James is sent to investigate a psychopathic, French industrialist who is heavily invested in horses, oil, and microchips, and who plans to destroy Silicon Valley to monopolize microchips.
Bond, James Bond:
This is Roger Moore’s final film, and, I’d hate to say it, just because I have enjoyed him so much, but it was time. He does the best he can with the material that he gets, but the puns just aren’t really there for him to react strongly to, and even when he gets a joke, it just never quite lands the same. Combine that with the fact that his age is pretty readily apparent in this movie, making it kind of hard to believe the stunts that we need to believe (he holds onto a rope dangling from a blimp for several minutes, and that is after he’s been running around and trying not to drown for several minutes). It’s just not a fun watch on a James Bond-level.
The age comes into play on the age difference between him and his primary Bond girl, Stacey Sutton, played by Tanya Roberts. This movie features a 28-year age difference between Moore and Roberts, and although the difference was greater in For Your Eyes Only, the additional four years since that film has not made Moore look younger, so it feels more striking here. Also, there’s a scene where Bond literally tucks Roberts’ character into her bed, so it feels even more father-daughter than he and Melina. It’s uncomfortable.
Additionally uncomfortable is their primary meeting. After a brief conversation on Zorin’s land, Bond follows Stacey home from her work in San Francisco, breaks into her home. He hears the shower running, and just walks into the bathroom, which calls back to how he met Andrea Anders in The Man with the Golden Gun, which is the nadir of his time as Bond. He at least does not physically beat Stacey in this scene, but it’s all very uncomfortable and does not get their relationship off to a good start.
I loved the time that I had with Moore in general, but this movie was just one too many, which is a shame.
Duran Duran does a James Bond song and it is my everything and I will fight you to the death over my right to have this song be my favorite. It’s so 80s, so Duran Duran, but still has some cool spy sounds to it. The lyrics have no real obvious connection to anything but includes the phrase “Dance into the fire” being used several times in the refrain. There are just loud staccato horns between the first couple lines of the second verse and the rest of the verse. It’s such a beautiful fun mess, and I know that this franchise has classics like “Goldfinger” and “Diamonds are Forever” and then also has the genuinely awesome “Live and Let Die” but this song just works for me in a beautiful way, and I hope, that you, too, will Fire Dance with Me.
Also, a head’s up about 14 movies too late. These credit sequences are intentionally quite suggestive. Just. Be careful.
Christopher Walken plays the villain in this movie, and it’s exactly what you would expect from a Christopher Walken villain performance. First of all, he is the product of research being done by a former Nazi doctor (not a phrase I anticipated in this series, but here we are) who injected expectant mothers with steroids. I don’t know why we needed to know that, but we do, and it fits Walken’s performance well enough. He’s wonderfully unhinged, laughing at random times, and he has his regular cadence of speak where. There are periods in the middle. Of sentences. My favorite example is when he reveals his (nonsense) plan to some other microchip producers, where he tells them that “I propose to. End the domination of Silicon Valley.” First of all, that’s not where pauses go. Secondly, they just use your product, not make it, so, maybe be smarter?
I do get bummed out when he just starts mowing down the people who are working with him to flood the faults. First, he tries to drown them, but as some escape, he mows them down with a machine gun. It’s just so unnecessary. I don’t need to see this to understand how evil he is. He’s trying to obliterate a part of San Francisco, I don’t need to see him personally murder people in order to think “oh no, he’s bad.” It’s just way too much.
I do appreciate the way that he dies, though. After struggling with James atop the Golden Gate Bridge (sure), Zorin slips a little bit. While struggling to get back up, he laughs a little bit, before falling to his death. The laugh just feels so in character. He’s so insane that even as he is facing his death, he can’t help but laugh. It’s excellent.
Before I leave, apparenty the first choice for this character was David Bowie, and man would that have been a performance in its own right.
As I mentioned above, Tanya Roberts plays the primary Bond girl in this movie, the former heiress to her father’s oil company, whose few shares are the only thing keeping Zorin from owning it in full. She does basically nothing in this movie except complain and ask to be saved by James. She also gets snuck up on by a blimp. She’s terrible and considering some of the other women that Roger Moore has worked with recently, including Melina Havelock, Anya Amasova, and Solitaire, for this character to fall closer to Mary Goodnight from Man with the Golden Gun is kind of heartbreaking.
However, the female henchperson does make up for Sutton a little bit. Grace Jones’ May Day is certainly one of the more recognizable henchpeople in this franchise, and her super strength makes her a little bit of a threat. However, she does the most memorable work after she realizes that Zorin has abandoned her to die in the mines at the end of the film. She quickly becomes more loquacious, which I think is an interesting choice, and she switches sides in order to help Bond stop the explosion. When she realizes the cart that they have put the bomb on will not move unless someone is manually stopping the handbrake, she quickly jumps at the opportunity to save the day. The fact that Zorin gets to see that it was her who stopped his great plan is such a satisfying moment and is really one of the most effective deaths in the entire franchise, even more so, in my opinion, than Zorin’s.
The MI6 triumvirate makes their last appearance in the current setup, with Robert Brown returning as M, Desmond Llewelyn returning as Q, and Lois Maxwell’s swan song as Miss Moneypenny. Again, I don’t particularly like Robert Brown as M, just because he doesn’t make much of an impression, and just kind of blends into the rest of the random British government officials these Roger Moore movies give us. Q doesn’t really get a lot to do, most notably showing up at the end with a gadget (I’ll discuss later) to confirm that James is indeed alive in Stacey’s home.
This brings me to Moneypenny, and honestly why James kind of bums me out in this movie. After everything that happens at the film’s climax, I guess that MI6 is considering Bond missing, presumed dead. To the point that Moneypenny is crying at her desk over the loss of him, which makes sense. They’ve had a cutesy back and forth for decades now, and losing him would be like losing a good friend (reminder, Moneypenny was at Bond’s wedding, and was upset that she lost him to Tracy). How would James not think to give MI6 a head’s up and just say “hey, not dead, totally fine”? It’s just deeply frustrating, especially when that’s the last we see of Maxwell’s rendition of Moneypenny. For her to go out on thinking that her friend is dead, and us not getting to see her realize he’s alive and well or yelling at him for not calling sooner, is just kind of deflating. She’s the second longest tenure actor in this franchise (Desmond Llewelyn beat her by three movies), and the longest tenured at her point of departure. She deserved better.
James has a co-agent as he investigates Zorin’s stud farm, Sir Godfrey Tibbett, played by Patrick Macnee. The main thing that I want to note on this is A) he works somewhere in the Ministry of Defense and is also a horse trainer, which strikes me as odd, but B) he has a pretty silly death for a government individual. They are investigating a guy for mysterious dealings, and he is leaving the land. He gets out of the car to open the gate, and May Day is standing next to his car. When he turns around, May Day is gone, and he just gets in his car and drives away. Obviously, May Day is just hiding in the backseat. Well, obviously if you are not Sir Godfrey Tibbett. He doesn’t even look in the car and just drives off, and he is eventually killed. An American CIA agent, Chuck Lee (played by David Yip) has a similar death, but at least he had no reason to think that May Day would be in his back seat (I have no idea how she got there, either, to be honest).
Really not a whole lot to talk about in this one. After James escapes the Alps at the start of the movie, he gets into a submarine that is disguised as an iceberg for some reason. It’s not particularly cool looking inside, except for the presence of a bed that is clearly made for two people to have sex, which is more just odd why Q would add that than anything else.
Speaking of why did we make this, Q makes the below surveillance dog, which is the least subtle piece of spy equipment that I have ever seen. I don’t know why it is so big, or why it looks like a dog. The fact that we only meet it at the start of the movie so Q can use it to find James in the shower with Stacey at film’s end makes it all the more confusing.
There really isn’t a lot here. Bond location hops for the first little bit of the movie, including the Eiffel Tower where I guess there is a very fancy restaurant that employs a woman who seemingly makes butterflies dance (even though they’re clearly fake). He then goes to Zorin’s stud farm to try to understand why his horses are winning races (why does this matter?) and then eventually San Francisco. Zorin wanting to destroy Silicon Valley makes no sense because most of those people don’t make microchips, they just use them, so he’s mostly just killing his customers. It’s all very silly, and not necessarily in an entertaining way. On the scale of bad Roger Moore movies, this is closer to Moonraker than I was hoping, where the weirdness just didn’t work for me.
Miscellaneous Spy Business:
-While snowboarding in the cold open, an odd version of the Beach Boys “California Girls” starts playing, and it makes so little sense that it actually caused me pain.
-During a car chase, a car runs into the back of James Bond’s car, ripping the back of the car from the front, and Bond is still able to drive it a few tenths of a mile.
-James goes undercover as a character named James St. John Smith. It is, inexplicably pronounced, Sin-Jin Smythe. Every time they said that pronunciation, I died a little.
-The title as dialogue in this movie is so weird. Zorin and May Day look at San Francisco from the front of their blimp. May Day comments: “What a view.” And then Zorin says “To a kill.” Which, I have zero idea how that is a phrase.
-Bond is in a bathhouse of some kind with a female Russian agent. She gets out of the hot tub to change the music, and, while doing so, he turns up the jets on the jacuzzi. She kind of giggles, and says that “The bubbles tickle my….Tchaikovsky!” which she delivers like the end of an Aristocrats joke.
-Stacey crashes a vase over the head of an assailant, which she then says had been her grandfather’s cremated remains. Interesting note: there is literally zero evidence of ashes.
-Stacey gets fired from her job at City Hall, but then still has security access, and the dude at the front desk just lets her in, all of which is very concerning to me.
-The countdown clock on the bomb in this movie counts down in 100-second increments, which is just so confusing to me as someone watching a movie.
-Bond: “Stacey, you there?” Stacey, danging from the Golden Gate Bridge: “You betcha.” I think I’d be less casual in that moment, but you do you.
-The second straight movie that has a final line of dialogue of a girl reacting to James with “Oh, James.” I wasn’t here for it. Good riddance, movie.
-Here’s a picture of one of Tanya Roberts’ stunt people.
Like I mentioned in the Octopussy review, the seven Roger Moore movies kind of fall into four categories (I had said three originally): a little odd, but mostly well constructed (Live And Let Die), decently made movies that I kind of check out of (Spy Who Loved Me, For Your Eyes Only), wonderfully entertaining garbage (Man with the Golden Gun, Octopussy) and boringly weird (Moonraker). I knew A View To A Kill was typically poorly received, but I was hoping it would fall into the entertaining garbage category, but I was dumbfounded to see that it actually falls closer to Moonraker. I like the song a lot, and Christopher Walken gives the performance you want from Christopher Walken. Also, May Day is at least memorable, and goes on a pretty solid high note, especially for a former henchperson. But Zorin’s plan is particularly silly and poorly thought out. Stacey is one of the worst Bond girls so far. It’s disappointing. Rating: 003.5/0010. A slight advantage over Moonraker just for Zorin.
TJ Hizer Will Return With: Living Daylights
References A View To A Kill Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_View_to_a_Kill A View To A Kill Gadgets Universal Exports http://www.universalexports.net/Movies/viewtokill-gadgets.shtml Pictures Cover Photo https://i.ytimg.com/vi/qS3GRgXHc7M/maxresdefault.jpg Roger Moore http://www.bondsuits.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/AVTAKFlannel1.png "A View To A Kill" Credits https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmMIgIygzdA Zorin http://david-richman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/gal-villain-17-zorin-jpg.jpg Stacey Sutton https://tjatthemovies.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/20b10-roberts5.jpg May Day http://thejamesbondsocialmediaproject.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Grace-Jones-View-Kill_6101.jpg Lois Maxwell http://cdn-static.denofgeek.com/sites/denofgeek/files/6/35//a-view-to-a-kill-133.png Q Dog http://movieboozer.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/a_view_to_a_kill2.jpg Stacey's Stunt Man http://cdn3.earwolf.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Tanya-Roberts-Stunt-Double-Still.png