Ricky Church continues his countdown to Spectre with a review of A View to a Kill…
Roger Moore’s time as James Bond 007 comes to a close in his final film, A View to a Kill. Moore’s era had its ups and downs and is most remembered for its camp value and Moore’s lighter performance as the secret agent. A View to a Kill exemplifies Moore’s Bond and is a bit of an odd movie; it’s not really good, yet it’s not that bad either, kind of hovering around ‘its so bad its good’ territory. The film does not hold back on the campiness in some areas thanks to the help of Christopher Walken.
Bond is sent undercover to investigate Max Zorin, a highly intelligent industrialist involved in the manufacture of microchips, who he suspects is selling their microchips to the Soviets. Zorin, however, plans on destroying Silicon Valley, crashing the market and making him the one and only supplier of microchips. It’s of course up to Bond to prevent Zorin from doing so.
One of the main problems with this film is its disjointed plot; it bounces back and forth between some serious moments and the typical corniness Moore’s Bond is known for. For instance, there’s a rather surprising jolt during the film’s opening ski chase where the music inexplicably turns into a Beach Boys song, taking viewers completely away from the tension. Another instance is during the film’s main car chase as Bond makes his escape from local police atop a fire truck as several of the situations that happen during this chase provide very poor comic relief. Other scenes switch to seriousness almost without warning though, such as Zorin gleefully gunning down dozens of people, rather graphically for a Bond film too.
Though the plot’s emphasis is on Zorin’s microchip business from the very start of the film the first half largely doesn’t deal with this as Bond also investigates Zorin’s possible horse race fixing. This leads to some cheesy moments, such as Zorin’s attempted assassination of Bond in the middle of a horse race as several jockey’s attack him or Christopher Walken practicing karate with his bodyguard and lover May Day. Though it must be noted that Bond actually maintains his cover for a record few hours before being discovering/purposely slipping up.
At this point in time Roger Moore was 57, the oldest any actor has played Bond on film. Though he seems like his usual engaging self, at several points Moore just seems tired and simply phoning it in, most likely because he just wanted to be done with the role. A quick Google search will tell you that of all his Bond films, this is Moore’s least favourite. That’s partly due to his age, but also due to the material he was given in the film.
Unlike most Bond films, there are actually two main women who share equal importance: Grace Jones’ May Day and Tanya Robert’s Stacey Sutton. Between the two of them, though, May Day is the far better and more memorable character. She’s strong and dangerous, making an intimidating force whenever she appears onscreen and is a match for Bond. She’s also got an interesting arc towards the end of the film as she joins Bond’s side, not out of redemption but a need for revenge against Zorin. While Grace Jones is excellent in the role, she’s somewhat underused until this point as she strictly follows orders from Zorin for the majority of the film.
Tanya Roberts, on the other hand, is one of A View to a Kill’s weakest aspects. Her acting is very wooden and there’s very little chemistry between her and Roger Moore. Whereas May Day is a strong woman, Stacey is the complete opposite. For the most part she’s helpless, screams for James a lot and can be, at times, clueless. She’s not as bad as Mary Goodnight from Man with the Golden Gun, but she’s close. This is a shame coming from one of the original angels of Charlie’s Angels.
Christopher Walken, however, is amazing to watch, though not necessarily for the right reasons. He’s kind of charismatic in the role of Zorin, appearing stoic when he needs to be and near crazy in other scenes. It’s when Zorin revels in his evilness that Walken shines onscreen. That said, Walken delivers many of his lines with his classic dry delivery, appearing uninterested in what’s going on around him (though not to nearly the same degree he did in NBC’s Peter Pan musical last year). It’s mostly because of Walken that this entry in the Bond franchise rests near the ‘its so bad its good’ area.
A View to a Kill sums up Moore’s time as 007 with its campiness and over the place tone. While it’s not a good film by any means, I have to admit it is relatively entertaining to watch.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★