Kind of a slow opening, just a standard Voodoo scene, with a man strapped to a post, and gets killed by a snake.
Then we skip to the credits- including Paul McCartney’s “Live and Let Die” For once the credits are pretty interesting.
Then we get James Bond at home, with an Italian hottie, when M shows up with a mission. Moneypenny shows up as well, just in time to see the Italian skip into the closet. We get some fun banter, including Bond’s new toy- a watch with a magnet. It’s a good scene, and a fun intro with some exposition on the mission.
Jump to Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman in her big break reading cards. Bond gets to Harlem, and goes to meet Felix, enroute, his driver is killed, and we get some damage on the streets of New York.
Felix gets him out of the jam, and he tracks down the car, and gets captured- for the first time. Bond gets out of it, we get more exposition, and then Bond is off to knockoff Haiti with the dude from the 7up Commercials. Like a lot of Bonds, this one has SO much potential, from the solid grouping of henchmen, to a fun twist of a mastermind, to laughingly bad acting from the third-tier characters to a solid ending.
The negatives are HUGE. From the CIA girl Felix sends along, to the snake thrown in Bonds room to kill him in the tub- just sad, really. Our first Bind Hot Chick of Color is sadly ineffective and goes from Bad Ass to next scene and plaything to a coward so fast you’ll get whiplash, not exactly a stellar start for chick of color.
The biggest waste of space in this movie, is the Southern Cop. Sheriff J.W. Pepper is just unfunny, and useless. Speaking as someone that has spent two decades in Louisiana and over 4 decades in the South, I can attest that there are people like this all over the place. I cannot see how anyone with a minor level of intelligence would put up with him for more than a few seconds. I guess in the 70s, Hollywood thought about the Deep South like today’s filmmakers feel about China. At no time does he add to my enjoyment of the story, or do anything but annoy me.
A secondary weak point is Dr. Kananga, he’s built as a pretty impressive villain, then drops off to not being all that impressive. This kind of reminds me of Dr No, with his impressive claw hands that does nothing eventually. The fight on the train at the end just seems tacked on, like the filmmakers just said- oh wait, we have a henchman left!
So given that this is the 70s, I can deal with the racism, the Roger Moore stiffness, even the useless running around. What I can’t get over is how annoying Pepper is, and that really hurts the movie for me. This is not like the next one, where you could almost cut him out, he’s all over the second half, and I’m going a 3 here. I just hate Pepper that much and it hurts the movie that bad.
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