Roger Moore’s final turn as 007 is usually rated one of the weaker James Bond outings. And it probably is, if only by degree. It took a couple of these films for Moore to find his groove, but for a while his fresh-from-the-box persona made for a crisply ironed Bond that proved a pleasing throwback in a fast changing ‘Pop’ society. But by the time this film came out, though the packaging is luxer than ever, he‘s not sleek, but wizened; popping his eyes like Jimmy Carter and worried how his middle-aged flesh looks on camera. (He’s more bashful of baring his breast than the Bond babes.) The plot, which has something or other to do with flooding Silicon Valley via designed earthquakes, has a bland batch of villains, led by Christopher Walken, with a standout awful perf from Grace Jones. She’s fiercely exotic and entirely unable to act. In spite of all this, the film bumps along, largely following a GOLDFINGER/’64 template (horse racing, a scale model demo for the big caper, the ‘butch’ villainess who flips for the finale, garage garrottings, etc.) and the big set pieces work up considerable energy and almost make logistical sense. (Oddly, megger John Glen who moved up from the 2nd unit, can’t stage a plain old-fashioned fight scene. Or can’t get his camera set-ups to work.) But the Bond films had long lost the balanced blend of daring stunts & suspense, sex, action & naughty fun they had back in the Sean Connery days. Here, even the pre-title action sequence is fitted out with a jokey musical gag that insults our involvement right from the start. At least the writers came up with a funny gag-line, not the usual double-entendre groaner, for Moore’s exit.
WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: GOLDFINGER. Why not?