Review Detail

9.9 2 10
FanFix April 15, 2020 2702
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Live and Let Die has always rated pretty low for me in the Bond ranking, the main reason is that it is frequently at odds with itself, not sure of what it wants to be or do, and containing elements that just don't belong in the 007 world (I'm still scratching my head over the many lives of Baron Samedi). Also, sadly, it contains one of the worst cases of Bond being a total piece of trash in the whole series, manufacturing a whole deck of cards just to deceive a naive young woman into bed. Sadly, there is no way around this (or there is, but the price would be confirming the supernatural elements of the story as unambiguously genuine, which absolutely wouldn't fit, so damned if you do and damned if you don't) but still a lot can be done to streamline and improve it. And a lot has been done here, with remarkable results.

Though I must say, not everything is exactly what I would have done. For starters, there's the issue of the cold open sequence, which for me it's another case of damned if you do and damned if you don't. It is true that it feels quite odd that the theatrical version of the pre-credits does not feature Bond at all, being the only installment in the series that doesn't (technically, neither From Russia With Love nor The Man With the Golden Gun feature Bond either, but arguably they come close enough), but it is equally true that these openings are all about action and shock, and by moving Bond's apartment scene there it kind of comes across as a bit too long, a bit too expository, and a bit too calm for this spot. In fact I'm still undecided about whether I prefer the theatrical approach or this one.

Then, I admit I miss Rosie Carver. Sure, she's a pretty weak character, but I'd vote for keeping her mainly for two reasons: her historical importance as the first black Bond girl of relevance (before her, if I'm not mistaken, there was only Thumper in Diamonds Are Forever, which was a bit part), and the fact that losing her also loses any development for Quarrel Jr., a rare instance of a heroic black character in the story (only him and agent Harry Strutter are any sympathetic), reduced here to little more than an extra. This said, I thought that the way Ed recontextualized the Kananga/Solitaire conversation about the Rosie set-up to refer to the snake trap instead, was nothing short of brilliant.

And yes, as others have commented, at 93 minutes it feels a bit short for a Bond movie (the shortest unedited Bond, Quantum of Solace, is 106 minutes long), and Kananga's death feels abrupt and anticlimactic. Still beats that silly balloon by far, though.

But despite the above, this was highly enjoyable. For the most part, less is indeed "Moore" and it all feels so much more consistent. While it retains flaws inherent to the source material, it is no longer a wandering movie in search of a path and fits much better in the Bond canon. Other than the Rosie and Quarrel Jr stuff, I did not miss any of the removed material, and found myself enjoying the movie much more than ever before. Video and audio editing were very well done, despite some of the music nips and tucks being a tiny bit noticeable at a few spots, but comparatively a small price to pay for the removal of a few terrible lines.

Still not my favorite Bond, but would go up quite a few slots had it been released that way. Good job, 007.
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