A View to a Kill is fitting end to Moore’s Bond era
As my second James Bond film, nostalgia somewhat impairs my more critical analysis of A View to a Kill. While it doesn’t reach its full potential, Roger Moore’s final 007 outing is still a largely entertaining if admittedly flawed adventure.
The death of a fellow agent Bond (Moore) leads Bond to investigate wealthy industrialist Max Zorin (Christopher Walken, Batman Returns) at his posh stables. With the aid of his henchwoman May Day (Grace Jones), Zorin sets out to make his empire the only global force in microchip development by destroying Silicon Valley.
At 57, Moore definitely should have retired a couple of films ago. He would have been more credible in the Minister of Defense role than the dashing super spy ready for to handle any crazy adventure and tango with hot 20-something love interests. But like a comfortable pair of slippers, Moore has just enough charm left to hold his end up.
Of Bond’s numerous sidekicks over the years, I really enjoyed the dynamic with 007 and Sir Godfrey Tibbett (Patrick Macnee). That’s largely thanks to Moore and Macnee’s real life friendship coming across so easily onscreen.
And on the supporting character front, let’s toss a hat on the rack one last time for Lois Maxwell’s final appearance as Moneypenny before being replaced. She’d been the one consistent presence in the series since Dr. No and while she was typically just around long enough to have a flirting fawning moment with Bond, her brief moments were always enjoyable.
Roberts, beyond being blessed with fantastic legs and sensational hair, does little besides speaking in an exaggerated breathy fashion and squealing frantically. Her chemistry with Moore is also non-existent. This is a rare Bond case where not even being tremendous eye candy saves the day all but assuring Stacey’s position as one of the all-time worst Bond Babes.
Similar to Sean Connery’s final Bond outing Never Say Never Again, the secret weapon that salvages the movie is the spectacular villains.
Walken is outstanding. He’s basically playing the Christopher Walken slightly unhinged villain character he’s done for years but with a platinum dye job and snarkier attitude. Zorin is one of the more coldblooded Bond foes largely since we see him committing a number of ruthless atrocities as opposed to the more theoretical catastrophic loss of life planned by the others villains.
Before she was stealing scenes in Boomerang, Jones was a striking, vibrant force of nature as the atypical Bond Babe femme fatale. May Day proved as dangerous as any of the upper echelon Bond henchmen frequently killing off Bond’s allies.
And the film even manages to work in a brief cameo from series regular General Golgo (Walter Gotell), who once again has his behind the scenes machinations foiled by Bond.
With apologies to Shirley Bassey, Paul McCartney, Carly Simon and Adele, Duran Duran’s theme song remains the best Bond theme. Paired with the MTV ready 80s neon black light opening sequence,
John Barry’s score is reliable as always, but he also incorporates a great guitar riff during the action scenes that is both timeless and perfectly captures an 80s sound. It’s near the top of my favorite instrumental scores in the series.
Director John Glen continued to struggle with the vision for his Bond films. Would they be more straightforward, serious Bonds like For Your Eyes Only or be the goofy ill-advised comedic outings like Octopussy?
Glen remains unsure here interrupting a terrific snow chase in the opening act to add a bizarrely out of context musical accompaniment from the Beach Boys’ “California Girls.” A firetruck chase scene through the streets of San Francisco is embarrassing for its ill attempts at humor.That’s a major contrast to Zorin’s mass murdering shooting spree later on, which would seem even more sinister if Glen treated the earlier action just as seriously. Once again, Bond is largely gadget-less — but if one addition to the Bond mythos could have used some over-the-top gadgets, it’s this one.
The stunts are another major problem as Glen seemingly can’t be bothered to try and conceal the stuntmen standing in for Moore during the action sequences.
But there are some spectacular moments. The May Day/Bond chase up the Eiffel Tower and subsequent parachute dive is still cool. Oh and that final fight scene atop the Golden Gate Bridge is gloriously fun. It’s not enough to make A View to a Kill a must-see, but the film has its moments.
Rating: 6 out of 10
Moore labels this his least favorite Bond, but revisiting his Bond catalog, there’s much better options for that distinction. A View to a Kill isn’t a classic, but is still more fun than the haters would have you believe thanks to its tremendous villains and outstanding theme and score.
Order A View to a Kill from Amazon.com: A View To A Kill [Blu-ray + DHD]