Take 2: A View to a Kill
"Well my dear, I take it you spend quite a lot of time in the saddle."
Here we are, Bond number fourteen; the end of the Roger Moore era. At 57 he’s approaching the genuine retirement age, so it’s probably time he called it a day.
There have been a couple of decent ski chases so far in the franchise so it’s encouraging to see them attempt another right from the word go. Bond even has to fashion an impromptu snowboard when the shit hits the fan. Unfortunately, someone thought it would be funny to play ‘California Girls’ by the Beach Boys over the top, which leaves us launching into the title sequence with our heads in our hands.
While on the subject of title sequences, Duran Duran puts this film firmly in the 80s. A View to a Kill is a bold, cheesy, punchy song. It’s very well produced but doesn’t fit the genre, and doesn’t seem to match the tone of the film to come. However it’s a massive step up from from the depressing All Time High.
The theme song is used throughout the soundtrack, and it’s in these moments that it’s particularly jarring with the James Bond style of music. It just doesn’t match what’s happening on screen.
The story, like Octopussy and so many of the weaker films, never really makes any sense. It’s a loose take on the Goldfinger premise - a millionaire nutcase wants to destroy any competition his business may have to gain control of the market. In this case it’s Max Zorin, a Franco-German industrialist played by Christopher Walken, and he wants to destroy Silicon Valley.
It’s easy enough to follow on paper but throw in stuff about horses, steroids and Nazi doctors, and you’ve lost the audience.
Walken knows how to play a weird psycopath though and he’s well cast in the role.
Grace Jones plays his sidekick Mayday. She’s also very watchable, but isn’t given much to do besides giving funny looks to people. It’s a waste of talent.
Then of course there’s Moore himself. Still the suave, lovable dick we’ve come to enjoy as James Bond, but far too old. It’s easy to keep harping on this but Moore himself even said he was “four hundred years too old for the part” and was shocked to find out he was older than his co-star’s mother.
Talking of co-stars, Tanya Roberts plays Stacey Sutton, the granddaughter of someone shafted by the villain. She’s hopeless in the role and doesn’t add much to the film. This is a shame, since despite being sleazy towards women in general, the Bond films have often made the leading ladies central to the plot.
There’s also a problem with the tone of the film. Moore says he doesn’t like the level of violence in this one, and it’s clear to see why. At some points Zorin is mindlessly gunning people down for the fun of it. He’s supposed to be a psychopath but the way it’s been shot and edited together feels cold and psychopathic in itself.
Mindless is a word that could be used for much of A View to a Kill. There are complicated stunts but they are carelessly executed and cynically spliced into the film. There’s no regard for timing or pacing. This is not a complaint we’ve had to make so far, but A View to a Kill lacks professionalism.
We have gone through a bit of a rough patch with these films, and A View to a Kill only adds to Bond’s losing streak. Another forgettable entry into the annals of 007 history, and a sorry end to Moore’s stint as the spy.