It can be a very frustrating thing when a director makes a wonderful movie and then follows up with a miserable one. Look at what Sam Raimi did to his Spider-Man series, or the Wachowskis to The Matrix. What is it that prompts such failure? Stardom? Laziness? Clumsiness? Guy Hamilton directed Goldfinger, and what a classic that was. Surely his next Bond movie will be just as good, if not better! But to make such a wish is to rob oneself of the power of foresight, because Diamonds Are Forever is not just as good. It is confused, annoying, and inadvertently comical.
There are pockets of good moments, but the movie is so over-the-top, so camp and so hammy, that I found myself laughing at things that ought to have been taken seriously. Regard the opening montage, and see for yourself. Bond is violently interrogating people associated with Ernst Stavro Blofeld. He smashes a Japanese man through his rice paper wall, attacks a fezzed man at a casino, and strangles a sexy lady with her own bikini top (I could have sworn I saw boobies). The acting is so atrocious, the choreography so poor, and the lines so cheesy that I thought I was watching a badly made infomercial. I was half expecting Bond to suddenly face the camera and wink with a thumbs up. And then when he finally catches up to Blofeld, he once again engages in ridiculously comical hand-to-hand combat, which results in Blofeld’s untimely death. I know I complained about George Lazenby’s opening scene, but given the chance, I’d rather watch that one again instead of this.
The plot involves diamonds. No surprise there. The Africans are digging them up in large quantities, but it is suspected that much of the find is being smuggled to the black market. Bond (Sean Connery) is called in to investigate, and he discovers an intricate ring of smugglers, working together tightly. There is much confusion in the way Hamilton structures these scenes. It is never made clear who Bond is tailing, and when, or who’s on whose side, and when. Under an alias, he meets up with a smuggling contact in Holland, Tiffany Case (Jill St. John). She is about as trustworthy as a politician, yet Bond is willing to sleep with her. She double crosses him a few times, falls out of contact, then reappears in the lair of the bad guy. Sure, St. John looks fetching in her perpetual bikini, but beneath all that smooth skin isn’t much of a Bond Girl. She’s pretty useless. But what does that matter when she’s willing to get in your pants?
Diamonds Are Forever has the feel of a good Bond movie, but on closer inspection, it is cracked, and cracked bad. I did enjoy the car chase very much, though. Well paced, well thought out, and executed with vigor. It reminded me of the car chase in Jack Reacher, but with more complex maneuvers and tighter escapes. It does end on a rather preposterous note, but that doesn’t take away from its exhilaration. Still, the movie has to be one of the worst in the franchise so far. If you disagree, re-watch it and ask yourself: “How did I ever stomach Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd?”. They are the most laughable of movie assassins, and when they shove a scorpion down the dentist’s shirt, how funny is the way he dies?
Best Moment | Yup, the car chase, sans its ending.
Worst Moment | Every comical bit.