explanation. That is fine for a one off movie, but when it sets a precedent for the next two dozen movies to follow, it can be problematic. Also, in ‘Dr. No’, James Bond doesn’t have the many gadgets and tricked out cars which we come to expect from Bond. It is these little added extras that I have always found to be part of the entertainment value of the films, so this debut installment was lacking in that respect.
What I love about this movie though, is that this is the creation of James Bond in movie history. Sean Connery remains my personal favourite in that role. He is confident, charming, clever, with a license to kill and a fine wit. I mentioned earlier that there are limited gadgets in ‘Dr. No’, but in a way this allows for Bond to use his natural set of special skills to elude and defeat anyone who crosses him. It also shows Bond’s vulnerability more than other films because he rarely has the upperhand or a trick up his sleeve. He has to think of a plan on the spot and hope that it works out in his favour. That aspect of this film is something I always loved.
‘Dr. No’ didn’t exactly have a large budget, but they certainly used the money well. The cinematography is beautiful, the writing is pretty good and there is always a sense of tension or danger lurking in the air throughout the film. Little by little, you watch Bond unravel the mystery of this disappearance and how it could have much bigger implications in the future. This is where it all began with James Bond in film and still, very few have even come close to Sean Connery’s mastery of the Bond character. It has a good story, a great villain, plenty of action and drama; a perfect way to start what would become one of the most popular and numerous franchises in movie history. More than 50 years later, you can watch this movie and see how often it has inspired the spy action genre.
If you want to watch one of the best James Bond films in history, then I strongly suggest you watch ‘Dr. No’ and experience the creation of this now legendary movie character.