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James Bond 007 Ultimate Edition – Live and Let Die

Genre: , ,

Cast: Roger Moore, Yaphet Kotto, Jane Seymour

Director: Guy Hamilton

Rated: PG

Review By:
Rocco Passafuime

SUNY Purchase '05

"I don't compromise my values and I don't compromise my work. I won't give in." -Michael Moore

Release Date: December 12th, 2006
Click to Buy on DVD or Bluray!
Overall Grade: B-

James Bond 007 Ultimate Edition – Live and Let Die

Review By: Rocco Passafuime

Live and Let Die

With Sean Connery having finally bid adieu to James Bond once and for all, producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli not only had to deal with how to keep the 007 film series still relevant in the ever-changing 1970's, but who would end up finally succeeding the distinctive Connery.

Chosen for the highly dubious honor was none other than Roger Moore, the star of the internationally popular British spy television series The Saint. The first Bond film he would star in is none other than Live And Let Die, now available on DVD.

After three MI6 agents are mysteriously killed while investigating a man named Dr. Kananga, the dictator of the tiny Carribean island, San Monique, secret agent 007 James Bond (Roger Moore) is sent to New York City to investigate where the first agent was murdered.

However, he soon is captured by gangster Mr. Big (Yaphet Kotto), who is revealed to actually be Dr. Kananga himself in an alter ego, and his right-hand, Solitaire (Jane Seymour), a tarot card reader who has the ability to prophesize the past and the future. Bond manages to escape quickly and follow Kananga to San Monique, where he encounters CIA agent Rosie Carver (Gloria Hendry), who is revealed to be an assassin of Kananga's sent to kill him.

After Carver is killed, Bond's trail leads to Solitaire, who after seducing her through using her own card tricks against her, teams up with him. They learn that the gangster persona of Mr. Big is nothing but a front for Dr. Kananga to traffic in heroin using the crops grown on San Monique. Kananga seeks to become the world's most powerful drug dealer and now must do everything in their power to stop him.

During a time where the spy genre had seemingly become a relic of the previous decade, Live And Let Die emerged as one of the more unusual Bond films of the 1970's. Based on arguably the most controversial 007 novel from author Ian Fleming, writers Richard Maibaum and Tom Mankiewicz manage to brilliantly solve both the problems of keeping the story not only more racially inoffensive, but fresh by incorporating elements of the then-thriving blaxploitation action film subgenre.

However, while the initial idea is undoubtedly promising with a much more grittier and down-to-earth premise, its execution is incredibly bungled. The plot is not only one of the most outlandish and at times bizarre, but feels like two different ones rather clumsily meshed together.

Roger Moore plays the role of Bond much differently than Sean Connery or George Lazenby as he injects the role with more of a smooth, chivalrous, and often self-deprecating style. However, his performance is a bit muted here as Moore seems to not have had a full handle yet on how to approach playing the character.

Another issue is the increasing use of campy humor in this

film, which works in the scenes where Moore first encounters the villains, but completely falls flat everywhere else. The biggest problem, however, is while the film manages to be action-packed and entertaining, it is hampered by wildly poor pacing in sequences that often go on way too long, particularly during later on in the second half with many of the action scenes.

The DVD's picture quality is in the 2:35:1 widescreen aspect ratio, with the sound quality in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround. The first disc also includes no less than three different audio commentary tracks.

The first track features director Guy Hamilton and various members of the cast and crew. Cut and pasted from audio interview archives, the commentary manages to be for the most part deeply informative, but surprisingly is scant now and then.

The second track features co-writer Tom Mankiewicz, who, while rather scant in his commentary, manages to provide plenty of information when he has something to say. Rounding it out is actor Roger Moore who, despite being scant himself in his presentation and rather drowsy in tone, manages to provide plenty of rather charming, charismatic, and often humorous recollections.

While its derivation of blaxploitation elements manages to be rather clever, Live and Let Die unfortunately squanders much of its potential as the final film is rather consistently jagged and unsure of itself. Despite all that, it manages to still be fairly entertaining and action-packed for the most part and its more outlandish story more often than not is a welcome change of pace.

Movie Grade:
DVD Features Grade: B-
Overall Grade: B-

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