As the ninth James Bond movie, The Man With the Golden Gun finds Rodger Moore in full stride. This is the second Bond film starring Rodger Moore, and here we find the film makers trying to further distance the film from the Sean Connery era. The hope would be to appeal to a new era of movie goers; movie goers who now wanted more action, more sex, and more entertainment. As a result, while the Connery-era James Bond movies had remained fairly faithful to the detective-like James Bond created in Ian Flemming’s novels, the Moore-era Bond films of the late seventies until mid eighties came to be characterized by lavish over-the-top action sequences, pop culture indulgences, and slapstick humor. The Man With the Golden Gun fully embodies this sentiment, holding nothing back for better or for worse. Looking back at the film, it is easy to point out how out dated, crass, and goofy this movie is, but nonetheless, it succeeds as an action flick that is a good representation of the time period; especially in its attempts to cash in on the Kung-Fu movie craze and the energy crisis.
Synopsis: Fransico Scaramanga is an elite assassin, a man so reliable and well-known at his trade that he requires a million dollars per kill and uses his own, one-of-a-kind golden gun with special golden bullets etched with the name of his target. Meanwhile, James Bond is on a mission to find a state-of-the-art stolen energy transformer called the “Solex Agitator” which makes thermoelectric power generation possible from sunlight, and thus a solution to the world’s energy problems. When a golden bullet shows up with “007” on it, Bond is relieved from duty for his safety. Bond, though, is not one to sit idly by, and begins tracking down Scaramanger, taking him to Beirut, Hong Kong, and eventually Bankok. Here he determines the connection between the missing Solex Agitator and Scaramanger’s golden trademark bullet marked with his number. A duel between crafty gunslingers ensues, with the fate of the world’s energy supply and economy depending on its outcome…
Acting: Bad (14/25)
- Rodger Moore as James Bond “007” : Okay – Playing Bond more like an invincible robot playboy than an actual spy, Moore brings charm to the role but not genuine acting or any realistic emotion whatsoever.
- Christopher Lee as Francisco Scaramanga: Great – Lee makes a good villian no matter what movie he’s in, he is a sophisticated and veteran actor with class and wits to match any foe onscreen. The best villain of the Moore era.
- Britt Eckland as Mary Goodnight: Horrible – This character almost makes the movie unwatchable. She is pathetically stereotyped, woefully acted, and incredibly insulting to women everywhere. The eye candy of the movie in the worst way.
- Herve Villechaize as Nicjk Nack: Good – Creepy and memorable. Both qualities necessary for a good Bond henchman.
- Supporting Cast: Bad – Poor acting and stereotypes are everywhere, the only redeeming character of the bunch being Maud Adam’s Andrea Anders, who would return in Octopussy.
Script/Plot: Okay (16/25)
- Dialogue: Okay – Of course we get the cheesy dialogue from more with all the innuendos and most of the characters say very stereotypical things, but the dialogue is what drives the story and can be witty at times, namely when Nick Nack or Scaramanga are onscreen.
- Script: Bad – Perhaps one of the most boring Bond films, this one is not very memorable. Besides all the Kung Fu and the onscreen duel between Scaramanga and Bond, there is nothing really here that hasn’t been done before in a Bond film. The end though, is nicely written…its too bad the rest of the film was not as well written.
- Plot: Okay – Its easy to follow even if it fizzles out towards the middle. There is some action spruced in to quicken the pace here and there. Its a tad too long.
- Themes/Messages: Okay – Don’t watch Bond films for advice, but I appreciated the writers’ inclusion of the world’s energy crisis into the action.
Direction: Okay (18/25)
- Professionalism: Good – The beginning and end of this movie are the most well-directed portions, showing originality, artistic qualities, and good framing. It makes up for the rest of the movie which is only so-so.
- Flow: Okay – Director Guy Hamilton shows in the opening sequence and end that he knows how to create tension and drama to drive the plot, so it’s confusing that the rest of the movie is so boring and slow to develop.
- Editing: Bad – There are so many mistakes in this movie it is fun just to watch it to point them out (the most obvious being a cameraman’s foot dangling from the top of one of the cars during a close up of Rodger Moore in a chase sequence). The action sequences can be difficult to follow at times because of all the inconsistencies.
Special Effects: Good (20/25)
- Special Effects: Great – I’m not saying this movie is a special effects masterpiece, but it does have wonderful stunt work (including Willard’s famous 360 degree roll car jump…which is 100% real in the movie!), entertaining action sequences, and a some interesting sets, especially Scaramanga’s island home.
- Music: Okay – LuLu’s opening credit song is a bizarre choice and may be one of the worst, but the rest of the music does fit the movie well. Alice Cooper was set to write/perform the opening song but the producers changed it at the last minute. You can find the Alice Cooper song, which is much better, here.
- X-Factor: Good – This movie’s main distinguishing factor is the presence of a worthy adversary to Bond, and the classic scenes depicting the duel(s) between them.
The Verdict: (68/100) = D+
- What’s Good: Christopher Lee makes a legendary villain, the action and stunt work is fun to watch, and the end of the movie makes the rest of it worthwhile.
- What’s Bad: Poor acting, offensive stereotypes, a muddled plot, and lacking the excitement until the end that we all expect from a James Bond film.
- In Summary: Is it ironic that the most boring James Bond film gives us one of the most exciting Bond villains?
My previous review: Rated for Redux: Alice in Wonderland (2010)