Saturday, December 1, 2012

Live and Let Die (1973) review

Roger Moore finally gave some stability to the Bond franchise. After bouncing around from actor to actor (it went Connery to Lazenby to Connery), producers Harry Saltzman and Albert Broccoli finally settled on Roger Moore. Moore went on to play the superspy until he was 56, starring in seven Bond films. Live and Let Die was his first and it is actually pretty good. It starts off nicely, lags in the middle, and has a fantastic final hour.

Live and Let Die sees James Bond hunting down Dr. Kamanga (Yaphet Kotto), a leader from the island of San Monique. He is responsible for the death of three MI6 agents, who all died on the same day. Bond first heads to New Orleans to investigate and discovers that Kamanga is self growing heroin and plans to get the world heroin market under his control. Bond also meets the beautiful Solitaire (Jane Seymour), Kamanga's fortune teller who falls in love with Bond.

Replacing Sean Connery was no easy task. And I'm not saying that Moore is nearly as good as Connery or even Daniel Craig. But he does a solid job of filling in the characters shoes and making it so that the Bonds that Connery and Moore are not drastically different. While the Bond films are different and certainly less action oriented, I felt that Moore did a solid job of filling in some big shoes.

Live and Let Die is an interesting Bond film because it is so different. Most Bond films take place in beautiful, lush locations. Live and Let Die takes place in New Orleans and an island that isn't exactly pretty. So there it is the complete opposite of the previous Bond films. But it works for Live and Let Die. It just feels so right for the film.

Kananga's plan is a little muddled. It isn't explained well in the film and there are a lot of henchmen and double crosses involving Kananga's people. But I think that that is what makes it so interesting at times because you don't know what is going to happen next. And the last half is a blast. It is non-stop action. One minute Bond is about to get eaten by crocodiles, the next they're on a speedy boat chase and the next Kananga and Bond are fighting in his underwater tank. It is very exciting. And Jane Seymour is very good as Solitaire. The voodoo aspect is interesting but it isn't always explained very well with what it means for the story.

Overall, Live and Let Die is a pretty good film and worth a watch. The score is amazing and the theme is the best ever. Without question. There are some missteps, but I would say that this was a pretty good start to the Roger Moore era.

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