A Space Shuttle disappears after a hijacking. There’s a crash but it’s nowhere to be found in the wreckage. Bond is sent to investigate. His first port of call is the manufacturer, Drax industries.
We’re flying high after The Spy Who Loved Me, and Moonraker starts on a promising note. Bond gets pushed out of a plane without a parachute. Someone else is on their way down already and he has to catch up, steal their parachute and fight off other bad guys before hitting the ground.
This is a brilliantly executed scene that clearly took a lot of work. I since read they did 88 skydives to complete the shot, it was not a waste of time.
Bond plummets and manages to pull his chute just in time, but unfortunately Moonraker decides to go splat head first into the ground. Things start to go south very early on, in that same scene even, when Jaws (yes, the same Jaws from the last film) has a parachute failure but fortunately manages to fall onto a circus tent.
The stupid tone continues throughout. Coffins with knives hidden in them, gondola hovercrafts, boats with hang gliders built in… One wonders if this is supposed to be some sort of Austin Powers style parody.
It’s not all bad. Roger Moore is comfortable and fun to watch on screen, he’s got the role down to a tee now. However it’s already starting to feel as though he just turns up, looks at women, says jokes and goes home. There’s a lot more stunt work involved here, including liberal head-on shots of the doubles. Moore just doesn’t feel quite as involved.
He gets paired up with CIA agent Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles, and no I did not make up the character name). Again the notion of having the two as professional partners works in the film’s favour, but for some reason she gets largely written out of the story until the last half hour.
Richard Kiel is back as Jaws. This is a bad idea. He seems to serve no purpose other than to milk out the success from the previous film.
Michael Lonsdale plays Drax, the villain. He does manage to capture some of the petulance that all good crazy villains have, but all in all he’s not particularly threatening.
This isn’t helped by the fact that his plan (and therefore the plot) is never going to work. He wants to wipe out the world and breed a master race of sexy people on a space station. Even Bond calls him out on how stupid this is and Bond is a fucking idiot.
The last 45 minutes or so occur in space, another terrible misstep. Shamelessly trying to cash in on the success of Star Wars is a waste of everyone’s time, especially when they had just started making James Bond work on its own merit again.
As with all slap-dash sci-fi, these scenes raise far too many questions. How did they get anti-gravity stuff to work? How and why do NASA have laser guns? How did NASA even manage to scramble a space shuttle with a ten minute warning? It’s frustrating, and encourages us to point out flaws rather than to enjoy the film.
One more thing; there’s yet another stupid shoot out at the end that goes on forever. It could be argued that they shouldn’t have made the film at all, but if they insist, they why make us sit through these ridiculous scenes that drag on and on? Edit it out!
This is easily the worst film we’ve seen so far. From the forgettable theme tune to the idiotic space battle, Moonraker has stolen two hours of our time without giving anything back at all.