Live and Let Die

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Three British (MI6) agents, including one “on loan” to the American government, are killed within 24 hours, under mysterious circumstances, while monitoring the operations of Dr. Kananga, the dictator of a small Caribbean island, San Monique. James Bond – agent 007, is sent to New York to investigate the first murder. Kananga is also in New York, visiting the United Nations. Just after Bond arrives, his driver is shot dead by a passing motorist, while taking Bond to meet Felix Leiter of the CIA. Bond is nearly killed in the ensuing car crash.

A trace on the killer’s licence plate eventually leads Bond to Mr. Big, a ruthless and cunning gangster who runs a chain of Fillet of Soul restaurants throughout the United States. It is here that Bond first meets Solitaire, a beautiful virgin tarot expert who has the uncanny ability to see both the future and remote events in the present. Mr. Big, who is actually Kananga in disguise, demands that his henchmen kill Bond, but Bond overpowers them and escapes unscathed. Bond flies to San Monique, where he meets Rosie Carver, a CIA double agent. They meet up with a friend of Bond’s, Quarrel Jr., who takes them by boat to Solitaire’s home. Bond suspects Rosie of working for Kananga. She is shot dead, remotely, by Kananga, to stop her confessing the truth to Bond. Inside Solitaire’s house, Bond uses a stacked tarot deck of cards, that show only “The Lovers”, to trick her into thinking that seduction is in her future, and then seduces her. Solitaire loses her ability to foretell the future when she loses her virginity to Bond and is forced into cooperating with Bond to bring down Kananga.

Bond and Solitaire escape by boat and fly to New Orleans. There, Bond is captured by ‘Mr. Big’, who reveals himself to be Kananga. It transpires that Kananga is producing two tons of heroin and is protecting the poppy fields by exploiting locals’ fear of voodoo and the occult. Through his alter ego, Mr. Big, Kananga plans to distribute the heroin free of charge at his Fillet of Soul restaurants, which will increase the number of addicts. Kananga also believes that other drug dealers, namely the Mafia, cannot compete with his giveaway, to which Kananga can later charge high prices for the heroin, after he has simultaneously cultivated huge drug dependency and bankrupted his competitors.

Kananga asks Bond if he has slept with Solitaire. When he finds out that he has, Kananga turns Solitaire over to Baron Samedi to be sacrificed, as her ability to read tarot cards is gone. Meanwhile, Kananga’s one-armed henchman, Tee Hee Johnson, leaves Bond to be eaten by crocodiles at a farm in the Louisiana backwoods. Bond escapes by running along the animals’ backs to safety. He sets the farm on fire and steals a speedboat. He is then pursued by Kananga’s men, as well as local Sheriff J.W. Pepper and the Louisiana State Police.

Back in San Monique, Bond rescues Solitaire from the voodoo sacrifice with a .44 Magnum Smith & Wesson Model 29 revolver and throws Samedi into a coffin of snakes. Bond and Solitaire escape below ground into Kananga’s lair. Kananga captures them both and proceeds to lower them into a shark tank. Bond escapes and forces a shark gun pellet into Kananga’s mouth, causing him to blow up like a balloon, float to the top of the cave, and explode.

After the job is done, Felix puts Bond and Solitaire onto a train and out of the country. Tee Hee Johnson follows Bond and Solitaire onto the train and tries to kill Bond, but loses his prosthetic arm in a fight with him and is flung out of the window. As the film ends, Bond comforts Solitaire, and a laughing Samedi is revealed perched on the front of the speeding train

REVIEW:

So, James Bond returns for yet another outing where he will kiss the girls, use impressive gadgets, and kick the bad guys’ butts. The next entrance in to the Bond franchise is perhaps best known for the titular song, Live and Let Die. Is this a worthy entrant in the franchise and is Roger Moore a worth success to the Bond franchise.

What is this about?

Roger Moore debuts as suave secret agent James Bond, who’s sent to the United States to go after a master criminal scheming to take over the country by turning the populace into heroin junkies. Paul McCartney provides the Oscar-nominated title tune

What did I like?

New direction. With Sean Connery getting on up there in age, whether the studios wanted to admit it or not, it was time for some new blood to be injected into the Bond franchise. This was tried before with On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, which starred George Lazenby, but that didn’t work out. So, enter Roger Moore, who brings a different style of charm to Bond and also ushers in an era of Bond films that don’t have anything to do with SPECTRE, but rather individual adversaries.

Boats. The climactic boat chase is something you just have to see to believe. Not only is it exciting, but there are some funny moments with it as well. The best way I can think to explain it to you is to compare it to the car chases from The Blues Brothers. The chase even ends with a big car crash. Yes, a boat chase ends with a car crash!

Local. An hour down the road from me in New Orleans, a city that I love to visit. As you can imagine, I love the fact that this film is set in NOLA and takes advantage of the second like funerals and such. I was reading that they were going to use Mardi Gras, but because they used Carnival in a previous Bond film, I forgot which one, the similarities might be off-putting. Still, I can only imagine the Bond girls that would have come out of Mardi Gras one way or another.

What didn’t I like?

Bond girl. Bond girls are known for being goddesses and some have great characters. However, Jane Seymour didn’t quite work for me. Why? Well, she looks more porcelain than human. In a few years, she will star in Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, looking like a true vision of loveliness. So, why did they mess her up so in this film?

Race. I’m somewhat a fan of Blaxploitation films, but all the race stuff in here wasn’t working for me. I almost want to say that it doesn’t work because it is a Bond film, but there has to be something more to it than that. I can’t say it was racist, because they actually don’t bring up anything race related, other than some voodoo stuff, but something seemed off about it all to me, and I can’t pinpoint what it is, other than to say I didn’t care for it.

Cops. Some comic relief is offered up in the final act by this Louisiana sheriff. I hate to say this, but I feel as if this was a bit too much. Living down here, I know that these cops down here can be a bit too overzealous sometimes (drive through a small town 1 mile over the speed limit and see what happens), but this guy was a bit of a caricature. I wasn’t offended, but I can see how some people were.

While I will miss Sean Connery as James Bond, Live and Let Die has shows us that someone else can take the mantle of Bond and run with it. This film also allows us to get a little more Felix Leiter, which is a nice change, but make no mistake this is a Bond film, despite the lack of Bond-isms (gadgets, England, seducing girls, etc.) As popular and memorable as the theme song is, the film doesn’t live up to the same standards. Do I recommend this film? Eh…maybe as a part of the Bond collection, but otherwise, this is a somewhat forgettable film. I guess you can check it out, if you want.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

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One Response to “Live and Let Die”

  1. […] this point, the start of the cheesy, comedic Bond flicks. Returning from the previous Bond flick, Live and Let Die, Louisiana sheriff J.W. Pepper makes a funny cameo in a couple of scenes. Also, the bubble headed […]

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