Friday, 18 January 2013

A View To A Kill

Title: A View To A Kill
Director: John Glen
Released: 1985
Staring: Roger Moore, Christopher Walken, Tanya Roberts, Grace Jones, Patrick Macnee, Patrick Bauchau, David Yip, Desmond Llewelyn, Robert Brown, Lois Maxwell, Willoughby Gray

Plot: Bond (Moore) returns from the USSR with a chip capable of withstanding a EMP, that would destroy a normal chip. Discovering the chip was made by Zorin Industries, Bond is despatched to investigate its owner, Max Zorin (Walken) unware that Zorin has plans to set off an earthquake in San Andreas to wipe out Silicon Valley.

Review: The fourteenth Bond film and seventh aswell as the final time that Roger Moore would play the iconic role and even more sadly the last time that Lois Maxwell would appear as Moneypenny. It would also be for the longest time when I was growing up my favourite of the Bond films and certainly the film were I was first mesmerised by Christopher Walken. However as time passed and the series moved on, this movie did slip from the top position as my favourite but yet it has still remained as one of my top five, despite being frequently regarded as the worst by many Bond fans aswell as by Moore himself who retired from the role after the film believing himself to be too old to play the role.

So why exactly is this film so hated? Honestly I could not say and while Moore might be showing his age at this point in the series, somthing especially highlighted in the previous film “For Your Eyes Only”, he is none the less of a presence here while finally being given a half decent villain to go up against especially with a peroxide blonde Walken as Zorin certainly being one of the more psychotic villains which Bond has been pitted against, as what Walken brings here is a pitch black streak of evil, which makes it hard to imagine either of the original choices for the role David Bowie (who opted to make “Labyrinth” instead) or Sting being able to pull it off, especially when Zorin’s psychotic side sees him having zero qualms about throwing spies into pump valves or even massacring his own minions in a scene which Moore would highlight as one of his main reasons for disliking the film considering it not a real Bond movie stating

“It stopped being what they were all about. You didn't dwell on the blood and the brains spewing all over the place."

Unsurprisingly as a result of Zorn’s violent whims it does make this this one of the most violent Bond films to date, even giving the controversial “Licence To Kill” a run for its money and no doubt only not more picked up due to the fact that the violence is not as explicit here, yet in many ways being a precursor for the violence seen in the Dalton films which followed. Zorin though brought a fresh new type of villain to the Bond series, especially when the villains had been becoming increasingly farcical over the course of the last few films, something especially not helped by the producers leaping on any popular trend as especially seen with the success of “Star Wars” resulting in Bond being sent into space in “Moonraker”. Here though Zorin is much more grounded and relatively gimmick free outside of the fact that he uses a blimp for his base of operations, a relatively tame choice especially considering the space stations, volcano lairs and private islands his predecessors had. Still it does have the amazing ability of disguising itself as a work shed and contains a hidden hatch for dropping Japanese business men out of inflight, while even more randomly a stash of dynamite for no real discernible reason. Such grounded villainy even stretches to his main henchmen or in this case henchwoman May Day (Jones)who has no gimmick outside of her Amazonian stature and strength. Infact the closest he gets to matching any of his predecessors is with his monocle wearing personal physician / former Nazi scientist Dr. Carl Mortner (Grey) whose medical experiments with steroids, we are lead to believe created Zorin in one of the few farcical moments of plotting….well that and the dynamite on the blimp, I mean seriously what is the deal with that?

Surprisingly on this mission Bond actually receives more assistance than normal as he is joined by CIA agent Chuck Lee (Yip) who was originally supposed to be Bond’s usual contact Felix Leiter, but due to the use of the Chinatown setting for Bond’s time in San Francisco, the character of Chuck Lee was created instead. More intresting through is the inclusion of Patrick Macnee who is no doubt best known for his own secret agent turn as Steed in “The Avengers” and whom here appears as MI6 agent Sir Godfrey Tibbet. Macnee is on great form here and shares some great back and forth banter with Bond when he goes undercover as Bond’s driver. Sadly for all the help he does get here, he does also get lumbered with possibly one of the most useless Bond girls in the form of Stacey (Roberts) who constantly seems to need rescuing, while at the same time being incable of doing anything without Bond’s help. Sadly when it comes to Bond girls in this entry he kind of lucks out, as even though he even seduces May Day, which considering that Moore and Jones didn’t get along means that the scene means that they share zero onscreen chemistry during his seduction scene.

The plotting is kept pretty tight throughout with minimal changes of location aswell several great set pieces including May Day’s memorable base jump from the Eiffel Tower, a fire truck chase through the streets of San Francisco and an exhilarating and highly fixed cross country horse race, while director Glen resists the need to include any friendly banter between Bond and Zorin, which has for so long been one of the cornerstones of the franchise were Bond frequently comes across almost chummy with the villains he is supposed to be stopping. True Glen does detract from some the action scenes with some overly jokey moments, such as Bond’s rapidly disintegrating car during the Paris chase or the mass destruction of police cars at the Golden Gate Bridge, but these are minor quibbles especially when the film is one of the better Moore helmed Bond adventures.

Perhaps it’s more down to various aspects of this film such as Walken’s delightfully villainous Zorin (possibly the best bond villain since Dax in “Moonraker”) or getting to see Grace Jones giving us another Amazonian turn which includes her lifting her then boyfriend Dolph Lundgren above her head, that I view this film so fondly, but even when I detach such opinions from the film, this is still one of the more enjoyable Bond romps even for its few faults.


  1. A favorite of mine, it was one of the first Bond films I ever saw, it made me like Bond films, so I have a special place for it, but as you say, even without the nostalgia factor, it's a great Bond movie. That ending on the San Francisco Bridge, freaking sweet!

  2. I love the simplicity of the ending, especially as the location leave little space for them to go, especially compared to the finale set pieces of the others and manical axe welding Walken is never a bad thing.

  3. I'm guessing they wanted to go with a bang, since this was to be Roger Moore's final Bond film. Agree, Walken is never a bad thing! And neither is Grace Jones, an actress/performer that always reminds me how cool the 80's were, she was so exentric in everything she did, highly recommend watching a vampire movie she was in called VAMP (1986), an 80's film every ste of the way!

    But back to Bond, I see you mention Moonraker as one of your favorites, mine too, I never thought I'd see Bond up in space, I'm thinking that movie came as a response to Star Wars, which mad e sci-fi ultra hot again.

  4. My love for "Moonraker" mainly stems from how cool a villain Drax was, especially as he actually sets his dog on underlings who fail him with an the same sort of Icy coldness Walken does here. I also loved the fact that Jaws can never catch a break throughout the whole movie, getting caught in runaway cable cars and falling off waterfalls.

    Looking back at it now along with "You Only Live Twice" it is always amusing to see how the physics of space never affect either of the events we see in either of those films.

    Will have to add Vamp to the watchlist as sound pretty cool and would make a good double feature with the Bowie Vampire flick "The Hunger" which I also have to revisit at some point.


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