Live and Let Die (1973)

Genres - Action  |   Sub-Genres - Glamorized Spy Film, Action Thriller  |   Run Time - 119 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom , United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Donald Guarisco

Roger Moore's debut as James Bond has action and style to spare, but sadly falls short in the areas of story and pacing. Tom Mankiewicz's script creates an interesting villain in Kananga and starts off with an exciting barrage of action scenes, but seems to lose its way as it hits the midway point, failing to come up with an inspired motive for Kananga's villainous actions and neglecting to create set pieces that live up to the excitement of the first half. A bigger problem is that the story deviates too far from the usual Bond story line to create a mish-mash that borrows too heavily from the popular genres of its time. The drug-smuggling angle of the script could have come from any blaxploitation film of the era and a lengthy New Orleans-set boat chase in the second hour abruptly and unconvincingly detours the film into goofy Smokey and the Bandit territory (complete with a silly redneck sheriff). Despite these problems, Live and Let Die remains watchable thanks to efficient direction from Guy Hamilton that makes the most of the script's action opportunities. The best moment in this vein is a hair-raising scene where Bond has to escape from a tiny sandbar that is surrounded by a squad of hungry alligators. Live and Let Die further benefits from the committed work of a game cast. Moore brings an appealing dry wit to the character of James Bond and Yaphet Kotto delivers an appropriately forceful performance as Kananga. In the end, Live and Let Die is probably a bit too dated and inconsistent for the casual viewer, but offers enough inspired moments to make it worthwhile for the hardcore James Bond fan.