Classic Intel: Live And Let Die - Online Review

'relaunches Bond by returning to something very close to Dr. No in overall conception, but then manages to spectacularly mess up the particulars'

Not Bond's finest moment, Live And Let Die, Roger Moore's first outing as the iconic spy, is slow of plot, frequently racist and sexist and hardly ever compelling. It relaunches Bond by returning to something very close to Dr. No in overall conception, but then manages to spectacularly mess up the particulars.

Starting with the positives might be the most pleasant way to proceed. Moore's Bond, introduced in dandyish nightgown, is, for the most part, fine, if lacking the steel of Sean Connery. His early reactions to the faux-comic invasion of his home by M (Bernard Lee) show where the series is heading from this point forwards and whilst that direction is not entirely distasteful, it is a different palette to wrap your tongue around. The sharp costuming is notable throughout and Solitaire (Jane Seymour) proves an interesting Bond girl, whose allegiances are never clear and whose white dress near the end calls to mind Horror, not for the last time in the Moore era Bonds.

She though, is in sharp contrast to Rosie Carver (Gloria Hendry) who is black, female and 'incompetent' and therefore, in Bond's world and words, only suitable for certain physical forms of 'compensation'. This mind-numbingly disparaging treatment of a character is still incredible to witness and sums up the mindset of a film which, very early on, sets up the conflict as black vs white, undeveloped world vs the west, personified by 'comedy' sheriff Clifton James, who is anything but, proving racist in his actions and grossly stereotyped in his characterisation. It is, on more than one occasion, a depressing watch.

The usual leaps in logic and plotting are present and correct. The villain, Dr. Kananga (Yaphet Kotto), pausing at the end when he should be shooting Bond between the eyes, literally asks Bond to 'let me show you how it works', before admitting there are 'simpler ways to kill someone', without ever bothering to explain quite why he is attempting to feed Bond to a shark. His comeuppance, read by others as the point where the film literally forces the undeveloped world to 'swallow' the 'progress' of the west, is inevitable.

The coda at the end is a ridiculously poorly motivated attempt to return to From Russia With Love, which sums the film up; it has few of its own ideas, all executed through a distasteful fog of prejudice and a pervading air of mediocrity.




Live And Let Die was playing on Sky Anytime+ and Sky Go.

No comments:

Post a comment