Study Guide

From Russia With Love Strength and Skill

Strength and Skill

Being a secret agent takes 50% luck, 50% cool gadgets, and 50% strength and skill.

Good thing it barely requires any basic math skills. Bond has a calculator hidden in his shoe that does fractions for him.

But the basic idea remains true: successful spydom seems to require three elements: tech, luck, and strength. And the balance of these three crucial components, like the tension between the US and the Soviets during the Cold War, is always in flux.

In From Russia with Love, sometimes Bond gains the upper hand through skill, like when he fends off the feisty Bulgarians who invade the Romani camp. But on the Orient Express, he's outmuscled by Grant, a man who take a fistful of brass knuckles to the abdomen without flinching. When in the literal chokehold of SPECTRE, it's a good thing Bond has some sneaky technology to pick up the slack. Hey, in the 1960s, a smoking briefcase was the height of high-tech inventions.

Questions About Strength and Skill

  1. What would you say is Bond's greatest strength?
  2. In one now-controversial scene, Bond backhands Tania. How do you feel about this scene in which Bond uses his physical strength against a woman? How does it contrast with the struggle against Klebb in the movie's final scene?
  3. Would Grant have been able to kill Bond if Bond didn't have his gadgets?

Chew on This

Although Grant isn't stupid, it appears that SPECTRE has bet that his strength and wits will trump Bond's. What they don't count on are Bond's gadgets, which supplement 007's skills. Bond's always been more about skill than strength.

SPECTRE trains its agents in real life-or-death situations, thinking this brutal regimen will create an unstoppable agent. They're wrong. As Rosa Klebb says, "Training is useful, but there is no substitute for experience."

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