"James Bond. You appear with the tedious inevitability of an unloved season."
— Hugo Drax
The One whereBond gets launched in space.Moonraker is the 11th James Bond film, and the fourth starring Roger Moore. Bond is sent to investigate Drax industries after one of their shuttles is hijacked in mid-transit. Turns out it's all part of an Evil Plan by billionaire Sir Hugo Drax who, like Blofeld and Stromberg before him, is tired of sharing the world with all those riffraff. To remedy this, Drax plans to exterminate the world population and replace it with "ideal" supermodel specimens. So much for champagne wishes and caviar dreams.The movie was blatantly made to cash in on the science fiction craze that Star Wars had startednote How blatantly? The end credits of the older Bond movies always announced the title of the next one in the series. The previous movie, The Spy Who Loved Me said "James Bond will return in For Your Eyes Only." Moonraker was made instead.. Jaws returns as the only henchman to make a second appearance in the series, but his role was changed from "vicious killer" to "Wile E Coyote".Notable for being the final Bond film to feature Bernard Lee as M; he died before production started on For Your Eyes Only. In addition, this was the highest-grossing Bond film up until GoldenEyenote Adjusted for inflation, Thunderball is still the highest-grossing Bond film.Still, that laser and its Infinite Ammo can come in handy when you unlock it as a cheat in the N64 game GoldenEye.Not to be confused with Moonwalker.
The Beautiful Elite: Drax' Evil Plan is to destroy all human life on Earth so it can be repopulated it with only genetically perfect specimens that he selected.
Bond Villain Stupidity: Mostly averted. Drax goes out of his way to try and eliminate Bond virtually from the very first meeting. Which might count anyway, since originally Bond wasn't even there to investigate Drax and the murder attempts just made him suspicious. The first couple of attempts were suitably convoluted, but this is subtle Fridge Brilliance if you realize that Drax was trying to Make It Look Like an Accident while Bond was on his property. Afterwards, he had no problem sending entire kill squads to assassinate Bond in public- which are just as doomed to fail, of course. His explicit justification for not simply having Bond shot is For the Evulz; he wanted Bond's death to be "amusing". Most people he has murdered in the movie actually die quite nasty deaths, especially Corrine, so this is pretty in-character.
Cable-Car Action Sequence: A fight between Jaws and Bond happens aboard the gondola leading to Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro.
California Doubling: Weird inversion - Bond is flown to Drax's base in California (aerial plates shot in the US) and lands on a castle which "Drax ordered to be brought from France" (shot in an actual French castle, of course).
Chain Pain: Chang fighting Bond in the clock tower, then later Bond fighting Jaws on top of the cable car.
Centrifugal Farce: While on a tour of Drax' aerospace facility James Bond was put in such a machine by Holly Goodhead and given a spin. While he was undergoing this Holly was called away and Drax's henchman Chang took over, turning the dial up and subjecting Bond to multiple gravities of force. Just before falling unconscious, Bond used one of his gadgets to shoot the control panel and turn the machine off.
Chekhov's Gunman: The people shown working out at Drax's estate at the beginning of the film, and at the glass factory in Venice, are later revealed to be the same people intended by Drax to seed his "master race".
Chekhov's Gun: Three of them. The wrist-activated dart gun Bond uses to escape the gravity trainer and shoot Drax, Dr. Goodhead's "poison pen" Bond takes in Venice and later uses to kill the python in the jungle, and the laser rifle being tested by Q that's later used by the U.S. Marines attacking Drax's orbiting space station.
Cool Boat: Two no less. The tricked-out hydrofoil/gondola/car thingy in Venice, and the awesome speedboat (equipped with torpedoes, mines, bullet shield and hang glider no less) used by Bond to explore the Amazon Basin
During the fight in the ambulance, James Bond and an enemy henchman fall out of the back on a gurney and roll down a hill. Bond falls off, the henchman continues down and eventually hits and is stuck in a billboard for British Airways, causing some damage. Watch it here.
A cable car station is clearly adorned with a huge banner for 7-Up. After Jaws fails to kill 007, his car not only does ram through the station, but it also clearly damages the 7-Up signs in front, as seen here.
Dirty Communists: General Gogol, though his conversation with an American General counterpart is actually fairly benign.
A couple snogging don't even notice when a speedboat with machine gun-toting mooks cuts their gondula in half.
Drax has time to evacuate his Italian biolab because Bond spends the night bonking Goodhead.
Goodhead smiles at a mook guarding the prisoners in the ambulance while Bond slips his bonds.
General Gogol gripes that he can't sleep because of his job. Problems, problems, problems! Then we see there's a beautiful blonde in his bed. Go go Gogol!
Does Not Know His Own Strength: Jaws tries to pull the ripcord on his parachute...it comes off in his hand. Later on he's chasing Bond in a speedboat, realises he's heading for an Inevitable Waterfall and tries to jerk the steering wheel to the side; it also comes off in his hand.
Everything Trying to Kill You: Although the point of most Bond films is the actions by 007 to avoid death, this film takes this trope to a whole new level. In every locale and virtually every scene something or someone is trying to kill him.
Faux Action Girl: For a CIA agent with proper spy equipment, Dr. Goodhead sure doesn't get a lot of action (pun not quite intended) until the finale. Justified trope, as Lois Chiles was pregnant during shooting.
Irony: While Bond is driving a gondola in Venice, a hearse ship with a laid-out coffin floats by. Suddenly, an assassin rises from the coffin, and tries to hit Bond with a couple of throwing knifes. But Bond swiftly manages to kill the assassin on the spot, causing his body to sink back into his coffin. The only time a minor Bond-villain gets a real proper funeral.
In Name Only: There's really only two things about Moonraker shares with the novel on which it was based: Its title and the name of the villain.
Just Plane Wrong: The sequence in which a space shuttle blasts off from the aircraft carrying it.
The shuttle is never carried with fuel or live batteries. Even if Drax somehow arranged for them to be onboard, the Shuttle is basically a glider - its engine and onboard fuel aren't enough to fly it any great distance as if it were a regular jet plane. The shuttle can be released from the carrier aircraft in flight, but it is left to glide unpowered after that.
It is also impossible to carry a shuttle on the back of a normal 747, even if you could add a cradle on top. The turbulence caused by it renders the normal rudder basically useless.
Continuing the trend started in the previous movie, Jaws survives a fall from an airplane in the cold-open (he falls through a circus tent and lands in the trapeze artists' safety net, which would still have killed him). Then, he emerges unscathed from a cable car that crashes through a wall, falls over Iguazu Falls without suffering any injury, and, in the climactic scene, the dialogue implies that he and his girlfriend survive falling from low-Earth orbit in a decaying space station. By the end, Bond acknowledges Jaws' invulnerability, reassuring Dr. Goodhead that "it's only a hundred miles to Earth" and therefore Jaws will be fine (Though he actually survives by hitching a ride with the Marines in their shuttle).
In a quick shot, part of the space station breaks off and is shown zooming away, presumably with Jaws and Dolly inside. That's what the Marines pick up later.
Master Race: Though Drax doesn't discriminate where race is concerned, just physical perfection.
Meet the New Boss: Drax is very similar to Stromberg from The Spy Who Loved Me. There are a few differences, and he's arguably a lot more sinister and dangerous. Stromberg is more or less an Orcus on His Throne, mostly just sitting around Atlantis all day, pressing buttons when he wants something done (or someone killed), and leaving Bond's fate mostly up to his minions. Drax does a lot more globetrotting, comes up with amusing deaths for Bond and others who have displeased him. Plus his plan is more evil, since at least Stromberg didn't try and select which members of the human race he was going to spare. Drax is far more egomaniacal, ruthless and controlling, a much more evil bastard.
New Era Speech: Hugo Drax, to his assembled minions on the space station.
No Gravity for You: Bond disables the station's gravity so that the approaching space shuttle loaded with U.S. Marines can't be attacked and Bond and his allies can escape. The scene is truly impressive when you bear in mind this was filmed pre-CGI.
One of the most criticised aspects of the movie was how easy it was for the United States to launch a space shuttle with only a few hours notice. Except that this was during the height of the space race, and NASA was expected to have at least one orbital space mission a month. Thus, depending on how close they were to the next launch, its quite possible that a shuttle was indeed prepped enough to pull this off. In short, Moonraker assumed NASA's plans for the (then near-future) space shuttle were accurate. They weren't, but the filmmakers couldn't have known that.
In universe, shuttles are being produced at least as readily as low-volume aircraft are. The one that's stolen was stolen because Drax had problems with one of his own, and couldn't reduce the fleet needed for his plan, so he stole back one he'd already sent for delivery. It follows that NASA is doing a lot more launches than in real life. The presence of space-borne combat troops ready to go on short notice is a bit harder to accept.
Not really. First of all, before the Challenger space disaster, Vandenberg was slated to act as the facility for West Coast shuttle launches. This would be handy for the U.S. military to launch military-relates satellites with greater security than at Cape Canaveral (it is a U.S. Air Force base, after all).
Also, no less than five USMC bases and two USMC air stations are near Vandenberg - near enough for a USMC base to actually have the manpower to have a rapid-response detachment trained for space combat and ready to deploy within a few hours to Vandenberg for a shuttle launch - after all, they're Space Marines, and these were The Seventies, during the Red Scare, when the Reds with Rockets were in The Space Race with Eagleland. The idea of needing space combat troops - and having them ready to go on short notice (doing otherwise defeats the purpose, if you plan on sending them into space on a combat mission) isn't so far-fetched against that background. Crazy-Prepared - it might as well be the secondary motto of the USMC.
Literally. In the previous movie, James Bond works with a female foreign secret agent to stop a Corrupt Corporate Executive from destroying the world and creating a new empire in the ocean. In this movie, James Bond works with a female foreign secret agent to stop a Corrupt Corporate Executive from destroying the world and creating a new empire in space. Yes, Moonraker in plot is blatantly copied from The Spy Who Loved Me. Yet the latter film is considered one of the best in the series and of the Moore era, while this one is mostly reviled.
And annoyingly enough, both steal from You Only Live Twice, where James Bond works with a female foreign secret agent (Japan, this time) to stop Ernst Stavro Blofeld from causing World War III (i.e. destroying the world) so that another global power can take over. All three plots involve stealing exotic government vehicles of some kind. All three were directed by the same dude, Lewis Gilbertnote Though You Only Live Twice had a different screenwriter, namely Roald Dahl, whereas this and the previous film were written by Christopher Wood. All three end with Bond and the girl being "interrupted" by their superiors as well. Gilbert admits this in the "Spy Who Loved Me" DVD "making of" featurette.
Revealing Coverup: Bond wasn't interested in Drax until he started trying to have him killed.
Rule Of Threes: Three globes are ejected and have to be destroyed by Bond and Goodhead in a laser-armed shuttle. Naturally the first two are destroyed easily while the last presents all kinds of problems like the laser malfunctioning, requiring him to make three attempts to destroy it.
Running Gag: Victor Tourjansky as the "man with the bottle" in St. Mark's Square who does a double take on seeing Bond drive by in a gondola. in the previous film he was the man on the beach who does a Double Take seeing Bond's Lotus drive out of the water.
Same Language Dub: French actress Corinne Clery, known for Just Jaeckin's The Story of O, was dubbed by Nikki Van der zyl, in what was her last dubbing job for any film, as well as for any Bond film.
Sarcastic Confession: Bond tells Moneypenny he's late because he fell out of an airplane, then gets miffed when she laughs. The next time he meets her, Bond starts to tell how he fell off a mountain in a cable car, then gives up at her "Yeah right!" look.
Safecracking: Bond opens the safe in Drax's headquarters with an X-ray device.
Schmuck Bait: A beautiful blonde beckons Bond across a bridge in Drax's Amazon base. No doubt thinking of his experience in You Only Live Twice, Bond gives her a "Yeah right" look and walks around the side of the pool, only to be flipped into it by a tilting rock.
Shoe Phone: Bond uses four gadgets across the movie. One he was issued by Q, one he borrowed from Holly, and two that came out of nowhere with no explanation.
Shot in the Ass: M gets annoyed when Bond test-fires his wrist dart gun into a picture on his wall, specifically the horses' ass.
Scenery Porn: In addition to natural beauties/cities, there's the space station.
Sequel Escalation: How can you top a madman stealing SSBNs to start World War III? A genocidal madman IN SPACE! To date, the films never escalate to this scale again. Instead they have escalated in amount of action sequences, or their Refuge in Audacity (see previous film and the ski jump), or more recently with Brosnan's run, the exception of Carver, ever more physically powerful villains such as Renard and Graves. The Daniel Craig run appears to be flipping it back the other way once again.
Steel Ear Drums: Bond and Goodhead are completely unaffected by the sound of a space shuttle blasting off even though they're only inches away. Never mind being deafened by the noise, in Real Life they probably would have been killed.
Villainous Breakdown: Happens after Bond and Dr. Goodhead are captured in the spacestation when Bond explains the implications of Drax's master race. Jaws begins his Mook-Face Turn when he realizes he and Dolly won't fit in with Drax's perfect people.
Warrior Monk: Spoofed with two monks doing martial arts. After flipping his opponent, the winner blesses his opponent by performing the sign of the cross over him.
What Happened to the Mouse?: The "ideal humans" vanish from the narrative once Bond reaches the space station. Whether any actually survive is never revealed.
Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: A real life one for Richard Kiel, as he suffers from acrophobia and was unable to film any of the cable car fight. Hence the numerous shots of Jaws from behind awkwardly intercut with Kiel's face in front of a bluescreen.
Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Prior to the final space battle, Drax's crew is shown to include men and women, both uniformed and civilian. But once the battle begins - and it is strongly implied at the space soldiers slaughter everyone on Drax's side - no female combatants are shown. We don't see another woman until after the battle and Jaw's girlfriend comes out from hiding - maybe with all the other women on board?
You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Drax fully intends to kills all of his employees who fails to meet his standards of perfection once his plans are realized. This causes Jaws to Heel-Face Turn when he realizes that his girlfriend - who has less than perfect eyesight - wouldn't make the cut.
Jaws also might have realized he probably wouldn't make the cut either, having prosthetic jaws and teeth.
You Look Familiar: When Bond arrives at the temple in the Amazon, he realizes the women outside of it are the same ones he's seen earlier at Drax' estate and the glassworks in Venice.
Zero-G Spot: Bond and Dr. Holly Goodhead after defeating Drax's plans.