After the space shuttle Moonraker, on loan to the British from the Americans, is hijacked mid-flight everyone is understandably on high alert. James Bond (Roger Moore) is called in to talk to Hugh Drax (Michael Lonsdale), the man who built the shuttles, in hopes he can figure out who stole it. Soon Bond begins to suspect Drax of the theft itself and something far more sinister concerning nerve gas.
Originally For Your Eyes Only was supposed to follow on from The Spy Who Loved Me but the extreme success of Star Wars meant that it was time for Bond to shoot off into space as well.
This is where the Moore era Bond movies begin to wane for me a little. There are a lot of good elements to this film but it all becomes just a little too jokey and liberal with the puns.
The story is quite farfetched but it feels grand enough to be a James Bond adventure so i’m able to suspend my disbelief and accept that a space station could be completely constructed without anyone noticing and that Q branch has invented laser guns.
Our leading lady this time around is Dr Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles), CIA agent and trained astronaut. Chiles performance is ok but after the impression made by Barbara Bach in the previous installment she comes off as fairly one note and bland. There’s nothing wrong with her; there’s just no overwhelming elegance, flair or character trait (other than a silly name) which makes her stand out amongst the Bond girls. For me Drax’s pilot Corinne Dufour (Corinne Clery) makes much more of an impression as one of Bond’s conquests due to her likeable character and allure. She also has one of the more brutal deaths of the series (ripped apart by dogs) to leave her mark.
Drax makes a good villain. He must have some of the best villain monologues from the entire series and it’s all acted really well. It could have been really easy to make killer orchids being launched from a space station to allow for a repopulate of the Earth with a master race seem very stupid but the serious way in which Lonsdale delivers his performance has you believing every word of it.
As stated Jaws (Richard Kiel) is back in this installment. He’s played up for laughs a lot more but that doesn’t really bother me. I also like that he finds love and turns good in the end. What’s even better, is the reasoning behind it makes sense within the confines of the plot. Other films will just have people switch sides because they’ve become a fan favourite but here you can see the cogs working as he figures out he and his girlfriend will not fit into the master race if the plan succeeds and he reacts accordingly.
Stunt wise the opening sequence, yet again, succeeds in delivering a superb action set piece in which Bond is tossed out of a plan with no parachute. It might actually be the highlight of the film. It took 88 sky dives to get correct but they definitely nailed it. How they managed to simulate the weightlessness of space with so many extras in the station is also a great effect and pretty impressive considering the time period.
We’re moving down the slippery slope of Bond getting sillier with each passing film, but, despite this, Moonraker is still an enjoyable film to watch and always worth a look 3/5