Sunday, September 26, 2021

[Review] - Moonraker by Ian Fleming

Do you remember when James Bond got launched into space and got in a laser fight with baddies? I, for one, have buried that particular image in my mind. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, TBS played the godawful Moonraker (1979) practically to death. After a recent rewatch, I appreciate some things done in the film. It's still pretty awful compared to other Roger Moore outings.

The Moonraker movie is a loose adaptation of Ian Fleming's third 007 novel. Upon its publication in 1955, the original feedback from critics is negative, calling the plot too far-fetched.

The novel begins with James Bond participating in a bridge game against the multi-millionaire industrialist Sir Hugo Drax. Despite not needing the money, Drax attempts to cheat. Bond calls him out on it and wins £15,000.

007's newest target is Drax. What would the British Secret Service want with a WWII veteran turned industrialist? Besides his business ventures, Drax has built the first nuclear missile, Moonraker, for the British to use against Cold War enemies. Moonraker is a V-2 rocket upgraded to use columbite, so the engine can withstand high temperatures and expand its flight range. Recently, a Ministry of Supply security officer was assigned to the Moonraker project and later killed. Bond's boss, M, ordered him to take the man's identity and investigate any wrongdoings in the project.

Shortly after taking on the new assignment, Bond learns all of the scientists working on the project are German. Bond teams up with the gorgeous Gala Brand, a Special Branch police officer who has been working undercover as Drax's assistant. Their investigation leads them to the conclusion that Drax had the security guard murdered after finding the location of a secret submarine. It seems that Drax isn't who he appears to be - he's a Nazi loyalist.

Final Thoughts

I have no idea why the critics hated Moonraker upon its publication in 1955. The nuclear-missile plot isn't far-fetched at all, and it's a hell of a lot better than the space station plot from the 1979 film adaptation. And, sadly, there's Dr. Goodhead in the novel. LOL! Though the character does appear in the novelization James Bond and Moonraker by Christopher Wood. (FYI - Jaws isn't the novel either.) 

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Moonraker. It's outdated with a few other flaws, but it's a fun 007 adventure. I highly recommend it to all 007 fans.

1 comment:

  1. Ooh Moonraker. Love that cover BTW. And yes this one (the movie) was bad. :) I saw it a million times too and am not a huge fan. I think it's fascinating how this was the third Bond book but they made a lot of m ovies before this one- they seem to have jumped around in that sense, mixed and matched things from different books... I didn't know any of that growing up watching these...

    Anyway sounds like the book is way better! No JAWS though? Haha the cable car scene *facepalm*


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