Roger Moore, Lois Chiles, Michael Lonsdale, Richard Kiel, Blanche Ravalec, Toshiro Suga, Lois Maxwell, Desmond Llewelyn, Bernard Lee, Walter Gotell, Corinne Cléry
“Houston, we’ve had a problem.”
I suppose it’s true that in order to survive the times, you must adapt, and inevitably, there will be growing pains. I consider Moonraker a steaming pile of Bond’s growing pains. Investigating the crash of a valuable British space shuttle, James Bond (Roger Moore’s fourth outing) meets Hugo Drax (Lonsdale), a brilliant megalomaniac who plots to wipe out Earth’s population and start over with a crop of genetically-altered perfect models. Meanwhile, Jaws (Kiel), the tireless assassin from Bond’s previous film is still after him, and Holly Goodhead (Chiles), a beautiful but mysterious rocket scientist becomes his ally. There have been 25 Bond films over the course of sixty years and the people who care, myself among them, will rarely agree on what we want from a Bond flick. The core ingredients may be etched in stone, but there’s a lot of ambiguity about what tone it should have, how much humor, how much action, how big it should go, camp versus grit, etc. Some people will defend Moonraker. I think it’s bottom five in Bond’s canon. There are some positives. Much of the film is entertaining and Chiles makes a good Bondgirl (despite being saddled with one of the franchise’s most ridiculous names, which is saying something). Hugo Drax, too, is a memorable villain with a great lair. Unfortunately, all of these elements lead to a disastrous finale aboard a space shuttle that seems clearly influenced by the emergence of Star Wars as a cultural phenomenon. James Bond is not Star Wars; or Star Trek. The climax is foolish and the scenes between Jaws and his “girlfriend” are embarrassingly bad.
Walter Tyrone Howard