|Hero vs villain: Roger Moore and Michael Lonsdale|
"Mr. Bond, you arrive with the tedious inevitability of an unloved season." -- Hugo Drax
When a Moonraker shuttle built by Drax Industries is hijacked in midair, James Bond (Roger Moore) is assigned to the investigation. He discovers that Hugo Drax (Michael Lonsdale) is behind a scheme to wipe out the earth's population and replace it with perfect specimens over which he, of course, will rule. After a variety of misadventures, Bond -- assisted by CIA agent Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles) -- winds up on a space station for the final battle. Moonraker was the ultimate live-action cartoon and science fiction version of 007, but it's great fun on that level. There are major action setpieces in the film, such as a prologue in which Bond is forced out of an airplane; a scene when Bond is caught in a whirling thingamajig that registers acceleration pressure; a battle with metal-toothed Jaws (Richard Kiel) high atop a cable car over Rio; a chase on a river with a waterfall, Bond's glider at the ready; and another boat chase on a canal in Venice. [Bond's gondola is outfitted with wheels and an outboard motor!] Moore plays his own version of a lighter-hearted Bond and plays it well. The other two main performers underplay to good effect: Lonsdale is neither hysterical nor flamboyant but radiates a quiet menace; and while Chiles could be considered bland, even wooden at times, she gets across her character's strength, avoids making her a Kewpie doll (despite her dirty joke of a name), and only succumbs to Bond's charms when she is ready. John Barry's majestic music is on the money, including an excellent title tune very well-sung by Shirley Bassey of Goldfinger fame. A very colorful and exciting picture with some fascinating settings.
Verdict: More silly than it needs to be, but highly entertaining. ***.