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.