The James Bond series was a monumental series for me growing up and, as I planned on featuring one of the 20+ films in the series as a Key Movie, I just couldn’t choose. Since I can’t choose a single one, I am reviewing each and every Bond film continuing with today’s entry, A View To A Kill.
Welcome to Key Movies Of My Life James Bond Edition.
Today’s Key Movie:
Bond is back in Roger Moore’s final bow as the British secret agent in A View to a Kill. This time 007 must stop multimillionaire Max Zorin (Christopher Walken) from destroying Silicon Valley in order to create a world wide microchip democracy.
Why this movie?
After Connery got a chance to do it better one last time, it was now time for Moore’s final time as our hero with a license to kill. Opening with a high stakes ski chase with Russian soldiers in Siberia on to another globe trotting adventure from Paris to US in order to face Christopher Walken’s interesting take on a bond villain. Moore makes sure that he does not go out lightly but has one of his most insane (and unbelievable) adventures yet. It is the mid eighties however, so everything must be over-the-top and larger than if it gets to be on the silver screen and boy does this one ever.
Okay, you like this film, but is it really a ‘good film’?
It is clear from the beginning that this is Moore’s swan song in the role of Commander Bond as he pulls out all of the stops to give his last adventure a memorable close. This is a Bond film that uses all of the tropes as a check list, ticking them off one by one in order to present what the film makers felt makes the perfect 007 adventure. High speed chase in a unique form? check. High Speed car chases? check. Odd head villain played by a fairly well known actor? check. Even odder henchman that works for said villain? check. Gorgeous woman for Bond
to seduce work with? check. The list goes on with everything checked off sometimes not only once but multiple times. I am not saying these are bad attributes to this franchise but when you have a by-the-numbers film like this, it is hard to see past those tick marks at times.
The plot the the film is one out of a comic book, or just the plot of the third act of Superman the Movie. A multi-million dollar industrialist wants to destroy Silicon Valley in order to gain the upper hand in the microchip business. Using horse racing as a cover in order to accomplish his task, Max Zorin (Walken) comes across as a very strange super-villain like a lesser Lex Luthor who also happens to be connected to Nazi experiments and the KGB in a very strange plot twist. Sadly, although Walken has before and since proven himself to be a solid actor in his roles, his portrayal of Zorin comes across as very stiff and wooden, lacking much of the style that Walken is now known for. Had the producers tied Zorin in with the now defunct SPECTRE, he probably would have come across as a much more interesting character but he doesn’t quite fit the bill on his own. While he manages to come into his own as the film progresses, it feels as if he never quite embraces his role fully. I love Walken, but this is certainly not his finest two hours and eleven minutes.
Even stranger still is Zorin’s henchman, Mayday, played by the interesting model turned singer turned actress Grace Jones. Jones had only the year prior starred in Conan the Destroyer and was well on her way to a successful film career so it is no shock that the producers saw the potential to include her as Zorin’s henchman, personal assassin and lover? Yes there is a strange romance subplot between the two making this relationship even a little stranger than most. She even sleeps with Bond in a very odd moment, checking off the tick mark of Bond sleeping with the Villains female employ but this time with no chance of seducing her to work for him.
Coming across as more of a sadistic monster than just a bodyguard for Zorin, Jones takes her role to the extreme as she was known to do in much of her career. Jones was never one to take the back seat and, to be honest, she almost upstages Walken’s Zorin in this film but never quite manages to push him aside. All in all, she is one of the more interesting and disturbing henchmen in the Bond Franchise making her the real standout of the film.
While there are several women in the film that fit the bill as a ‘Bond Girl’, including Jones herself, the honor mostly goes to Tanya Roberts who plays the roll of Stacey Sutton. Sutton, who seems to be employed by Zorin himself, ends up being a geologist who is plotting against Max Zorin in order to stop him from destroying the lands around his factory. She is one that can certainly hold her own, however, like many of the Bond Women before her, she of course falls for 007’s magnetism, yet another box checked in the Bond Film checklist.
Nearly every Bond movie has a dedicated Theme Song written for the film and this one is no exception. As it was the mid eighties, it only made sense to have one of the most popular pop bands of the time do the theme, none other than Duran Duran. The Theme song itself is fantastic, capturing both the time frame and the excitement of the era, but the opening credits themselves are certainly lacking. Most of the opening credits incorporate a stunning visual to accompany the theme but this one comes across like a high school film project covered in black light paint marring the theme in a way that nearly ruins it’s greatness.
Now, lets talk about Moore and his final portrayal of Bond. While he is up in age in this one, he manages to pull off the role of the British Secret Agent with dignity and grace. It is clear at times that he no longer does some of his own stunts, but even with that, he is still the Bond we know and love. Even with the more comic book plot, this is one of Moore’s more enjoyable outings as the lead character giving his time as the secret agent a proper sendoff.
Overall, while this is not one of the best Bond films in the series it is still fairly solid as a whole. It is strange, it is over-the-top and completely unbelievable but, lets be honest, some of the best Bond films fit that bill much of the time. If this is your first time watching one of 007’s adventures, you could have started with much worse.
It was also around this time that I started reading the newer James Bond Books by John Gardner. Gardner had been given the okay to continue the Ian Fleming character into the 80’s with the book, Licence Renewed. I would soon find myself enthralled with the Book version of Bond who isn’t quite the same as the films depict him. I highly recommend his and his successor, Raymond Benson if you want more than just the 25+ films.
OK, where do I get this movie?
As with the rest of Moore’s Bond Films, you can grab this one as part of a set entitled ‘The Roger Moore Collection‘ which is by far the best value as opposed to getting it on it’s own. You can also get it as part of the larger Bond 50 collection as well. No matter how you get it, it is a fun watch and worth giving a go.
Of course, the trailer:
Late To The Game 4/11/2019
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