Everyone has their Bond. The one who drank those terrible shaken martinis [Shaking waters down the drink by melting more ice than stirring. That’s why you stir.] when they were a kid. For me, that was Roger Moore. He’s who I think of when I think of James Bond. And, the pinnacle of his run as far as I’m concerned is Moonraker. It was the first VHS tape my family ever owned and is the one I’ve seen the most. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Moonraker is the worst Bond. That seems to be the generally accepted opinion. But, that’s totally wrong. There are way worse Bond films. All the Brosnan ones. Quantum of Solace. And, of course, the completely unwatchable Man With the Golden Gun. Moonraker is a masterpiece compared to those movies. It gets its bad rap because of the outer space stuff, I think. And, it’s overall goofiness. But, it came out in 1979 right after Star Wars. Every movie had to go to space in those days. And the 70's were the goofiest decade of the 20th Century. So the movie’s tone was a product of its era. And, outer space and a little fun does not make a bad spy movie. As a matter of fact, it makes a great spy movie.
By the time Moonraker came out, Bond had pretty much done it all. Defeated Blofeld a bunch of times, skied off a cliff, fought a Korean guy with a killer (literally) hat. What was left but to go to space? Well, he also fights a giant snake while a bunch of Amazon women watch.
And beats up a giant on top of a cable car.
And, jumps out of a plane without a parachute, drives a hover-gondola through Venice, survives an out of control centrifuge, and hang glides off a speedboat that goes over a waterfall. And then he stows away on a space shuttle and goes to a giant secret space station. It’s got everything this movie. Including one of the top 3 villains in Michael Lonsdale’s Hugo Drax. Drax has the iciest wit of any 007 bad guy. “Take care of Mr. Bond. See that some harm comes to him.” “Mr. Bond, you defy all my attempts to plan an amusing death for you.” He’s probably the first Bond villain who is completely aware that he’s in a Bond film, and Lonsdale’s wry performance and dry delivery is just wonderful.
Moonraker also has as tight a plot as any Bond movie. It moves effortlessly and rapidly from set piece to set piece all the while unraveling a mystery as James follows clues from one spectacular location to another. Those 70's Bond films started the trend of spy movies filming on as many continents as possible. So, if you want to pay tribute to the great Roger Moore, watch Moonraker. Roger looks like he’s having a blast the whole time and so will you.