Review: The Man with the Golden Gun

man_with_the_golden_gun_cov.jpgYear: 1974
Director: Guy Hamilton
Starring: Roger Moore, Christopher Lee, Britt Ekland, Maud Adams, Hervé Villechaize
Kaboom Review Action Movie Rating: 49

Plot
James Bond hunts down the deadly assassin Scaramanga.

Quick Review
There is nothing particularly awful with this film, but there is nothing inspirational here either. Too much of the film’s power evaporates in an overabundance of silliness and in the deliberate pace. The Man with the Golden Gun ends up a bland, slow, unbalanced, and dull film.

Full Review
On the surface, The Man with the Golden Gun has all the right ingredients of a top-notch James Bond film: a intriguing villain, exotic sets, beautiful women, a tight plot, and some great stunts. However, when you add up all the parts, the movie somehow comes up much less than it should. The Man with the Golden Gun is a flat, tedious Bond film that never rises above mediocrity.

Although there is a coherent plot and some fair attention to premise, the pacing in the film drags things down quite a bit. There is almost too much attention to the details of the plot, and as a result man_with_the_golden_gun_1.jpgthe film plods along with little zip or force to the drama or action. Scene construction is also part of the problem, as every scene seems to be a couple of minutes longer than it should be. A good example of this is a segment of the film where Bond is hurried away from the scene of a murder. This could have easily been a quick, one-minute transition, but instead you end up watching Bond meander around in various vehicles for four minutes. These types of scenes suck the life out of the film. The end result is that watching this film is like taxing on a runway for two hours.

Also, the overemphasis on plot and the plodding pace reduces the amount of action in The Man with the Golden Gun. Even the action that does exist seems sluggish compared to other Bond films. Fights lack force, chases lack speed, and gunfights lack tension. Also, the action—and the film on the whole—fails to achieve a good balance between believable action and humor. The action is simply too playful. At times, everything degenerates into slapstick goofiness. In particular, the charismatic man_with_the_golden_gun_2.jpgbut tiring Sheriff J. W. Pepper (played by Clifton James again) makes an appearance and adds too much comedy to a car chase. A different scene, with a solar reflector late in the movie, is bumbling and ridiculous. Even the signature stunt in the film—a dramatic 360-degree spiral jump over a river in Thailand—gets mucked up by adding a goofy, looping whistling sound effect.

In other places, things just don’t make any sense. One scene is so bad that it qualifies for Worst Action Scene of All-Time. I’m giving a way a bit of the plot here, but it’s minor and worth it. In this scene Bond escapes from a martial arts school where he is being subjected to repeated attacks. Once outside, a friendly agent and his two nieces drive by and find him (coincidence!). Immediately, the bulk of the students attacks Bond and his three rescuers. The agent’s nieces, however, are Tae Kwon Do experts (surprise!) who proceed to destroy the twenty or so assailants. There are less than a dozen students left in the school, and they attack next. Instead of fighting, Bond and his rescuers run. Not so unreasonable, you might be saying. But get this. When Bond and his rescuers get to their man_with_the_golden_gun_4.jpgcar, the agent and his nieces get in first and take off without Bond. Huh? Didn’t you just risk your lives to save him? And now you leave without him? Did you just forget?

The characters and acting in The Man with the Golden Gun range from solid to uninspiring, but the flat script doesn’t help. Roger Moore is sharp as Bond. As in Live and Let Die, he breathes sophisticated life into the Bond role. Christopher Lee, as the assassin Scaramanga, is a unique and charismatic villain. In many ways he represents an evil James Bond, and he plays the role with class. Hervé Villechaize, as Nick Nack, Scaramanga’s assistant, adds a likeable and charming touch to the film. Elsewhere, the characters are flat. Maud Adams, as Scaramanga’s lover Andrea Anders, is lifeless in her role. Britt Ekland, as agent Mary Goodnight, is energetic, but plays a stereotypical role as an incompetent female agent. I prefer women assistants more along the lines of the sassy and self-sufficient Karen Allen, in Raiders of the Lost Ark; Goodnight’s role is tiring.
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In the film’s defense, the dramatic islands of Thailand make a great location for the climax. Unfortunately, the ending serves more as a relief than it does thrill. Like the rest of the movie, it simply lacks punch.

The Babes and Hunks ratings in The Man with the Golden Gun are rather high. Roger Moore looks great as Bond. Both Maud Adams and Britt Ekland push the Babe rating up rather high, although the stunningly beautiful Britt Ekland’s clumsy role detracts from her appeal and Maud Adams’ lifelessness takes an edge off her sensuality as well.

All in all, there is nothing particularly awful with this film, but there is nothing inspirational here either. Too much of the film’s power evaporates in the overabundance of silliness and in the deliberate pace. The Man with the Golden Gun ends up a bland, slow, unbalanced, and lifeless film.

Fun Fact
The 360-degree spiral jump over the river was done in one take.

Score
Pace: 48
Plot: 61
Action: 47
Consistent Premise: 58
Script/Quotes: 53
Characters: 77
Acting: 57
Villain: 71
Body Count: 18
Time to First Dead Body: 7 minutes, 17 seconds
Babes: 77
Hunks: 88
Explosions: 60
Special Effects: 20
Stunts: 75
Ending: 65

Overall: 49

[tags]The Man with the Golden Gun, James Bond, action movie, movie review, Guy Hamilton, Roger Moore, Christopher Lee, Britt Ekland, Maud Adams, Hervé Villechaize[/tags]

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