A View to a Kill (1985)

James Bond film #14 (Roger Moore Bond)

A View to a Kill (1985)

A View to a Kill marks the 7th and final appearance of Roger Moore as James Bond, Agent 007. It’s been a fun ride that’s lasted 12 years, but as anyone who watches this film could tell you, Moore is 57 years old and looking it. It’s time for some new blood, but not before Moore takes down Christopher Walken, co-starring as the rich and insane Max Zorin. Despite the promise that an unhinged Walken might suggest, A View to a Kill is as worn-out and tired as its leading man.

Finally shedding the convoluted plots that marred the previous two films, A View to a Kill has a fairly straightforward story. Max Zorin is a wealthy industrialist who designs microchips and races horses. He’s also an ex-KGB agent gone rogue, planning to destroy all of Silicon Valley to gain a monopoly. He reveals this plan aboard his giant Zorin Industries blimp. The man has class.

He’s also a complete psychopath, which Walken obviously nails. He’s the cockiest villain Bond’s ever come up against, so arrogant that he laughs at Bond talks down to him so much we actually get to see Bond get pissed. Turns out, Zorin’s the result of Nazi genetic experimentation, which explains his madness, but it still seems a little much to have him casually gun down miners trying to escape a flood, laughing maniacally as he watches them die. Sure, every Bond villain plans to kill thousands if not millions of people, but to see them delightedly pull the trigger is kind of a buzzkill.

Meanwhile, Moore is looking old and weary, especially during the fight scenes. The rumble he has with some henchmen near an assembly line is both campy and clumsy, his enemies basically laying down for him at his convenience. Lucky for him, he gets to spend most of his time undercover as James St. John Smythe, a rich horse racer, in a sting reminiscent of Lazenby’s dress-up charade in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Bond’s gentry facade – combined with Zorin’s huge estate, the horse-racing scenes, and powdered wigs – makes the first half of A View to a Kill feel like a period piece, definitely a new tone for a Bond film.

Not new for a Bond film? An interesting hench(wo)man and an inept Bond Girl. Grace Jones as May Day is ferocious and androgynous with her abstract attire and muscular physique. Her sexy sparring partnership with Zorin is one of the best evil partnerships of any Bond film, but she ends up suffering Jaws syndrome, turning sides in the end and sacrificing herself to save Bond (and the computer industry, I guess). Tanya Roberts as Stacey Sutton harkens back to the obnoxious Bond girls we used to get in Guy Hamilton’s movies, her crackling screams growing more and more irritating with every cry.

The chase scene, this one with a fire truck in San Francisco is once again the victim of inappropriate and unfunny slapstick, this time with a theatrically expressive sheriff. I really wish these films would quit trying to get laughs out of its visually spectacular chase scenes, but it looks like Glen, Broccoli, and Maibaum are sold on the comedic merits of dumb cops and bumbling onlookers. At least the climactic showdown is characteristically exciting, with Zorin’s blimp getting tangled in the Golden Gate Bridge. When Zorin finally goes over the edge, he laughs like a psychopath all the while, giving the movie one last head shaker before its credits. Oh, wait – Bond still has to dispense of Zorin’s Nazi Dr. Frankenstein on the blimp with some dynamite. Reflecting on that fact is probably the film’s last “wtf” moment.

A View to a Kill is a weird Bond film, its aristocratic setting and psychopathic villain setting it apart from the usual meddling with fortresses and masterminds. Its straightforward plot doesn’t make up for its slow pace, and every cast member not playing a villain is either bored or annoying. Mediocre at its best moments and bad at its worse, A View to a Kill is a sorry send-off for the man who has been Bond more than any other.

Final rating: 5.5/10

–James A. Janisse

Stray Observations:

  • It’s been noted by my Bond Viewing Squad (oh yes, I have one) that skiing Russians are Bond’s number one enemy. Per the opening segment, that has to be true. Also, I wonder if Moore ever actually got on a pair of skis.
  • Okay, that Duran Duran song is unadulterated ’80s… but I kinda dug it. It at least got caught in my head for a while. Dance! Into the fire!
  • That butterfly kill with the fishing pole was lame. LAAAAME!
  • John Barry breaking out the sultry sax every once in a while! Not bad.
  • Dolph Lundgren was one of General Gogol’s goons on Zorin’s steps. I didn’t notice, but, you know, internet.
  • Oh, yeah, there was a Beach Boys song in the opening segment. For a British spy. While he was snowboarding. I thought it was dumb, but apparently it may have helped the sport’s popularity?
  • David Bowie was originally contacted to play Max Zorin, but he rejected the role, saying he didn’t want to stand around and watch his stunt doubles for 5 weeks. This is the greatest feeling of regret I’ve ever felt in my life.
Bond Girl Fate

Stacey Sutton

(Tonya Roberts)

Main Bond Girl:A geologist involved in a legal dispute with Zorin, who took over her company. Yells for Bond a lot. Bangs him in the shower at the end, which Q sees over a Roomba.

Pola Ivanova

(Fiona Fullerton)

Random Agent Bond Girl: Found by Bond spying on Zorin’s Nazi Doctor. Bangs Bond in a hot tub before he steals a tape from her.

May Day

(Grace Jones)

Evil Henchwoman Bond Girl:Jump cuts into bed with Bond and bangs him on top, a first for any Bond Girl. Does it for Zorin to… actually, that’s unclear. Later helps Bond.

Kimberley Jones

(Mary Stävin)

Opening Segment Bond Girl: Picks up Bond in a sub. Sets the auto pilot for Alaska. Bangs Bond.

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