Moonraker (1979)

Year

Certificate

PG

Length

126 mins

Director

Rating

  2/52/52/52/52/5

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Jaws in Space

I think he's attempting re-entry, sir - Q

Roger Moore and Lois Chiles in Moonraker

It's the end of the 70s, Sci-fi is popular on the big screen and so we get James Bond doing sci-fi with 007 ending up going into space. It is silly, in fact compared to all the previous James Bond movies "Moonraker" is the silliest movie in the franchise. Now some will love the silliness, they will love all the action and far fetched nonsense which sees men fighting in space but it's not for me. I won't deny that "Moonraker" has some great action and some impressive special effects but not only is it far too stupid but the basic storyline is dull. In fact "Moonraker" is a movie which trades on action more than anything and for those who like their Bond movies to have a decent storyline will struggle.

When a space shuttle is mysteriously stolen in transit James Bond (Roger Moore - Escape to Athena) is called in to investigate and immediately heads to the headquarters of Drax Industries who built the shuttle. Sensing something not right Bond finds himself following a trail which takes him from America to Italy and on to Rio before all becomes clear as to who stole the shuttle and why. But can Bond save the day with the help of Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles) as they find themselves heading off into space.

"Moonraker" opens with the theft of a space shuttle, it is the lead in for James Bond to investigate how a space shuttle can be stolen but the reason why the shuttle is stolen, which we do learn in the latter part is stupid. But then to be honest for the most "Moonraker" is stupid, it tries to capitalize on what was then the love of sci-fi movies but ends up so unbelievable that maybe it would have been made better as a spoof. What we get is Bond investigating the theft of the shuttle it takes him to American, Italy and Rio as he suspects Hugo Drax, the owner of the company which builds the shuttles to be behind it. And in typical fashion Bond not only encounters various attractive women, all of which he attempts to charm but he also has to deal with Drax's henchman and somehow we have Jaws returning.

Richard Kiel as Jaws in Moonraker

Now all of this is semi believable, it is the globe trotting stuff which had been part of the Bond series, but then enters the sci-fi as we discover Drax's nefarious plans. I won't reveal everything but I will say we end up with Bond and the wonderfully named Holly Goodhead heading into space on one of the 6 shuttles Drax is launching and we get sci-fi action. It gets so stupid, so incredibly dumb that you do have to question the writers for making "Moonraker" so far fetched. This is not just the escapism of Bond saving the day this is escapism taken to galactic proportions and not for the good.

But to be honest you do get a sense that "Moonraker" more than any of the previous Bond movies was about entertaining with action. Following the initial theft we have Bond escaping death in a mid air fight which sees him steal a parachute off of the back of another man. And what follows that are a lot of chases, fights and various encounters with Jaws who has now become indestructible. All of this action is visually great, it's dramatic, exciting and the stunt work is simply spectacular especially the parachute stunt. But at the same time it is also so over the top as in the incredibly stupid Gondola scene in Italy which starts quite well until out of nowhere Bond's Gondola becomes this hi-tech speed boat which then transforms into a hovercraft.

I could go on because "Moonraker" is so chock full of over the top stupidity that you constantly find yourself wondering not only how could someone come up with some of the stuff but more importantly why. But in fairness some of the stupidity works and whilst having Jaws being this indestructible being it does give us a great cable car action scene with the corniest but most unexpected of endings.

But whether you enjoy all the out of this world and over the top nonsense or not "Moonraker" has another major problem and as evil geniuses go Hugo Drax is not that scary. This is not the sort of guy who scares you, he may be up to something nefarious but he's not evil. Thankfully with Richard Kiel returning as Jaws you do have a decent bad guy who does scare you especially with those metal teeth, yes Jaws character ends up becoming too comical but at least he does deliver a sense of foreboding. Aside from that well Roger Moore seems to embrace the stupidity and not in a good way and Lois Chiles is beautiful as the wonderfully named Holly Goodhead.

What this all boils down to is that I am not a fan of "Moonraker" and it is one of my least favourite Bond movies. It simply is too stupid for words and whilst maybe those who watched for the first time at the end of 70s loved the sci-fi aspect it is now so cheesy that it almost becomes a spoof. Its saving grace is that whilst a lot of the action is too outlandish the stunt work and special effects are for the most brilliant.