Take 2: The Man with the Golden Gun
"I am now aiming precisely at your groin. So speak or forever hold your piece."
Roger Moore returns for the ninth film in the series. Bond gets a golden bullet in the mail with his name on it and takes it to be a threat from Scaramanga (Christopher Lee), an assassin who has a golden gun. Bonds sets off to find him and take him out before Scaramanga does the same to him.
This is a decent premise. Bond is anything but a secret agent at this point so it makes sense that someone would know who he is and want him dead. A battle of wits wouldn’t hurt after eight films following the same basic template.
How, then, does this end up being one of the worst films we’ve seen so far?
Whilst the light hearted tone sort-of worked in Live and Let Die, here things go way over the line. They give the villain three nipples, and we see them. There’s an entire scene with the clutzy sheriff from the last film. Bond gives someone a monster wedgie. The list goes on. None of this is funny at all. Not even in the “so bad it’s good” sense. It is boring, sloppy film making.
One scene sums up the whole film nicely. Towards the end Bond gets into a car chase and they pull off a very impressive 360 flip in a car. It’s an incredibly difficult stunt to do, but here it’s flawless. Why then, did they play a swanee whistle over the top? They had ONE good scene, and they pissed all over it.
The performances are lacklustre. Moore has dropped the charm and carefree attitude of the last film and instead tries to channel Sean Connery’s brute-ish persona. This does not work for him and gives Bond a slightly unpleasant tone.
Christopher Lee does manage to generate some interest in his wealthy hitman character, but he’s a bit of a ham. In a different setting he would have been a good villain but here he’s carrying the film, and it stands out too much.
Nobody wants to watch two old men floundering about yet Hamilton seems only too happy to provide this.
Britt Ekland plays the female lead, MI6 agent Mary Goodnight. She has striking good looks that stand out on-screen however she gets royally screwed by the writers who have her play a moronic, clumsy, dim-witted blonde. It makes her unappealing and makes it difficult for Moore to act alongside her; unlike Connery he’s better when he charms women that are smarter than him into doing things, rather than just slapping them about like part of the furniture.
Once again they are ignoring the fact that the most entertaining & compelling women in these films are those who can stand alone.
It wasn’t just Ekland who lost out, The Man with the Golden Gun is so sadistically boring we are lulled to sleep as an audience.
Much like how they tried to mimic the popular blaxploitation genre last time round, here they are going after Kung-Fu movies. It’s a shit-show of epic proportions. It’s hard to tell if this is parody or just a shameless knock-off, but it doesn’t matter; there are 30 minutes of dreary fight scenes that could have been cut straight out of the film.
It doesn’t help that the whole thing revolves around a solar death cannon, again. This time it’s “harnessing solar power” and the laser is on the ground rather than in space, but it’s still sun-based shit that makes other shit explode.
Even the MacGuffin looks like a cassette tape, the same device used in Diamonds are Forever.
The only difference is that Scaramanga killed the inventor of the machine, and now doesn’t know how it works or how to operate it. Bond seems to be an expert on the subject however. This is a sort-of funny idea but it doesn’t exactly make for a thrilling climax…
Nothing works in this film. The music (worst theme tune so far by quite some way), the direction, the editing - it’s all second-rate work made in too much of a hurry.
At this point it would not have been surprising if they had pulled the plug on the whole thing. The franchise showed promise with Moore’s new Bond, but it’s taken a real nose-dive here. The Man with the Golden Gun is forgettable dross; not fun, not clever and not entertaining in the slightest.