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Live and Let Die (1973)  

Review: written 18th September 2007

Less is Moore...?

Moore's first movie as Bond successfully makes the transition into 70's, with flares, jazz, afro's and all. It's an extension of the Americanisation that started in Diamonds are Forever, and a lot of it works - at least well enough to establish Roger Moore as the new Bond quite painlessly. His is a different Bond - more suave, less fisticuffs, more one liners. But the story lurches from new ideas to old standards in hesitant fashion, ultimately ending unsatisfyingly.

There are some very memorable set-pieces, but there is a lot missing from the mix too. The plot line meanders and never seems to present a particularly threatening atmosphere. SPECTRE and Blofeld are rather missed, as the franchise struggles to find a replacement protagonist for the new decade. After megalomaniacs trying to achieve world domination, a drugs baron (Mr Big, played by Yaphett Koto) somehow seems tame by comparison.

Moore is often criticised for bringing too much levity to the series - but the one liners roll easily from his tongue (amazingly, given how firmly entrenched it is in his cheek). However, for every plus in the humour stakes, something is lost in the action stakes - Moore was never convincing in the running and fighting. The final train compartment fight in the coda is ok, but pales compared to the classic similar scene in `From Russia...' In this movie, although older than Sean Connery, with careful editing, he just about holds his own as a credible action hero.

It is over half way through the movie as your eyelids may be drooping, that the movie really kicks into gear, with `that' boat chase. It's action packed, with great stunts and humour throughout, in large part due to Sheriff W Pepper. Other than the colourful Sheriff, in terms of characters, women are given a bit of a bum deal, either whimpering Jane Seymour falling instantly for Bond's charms thanks to a rather ungentlemanly piece of cheating, or Rosie Carver who is portrayed as the most useless CIA agent ever (although Bond gamely offers to `lick her into shape').

Yaphet Koto however is a credible Bond villain- even when he cannot decide whether to be something from a Blaxploitation movie, or the Blofeld clone he sounds like in the final few scenes of the movie, in the inevitable underground lair.

It is this switch from high octane powerboat chase to disappointingly old fashioned finale, that ultimately lets the film down.

As a package then, good enough to introduce a new Bond, while Moore was still young enough to fill Bond's shoes. It has scenes worth waiting for, but is certainly not one of Bond's finest moments.

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