A View to a Kill-1985
Starring-Roger Moore, Christopher Walken, Grace Jones
Reviewed September 21, 2016
Not exactly deemed a masterpiece, or even a treasured favorite, among the masses of James Bond lovers, A View to a Kill holds a soft spot for me personally. It is one of the first Bond films that I was fortunate enough to see in the movie theater and it has continued to enamor me all these decades later. Yes, it has flaws (to be mentioned later), but it is a classic, fun, exciting, mid 1980’s Bond offering. It contains Roger Moore- in his final Bond appearance, the exotic Grace Jones, a great villain, and on location treats such as Paris and Iceland- who could ask for anything more?
We are re-introduced to MI-6 agent James Bond on the snowy slopes of Siberia as he discovers the body of 003, along with a Soviet microchip believed to belong to the wealthy Max Zorin (Christopher Walken). Bond attends a horse sale hosted by Zorin and discovers he is drugging the horses to make them perform better. It is also revealed that he intends to destroy Silicon Valley in order to rule the microchip industry. In Zorin’s camp is a mysterious woman named May Day and an odd Nazi scientist named Dr. Carl Mortner. Events conclude in San Francisco as the action packed finale takes place in a mine and overlooking (via blimp) the historic Golden Gate bridge.
I completely get the criticisms hurled at this film- both Roger Moore and, as a secondary character, Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny, had gotten quite long in the tooth by this point in the franchise (1985), which is a shame because both are favorites of mine. Most glaring in the “bad” department is Tanya Roberts as the main Bond girl, Stacy Sutten- almost rivaling Halle Berry (Die Another Day) as screamingly awful. Not appearing as a major character until quite late in the film, Stacey is a wealthy heir, who Zorin is attempting to pay five million dollars to in order to relinquish her shares in Silicon Valley (she refuses). Robert’s acting is quite poor if I am being honest- she has no chemistry with Moore, and comes across as a bit of a dimwit, despite being written as a doctor or scientist of some sort. Regardless, she does not work as a Bond girl. Yes, the cartoon-like chase around San Francisco with the brooding police chief is unintentionally funny- another negative to the film.
But here are some strengths- Fantastic is Walken as the main villain role of Zorin. Psychotic, loony tunes, and such a pleasure to watch. With his bleached blonde hair and grimacing sneer, a particularly controversial, and favorite scene of mine is when Zorin, machine gun in hand, sprays bullets from left to right, undoubtedly killing dozens, as he gleefully laughs. This was unprecedented in Bond films up to this point as most villains contained a safer personality- Zorin is positively monstrous and to be feared.
Also worth mentioning is Jones as May Day, simply mesmerizing in the role- although sadly her character is weakened toward the end- did she really believe Zorin was capable of love?? Countering with the anemic chemistry between Bond and Roberts, the chemistry between Jones and Moore sizzles. Interesting to note is that this is not the first time Bond has explored an interracial (white and black) romance- far from it. Live and Let Die- circa 1973 takes this honor. I would have enjoyed much more exploration on an emotional level between Bond and May Day instead of the animalistic physical attraction.
One may wonder with all the recognizable flaws with the film, why the A-rating? Because simply put this film is fun and contains all the elements a Bond film ought to. The action is plentiful- who can forget the nail-biting Eifel tower chase or the Paris car chase- sans car roof?
Certainly not high art, but a grand favorite of mine, A View to a Kill is entertainment personified. The pop title-theme song, performed by Duran Duran, which became a #1 hit in the summer of 1985, is a wonderful aspect of the film and immediately takes me back to a different time- I suppose the film does as well and that is a great part of my fondness for it.