Moonraker (1979)

Given the success of the first "Star Wars" movie and the never ending need to take the Bond franchise to places it has never been before, we travel back to space for "Moonraker". For a movie that begins as strongly as this one does, it takes a certain level of skill to ruin it completely and for that skill we have director Lewis Gilbert. Perhaps he shouldn't share full credit for ruining this movie, that could also go to screenwriter Christopher Wood...but I digress.
At the movie's opening, as is becoming the modus operandi for the Bond films, we start with something bad. An airplane with a space shuttle on its back (reminding us of the opening scenes from "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb") is speeding along, traveling towards an unnamed destination, presumably America. Two men pop out of secret compartments and hijack the space shuttle, taking off at high speed, leaving the plane obliterated.
MI6 hears of this catastrophe and M decides that he needs his best man on it, 007. Bond, meanwhile is in a place making out with a sexy stewardess who pulls a gun on him and announces his unfortunate and inevitable demise. But our plucky hero will not be shut out so easily and the stereotypical fight inside a place going at top speed occurs....naturally.
What then ensues is a terrific free-fall fight. Bond, a red shirt guy, and Jaws from "The Spy Who Loved Me" (ugh) plummet to the ground while wrestling over a parachute. It's pretty amazing stunt work, but then it ends in a comical transition to the main titles.
Shirley Bassey is back again to sing the title song (does she ever leave?) and Roger Moore returns yet again.
For as much as the Bond franchise has already managed to do, it's still fun to see what new things they can pull from their hats. In this movie, it's a very strong woman. Wow! That's remarkable! Yes, even Bond thinks so and when he's first introduced to Dr. Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles) he doesn't think about saying "a woman" like he's a caveman and she's the first female specimen that he's encountered.
But she's unshaken by his rudeness and his consistent need to seduce her—don't worry, the seduction happens late on a cable car that is plummeting to the ground while Bond and Goodhead are being harassed by's really not any better than it sounds.
She gives Bond the tour of the space facility where Hugo Drax (Michael Lonsdale) makes his Moonrakers...the same kind of ship that was stolen off the top of the airplane. Bond is here to sniff out any rats, and MI6 suspects that there are many here.
Drax, the bad guy—who's surprised?—orders that Bond be taken care of; yet, as always, it's the most inconvenient way ever that the henchmen use to knock Bond down and out. In this movie, it's a G-force machine.
"Moonraker" started to lose steam when Jaws was reintroduced; but it gets even weirder when we have to have a romance between Jaws and a little blonde girl who happens upon him crawling out from wreckage that Bond left him in.
Oh, and I think 7-Up may have been a sponsor...if you've seen the movie, you know what I mean.
Drax is an evil enough bad guy and he's got some great one-liners—ever the poet, he'd rather muse about a situation than kill Bond.
Bond and Goodhead make their way up into the heavens; but will they be soon enough to save earth from a crippling disaster.
Most Bond villains in the past have had a God-complex, but Drax is on a whole new level. It would have been great if we had gotten to see out bad guy get fully utilized—he doesn't, but that's keeping with tradition.
I really hope that we have seen the last of Jaws; because I'm not sure how much more I can take. This movie is full of logical holes and plot inconsistencies.
"Moonraker" rakes something in, but it certainly isn't the moon.

Score: ★★

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