Time: 131 minutes
Roger Moore as James Bond
Tanya Roberts as Stacey Sutton
Grace Jones as May Day
Patrick Macnee as Sir Godfrey Tibbett
Christopher Walken as Max Zorin
Director: John Glen
Max Zorin (Christopher Walken), a menacing microchip manufacturer, develops a scheme to exterminate all of his Silicon Valley competitors. Now it is up to James Bond (Roger Moore), agent 007, to put an end to the maniac’s lethal plot.
I didn’t go into A View to a Kill with the highest of expectations. It had a reputation of being one of the worst of the whole Bond franchise, it didn’t help that the previous Bond movie I rewatched, Octopussy, was easily one of the worst in the series. While it has a lot of issues and I agree it is among the worst of the franchise, I didn’t dislike A View to a Kill as much as I thought I would.
Plotwise, A View to a Kill isn’t anything that special, feeling rather routine in fact. With that being said, the general story isn’t terrible, it’s fine. At the very least its better tuned and crafted compared to Octopussy’s convoluted and confusing script. The plot somehow starts with microchips and steroids before leading into a plan to blow up Silicon Valley. There’s also a fair amount of memorable scenes, compared to Octopussy where most of it is a blur. A lot of the movie is dull and isn’t that interesting, it also has this weirdly relaxed energy throughout. I found the first half to be quite boring as the first hour or so focuses on horses and steroids. The investigation into horse race fixing doesn’t really have much to do with the plot about microchips from Silicon Valley. It’s overlong and it feels drawn out. Not there isn’t some good stuff, there’s entertaining aspects and scenes including the Eiffel Tower and a chase across Paris. However, the movie doesn’t really pick up until it shifts to San Francisco. Even in the second half the plot isn’t particularly good, but I found myself enjoying it more at the very least. Much of it was bad but I had enough patience to actually sit through and watch everything play out. Like with Octopussy, A View to a Kill is campy throughout. The comical tone is established in the opening scene in which Bond snowboards down a hill set to the tune of “California Girls” by The Beach Boys. However, I think the 80s cheese nature of the film does help the campy elements of the movie work better compared to the last film, even if the goofiness really distracts most of the time. Speaking of which, this is the most 80s Bond film ever, from the technology of microchips to Duran Duran. I will say though that it did have the potential for a more serious Bond film, if it was made some years later Timothy Dalton could’ve pulled it off. Then some of the darker scenes like the prolonged moment where the main villain massacres his own people wouldn’t have felt out of place. The movie is over 2 hours long and it is way too long for the movie, not helped by the very messy pacing. However for what its worth, it does pick up in the second half.
One of the things that everyone who talk about the movie bring up is Roger Moore as James Bond, specifically that he was around 57 years old, and he certainly looks it. His last appearance should’ve been For Your Eyes Only but unfortunately, they decided unwisely for him to do two more Bond films. He’s not bad and he’s still enjoyable to watch but many of his scenes are awkward, from the action, to scenes where he somehow manages to bed women. The idea of an aging Bond isn’t inherently bad, they could’ve pulled it off by having a focus on an aging Bond in an advancing world and facing off against a comparatively younger villain. However, the film acts like he’s in his prime, while trying to hide his age in every possible way from his (alleged) facelift to the stunts. Moore definitely relied a lot more on stunts in his run as Bond but its even more obvious in A View to a Kill. There are so many times where it would cut between a stunt double and Moore, even when it’s just him walking up some stairs, and it takes you out of it. Tanya Roberts is the main Bond girl of the movie and although I haven’t seen her in anything else, she really wasn’t given much to work with here. On top of being very forgettable, her character is poorly written and basically turns her into a shrieking damsel in distress for most of the film. There is a Bond ally in the character of Sir Godfrey as played by Patrick Macnee, he shares great chemistry with Bond. He’s definitely worth highlighting since their chemistry was one of the saving graces of the first half of the film, and its better chemistry than Moore shares with any woman in this movie. The villains are played by Christopher Walken and Grace Jones, and the movie lights up whenever they come on screen. Walken plays the role of Max Zorin, a character with an insane backstory with him being a product of a Nazi scientific experiment, and whose plan is to destroy all of Silicon Valley. I do think it’s worth emphasising that this is Christopher Walken from the 80s not the 90s, so he isn’t as outwardly weird as you would expect him to be, if anything he was restrained here. The film doesn’t do a great job at exploiting Walken’s unique personality. With all that being said, Walken is very enjoyable to watch, and he’s one of the most memorable Bond villains. It’s also rare for a Bond movie to have a villain this outwardly and blatantly psychopathic, and he conveys that well, full of manic energy. Grace Jones is relishing her role of May Day, and at least seemed to have a better idea of what kind of movie she’s in than Walken. She’s not one of the greatest actors or anything, but as Zorin’s henchwoman she has such a screen presence and ridiculousness that this film needs.
John Glen returns as director after the previous two Bond films. The action isn’t the best, partly because the use of stunts doubles for Roger Moore are even less convincing here. However there are some memorable action and moments, including horses, the Eiffel tower, a fire truck, and a blimp near the Golden Gate Bridge. The composed score from John Barry is great, with an 80s rock inspired feel which make it distinct from the other films in the franchise. Then there’s the very bold Bond title theme A View to a Kill from Duran Duran, very energetic and catchy and certainly very 80s. One of my favourite Bond title themes.
A View to a Kill ends Roger Moore’s run as James Bond on a bit of a whimper, definitely one of the worst in the franchise. However, the cheesiness, over the top and memorable villains and the action sequences made it somewhat enjoyable to watch at times, even if I wouldn’t call it good. For what it’s worth, I still consider it at least better than Octopussy.
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