Monday, April 27, 2020

Moonraker (1979)

While the teaser at the conclusion of The Spy Who Loved Me stated For Your Eyes Only would be the next Bond film, the project was put on hold in favor of Moonraker. With Star Wars igniting a renaissance in Sci-Fi, the Bond series decided it was time to send 007 off to outer space, at least for the last act of the film.

For the first 2/3 of Moonraker remains fairly conventional outing with Bond on the trail of a Hugo Drax (Michael Lonsdale), a private entrepreneur who wants to send human to space (Elon Musk prototype). Of course not! Drax is a maniacal eugenicist who wants to create a super race of humans in space. Maybe the most droll villain in any Bond film. He's creating his own space force as well, and apparently NASA also had one of their own in 1979!

The prologue is a knockout featuring sky diving and an aerial battle over a parachute. Bond's investigation of Drax sends him all over the world from California to Venice to Rio de Janeiro. A highlight includes Bond escaping from a speeding centrifuge and there's an impressive cable car sequence. He teams up with CIA agent Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles) in their quest to stop Drax. Jaws also returns, but the character's already becoming tiresome by this point. 

It's fair to say Moonraker is when the series jumped the shark. Not only is Bond a masterful astronaut with no training, he can also pilot a space shuttle. Moonraker is actually a lot of fun if you're in the right mood. Not unsurprisingly the franchise would reboot themselves for the 1980s, staying with Moore for three more films, but keeping the adventures tactile and earthbound. Bernard Lee made his final appearance as M who unfortunately never got a proper farewell in the film.

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