A View To A Kill receives quite a bit of hate. I regularly see it close to the bottom on many “worst to best” lists, and on the Rotten Tomatoes it sits with a “fresh” rating of 37% from the critics and 40% from the audience. Well, I got to say… I disagree! I love this one. It might even be my favourite.
Maybe it was because it was the first Bond film I watched. I didn’t see it until it came out on home video in 1986 when I was at the impressionable age of 9. At the time, Christopher Walken scared the crap out of me as the main antagonist, Max Zorin. The scene where he mows down the minors working for him with a machine gun stuck heavily in my mind.
I also found Grace Jones as Zorin’s heavy enforcer, May Day to be equally as threatening. The way she would appear in the back seat of a car to strangle the driver freaked me out. I hadn’t seen The Godfather yet, lol. Plus, I could never handle heights very well, so the scene at the Eiffel Tower and the climax on the Golden Gate bridge both gave me serious vertigo. Finally, when Zorin attempts to drown Bond in his car, and he uses the air from the tire to stay underwater. Brilliant! I went on to become a life long fan from then on.
The plot is a little goofy, but no more so than any other film in the franchise. This time, James Bond (Roger Moore) is assigned by MI6 to investigate Max Zorin after they discover Zorin Industries branded microchips powerful enough to wipe out all of the electronic devices on Mainland England in Russian hands.
Under the guise of a wealthy fancier, he uses Zorin’s crooked horse racing racket as a way to get onto his compound. Investigating how he cheats at horse racing leads him to the microchip manufacturing wing, which he then leads him to Silicon Valley in California. There, Bond discovers a plot to take over the world’s demand for microchip manufacturing by drowning Silicon Valley under the sea with well placed bombs along the San Andreas fault.
Tonya Roberts plays Bond Girl Stacey Sutton (RIP) and they didn’t give her much to work with. She really only has two modes, the brain with the answers when the plot needs to advance and a damsel in distress. Thankfully, Grace Jones picks up the slack despite the film using a really cheesy visual effect to present May Day as tough. Otherwise, she was physical and menacing in every scene she was in. A prefect henchmen.
John Glen’s usual flare for gripping action sequences is present once again as there is a solid blend of them with humor throughout the film. Zorin’s first attempt to kill Bond on horse back with rigged obstacles during a race is down right comical. His second, by drowning him in his own car isn’t. And we probably did not need to see Bond skiing ever again, but the sequence during the cold open might have invented snowboarding or at least made the sport popular, which is pretty cool.
I will say though, I am disappointed how the attempts at a stand out action scene fall a little flat. The getaway with a fire truck was outdone by Cosmo Kramer a decade later on Seinfeld, and I had trouble switching off the part of my brain that could easily see how the films climax on The Golden Gate Bridge was done on a sound stage. Trick my brain better, John Glen!
Now for the continuing competition with my wife, Sarah, to guess how long it would take Bond to first get laid during each of these films. We went back to the dice and I rolled a 23 which meant I had to choose if Bond would get laid “over” or “under” 23 minutes. Finally, my past viewings of Bond films paid off because I vaguely remembered him sealing the deal early on in this one. Roger shot and scored 6 minutes and 23 seconds.
Point goes to The Mars Man! Get ready for a comeback, folks!
Sarah – 8
Mars – 2
I looked at A View To A Kill as objectively as I could through the tint of rose coloured glasses, and I was able to recognize and easily forgive it flaws. Although there is no stand out action, this is a well paced film with Walken and Jones making its most memorable moments. It makes me happy to see Roger Moore going out on a high note even though he was distractingly too old at 57 to be playing the role. He often he came off as the drunk uncle hitting on the bridesmaids at a wedding, but his humour found the right tone. So, in my view this one… kills.