So Connery’s out for good this time, and in this movie we meet his second replacement, and this one’s not leaving any time soon. Yes, we’ve hit the Roger Moore era, and it’s all downhill from here. This man is just not Bond. All he does is spout one liners. You go from one of the most layered, enigmatic, memorable character performances in the history of film to a generic gentleman spy caricature. I mean, it didn’t help him that the series was getting progressively more ridiculous as the years went on, and there’s a lot of problems with the later sequels that have nothing to do with him, but he’s just so boring to watch. Anyway, all that aside this first movie of his is actually not bad. After all, it had the same director as Goldfinger and Diamonds are Forever. And it’s probably got the best theme of any of them, written and performed by Paul McCartney. The plot starts when three MI6 agents are all killed around the same time, one in New York, one in New Orleans, and one on a remote Caribbean island. Bond is sent to investigate and ends up getting involved with a mob boss in Harlem who goes by the name “Mr. Big”. I should probably get this out of the way right off the bat; this movie is a little racist. I think everyone Bond fights in this entire movie is black, and there’s a lot of voodoo and gangster stereotypes that are pretty offensive looking back. I mean there’s nothing like overtly anti-black people or anything, it’s just a little cartoony and hasn’t aged super well since the early 70s. Anyway, after spending some time in Mr. Big’s weird 1970s gangster villain layer, a bunch of stuff happens and we end up on the Caribbean island, where Bond outruns local police in a purple double decker bus that reminds me of the third Harry Potter movie. The girl this time around is a fortune teller for Mr. Big. Bond tricks her into losing her virginity to him using a rigged deck of her tarot cards to predict that they will be lovers at some point in the future. Eventually we find out that Mr Big is actually a man called Kananga, the dictator in charge of the Caribbean island where the agent was killed, and he’s got a whole elaborate plan to basically just sell heroin. He’s the main villain of the movie, played by Yaphet Koto from Alien. He’s fucking awesome, he’s got a super intimidating presence and he really elevates the movie. Then Bond ends up in New Orleans, where we get a chase through they bayou on speedboats, and a fat southern Sheriff by the name of J.W. Pepper, who I guess is there for comic relief, but ends up getting way too much screen time. There’s also pretty cool part where Bond escapes from some crocodiles, and a henchman guy with a weird claw hand. What’s weird is at the end of the movie he gets his sleeve ripped off and we see that he has like a whole robot arm. Since when can people have robot arms in this universe? Whatever. It’s cool either way. Eventually we end up back in the Caribbean for a brief weird voodoo ritual with this high priest dude painted up like a skeleton, and then some underground layer shenanigans involving a shark tank. Then we get probably the best Bond villain death ever. And when I say best, I mean funniest. Bond has a “shark gun” with compressed air pellets that cause whatever you shoot with them to inflate. Is that a real thing? Someone look it up. Anyway, he shoves one in Kananga’s mouth while they’re tussling underwater, and the man flies up in the air, blows up like a balloon, and then pops, raining hunks of flesh down to hungry sharks. Just. Wow. Overall this movie is a little sillier than previous ones have been. It stretches the limits a believability a little more and has a lot more intentional comedy. A lot of these aspects would continue to grow over the next few sequels and eventually make these movies pretty shitty, but for now the awesome villain and cool action are still enough to make this one worth checking out.
Overall Rating: Voodoo/10