The Man with the Golden Gun Reviews
And yet "The Man with the Golden Gun," like even the worst of the Bond franchise, is able to capture our imagination against the odds, even if that capturing requires us to silence our reservations and transform ourselves into passive audience members with a spy movie fetish. Because Roger Moore's at his most assured in the film and because the movie is gorgeously produced - eye candy is delectable, widespread, and persuasively alluring - the incomparable intrigue the series has become renowned for in its fifty-plus years of existence is still very much there. With a near lethal dose of recurring dose of idiocy, sure. But still there.
Acting as Moore's second outing as the legendary secret agent, being preceded by 1973's similarly tonally shaky "Live and Let Lie," "The Man with the Golden Gun" finds his Bond searching for the Solex agitator, a powerful solar weapon with the capability of incurring widespread devastation. In the possession of Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee), an enigmatic assassin who likes to kill with the eponymous golden gun, 007 must race against the clock to prevent Scaramanga from going through with his plans to utilize the agitator as a weapon of mass destruction.
Trotting all around the globe offhandedly and handsomely (finding stunning scenery in Thailand, Hong Kong, Macau, and Beirut), "The Man with the Golden Gun" moves fast but only slightly moves us - it diverts on the most shallow of levels, but because we have nearly ten years of Sean Connery to compare it to, it's passable if still competently made.
Detrimental, too, are Ekland, as Bond's apparent wingwoman Mary Goodnight, and future "Fantasy Island" co-headliner Hervé Villechaize. Ekland has all the personality of a saucer-eyed amateur who learned her lines phonetically (her dullness as an actress certainly not helped by the film's insistence that she be an ornament rather than a mover and a shaker), and Villechaize, though fine, is hard to watch plainly because the movie views his dwarfism as a comedic element, an attribute that only exaggerates "The Man with the Golden Gun's" issues with his assemblage of alleged humor.
But the movie isn't without its successes. Lee, a three-nippled scoundrel with the face of a cobra, makes for one of the franchise's most underappreciated villains - he arouses fear not because he's operatically evil but because he's an observer, a man who can smell one's susceptibilities and exploit them with ease. The film becomes exciting, immediate, whenever he steps into the frame. Maud Adams, the film's resident secondary Bond girl later to find herself primary just nine years later with "Octopussy," is a sinuous knockout who matches Lee's frosty inclinations.
All is packaged neatly if uneasily, and so "The Man with the Golden Gun" is a mixed bag, a slight satisfier all dressed up with some places to go and with some places briefly visited and some outrightly ignored. Take it alone and it's a mostly effective popcorn flick. Take it with consideration of the rest of the Bond zeitgeist on the side and it's maybe an abomination. I'll take it either way, but that doesn't necessarily stop me from seeing the virtues that sometimes flavor the scenery.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: You thought 'Live and Let Die' was a bit silly? Well I don't know what they were thinking in this one, but the humour which charmed in the previous installment is now in over-abundance.
VERDICT: Thanks to all it's stupidity and goofiness, this is pretty cringey to say the least. It is still fairly enjoyable if you look past all that though.
With underwhelming action sequences, a paper thin plot, and surprisingly childish humor, it fails to live up to it's predecessor.
What saves TMWTGG from being a total cinematic failure, is the charming performance from Roger Moore as JB, and an excellent villainous performance by Christopher Lee.
*Next up: The Spy Who Loved Me
The Man With The Golden Gun features all the standard Bond elements: a crazed villain poised to take over the world, exotic locales, a car chase, and a close escape from a secret base that's about to blow up. The direction is fairly pedestrian, but the location photography is good, Christopher Lee plays one of the more interesting Bond villains, assisted by Hervé Villechaize, later of Fantasy Island fame, and Brett Ekland is one of the more enjoyable to watch Bond girls. Rated PG for occasional language, sex, and violence which are all fairly mild by current standards. I saw this in the digitally restored MGM Home Entertainment standard DVD, which was very good quality.
What could've been a different story in this Bond flick is wasted by a sluggish pace.
With a villain who has a wacky-warehouse full of mazes and tricks, Christopher Lee gives a completely memorable performance as Scaramanga; one of the best Bond villains out there. Perhaps one of the biggest faults though to this one is a car-flipping sequence that uses a slide-whistle. For a film that was going along with a decent tone, that cut completely shatters the tone.
Guy Hamilton's last two entries into the 007 series have failed to entertain me with Diamonds Are Forever (1971) being excessively campy and Live and Let Die (1973) being too simplistic and dull. With The Man with the Golden Gun, we see a return to form for the director and the series. It's not back to the top form of the series' glory, but it's certainly a step back in the right direction.
Alas, it is not much of a big step. Once again, the 007 series finds itself with a lack of action. There are few stunts in the film, minimal deaths, no high-octane gun action and a distinctive lack of gadgets. With all this over the course of two hours, there is little exhilaration to find in the experience. As a result, audiences are left with a very talkative film once again. The lack of action drags on for a long time throughout The Man with the Golden Gun and manages to push on until the end which leaves a long experience short on much of the distinctive 007 iconography. However, there are many bikini-clad women in The Man with the Golden Gun and several moments of borderline nudity in the film. Naked women are disguised by the glass in shower panels or the water they are submerged in, but viewers can make out just enough to get a sufficient amount of arousal.
The other gimmick that The Man with the Golden Gun boasts is a sense of humour. While not too popular with critics, The Man with the Golden Gun maintains a better sense of humour than Diamonds Are Forever because it gives the film a lighthearted feeling without completely detracting from the serious nature of the narrative. This plays into slight quips of the script at sporadic moments, but also into some cleverly placed physical humour. Part of this comes into play due to the presence of dwarf actor Herve Villechaize. Though he is never milked as a stereotype, The Man with the Golden Gun finds a clever way to implement him in for a few jokes here and there without getting excessive about it. The comic touch to The Man with the Golden Gun works to bring out more of Roger Moore's comedic charms which he displayed in Live and Let Die, and frequently it kept me distracted from the lack of action. Some of the humourous elements didn't work such as the addition of character Sheriff J.W. Pepper, but I didn't find all that much else to complain about in the comedy department.
The Man with the Golden Gun is heavy in dialogue and not always interesting as a result, but there is a lot of praise to be given about the character ambitions of the film. I cannot for the life of me remember or care enough to think about who the villain was in Live and Let Die, but with The Man with the Golden Gun featuring the legendary Sir Christopher Lee in the role it is a hard one to forget. Yet the film does not rely solely on him to carry the role. In actual fact, The Man with the Golden Gun does a good job of characterizing the villain. Antagonist Francisco Scaramanga is one whom is talked up by countless character which gives him a high status, and within the intro to the film we are immediately given a view of what he is capable of. We also gather that he is not a backstabber but rather a gentleman who takes pride in his killing through doing it as a gentleman. He is quite an interesting character and a very distinctive villain largely due to the fact that he has very similar capabilities to James Bond, so The Man with the Golden Gun displays a more character-driven film. There is a sense that the filmmakers choose to favour their attention on him over the actual hero of the 007 series, but given that there has already been eight preceding films to characterize James Bond it is refreshing that the filmmakers took an effort to give someone else from the universe actual relevance to the wider portion of the story. Giving the role to the great Christopher Lee just makes this all the greater.
Christopher Lee is an English actor with a long legacy of villainous role, so it seems perfectly befitting that he takes on an antagonistic role in one of the most distinctive British film series. With his own natural charm and sophistication, he manages to disguise villainy underneath his articulate façade. Yet there is still a sense of darkness which rests behind the stare in his eyes, and it's very subtle yet charmingly effective. He is never blatant with his motives or actions, he is reserved in his sadism and all the more interesting as a result. Christopher Lee presents one of the most memorable villains of the 007 series.
Roger Moore's return to the role of James Bond is a most welcome one indeed. Though there are few action scenes that boast the man's heroic potential, there is much more to embrace in the man's comic charms due to an increased sense of humour in the film. He flows with it easily and keeps his lighthearted charms and wits about him at every end, ensuring that he is a consistently likable presence. When Roger Moore goes up against Christopher Lee, the chemistry they share is incredibly engaging and asserts some of the most intense moments in the film. Seeing two grand English actors go head to head in The Man with the Golden Gun captures some of the strongest performances the 007 series thus far.
The Man with the Golden Gun repeats its predecessor's fault of formulaic narrative reliance and a shortage of action, but the abundance of dialogue is given more spark by the rich characterization of the films' central villain and the performance given to it by Christopher Lee, as well as Roger Moore's comedic charms.