I have to give in a little. I'm not a huge fan of the more tongue in cheek and over the top Bond, but now that Roger Moore has taken the reigns its hard not to have fun watching him. "Live And Let Die" is the debut of a brand new Bond era and one that is going to give you a lot of laughs and a lot of scoffs. I have to admit that even with its over the top style I enjoyed this film quite a bit although it does have many...MANY...flaws.
PLOT: Bond takes on the entire 70s African American culture in "Live And Let Die". Starting off with your usual action sequence before the titles, this film really digs itself into the culture of 70s blacksploitation - almost to the point of absurdity. Bond is called in to investigate a handful of missing agents that are investingating an island political figure, Dr. Kananga which leads him on a wild chase to uncover the connection between Kananga and Mr. Big, a drug dealing gangster from Harlem. Bond gets involved in some serious voodoo rituals, a beautiful tarot reading fortune teller, and even gets into a high speed boat chase through Louisiana until his final showdown with double identies and a secret on an island that Kananga will kill for.
STORYLINE 3/5: Overall the idea of "Live And Let Die" is quite interesting. The politics and gangster overlaps, the descent into voodoo lore (although its much more prominent in the novel), and the use of tarot card prophecies make this film more enjoyable than it should be. Unfortunately, it does tend to move in random tangents for the sake of entertainment more often than not. A huge chunk of time is spent putting Bond in perilous situations that seem more out of the blue than worthy of his time and effort. Feeding him to alligators (the entire Louisiana section of the film could be cut and not affect the film too much except we lose a sweet ass boat chase that borderlines a Duke Of Hazard montage with local law enforcement that just makes me want to shoot myself) or even his first encounters in Harlem with Mr. Big. Tends to get a bit too out of hand and irrelevant to the overall story for its own good.
BOND 3/5: Roger Moore makes his debut and honestly, its not as bad as most people claim it to be. It was obvious with the last few Connery Bond films that the direction of the series was going in a more tongue in cheek and over the top way and Roger Moore fits right in with that idea. His suave and cock in hand manner fits with the new idea of Bond quite well. Of course, they also tried to change up the 'new' Bond a bit by making him drink and smoke other things (they will NOT be mentioned) instead of cigarettes and martinis which is a weird misstep for this film. But Moore's fun and almost parody like approach works quite well I think for this film.
VILLAIN 4/5: Kananga is actually one of my favorite villains. He is smart. He is devious. He doesn't mind killing a few employees to make a point either. He might suck at knife fighting but really he's all brains and lets his many lackeys do the dirty work. Kotto's take on the villain is a nice comparison to many other great Bond villains and his weird love/hate relationship with Solitaire is rather intriguing (especially when he hints about his relationship with her mother). I also have to give it up that he has MULTIPLE lead henchmen. Tee Hee (with his mechanical arm) being the lead but also Whisper and our skeletal oddity that makes random appearances. He surrounds himself with memorable and tough people. I like that.
BOND GIRL 3.5/5: Solitaire is an odd Bond girl. She is at least relevant to the plot, her history is somewhat expressed with her discussions with Bond and Kananga, yet she still feels somewhat 2D. Maybe its because she seems ridiculously easy to manipulate in this film and her outrageous outfits don't do her any benefit either. I don't mind Seymour's performance as Solitaire but the character just doesn't do a whole lot for me.
"Live And Let Die" is definitely the beginning of a new era of Bond. Really embracing the over the top and ridiculous attitude that Connery really couldn't, Moore is the right man for the job at this time. This film is a lot of fun and take it with a grain of salt when it goes on its random tangents. I wish they would have gone forward with more of the voodoo lore that made the book such a riveting read, but when you have half cybernetic men and tarot reading leading ladies, who needs more outlandish claims?
Written By Matt Reifschneider