His Name’s Jaws, He Kills People (1979)
November 30, 2011 3 Comments
His excuse of having fallen from an aeroplane sans parachute dismissed by Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell), James Bond (Roger Moore) enters a meeting with M (Bernard Lee), Q (Desmond Llewelyn) and the British Minister of Defence (Geoffrey Keen) where he learns of a missing space shuttle. From the craft’s birthplace in California, where 007 meets industrialist Hugo Drax (Michael Lonsdale) and undercover CIA agent Dr. Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles), Bond travels first to Venice and then to Rio where he has another run in with Jaws, last seen falling to his assumed death during the aforementioned sky dive. Escaping captivity in one of Drax’s secret bases, Bond and Goodhead stow away on one of his shuttles in order to prevent him from inciting Armageddon and starting anew with a master-race bred in space.
Prompted to list franchises which have not only jumped the shark but the Ozone layer too, James Bond is unlikely to be the first to come to mind, such is the marvel of the psychological defence mechanism known as repression. While you might start by listing every horror franchise worth its salt (and Leprechaun), it will take some careful consideration before your brain trusts you with any memory of Lewis Gilbert’s final Bond movie, Moonraker.
Although this might be one of the easiest Bonds to follow, it is at times so simple as to invoke the image of desperate filmmakers sitting down for a last-minute game of script-writing ‘Consequences’. With assassination attempts so complex and contrived that they make the Final Destination franchise seem perfectly organic by comparison, it is jarring how the rest of the narrative seems happy to trundle unthinkingly from one brain-fryingly inane set-piece to another with little pause for such genre (wait, what’s the opposite of)staples as character development and narrative structure.
Whether it’s a pre-titles sequence sky dive which serves no purpose but to suggest that Jaws’ metal gnashers have inexplicably gifted him with immortality, a bonkers getaway scenario in which Bond escapes the world’s worst assassins aboard a hover-gondola to the sole amusement of one maddeningly double-taking pigeon, or a truly science-defying space battle between gently billowing astronauts, Moonraker is packed to the tips of Hugo Drax’s tin-foil satellite with franchise-low moments of genuinely appalling proportions.
From the moment Jaws attempts to stay airborn by flapping his arms, it is clear that a measured suspension of disbelief is required. By the time that the aforementioned assassin has given up his murderous ways to hold hands with Miss Holland, James Bond has wrestled a plastic snake in front of numerous armed henchmen, and Star Wars has been well and truly space-raped by men in orange bin-liners, however, is appears that the aforementioned suspension has instead hung itself out of utter embarrassment.
Dr. Holly Goodhead might constitute one of the strongest female characters to date, the stunt-work may be passingly impressive and the surprisingly well-judged scene in which Corinne Dufour (Corinne Clery) is eaten by dogs does possibly, at the very least, begin to offset the sheer God-awfulness of the rest of it, but the truth is that Moonraker is the kind of movie which leaves you wishing you could show the numerous would-be assassins how it’s done properly or, at the very least, leave its protagonist mercifully adrift in space.