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Moonraker (1979)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

While being transported to Britain, the Moonraker space shuttle, designed and built by the huge Drax Corporation, vanishes after the plane carrying it crashes in the Yukon. James Bond, who has just survived an attempt on his life after being ejected from a plane, is sent to investigate. His first stop is California, where he is taken by Corinne, a French helicopter pilot, to meet Hugo Drax. Living in a luxurious chateaux, Drax is obsessed with the conquest of space, and while he initially appears courteous and helpful, he is clearly wary of Bond's involvement. When his guest goes to the shuttle factory, Drax instructs his servant, Chang, to ensure that Bond comes to some harm.

Bond explores the industrial complex and meets Dr Holly Goodhead, Drax's liaison from NASA, but is nearly killed when Chang sabotages the G-Force simulator he is trying. Dr Goodhead reveals that Drax not only builds the shuttle but is also running an astronaut training programme. That night, Bond enlists Corinne's help in breaking into a safe in Drax's mansion containing mysterious blueprints which have been sent to Venini Glass in Venice. This discovery costs Corinne her life and leads to another failed attempt on Bond's.

Pursued by Drax's thugs, Bond goes to Venice and is surprised to encounter Dr Goodhead while exploring the Venini Glassworks. He survives another assassination attempt and is pursued through the canals of Venice in his high-speed Gondola. Later, Bond returns to Venini Glass and discovers a hidden laboratory where glass containers matching the blueprints are being used to hold a deadly poison derived from Deadly Nightshade. Bond steals a tube of the poison before being confronted by Chang, who fights him in the glass factory. Chang is killed, forcing Drax to employ a new henchman in the shape of the steel-toothed 'Jaws', who previously worked for the shipping magnate Karl Stromberg.

Returning to his hotel, Bond encounters Holly again and learns she is a CIA agent on the trail of the Moonraker. Bond suggests they pool their resources but realises that Holly is intending to leave Venice in the morning on a plane bound for Rio. Bond is keen to follow her but is humiliated when he reports the secret laboratory to MI6 and discovers, in the company of 'M' and the Minister, that it has been completely cleaned and now houses nothing more than an office for Drax. 'M' is only convinced to give Bond another chance when he sees the tube of poison.

In Rio, Bond investigates a warehouse owned by Drax and discovers that equipment is being moved in bulk to San Pietro airport. Bond and Holly meet up again and decide to join forces, shortly before being confronted by Jaws while taking a cable car. After a fight on top of the car, Bond manages to escape and sends Jaws crashing down to earth. Jaws survives and is met by a young girl, Dolly, who falls in love with him. An abduction attempt leads to Holly being kidnapped, although Bond manages to escape.

Bond learns from Q that the poison derives from the Amazon basin. Following a speedboat chase, Bond is captured by Drax and taken to an elaborate space station hidden inside ancient ruins. Drax explains that he plans to launch his team of carefully chosen astronauts into space, before unleashing his poison on the inhabitants of Earth. The human race will be destroyed, but animal and plant life will remain unaffected. He will then return to rule with a new, perfect species to populate the planet.

Bond is reunited with Holly and the two agents are placed in the launch chamber to be killed. They manage to escape and contact a contingent of American space marines, who attack the shuttle and eventually overpower Drax's men. Bond persuades Jaws to come over to his side and finally confronts Drax, pushing him into the airlock and out into space. He and Holly trace and destroy the pods containing the poison and embark on a slow return journey to Earth.