After completing a secret mission to retrieve a microchip, British secret agent James Bond (Roger Moore, The Sea Wolves) returns to England to discover that the microchip might be the first step towards some nefarious enterprise. Clues lead Bond to super-rich Max Zorin (Christopher Walken, The Deer Hunter), the head of an organization responsible for manufacturing the microchip. Later, 007 learns that Zorin plans to monopolize the tech market by destroying California’s Silicon Valley.
Reaction & Thoughts:
The end of an era. The franchise’s 14th entry and Moore’s last Bond movie. Since there are small references of Sean Connery’s movies in Moore’s outings you can easily argue that this is also the last chapter of a story that began with Dr. No (1962).
Today, A View to a Kill, directed by John Glen from a screenplay by Michael G. Wilson and Richard Maibaum, is perceived as one of the weakest movies in the series. I’ve long suspected that modern viewers have simply become too jaded for Moore’s droll personality. I myself miss the days when Bond was cruising along the spy world with his tongue firmly planted in cheek. Those days are long over, never to return; this is indeed the end in more ways than one.
Ironically, despite its reputation as a “lightweight,” A View to a Kill is one of the most violent movies in the series. That’s not what you expect from the more relaxed Moore films. Moore complained about the violence, but producer Albert “Cubby” Broccoli simply ignored him. This is the main reason Moore has always said that this is his least favorite Bond movie. He later stated that he would have been better off retiring after Octopussy (1983).
I actually like A View to a Kill a tad more than its predecessor. The old adage applies here: “a movie is only as good as its villain.” That’s why I prefer this entry to Octopussy (1983) — the baddies are colorful.
The main villain, Max Zorin, is a scary fiend. Christopher Walken plays him like a cross between Lex Luthor and Hannibal Lecter. Walken is such a good actor and he never disappoints. He has a truly strange, but compelling chemistry with pop star Grace Jones (Conan The Destroyer and Vamp), who plays Zorin’s #1 henchwoman, May Day. Jones has more charisma than talent, but I liked her a lot. A self-professed diva — on and off the screen — she provides the story with color and vitality.
In fact, I really liked the cast. Patrick Macnee (TV’s The Avengers) adds a touch of class to the movie. Macnee and Moore make a good pair (they had previously worked together in the TV movie Sherlock Holmes in New York). Alison Doody (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) and Fiona Fullerton (Nicholas and Alexandra) are gorgeous Bond girls. Dolph Lundgren (The Expendables) makes his film debut as a KGB henchman named Venz (at the time he was Jones’s boy-toy). Desmond Llewelyn and Walter Gotell return as M16’s “Q” and KGB’s General Gogol respectively. Lois Maxwell makes her 14th and final appearance as Miss Moneypenny. Maud Adams (The Man with the Golden Gun and Octopussy) has an unexpected cameo.
Tanya Roberts is the weakest link here. She’s not bad; she’s simply not very interesting. I don’t want to be too hard on her because I liked her in the TV show, Charlie’s Angels, and she was perfect in Sheena (1984), a guilty pleasure, but she doesn’t have any chemistry with Moore. Roberts also spends most of movie screaming and whining!
The title song, performed by Duran Duran, doesn’t get much respect nowadays. There is something not quite right about men singing a Bond song. That being said, I like the band and I really enjoyed the melody — it’s enjoyable and catchy.
Finally, I really love Maurice Binder’s title sequence. It’s flashy, bouncy and gorgeous. Although he worked on two more Bond films before his death in 1991, I personally think this is Binder’s last great work.
Conclusions & Final Thoughts:
I first watched A View to a Kill during its initial theatrical run. We were all well aware that this was the end of something and a feeling of bittersweet elation was in the air. That’s probably why I still have a soft spot for the movie. A View to a Kill does have a few things going on for it. The plot revolves around the computer industry, which makes the movie more relevant now than ever before. There are some exciting sequences along the way — I particularly liked the scenes in Paris, France, and the sequences aboard the blimp. Director Glen never lets the pace slag at all. The main complaint is that Moore was too old, but in a youth-obsessed culture I kinda find refreshing to see a mature actor at the helm of one of cinema’s biggest franchises. Warts and all, a fun movie that gets the job done. Color, 131 minutes, Rated PG.
James Bond will return
The Living Daylights (1987)