Moonraker (1979) is the eleventh spy film in the James Bond series, and the fourth to star Roger Moore as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. The film, directed by Lewis Gilbert, co-stars Lois Chiles, Michael Lonsdale and Richard Kiel. In the film, Bond is sent to investigate the mysterious theft of a space shuttle, leading him to Hugo Drax, billionaire owner of the shuttle-manufacturing firm. Along with space scientist Holly Goodhead, who later is identified as a CIA agent also investigating Drax, Bond follows the trail of clues from California to Venice, Italy, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and the Amazon rain forest, and finally into outer space in a bid to prevent a genocidal plot to wipe out the world and re-create human existence with a master race.
Moonraker was intended by its creator Ian Fleming to be turned into a film even before he completed the novel in 1954, as he based the novel on a manuscript he had written even earlier than this. The producers of the James Bond film series had originally intended to release Moonraker in 1973 with Roger Moore making his debut as Bond, but the film was put on hold and finally released in 1979 to coincide with the science fiction genre which had become extremely popular during this period with films such as Star Wars (1977).
Derek Meddings, a long-time contributor to the James Bond series, received an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects nomination for the special effects used in the film and its space scenes.
Moonraker, despite receiving negative reviews from the popular critics of the time, was the highest grossing film of the series until the Pierce Brosnan Bond film GoldenEye. It collected a total of $210,300,000 world wide surpassing the earlier Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me (1977). Moonraker was also noted for its high production cost for a Bond film, using almost double the budget of the preceding Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me.
A Drax Industries Moonraker space shuttle on loan to the United Kingdom is hijacked in mid-air, destroying the carrier plane. Bond is recalled from Africa to investigate. En route in a small jet, on an unrelated case, Bond is attacked by the pilot and crew and is pushed out of the plane by the mercenary assassin Jaws, who he has met before. Bond survives by stealing a parachute from the pilot in mid-air, whilst Jaws lands on a circus tent. Bond reports to MI6 headquarters in London, and is briefed by M and Q about the hijacking. He begins his investigation at the Drax Industries shuttle-manufacturing complex in southern California.
At Drax Industries, Bond is coldly greeted by the owner of the company, Hugo Drax, and henchman Chang. Bond meets an astronaut, Dr. Holly Goodhead, and survives an assassination attempt via a centrifuge chamber. Bond is later inadvertently aided by Drax's personal pilot, Corinne Dufour, as he finds blueprints for a glass vial made in Venice. Dufour is fired by Drax, then gruesomely murdered by hunting dogs.
Billionaire Hugo Drax at his shuttle launching complex.
Bond again encounters Goodhead in Venice. He is chased through the canals by Drax's henchmen but his gondola, with the ability to transform into a hovercraft, allows him to escape across the Piazza San Marco in a comic fashion. Bond discovers a secret biological laboratory; by accidentally poisoning the scientists there, he learns that the glass vials are to hold a deadly nerve gas. Chang battles Bond and is killed. During the fight, Bond sees evidence that Drax is moving his operation to Rio de Janeiro. Rejoining Goodhead, he deduces that she is a CIA agent spying on Drax. They promise to work together (and consummate their alliance), but quickly dispense with the truce. Bond has saved one of the vials he found earlier, as the only evidence of the now-empty laboratory, giving it to M for analysis, who permits him to go to Rio de Janeiro.
In Rio de Janeiro, Bond meets and seduces his Brazilian contact Manuela. Drax hires Jaws to finish Chang's job of eliminating Bond. Bond meets Goodhead at the top of Sugarloaf, where they are attacked by Jaws on a cable car. After Jaws' car crashes he is rescued by Dolly—a petite blonde girl with super strength—from the rubble, and the two fall in love. Bond and Goodhead are captured by henchmen, but Bond escapes.
Bond reports to a MI6 base in Brazil and learns that the toxin comes from a rare orchid indigenous to the upper catchments of the Amazon jungle. While deadly to humans, it is harmless to all other life. Bond travels the Amazon River looking for Drax's research facility, and soon encounters Jaws and other henchmen again. Bond escapes from his boat just before it hits the Iguacu Falls, and finds Drax's base. Captured by Jaws again, Bond is taken to Drax and witnesses four Moonrakers lifting off. Drax explains that he himself stole the Moonraker because another in the fleet had developed a fault during assembly. Bond is reunited with Goodhead; they escape and successfully pose as pilots on the sixth shuttle. The shuttles dock with Drax's hidden space station.
The climax of the film with the laser battle on Drax's space station. Moonraker holds the world record for the largest number of zero gravity wires in one scene.
Drax plans to destroy all human life by launching 50 globes containing the toxin into the earth's atmosphere. Before launching the globes, Drax also transported several dozen young men and women of varying races, which he regarded as genetically perfect, to the space station. They would live there until Earth was safe again for human life; their descendants would be the seed for a "new master race." Bond persuades Jaws and Dolly to switch allegiance by getting Drax to admit that anyone not measuring up to his physical standards would be exterminated (Dolly's glasses and Jaws' metal teeth, as well as their odd heights, being traits that exclude them both.).
Bond and Goodhead disable the radar jammer hiding the station from Earth. The U.S. sends a platoon of Marines in a military shuttle. A laser battle ensues in which Drax's guards as well as his new master race die. During the battle, Bond pushes Drax into an airlock and ejects him into space.
Reentry of James Bond and Holly Goodhead on board of Moonraker 5.
The space station, heavily damaged in the battle, disintegrates. Jaws helps Bond and Goodhead escape in Drax's space shuttle. In celebration, Jaws opens a champagne bottle and he and Dolly toast (in his only spoken line: "Well, here's to us!"). They too escape the space station as their module breaks away before the station explodes. Before the battle Drax launched three of the globes towards Earth, which Goodhead and Bond destroy from their shuttle. The two make love in space (prompting the memorable line from Q: "I think he's attempting re-entry, Sir!"). Goodhead has the last word, with "James, take me around the world one more time."
* Roger Moore as James Bond: An MI6 agent assigned to look into the theft of a shuttle from the "Moonraker" space programme.
* Michael Lonsdale as Sir Hugo Drax: An industrialist who plans to poison all humans on earth and establish a civilization in space.
* Lois Chiles as Holly Goodhead: A CIA agent who joins Bond and flies with him to Drax's space station.
* Toshiro Suga as Chang: Drax's bodyguard, skilled at martial arts.
* Richard Kiel as Jaws: A henchman, afflicted by giantism and has a set of stainless steel teeth, whom Drax hires as a replacement for Chang. He helps Bond defeat Drax after learning that hormonally abnormal humans would be killed by the latter.
* Corinne Clery as Corinne Dufour: Drax's personal pilot. She is killed by Drax's doberman pinschers after she inadvertently aides Bond.
* Bernard Lee as M: The strict head of MI6.
* Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny: M's secretary.
* Desmond Llewelyn as Q: MI6's "quartermaster" who supplies Bond with multi-purpose vehicles and gadgets useful for the latter's mission.
* Geoffrey Keen as Fredrick Gray: The British Minister of Defence
* Walter Gotell as General Gogol: The head of the KGB
* Emily Bolton as Manuela: Bond's local contact in Rio.
* Blanche Ravalec as Dolly: Jaws's Girlfriend