Classic Intel: Moonraker - Online Review

'Bond commits manslaughter on two fairly innocent scientists and shrugs the whole thing off... if you were playing Goldeneye N64 you'd have just failed for that, sonny!'

Horror. Not a word you'd associate with Bond normally. Not a word you'd associate with a PG-rated Roger Moore film in general. But there are sequences in Moonraker that attractively call the genre to mind, and I'm not just on about the genuinely horrific space-opera finale, or the double-take pigeon for that matter.

Both main ones happen fairly early doors, as James Bond (Moore) explores Huge Drax' (Michael Lonsdale) large facility. Caught by Chang (Toshirô Suga) in a kind of human tumble dryer, director Lewis Gilbert ramps the tension and intensity, ending in a scene where Bond is so shocked, he can't even speak. Fast-forward a little way and witness the departure of the rather attractive Corinne Dufour (Corinne Cléry), whose finale is shot in misty woods, as John Barry's score brings in something that sounds an awful lot like The Twilight Zone theme. The entire hunting section is actually, like Moore himself, rather damn spiffing.

Then, the problems start to creep in and Moonraker starts to creak. For those looking for them, like pretty much any Bond, especially Moore's, the flaws, inconsistencies and plot holes are numerous. Why, for example, do the two people on the plane at the start not just shoot him? Why does Jaws (Richard Kiel) bite the cable to the cable car, then go out on the very same? Why is 'I never learned to read' offered as a punch-line, despite being crushingly, nonsensically, un-funny? Why does Chang scream like a female tennis player every time he throws a punch? The list is endless.

Inexplicably it gets worse. Moonraker is actually, at worst, OK, for the first two thirds. Then the final third goes to space and everything goes completely to pot. Before then, there's the pigeon, the terrible Venice section as a whole actually, where Bond commits manslaughter on two fairly innocent scientists and shrugs the whole thing off with not even a mention, not even a witticism! If you were playing Goldeneye N64 you'd have just failed for that, sonny!

And yet, still, despite all that, Moonraker is far, far, too much fun for most of the time to says it's completely awful. Moore is not everyone's favourite but he is, largely, fine, especially when he just needs to be dapper. The Rio sections are brilliant (Horror again when Jaws, dressed as a giant puppet, walks down the alley towards Manuela (Emily Bolton)). And Lonsdale as the big bad is an assured presence. So, it is awful. But it's also very good. Roger Moore's Bond legacy all over.

Moonraker was showing on Sky Go and Sky Anytime.


  1. I've been watching all of the Bond films from the start, and this one is up next. I agree with you about Moore. He's just fine. He's there and he does the job, and is sometimes quite funny. I don't think I've ever seen Moonraker before, so it'll be interesting.

    1. Have you seen it yet? Let me know what you think. I enjoyed it much more this time round than I have previously (a long time since I last saw it) but yeah, I can also see why many dislike it intensely.

    2. I enjoyed how over-the-top it was, and it had more memorable bits than most Bond films. By the time it had reached the laser shootout in space I didn't really know what I was watching, but still good fun.

      I particularly enjoyed the bit where the Aztec level from Goldeneye turned up, but that might have nothing to do with the film.

    3. The end is just ridiculous. But yes, spotting Goldeneye stuff in Bond films is a viable pastime!