Moonraker [1979]

Genre: Action, Adventure, Crime
This was the first James Bond adventure produced after the success of Star Wars, so it jumped on the sci-fi bandwagon by combining the suave appeal of Agent 007 (once again played by Roger Moore) with enough high-tech hardware and special effects to make Luke Skywalker want to join Her Majesty's Secret Service. After the razzle-dazzle of The Spy Who Loved Me, this attempt to latch onto a trend proved to be a case of overkill, even though it brought back the steel-toothed villain Jaws (Richard Kiel) and scored a major hit at the box office. This time Bond is up against a criminal industrialist named Drax (Michel Lonsdale) who wants to control the world from his orbiting space station. In keeping with his well-groomed style, Bond thwarts this maniacal Neo-Hitler's scheme with the help of a beautiful, sleek-figured scientist (played by Lois Chiles with all the vitality of a department-store mannequin). There's a grand-scale climax involving space shuttles and ray guns, but despite the film's popular success, this is one Bond adventure that never quite gets off the launching pad. It's as if the caretakers of the James Bond franchise had forgotten that it's Bond--and not a barrage of gizmos and gadgets (including a land-worthy Venetian gondola)--that fuels the series' success. Despite Moore's passive performance (which Pauline Kael described as "like an office manager who is turning into dead wood but hanging on to collect his pension"), Moonraker had no problem attracting an appreciative audience, and there are even a few renegade Bond-philes who consider it one of their favorites. --Jeff Shannon

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