Remember those neat gadgets M was always dreaming up for James Bond? Their beauty was that they were well designed and terribly complicated, like Swiss astronomical watches, and they had a great many functions. Probably the best two were the briefcase in "From Russia with Love" and that custom car in "Goldfinger."
The great thing about these gadgets was that after M explained them to 007, they just sat around for a long time looking like briefcases and cars. Their tricks were spread through the film, and always came as a surprise when they finally were sprung. Suspense! Timing! Humor! As when the Chinese spy ejected himself from the driver's seat.
The gadgets were symptomatic of what made the first three Bond films such perfect representatives of the sex-and-sadism spy genre. It was as if the director had gone over every line of the script with a design engineer at his elbow and lovingly worked all the functions of the gadgetry into all the folds of the plot so that everything held together in a subtle way.
A great deal of money was spent on the fifth Bond epic in an attempt to duplicate this mystique, but in "You Only Live Twice" the formula fails to work its magic. Like its predecessor "Thunderball," another below-par entry, this one is top-heavy with gadgets but weak on plotting and getting everything to work at the same time.