Following the unexpected anomaly that was 1969's "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" (superlative action thriller, crap Bond), "Diamonds Are Forever" was clearly an exercise in placating the franchise's loyal audience, sold on the much-vaunted return of Connery to his career-making role.
Now firmly entrenched in the rigid formula, it sees Bond once again square off against arch-enemy Blofeld (a camp Gray), who intends to build a giant diamond-powered laser. Cue world ransom, etc. Even the obvious flaws (a sieve-like plot and the all-too-easy escapes) are helped by a wry, intelligent script displaying self-parody.
Despite a clumsy climax set on a distinctly un-Bond oil rig, there's still much to enjoy: the fey, homosexual assassins Mr Wint and Mr Kidd (exiting a murder hand in hand), Jill St John's feisty Tiffany Case, and Bond receiving a dose of contemporary femininity by getting beaten up by the acrobatic Bambi and Thumper.
The film's biggest problem is that it showcases a streak of viciousness that is clearly at odds with the franchise's increasingly campy, light-hearted direction.
Inestimable charisma and ease with the role aside, Connery's return is blighted by the rapid ageing that afflicted his career's mid-section before the 80s World's Sexiest Pensioner resurrection. No longer the lithe presence of the 60s, he's more the weary lounge lizard here.
Arguably the least memorable Bond film, it's still exhilarating fare and good to see Connery in the role one more time (ignore the ill-advised "Never Say Never Again"). Clearly, the audience needed an effective Bond to front the orchestrated mayhem. Having provided a dose of comfy familiarity here, the series could forge its new high-fantasy/slapstick angle with new recruit Moore.
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