A View to a Kill (1985)

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A View to a Kill (1985)

Post  BoG on Sat May 01, 2010 2:24 pm


BOND#14: a Final View of the Moore Bond

ROGER MOORE as James Bond 007 in A VIEW TO A KILL
starring CHRISTOPHER WALKEN * TANYA ROBERTS * GRACE JONES as May Day
PATRICK MACNEE as Tibbett * PATRICK BAUCHAU * FIONA FULLERTON as Pola
ALISON DOODY as Jenny Flex * DESMOND LLEWELYN as Q * ROBERT BROWN as M
LOIS MAXWELL as Moneypenny * WALTER GOTELL
as Gogol
Directed by JOHN GLEN
MASTER PLAN: flood Silicon Valley in California and corner the microchip market. The eighties were not a particularly good time for the Bond franchise - most of the Bonders were subpar, dominated by an aging Roger Moore and the later new guy Tim Dalton, who lacked a certain charisma. At the center of this mediocrity was this last Moore Bonder, a last gasp and formulaic to a fault. Only after seeing this again recently did I realize how derivative the teaser was, for example - a blatant copy of the ski sequence of The Spy Who Loved Me - it's one of the more exciting sequences of this film, but that's not saying much, especially as it throws in cutesy scenes and pop tunes, even as Bond takes over a deceased agent 003's mission in a rare somber moment.
A lot of this is still entertaining, but in that 'shaking your head, eye rolling' reaction when watching schlock entertainment. The title song is by Duran Duran and, with its disco vibe, it seems outdated as of 20 years ago. If one had never seen a Bond film before this one, this one may seem original, but otherwise, the usual repartee between Bond, Moneypenny, M and Q, for example, seems very old, in more ways than one, virtually duplicating dialog from previous Bonders. Q's gadgets here are no more than a joke, unfortunately. This was a farewell, by the way, for actress Lois Maxwell in the long-running Moneypenny role; appropriately, her final scene has her weeping.
Bond's mission takes him to France in the 1st half and involves a lot of horse-racing scenes and getting to the bottom of a problematic microchip conspiracy (it's prescient that Bill Gates was just about to become famous around this time). There's a silly chase in Paris with Bond in a steadily-destroyed automobile and then another very silly one on horses on a rigged track.
The 2nd half is in my old hometown of San Francisco, complete with a panoramic view of the Golden Gate Bridge near the climax. The main villain, Zorin, is a Bond-world version of Bill Gates, following the super-wealthy megalomaniac mold of Dr. No, Goldfinger, Stromberg and Drax. The actor Chris Walken is well-suited for quirky psychos, but playing a larger-than-life Bond villain is a bit of a stretch for him; he's more at home as traditional gangsters or oddballs. His strange mad cackling was getting tiresome by the end, though he proves to be more intense than the older maniacs of past Bonders and his demise was oddly appropriate - we do look forward to it after he proves to be a genuine mass-murdering psychotic, not just a greedy creep.
This film also continues the Soviet connection of the past couple of Bonders, as Zorin is revealed to be a renegade KGB agent (swept away by the opportunities of rampant capitalism, ah yes) and General Gogol was now becoming another regular like M & Q. There's one intriguing bit of nonsense involving Zorin's origins, related to the use of steroids in producing superior, yet crazed children. But, this is just another sample of weird sci-fi concepts warping the series away from traditional spy stuff, like Moonraker did before.
Curiously, Zorin's artificially-created superiority complex does somewhat explain his sad underestimation of Bond in a couple of scenes - rather than simply shooting him, as many diabolical geniuses fail to do, he leaves Bond to drown or burn; of course, Bond escapes (duh!). Of the other characters, May Day is also over-the-top, a super henchwoman who appears to be into the bad stuff out of love, but Grace Jones never develops beyond the fierce glare of a characterization (as a trivia note, Dolph Lundgren appears in a bit part where he stares at her with more than a passing interest - he and Jones became an item in real life).
Former Charlie's Angel and Sheena actress Ms. Roberts is the latest Bond girl, complete with whiny voice and nearly non-existent acting ability. They also brought in another secret agent, former "Avengers" actor Patrick Macnee, to assist Bond; he brings a certain amount of class to his scenes, though some of it is played to comic effect, like much of the movie. His role in some scenes as a servant to Bond, however, is a highlight, producing genuine laughs.
Zorin's overall mad plan is ludicrous, of course; I don't even know the scientific accuracy of the logistics, but - picture Bill Gates and many of his Microsoft employees, say, planning to drop the San Francisco peninsula into the sea and no one else except one CIA agent knows about it. Moore, in his late fifties here, looked a little better than he did in the previous one Octopussy, thanks to some, ah, personal tune-ups. But, enough was enough - Moore retired with this Bonder, and Bond would return as Timothy Dalton in The Living Daylights.
BoG's Bond Scores: Bond:6 Villains:6 Femme Fatales:5 Henchwomen/men:6 Fights:6 Stunts/Chases:7 Gadgets:5 Auto:5 Locations:7 Pace:6 overall:5.5
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