We finally reach the end of the Roger Moore era of Bond with A View to a Kill. Many people cite it as a bad Bond movie, but beyond Roger looking like he’s… well, his age, it’s actually a fun film. Close your eyes any time Bond is in bed and you’ve got a fun (and zany) plot with a great villain and so many set pieces that the film never feels like slows down. Let’s take a closer look and wave goodbye to the longest serving Bond while we’re at it…
After recovering a microchip from the body of a deceased colleague in Russia, British secret agent James Bond discovers that the technology has the potential for sinister applications. Investigating further, Bond is led to Max Zorin, the head of Zorin Industries. Soon Agent 007 faces off against the villainous Zorin and his tough Amazonian bodyguard, May Day, who are scheming to cause massive destruction that will eliminate the competition.
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Cast of Characters:
“Wait, you’re not just creeped out by me? Score!”
James Bond (Roger Moore) – 007 is approaching his 0060s, but despite this he is still as spry as ever, and as charming as ever too… I’m not sure which is more believable…
Max Zorin (Christopher Walken) – Zorin was born out of an old Nazi experiment that left him quite the psychopath. Rather than going on a straight up killing spree however he decided to become an industrialist. *Insert snarky comment here*
May Day (Grace Jones) – May Day is the right hand woman of Zorin, and his trainer and lover of sorts too.
Stacy Sutton (Tanya Roberts) – Stacy inherited her father’s oil company and refuses to sell it to Zorin, no matter the cost…
Sir Godfrey Tibbett (Patrick Macnee) – Sir Godfrey is a horse trainer with connections to the government strong enough that he’s willing to help 00 agents in need, seemingly…
Dr. Carl Mortner (Willoughby Gray) – Dr. Mortner was a Nazi scientist who specialises in genetic manipulation, and one of the men responsible for creating Zorin. This has given him a father-like role to the crazy industrialist…
Q (Desmond Llewelyn) – MI6’s Quatermaster who seems to think a small robot with a extendible head is a leap forward to stealthy surveillance technology… Hmmm… Maybe time to retire?
Our trio of villains, for most of the film anyway! (not that I even remember scarred face guy’s name…)
The main thing you can say about A View to a Kill is that it’s never boring, that’s for sure! Starts off with a ski chase, then we have an on-foot, car and sky chase involving the Eiffel Tower, then a chase on horseback through the countryside before reaching the big climax in San Francisco, which has both a mine explosion and a fight on the Golden Gate Bridge involving a zeppelin. It’s pretty nuts, but often exciting, and takes your mind off of Roger Moore’s rather tired looking older Bond in the film…
Christopher Walken is great as Zorin. Two scenes stick out, the first one being when he detonates an explosive in the mine and begins mercilessly gunning down the fleeing workers, many of which were on his payroll. He just doesn’t look bothered by it at all, not that he’s necessarily enjoying it, but that he just sees it as an activity he has to do to complete his plan. Secondly, and oddly, his death. He is knocked off the edge of the top of the Golden Gate Bridge, and as he clings on and realises he can’t hold for much longer he gets a big grin as he hopelessly slips and falls to his death. Something about that crazy grin is far more unsettling that any scream or look of panic could achieve. His plan to take out his competition by creating a “double Earthquake” to destroy Silicon Valley is right up there with the weirder stories, but he is officially insane, so, it works.
May Day is a good sort-of Bond girl, faithfully serving Zorin despite his insanity, and then turning on him when, well, he turns on her by flooding the mine with her and her friends still inside. The other Bond girl is Stacey Sutton, the daughter of a rich oil magnate who refuses to give in to Zorin’s demands. She’s fine, but not very memorable. Her and Bond fighting off Zorin’s men in her home is a good scene, but otherwise she’s just there for Bond to rescue a few times.
I did like the comedy duo of Tibbett and Bond, they made a good blundering fool / straight man pairing. The former’s death is odd though, he needs to contact MI6 so has to leave Zorin’s estate, so Bond says “just tell the guards you’re heading to the car wash”. He then does that and then is killed… while getting his car washed. Did he forget that the car wash part was a cover? Either way, it was sad that he died, but his method of dying was somehow comical.
I also have to mention the weird Q scenes in this film, where he both has a robot with an extendible head that can record film, which he seems to think is a great leap forward for surveillance, but is actually the most conspicuous thing you’ll ever see, and he also uses the “Microchip Comparitor” to… compare two microchips to show that the Russians have somehow gotten a hold of their tech… Yeah, I’m sure that device comes in handy all the time! It’s odd, but both things made me laugh, so that’s a plus in my book.
Stacey Sutton may be the only woman ever stupid enough to be kidnapped by a moving blimp (or zeppelin, I guess).
While Roger Moore has some good lines, and there are some great action set pieces (most of which is obviously done via stunt man…) there is no denying the he was just too old for the part at this point. There seemed to be a thing where he constantly stands next to older people than himself as if to make it less obvious, but instead it just made MI6 look like an old gentlemen’s club!
There’s an odd scene where her and Zorin find out that Bond isn’t a harmless customer and find he’s not in his room, instead May Day finds him in her room, in her bed to be more exact. He beckons her to come and join him, and Zorin just shrugs and sure enough May Day undresses and… well, they have sex in between scenes. I just don’t know what the hell is going on, and it helps the whole Zorin is crazy thing, but that was such an odd scene… They just found out he was an imposter and potentially dangerous!
Most of the Moore era humour is gone for this film, but during the otherwise really good opening ski chase Bond ends up using a bit of broken metal as a snowboard while “California Girls” plays in the background, because… he’s sort of surfing, I guess. It certainly breaks you out of any tension or involvement in the scene, that’s for sure. Great move, guys! During the chase in Paris Bond’s car gets cut perfectly in half when it gets hit, leaving his driving half a car… but that was weirdly kind of funny, so I’ll forgive it, unlike the surfing bollocks.
Of course a secret MI6 submarine would have that hatch… I mean, obviously!
Overall, A View to a Kill is a good Bond film, filled with plenty of action and set pieces, with a great opening theme to boot! Sadly old man Moore does take you out of some scenes, especially when he keeps seducing and landing attractive girls 40 years younger than himself, but it doesn’t hurt it too much, and Zorin is a top baddie. A solid note to go out on for Moore, even if he isn’t a highlight himself…