11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
An action-packed, yet thought-provoking Bond flick,
This review is from: Live and Let Die (Special Edition) (DVD)
Roger Moore's debut as Bond, in terms of quality, is a so-so outing, as was expected. Moore brings about an aura distinct with that of Connery's. The Bond that Connery portrayed was more of the consummate professional type, serious, rather impatient, edgy, relying more on toughness and innate resourcefulness to see him through. On the other hand, Roger Moore concentrates on the finesse side of Bond. He is debonaire, more intuitive, more blueblooded in the sense he is articulated and sophisticated, and a definite poster child on what it is to be a British gentleman secret agent. Moore reflects the 70's, where poise and style rules and therefore more adequate than Connery to play Bond in this point of time. Live and Let Die lays the foundation of this revolutionized Bond attitude the next six films, with Moore at the helm.
Although Live and Let Die wasn't quite anything truly special in terms of overall story quality, besides Paul McCartney & the Wings' eerie, but memorable theme song, this film has to be one of, or if not Moore's most provocative and intriguing under his tenure as 007. First off, the mood and the pace of this particular episode has changed. Aside from the fact that the 70's feel prevails throughout, there is a supernatural, superstitious sense, a very foreign concept to the Bond series, even to this very day. There is a sense of mystery and unsettled emotion in Live and Let Die right from the get-go. Bond must investigate the enigmatic murders of three of his fellow agents: Dawes on the floor of the United Nations, Hamilton on a New Orleans street right in front of a funeral procession, and Baines who became part of a bizarre voodoo ritual on the island of San Monique. Getting a lead, 007 is on the trail for a Dr. Kananga, a UN representative of San Monique who "witnessed" Dawes' murder, while a Harlem kingpin Mr. Big (Kananga's other personality) gets in Bond's way. Bond also encounters an intriguing tarot reader, Solitaire (a very young Jane Seymour) who aids Kananga in foretelling the future. Bond is calm, cool and collected, amidst intimidation, inspired by the spiritual and supernatural circulating the movie and obviously, by Mr. Big's African-American organized crime machine. Successful in dispatching Solitaire's fears of the superunknown, Bond embarks on a mission to foil Kananga's plot to smuggle and distribute free heroin in an attempt to control the heroin market.
The most controversial aspect of Live and Let Die is obviously its stereotypical subject. Filmed during touchy times, naturally African-Americans are portrayed as the big, bad, baneful dirty criminals, selling or in this case, giving away heroin for gain. At the same time, blacks obtain somewhat of an irrational label, portraying voodoo as just that, an irrational, outdated religion. The relative uneasiness of race relations is focused on as well (i.e. Bond/Rosie's love scene, the "Billy Bob" segment) Whites aren't exactly exempt from exploitation either. J.W. Pepper, played by Clifton James, is the stubborn, tobacco-spitting, indifferent redneck Louisiana sheriff, in essence, mocking southern culture. And of course, Bond, the seemingly omniscient, refined white man conquers all.
Other than the relevant shortcomings, Live and Let Die is an action-packed extravaganza, meant to be taken with a good sense of humor. Moore elicits more of an over-the-top, lighthearted element to the film. Seymour's peformance as Solitaire is a definite bright-spot, as she plays out the innocent, vulnerable side of her character well. Yaphet Kotto's Kananga/Mr. Big is a competent villain who is seen off, Monty Python style and arguably is given the unenviable association with the worst death of a head villain in the Bond series. The supporting cast, in particular, Rosie Carver, Baron Samedi, and J.W. Pepper add a smart, eerie, and hilarious touch, respectively. And of course, the action scenes make up for its blatant flaws. A stellar speedboat chase, highlighted by Bond's crocodile-crossing stunt getaway before the chase even starts the chase, takes the cake, as the best sequence of the movie. All in all, a high-octane Bond adventure caper with an odd, but enticing supernatural kick.