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The film starts with a British-staffed plane, transporting a space shuttle named “Moonraker” across the Atlantic. There are hijackers aboard! White guys in brown leather jackets have snuck onto the shuttle. They take off in the shuttle, exploding the plane in the process.

Meanwhile, Bond is on a private jet getting cozy with a stewardess. Suddenly, the stewardess pulls a gun on Bond. The pilot enters the cabin, wearing a parachute and also brandishing a gun.

Bond and the pilot brawl. In the chaos of the fight, the door to the plane is opened. Bond tosses the pilot out of the plane. A second later, motherfuckin’ Jaws from the previous film appears from nowhere, shoving Bond out of the plane.

Bond, freefalling without a parachute angles his dive toward the pilot, and catches him. They fight in the air, and Bond manages to wrench the parachute off of the pilot. The pilot flies off at an angle while Bond attaches the chute.

But Jaws is right above him, having dove out of the plane with a chute of his own! He grapples Bond, tries to bite him. Bond pulls his rip cord, and breaks off from Jaws as his parachute deploys.

It’s a spectacular set piece. One that is then ruined when Jaws’ parachute fails to deploy, causing him to desperately angle his fall so that he lands on a circus tent, breaking his fall and saving his life. It’s a terrible comedy beat, almost as ruinous as the slide-whistle in “The Man With the Golden Gun.”

After the opening Credits, Bond meets with M, Q, and the Minister of Defence. America is mad because the lost shuttle was in British care, so they want Bond to investigate. Before Bond leaves for California, Q gives him a wrist-mounted dart gun.

Corinne Dufour, a beautiful lady helicopter pilot flies Bond into the compound of a wealthy industrialist named Hugo Drax, the manufacturer of the Moonraker. Drax has a giant campus with a giant mansion in the center, which had been shipped stone-by-stone from France. He is developing his own space program.

Bond exchanges brief pleasantries with Drax, who plays at being cultured, but instantly comes off as a dull creep. Bond is sent to meet with a lady scientist named Dr. Holly Goodhead. With the addition of this character to the canon, somehow “Pussy Galore” has been beat as the laziest suggestive name in the franchise.

Goodhead shows Bond some astronaut stuff and straps him in a centrifuge before being called away. After she leaves, at Drax’s command, his specifically-Asian manservant, Chang spins Bond faster and faster, having disabled the kill switch for the centrifuge. As Bond approaches fatal speeds, he uses a wrist dart to disable the machine. For some reason, politeness, I suppose, this is treated as a mechanical mishap and not as an obvious homicide attempt.

These proceedings are all more or less fine enough, but Goodhead is dull. Chang is dull. And Michael Lonsdale as Drax is easily the villain with the least charm, spark, or personality the series has had to date.

Corinne has a bit of personality, but Roger Moore has aged to the point where her role as the woman who sleeps with him and shares all of her boss’s secrets after falling for the charms of James Bond is fully implausible, boring and irritating. Which is not to say that it was a welcome archetype when Bond was younger and hotter. It’s just dumber now.

At any rate, having served her plot function, Corinne can now be murdered by Chang in an unpleasant extended scene where she is set upon by dogs.

Bond, having photographed some blueprints is ready to leave, but not before Drax attempts to have him killed in a pheasant hunting “accident”. Bond just shoots would be attacker and takes off as if nothing ever happened. All Drax’s attempts to have Bond murdered are doing are red flagging himself as a bad guy.

Bond now travels to Venice on a very thin lead. He ends up visiting a glass museum and runs into Dr. Goodhead. He keeps trying to ingratiate himself with her and she keeps rebuffing him. This should be endearing, but the character is just so flat.

Later, Bond is lounging on a gondola when he gets beset by a knife-throwing assassin. The assassin kills the gondolier but misses Bond. Bond throws the knife that missed back at the assassin, killing him in a cartoonish manner that is not worth describing. Seems like using the dart gun would have been easier.

It appears that this is no ordinary gondola, as Bond pulls out controls for motorized operation. He begins piloting the gondola as if it were a speedboat, now pursued by gun-toting assailants in actual speedboats. There is a chase through the canals, played not for suspense, but for what one would technically call comedy.

After a few action beats, a second speedboat, this one with Jaw onboard joins the chase. However, Bond’s gondola is a spy gondola and he is able to transform it into a hovercraft, leaving the canals for the streets, and escaping his pursuers. This causes numerous doubletakes, including one by a pigeon.

The whole sequence seems to be aiming for the knowing goofiness of “Live and Let Die” but it painfully misses the mark. After getting increasingly dumb over the last few installments, the pigeon doubletake appears the be the moment where all pretense of the filmmakers respecting their own film making is abandoned. The Bond franchise seems to now primarily exist to lampoon itself, but not in a fun, smart “Scream” way.

After the chase, Bond is… somewhere? He has somehow found a secret lab. I suppose it is possible that I missed some minor clue, something that explained how he got here, but it feels like the film has abandoned the notion of having a plot that is at all legible. The lab is very sci-fi.

Bond’s meddling leaves a vial in an unfortunate location, which a pair of scientists accidentally knock over. Safe behind glass, Bond watches the contents of that vial fill the room with a smoke that instantly kills the scientist.

Bond sneaks back out, with another vial, and is attacked by Chang, now in fencing gear, wielding a bamboo sword. Bond ducks back into the glass museum. (Maybe the lab and the glass museum and the glass manufacturers are all part of the same glass consortium, but this is not made clear.)

Bond picks up a one-of-a-kind sword with a glass hilt from a display. The two fight with swords, smashing countless racks of rare glass.

I’ve always hated when adventure stories have fights in museums. I hate seeing supposed rare artifacts destroyed in the course of these shenanigans. This sequence, meanwhile, is reveling in smashing as much as possible. They smash it all, before Bond eventually kills Chang, again, in a way that is thuddingly played for unlanded laughs.

Bond then goes to see Dr. Goodhead at her lavish hotel room. He knowingly paws through her personal items, revealing several spy gadgets. It turns out that Dr. Goodhead is working for the CIA, and so the two decide to pool their resources. Which means that Dr. Goodhead is now willing to have sex with Bond. It just seems like work.

M and the Minister of Defence arrive in Venice, and Bond takes them to the location of the lab. Only, when he does, there is no lab at the location, but instead a large, ornate office. It is a room that it would be flatly impossible to put in the place of the lab. I don’t think I can underline enough just how impossible it would be to make this switch with anything short of magic, holodecks, or teleportation. In its own way, this breaks the plausibility of the movie just as badly as the pigeon. Drax is in the office.

Due to embarrassing the Minister in this fashion, Bond is taken off of the case, but wink-wink, will continue working on it. Bond will head to Rio, following a lead I did not catch.

With Chang dead, Drax makes a phone call and hires Jaws as a replacement. I’d really like to know who exactly he called to make this hire.

When Bond arrives in Rio, Manuela is waiting in his hotel room. She is an attractive young woman that gives him local color and sex. No clear indication is given about who she actually is. These movies have simply hit the point where Bond merely has to appear in a location and there will be a beautiful woman 25 years his junior ready to give him exposition and ready to sleep with him. There is no longer even a pretense of seduction. It is gross straight male fantasy at its absolute laziest.

After they sleep together, Jaws attacks them, dressed as a clown, but a crowd of parties sweeps Jaws away in their revelry. It’s even dumber and shittier than it sounds.

The next day, Jaws disables a gondola containing Bond and Goodhead by chewing through a steel cable. Gondola, as in cable car, not like the boats. (This movie covers the gamut of gondolas across the world.) Jaws and Bond fight on top of the gondola. It is unclear why Bond doesn’t use his dart gun to shoot Jaws. Instead, he wraps a chain over one of the gondola’s non-chewed cables, and uses it to slide down the cable, escaping Jaws.

Jaws meanwhile crashes his gondola into a building. As he pulls himself out of the rubble, a buxom, innocent young woman approaches and frees him from the rubble. She does not say anything but smiles at him demurely. He smiles back as the fucking Romeo & Juliet Overture plays on the soundtrack. Without a word, the two walk off, hand in hand.

Bond and Goodhead have some more adventures together, both getting captured by fake paramedics but they soon escape, with no help from Bond’s dart gun. Afterward they are separated. Later, Bond dresses like a vaquero for no readily explored reason.

He meets up with Moneypenny, M and Q, who have all temporarily relocated to a Rio monastery, like they did with the Egypt tombs last picture. Q branch is there, testing out straight-up laser rifles. Meanwhile, the fact that Moneypenny has aged out of flirting with Bond remains a bummer, despite the paradoxical fact that the notion of any human being wanting to flirt with Bond is also a giant bummer.

Q has found that the vial Bond had stolen contains a poison made from a rare orchid found in the region. The toxin is extremely lethal to humans, but harmless to flora and non-human fauna.

Bond takes a spy boat up the river, toward the source of this rare orchid, and has a boat battle along the way. Jaws ends up chasing Bond, as the boating continues, but Bond leads the chase over a waterfall. Bond hang-glides to safety while Jaws goes over the falls.

Bond then seems to randomly stumble into a villain lair populated by a large number of beautiful women several recognizable as associates of Hugo Drax. They are all wearing what appears to be “sexy astronaut” costumes from the Halloween store. Jaws is also there, somehow, despite having just gone over a waterfall because this movie appears to follow Looney Tunes rules.

It is, of course, Drax’s lair. He escorts Bond through the space, showing off his supervillain space command. This movie has been dreadful, but the base looks great. It’s quite an impressive set, a bigger, grander version of the volcano lair in “You Only Live Twice.” Bond is tossed into a room with Goodhead, directly below a rocket. Drax refuses to just have them shot, insisting they have a fun death. He wants them to burn to death when the rocket launches.

But Bond still has his stupid digital watch, complete with an explosive charge. He uses it to blow a hole in a large vent that he and Goodhead escape through.

Bond and Goodhead then sneak their way through the base and secretly commandeer a space shuttle, one of six in Drax’s fleet all taking off right now. Bond and Goodhead discover that the shuttle is full of what appear to be mating pairs of hot young humans. The shuttle is on a preprogrammed flight, able to take them to… Drax’s secret space station!

The six Moonrakers all dock at the secret cloaked space station. All the folk disembark, including Jaws with his new lady love.

Drax intends to use his toxin to kill all remaining human life on Earth, while the people now on the space station begin a new utopian society. It’s the exact same plot as the last movie, only upside down. This isn’t any sort of clever mirroring, it’s just lazy repetition.

Bond and Goodhead disable the radar jammer, making the station visible to Earth. Once they do, the U.S. send a shuttle to investigate, but Drax has lasers.

Bond and Goodhead are captured again and are about to be shoved out of an airlock, but Bond plants the seeds of doubt in Jaws that he and his lady will not make the cut in this new society, eugenically speaking. This causes Jaws to rebel.

At this point, all hell breaks loose. The station stops rotating, disrupting the artificial gravity. Drax sends a bunch of Astronaut troops outside of the station to meet the American Astronaut warriors, who have left their own shuttle. An exterior laser battle ensues. Eventually the spies help the Americans onboard, leading to an interior laser battle.

In the chaos, Drax tries to escape. Bond pursues, but Drax gets the drop on him with a laser pistol. Bond shoots him with the dart gun. Then he tosses Drax out of an airlock.

But things are not okay over yet. Drax had already launched three orbs containing the toxin toward Earth, enough to kill millions. Naturally, Bond and Goodhead hop into a Moonraker, armed with a laser canon. However, the docking release is jammed!

Jaws and his lady are left the lone living people remaining on the decaying space station. They are just happy to be together. They share some champaign. Jaws, having been mute up to this point, toasts the two of them. “We’ll, here’s to us.” Then they help the spies break free of the space station. Then the space station explodes.

Bond and Goodhead shoot down the toxin spheres. There is a vague line of dialog suggesting that Jaws and his lady survived somehow.

Then Bond and Goodhead fuck on the space shuttle.

This is the strangest Bond thus far. I don’t believe in “so bad, it’s good,” but this movie is “so strange, it’s compelling, despite being terrible.” Where do they go from here? Having sent Bond to space, the pendulum has to start swinging the other way, right?

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Ahem. Where was I?

We start on a Russian-crewed submarine. Something happens, although it is not entirely clear what that something is, although it is ominous. Later, officials are notified that the ship has vanished.

Word is given to Moscow. It seems that James Bond’s Eastern Counterpart, Agent Triple X is to be put on the case. We seemingly cut to Triple X in bed with a pretty lady, but it is a fakeout. Triple X is the lady not the fella! Has egalitarianism come to this franchise at last? It seems unlikely.

Bond is at a Ski Lodge with a pretty lady, when he gets a message via a printout from his goddamn digital watch: Orders to return to base. Britain has also lost a sub. Apparently this is a remake of “You Only Live Twice.”

Bond leaves his pretty lady, but is immediately set upon by ski assassins, dispatched by the young lady whose company he had been enjoying. He uses a gun in his ski pole to put some distance between the assassins, enough to ski off of a mountain and parachute to safety, all while wearing a bright yellow snowsuit. The parachute is a Union Jack. The specifics are stupid, but the stunt is impressive.

This movie continues to show Triple X to be the mirror image of Bond. She gets the Russian equivalent of a briefing scene with M, whereupon she is dispatched to investigate the missing Russian sub. She is also informed of the death of her lover, a fellow agent. It isn’t explicit, but it is clear enough that her lover was the skier that Bond iced.

Bond meets not with M but with some navy fellas at some Navy place. Q is there. They discuss what they know about the sinking subs. Someone in Cairo claims that they know the secret of how the subs are being sunk.

The guy who can sink subs is revealed to be some generic white guy in the by-now generic bond villain vein. His name is Stromberg and he refuses to shake hands. He’s got a funky underwater base that looks like the Hall of Doom and a pair of henchmen. A large fella, and an even larger fella named Jaws, who has metal teeth and is mute.

His introductory scene has a decent switcheroo where it looks like he is dismissing his moll so that he can murder the scientists who made his submarine-sinker, but instead, he murders the moll, via trap door in an elevator, dropping her into a shark tank. It’s a decent throwback to when Blofeld would keep SPECTRE agents guessing about who he held accountable. Stromberg killed her because he thinks she leaked information about his plans. But then he murders the scientists too! He blows up their helicopter! Just in case he was wrong, and they were the leakers.

Bond goes to Egypt. He rides on a camel while wearing desert robes for no apparent reason other than to allow the soundtrack to play a snatch of the theme to Lawrence of Arabia while he does. He meets up with an old friend, a Brit ex-pat local. He points Bond in the right direction, before offering to let Bond stay the night. Bond is about to decline, when his buddy summons a young woman for Bond to have sex with. Bond agrees to stay. I really should stop being surprised and dismayed by the way this series fully treats women as objects

Bond goes to meet his new contact, Fekkesh, the guy who claims they know the secret of the sinking subs. He is absent, but Stromberg’s large henchman, named Sandor, is there, ready to ambush Bond. They fight, until Bond has Sandor at his mercy, dangling off of a roof. Sandor tells Bond where to find Fekkesh. Bond then drops Sandor off of the roof. The cruelty of the murder would have seemed perfectly natural had Connery done it, but coming from Moore, it feels strange and off. These are no longer those kind of movies.

Bond, Triple X, Fekkesh, and Jaws all convene at the Pyramids of Giza, where a strange late night tourist show is underway. The tourist presentation can be heard playing over an extended, dull game of cat and mouse between the various players. It’s a very strange choice.

Jaws shows himself capable of biting a chain in half with his metal teeth. He then bites Fekkesh to death. But Bond finds the body of Fekkesh, and grabs a datebook off of him and beats up some fellas that I think work with Jaws? Triple X just takes it all in.

Later, the two spies meet again at the club that Bond had found in the datebook. Each spy shows off how much they know about each other, including their signature drinks. It is as if “shaken, not stirred” had become a catchphrase so that years later it could be referenced in this film. The respective showing off is playful, until Triple X mentions Tracy, Bond’s dead wife, which he does not appreciate, shutting down the conversation.

It turns out that the owner of the club has the microfilm. The spies start a bidding war over it, but before either can come to terms, Jaws lures the owner away to a private telephone. Jaws quickly bites him to death and takes the microfilm.

After playing catch up, Bond and Double X both sneak onto Jaws’ escape van, but as they banter in the back, Jaws is listening to everything they say. He takes them back to the pyramids, where begins a new game of cat and mouse.
Bond and Jaws scuffle. Bond is no match at all for the 7-foot two brute one-on-one. While the boys wrassle, Triple X gets the drop on Jaws with a gun and takes the microfilm from him at gunpoint. Jaws kicks the gun out of her hand in a very telegraphed action, and she and Bond both retreat to the van they came in. Jaws jumps onto the van, and starts ripping it apart with his bare hands, but the spies escape.

As rivals, one expects sexy, clever banter between our two leads (and unusually, Triple X almost does feel like a co-lead) but instead we get petty squabbling. The van dies and they must walk through the desert back to civilization. The theme to “Lawrence of Arabia” swells on the soundtrack. As a rule, it is a bad idea to reference a great movie in your shitty movie. It does you no favors.

On a boat back to Cairo, Bond secretly examines the microfilm. When it seems like Bond and Triple X are going to fuck on a boat an hour too early, she uses a cigarette filled with knockout gas to sucker Bond and abscond with the microfilm.

MI6 has apparently set up shop inside of the great pyramids. M, Q, and Moneypenny are all there, as is M’s Russian opposite number and Triple X. This operation has become a joint venture between Russia and Britain. Before the briefing we get a Q Section gadget scene, Egypt-style, with attack hookahs and ejector pillows.

The microfilm doesn’t have the full plans to the sub-sinker but Bond and X find a clue that points them to Sardinia. They head there as partners, taking a train together. Bond is confused when he cannot seduce X.
Before Bond can solve this puzzle, Jaws reveals himself to be on the train. He tries to bite X when she is alone, but Bond hears the altercation and jumps in.

The fight plays like a lame cartoon parody of the train fight in “From Russia With Love.” Bond electrocutes Jaws through his teeth and tosses him out of the train through a window. Jaws pulls himself up and walks away. Back on the train, after this particular near-death experience, X is finally ready to sleep with Bond.

Later, after they arrive in Sardinia, Q delivers to Bond a car that just oozes poorly-dated modernity. The question of how Q got there first, when they were all coming from the same location and Bond and X left straight away by train, is not explored.

Bond and X arrange a meeting with Stromberg. They pose as a marine biologist and his wife, respectively. Bond checks out the man’s aquarium, which includes a human corpse. Stromberg tests Bond’s fish knowledge. Bond seems to pass. Stromberg really likes fish. At this point, lots of Bond’s adversaries have had sharks, piranha and other killer marine life. But Stromberg has a deeper affinity. He wants to life in an underwater city.

Jaws, although dumped from the train, has already caught up, and in Stromberg’s lair. He confirms the true identities of the two spies to Stromberg, who instructs his men to kill them as soon as they leave.

And so, Bond and X are attacked by a motorcyclist who tries to kill them with a rocket propelled sidecar. It is evaded, and the motorcyclist goes off of a cliff.

Jaws chases them in a car. He also ends up going off a cliff, however he, unlike most goons who drive off of a cliff in a 70’s action film walks away uninjured.

A female agent of Stromberg chases them with a machine gun equipped helicopter. Bond’s new fancy car goes off of a pier. Turns out the car can turn into a submarine, complete with a sea-air missile which blows the helicopter out of the sky.

At this point, scuba divers with underwater rocket launchers attack the sub/car. Bond prevails with his own missiles and mines and smokescreens. It’s an audacious sequence, but the filmmaking isn’t up to the promise of the larger-than-life material.

Later, Bond and Triple X are making chitchat when Bond accidentally reveals that he murdered her boyfriend. Occupational hazard and all that. She vows to kill Bond after this mission is complete.

They travel to a British sub where the commander trips over the fact that Triple X is a woman. She gives him a “we’re all soldiers” line, which would maybe be a bit more empowering if the film didn’t then spend time ogling at the lady in the shower, complete with light nippleage.

Soon, their sub suffers a power failure that forces them to surface. Waiting for them is Stromberg’s special giant tanker designed to open and scoop up de-powered submarines. Having captured a new one, it now houses three. If it wasn’t clear before, this film is basically just underwater “You Only Live Twice.”

We thought that the cool Hall of Doom base was the villain’s lair, but this tanker, staffed with hundreds of henchmen in red jumpsuits, complete with monorail, is the real Ken Adam deal. The logo on their uniform is that of a fish.

Stromberg has Bond and X brought to him. With his new collection of submarines, he now has a nuclear arsenal, and he intends to blow up the civilized world. No ransom, just Armageddon. He wants to destroy the surface and live in an underwater utopia of his creation.

He’ll leave Bond to die but intends to take X to his new Atlantis, presumably because of sexism. He departs with her via speedboat. As soon as they are gone, Bond frees himself and helps the combined captured submarine crews mount an insurrection. It’s a huge battle throughout the base. Again, just like “You Only Live Twice.”

Back at his sea lab, underneath the water, Stromberg has dressed Triple X in sex clothes and has her tressed up. It’s been a while since I mentioned it: These movies are gross.

Meanwhile, Bond and company try to seize control of the tanker and start defusing nukes. There’s actually a really cute trick at this point. Bond sneaks through the base and as he does, the classic James Bond theme is playing. He kills power to their electronics, and the exact moment that he does so the theme cuts out. It’s a weird gag, but it has more style than these movies usually do.

The remaining crew escape in the American sub. The American’s orders are to blow up the sea lab, but X is onboard, so Bond asks for an hour to mount a rescue. He then goes charging in on a jet ski.

Bond enters the lab, avoids the death traps, and makes his way to Stromberg, shooting him dead. He searches for X, only to run into Jaws one last time. They fight yet again. Bond shoots him in the teeth. The bullet ricochets off of them. Bond finally defeats Jaws by grabbing him by the mouth with an electromagnet and dropping him into a shark tank.
Even after that, Jaws bites the shark to death, in a bit of meta-commentary.

The hour runs out and the Americans torpedo the base.

Bond frees X and they make it to a posh escape pod, complete with chilling champaign. X pulls a gun on Bond. The mission is over. Ultimately, she decides she’s rather screw James Bond than kill him. Sigh.

Jaws swims away.

This movie had potential. Jaws aside, they jettisoned a lot of the awkward campiness and played things largely straight. The idea of Bond’s female Russian equal is a great one, sadly wasted by a lack of spark between the leads and by a third act that required the girl to be rescued. Still by managing to be mediocre and to not be outright terrible, this ends up being one of the better bonds.