Is it damning to praise Live and Let Die for not being as racist as it could have been (even though it’s still pretty damn racist) because its racism seems to come from a place of profound ignorance rather than active hatefulness? The film is a smash-up of the Bond and Blaxploitation genres, bringing in ringers like the always great Yaphet Kotto, Gloria Hendry (from Black Belt Jones and Black Caesar), and Julius Harris (so amazing as Big Papa in Hell Up in Harlem), and pitting them against Roger Moore as the lighter, sillier Bond. Unfortunately, whatever the intentions of the filmmakers, the subject matter does not fare well in the hands of exploitation-minded Brits who couldn’t even reach the grotty highs and lows of a Jack Hill.
I actually like Moore in this movie, which reminded me of how much fun he was as Bond before his geriatric performances in Octopussy and A View to a Kill. However, the movie itself is mostly a mess, poorly plotted and meandering, and Jane Seymour and Hendry are totally wasted as the female leads. Not what I’d call peak Moore (that would be The Spy Who Loved Me, of course, though I still have a childhood affection for the dumb but fun Moonraker). 2 out of 4 stars (Average).