Thursday, March 14, 2013

"50 Years of Bond" Retrospective - #9: The Man With the Golden Gun

Out of all the entries in the 007 franchise, The Man with the Golden Gun is probably my vote for most underrated. Nowadays, that’s not a popular opinion. A lot of people seem to have really mixed feelings about it. Yes, it can be said that maybe the film is a bit too goofy at times, especially since I recently criticized Diamonds Are Forever for that very reason, but I feel like this earned more of the silliness. With a great setup, great action, and a fantastic villain, not only do I think Golden Gun is as good as Live and Let Die, I think it’s even better.

In the film, Bond is investigating the case of Francisco Scaramanga, an assassin for hire with a custom made golden gun who charges luxury prices for his targets. Bond’s primary objective is to find a device called the Solex agitator, a small device having something to do with solar power. It’s basically a MacGuffin. Were it to end up in the hands of Scaramanga, it would be used to power a deadly weapon intended to be sold for the highest bidder. So with the help of a British assistant, a Korean lieutenant, and an American sheriff who tried to arrest him in the last film, the race is on for Bond to get the device first.

If you read my review of Diamonds Are Forever, you’ll know that I nearly went on an all out rant against that film’s campy nature. In the case of this movie, I surprisingly think the comedy works, aside from a few lame double meaning jokes, and the dumbest Bond girl you’ll ever see. There are plenty of sight and verbal gags that had me chuckling, including a brief nod to the title theme from Live and Let Die. Although I don’t think these films should keep going down this same absurd road, I can’t complain too much about it here, as I do find some of the action really entertaining, none more so than that awesome final stand-off between Scaramanga and 007.

And that’s our next talking point; the talent between the hero and the villain. I feel like this 007 is definitely suited to Roger Moore’s comedic strengths, even if I would like to see him try something a little more serious.

Then you have the one person who single handedly steals this entire movie, and is probably the sole reason why I like this movie so much, the villain. Not that I think his motivation is all that original, or that he has a whole lot of depth, but simply because he’s played by Christopher Lee. Do I really need any other reason? It’s Christopher Lee, and he is loving every minute. He’s sinister, he’s charismatic, he’s methodical, and I like the fact that he’s a legitimate threat to, and match for Bond. That’s kind of why I disliked villains like Dr. No and Rosa Klebb, because they just weren’t threatening in my eyes. As far as I’m concerned, Scaramanga’s right up there with Auric Goldfinger as one of the best villains in the franchise.

Okay, I forgot to put this part in, but I guess it shows you how memorable this aspect was. I don’t know what people think of the title song, but I think it’s the most forgettable song in the series. The tempo was boring, the music was boring, the lyrics were boring, and the vocals were practically non-existent. To the credit of Diamonds Are Forever, I could at least remember that song. I remember NOTHING about this song.

I can’t really say this film has made much of an impact on the legacy of 007. While it was certainly profitable, critical opinions were mixed, it’s not ranked highly on many people’s list of favorites, and it even signaled the end of the collaboration between many key people. This was the last Bond film directed by Guy Hamilton, and it was the last time that Harry Saltzman would ever produce a Bond film, having sold the 50% stake in his company to help with financial issues. I’m sure this movie has its fans, but I can certainly be counted among some form of minority here. What I think is good is really good.

**** / *****

No comments:

Post a Comment