Live and Let Die Reviews
Kind of an underrated Bond flick. Sure the story feels like it's been repeated several times but it has some good action, intriguing plot points, and a great start from Sean Connery's replacement, Roger Moore.
The 007 formula is one that has been already established by the preceding seven films in the series. As the series goes on, so does time and we are given new technological innovations that serve to benefit the film from an action perspective. However, it does not appear that Live and Let Die fully grasps this or compensates for it with the best narrative value. Live and Let Die is the first film to feature Roger Moore which is the key thing that audiences will be looking out for. There is no denying just how much strength is given to the film by this, but it also seems like Guy Hamilton hopes for this to be enough of a distraction for the film's shortcomings in other areas.
For one thing, Live and Let Die is not a guilty pleasure. It is not a film which relies strictly on stylish elements to carry it to the end. In actual fact, it is a two-hour long spy thriller which takes itself very seriously and insists on consistently maintaining that. It has moments to step aside and display James Bond using his humourous charms to entice audiences, but the majority of the time proves to be dominated by a lot of talking. The characters in Live and Let Die talk the big game but spend little time actually doing anything about it. Of course, there is nothing all that interesting to say since the dialogue is repetitive and generic.
Live and Let Die takes place in a world full of racial overtones. While intelligent writing could have made use of these concepts and made commentary on contemporary issues, Live and Let Die instead resorts to the simplistic tactic of essentially making every African-American in the film into a villain. Racial stereotypes aside, this is just lazy writing. Live and Let Die was released during the height of the Blaxploitation film era and is clearly making a thinly-veiled attempt to cash in on the trend. Unfortunately, it is executed completely wrong because it has a white saviour narrative and the black characters are essentially all criminals. There are more stereotypes than actual characters in the film because character development is hardly a strong point of the narrative. In actual fact, the film feels less like a legitimate spy thriller and more like James Bond replacing the titular character in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) even though it predates the film by 11 years. Amid attempting to bring Indiana Jones and Blaxploitation elements into its story, Live and Let Die forgets what it actually takes to make a 007 film and leaves the audience to suffer as a result.
With the dull script, characters droll on with nothing interesting to say and no interesting reason to be saying it, while the entire time I spent asking "Where the hell is the action?". That was what frustrated me above all in Live and Let Die; there is a ridiculously low quantity of action scenes. The formula that Live and Let Die adheres to certifies that it is always easy to tell what will come next and effectively prevents a thrilling atmosphere from being established, yet it still has the potential to gain some intense power from the use of action sequence. For some senseless reason, Live and Let Die has next to none. The first major action scene happens approximately three quarters of the way into the 121-minute film. And even then, it's just a prolonged boat chase which shows more innovation in cinematography than actual stunt practicality. Up until then there are extremely few; just some minor ones which would be missed if you blinked. There is fight choreography, vehicles and cool gadgets hinted at during these scenes, but it just makes it all the more unsatisfying when they are pointlessly wasted in lieu of a story with no intelligent thought or firm originality to it. In short, Live and Let Die lets almost all of its characters live and doesn't offer sufficient shootouts or car chases to live up to the generic contract of the feature as an action film, so all in all it has a misleading title.
Nevertheless, Live and Let Die has strong production values even though it doesn't know what to actually do with them. The variety of scenery to the film is very nice, and the cinematography manages to capture it with a mix of both medium and long shots to ensure that the full extent of the beauty in it all is grasped. Of course the one thing worth calling out for its consistent value is the film's Academy Award nominated title song. Written by Paul and Linda McCartney and performed by Wings, Live and Let Die is a well composed track with terrific performance charisma to its credibility.
And like I said before, character development is no strong point for Live and Let Die, so there are few cast members who make any kind of a serious impact. The only one worth pointing out is Roger Moore in his first turn as the iconic spy. One of the earliest things that audiences can pick upon on from Roger Moore's performance is that he is a different kind of charmer to Sean Connery. His face is one that beams with spirit and evokes a feeling of being genuine. Sean Connery was slick, but Roger Moore is more suave and charming with a sense of being less manipulative. He is far more lighthearted than his predecessor, and though he takes the role just as seriously with his own sense of sophistication there is still a friendlier feeling that comes from him. He doesn't seem as badass as Sean Connery, but the two are completely different interpretations of the character who both deserve their own praise. Roger Moore puts his own spin on the character and manages to make a convincing lead as both an action hero and a charming gentleman, making enough of a compelling case to bring audiences back the next time.
Roger Moore's charming spirit proves to make him a worthy successor to Sean Connery, but Live and Let Die's blatantly lazy writing and shortage of action fails to live up to his standard of contribution.
This film is ten times better than one of the worst entries in the Bond films Diamonds Are Forever.
Sheriff J.W Pepper is in this movie, and Man With the Golden Gun. He is probably the one thing that was bad about this movie.
And Paul McCartney did the title song which is one of the best songs from the Bond films.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: Roger Moore definitely takes away some of the grittiness of Sean Connery's more developed Bonds. And some of the humour is borderline goofy.
VERDICT: An altogether lighter Bond film that's just a bit of fun. How nice it was before Moore got over the top.