After the insane fireworks display that was staged for the true end of Sean Connery’s tenure as James Bond in Diamonds Are Forever, you’d think that the franchise would have gotten back on track by mixing great action with great stories and just a little touch of goofiness. Unfortunately, the Bond series went balls out with the ludicrous in Live and Let Die, and it didn’t end well.
For what it’s worth, the blame doesn’t rest on Roger Moore as the new incarnation of James Bond. Moore displayed enough charm and humor to make the idea of a new actor in the Bond persona bearable. He may not have been as great as Sean Connery, but he was certainly less boring than George Lazenby. He even got back a few of his trademark toys, and even MacGyver-ed them in fantastic ways, such as Kananga’s death. We even get the son of Quarrel, Bond’s first and, so far, best partner in spying.
The problem is the story. It’s just flat out racist, and I say this full well knowing that Connery went Japanese in You Only Live Twice. Live and Let Die was the blaxploitation entry to the Bond franchise, and they didn’t even try to hide it. They even went as far as to make all the bad guys black people except for one, lone CIA agent and Quarrel Jr., and have a whole Caribbean island and religion focused on the drug trade. Sure, there are Mexican cartel films these days, but at least those are more serious.
Master Evil Plan:
San Monique’s dictator, Dr. Kananga, doubling as drug dealer Mr. Big, plans to take over the world’s heroin trade by giving away heroin to dilute prices, then jack them back up when his competitors call it quits.
Randomly Awesome 007 Moment:
The entire boat chase is awesomely insane. I’m not a fan of boat races myself, but when it features speed boats scraping over roadways and through wedding ceremonies while a stereotypical Cajun sheriff hoots and hollers, I’m a big, big fan.
Randomly Ridiculous 007 Moment:
Baron Samedi. I couldn’t tell if it was just bad special effects when the Baron “mannequin” gets shot up by Bond, only to have the real Baron Samedi rise up and be promptly tossed into a coffin full of snakes, and then show up on the cowcatcher of a train later on. I know Live and Let Die has a voodoo theme, but Baron Samedi was was way too campy to have a hint of respect for the exotic mysticism of voodoo.
Randomly Awesome Quotes:
1) M: “I’m sure the over-burdened British taxpayer would be fascinated to know how its Special Ordinances section disperses its funds. In future, Commander, let me suggest a perfectly adequate watchmaker just down the street.”
2) Cab Driver: “Hey man, for twenty bucks I’d take you to a Ku Klux Klan cookout!”
3) Harold Strutter: “Can’t miss him. It’s like following a cue ball.”
4) Harold Strutter: “White face in Harlem. Good thinkin’ Bond. Let’s get outta here.”
5) Sheriff J.W. Pepper: “What are you? Some kinda doomsday machine boy? Well WE got a cage strong enough to hold an animal like you here!”
-Women James Bond sleeps with: 3
-Bond Kills: 3 (and an unkillable zombie)
-Bond associates killed: 5
-Racial stereotypes: countless
-Bond assassination attempts:
1 by taking out Bond’s driver on what seems to be FDR Drive
1 by a snake in the bungalow
1 by helicopter gunfire
1 stranding in a crocodile pit
1 attempted dunking in a shark tank
1 by claw-hand
I give this film 2 out of 5 racist themes, even though this Bond film has way more than that.