Aug 30, 2014

Review: A View to a Kill (1985)

A View to a Kill is the third Bond film to be directed by John Glen out of the five titles he did in succession from 1981 to 1989. It's also his worst performing Bond film, grossing a little less than License to Kill. Not that $152.4 million is anything to sneeze at on a budget of $30 million. What's interesting though is that it held its first premiere in San Fransisco instead of in the UK as usual. This was because of the warm welcome the production got from the mayor at the time who loved Roger Moore and granted all the liberties the crew wanted. It made $50.3 million from the US alone so it was a decision that panned out.

The fourteenth 007 movie also features Roger Moore for the very last time. Most people have a favourite Bond but I like them all, including Moore so I'm sad to see him go. After seven movies, twelve years and finally reaching the ripe old age of 57, I can understand Roger's decision to retire. Apparently he was horrified when he learned that Tanya Roberts' mother was younger than himself which I guess really made him look in the mirror. To be honest his age does get distracting in certain instances. Seeing him performing during action sequences isn't really affected, but when he's getting it on with the ladies? It doesn't feel the same unfortunately. On another sad side note, this is also the final appearance of Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny.


Genre: action, adventure, crime
Directed by: John Glen
Produced by: Albert R. Broccoli, Michael G. Wilson, Tom Pevsner
Written by: Richard Maibaum, Michael G. Wilson
Music by: John Barry
Running time: 131 minutes
Production company: Danjaq, Eon Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, etc.
Distributed by: MGM/UA Entertainment Company, United International Pictures, American Broadcasting Company, etc.
Country: United Kingdom
Language: English
Budget: $30,000,000
Box office: $152,400,000 (Worldwide)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Roger Moore, Christopher Walken, Tanya Roberts, Grace Jones, Patrick Macnee, Patrick Bauchau, David Yip, Fiona Fullerton, Manning Redwood, Alison Doody, Willoughby Gray, Desmond Llewelyn, Robert Brown, Lois Maxwell, Walter Gotell, Geoffrey Keen, Jean Rougerie, Daniel Benzali, Bogdan Kominowski, Papillon Soo, Mary Stavin, Dominique Risbourg


After having recovered a microchip from fellow agent 003 who was killed in Siberia, it's discovered that it is a Russian copy of a radioactive-resistant chip manufactured by Zorin Industries. Owned by Max Zorin (Christopher Walken), his company had been contracted by the government to develop this chip in secret. So clearly there's definitely something fishy about the leak. James Bond (Roger Moore) is sent out to investigate Max Zorin, first at the Ascot Racecourse where one of Zorin's horses will be racing.


The usual Bond opening is a little disappointing. It's a ski chase and the ski chases in On Her Majesty's Secret Service and For Your Eyes Only are among my favourite action sequences of all time. This one is too short-lived, it's clunky and it ends with a disappointing snowboarding sequence with The Beach Boy playing. On the bright side, the title credits are cool in a lasery/neon kind of way and I personally love the Duran Duran song. Really, I'd listen to it day and night.

Resembling the story from Goldfinger, A View to a Kill still makes for a pretty good story. Max Zorin ends up having a pretty bold plan and Christopher Walken pulls off the role with complete ease. He's a psycho in the best sense, eerily laughing when no one else would. His back story is maybe a bit silly but Max Zorin is still one of the better Bond villains in the 007 stables. 

Like I had said earlier about Roger Moore, his best days are clearly behind him as much as it pains me to say it. I can say that the action sequences with stuntmen are done convincingly enough. It's not like an on/off switch between Roger Moore and stuntman. However, the real problems arise when it's time for James to turn the charm up. Yes Roger Moore is still charming at 57, but it's in an old man charm instead of the Bond charm he needs. It's true that James Bond movies have never been about realism, but it's completely unconvincing to see Roger Moore performing with the young female actresses in A View to a Kill.

Who I truly do hold the most disdain for in A View to a Kill though is Tanya Roberts. It's not her fault that her character is noting more than a screeching damsel in distress being carried around by James, but her performance isn't good either. It's impossible to take her seriously as a geologist and it's really irritating to watch her stand around with her hands over her mouth while 007 is punching out baddies. Blame can be put on both Tanya and the scriptwriters for the poor Bond girl that Stacey Sutton is. Grace Jones as May Day is actually pretty cool but she's misused and underused. (Spoilers) The decision to turn her into a good guy at the end is incredibly disappointing and robbed us of a cool Bond vs. intimidating woman fight. It's like the Jaws conversion in Moonraker all over again. (End Spoilers)

In terms of the action in A View to a Kill, the best way to describe it is clunky. Editing and choreography seems off and just plain lazy. The only only car chase that's actually of any interest is one involving a fire truck and it just doesn't truly reach its potential. The best action is reserved for the end with a really nice big action set piece. (Spoilers) Set above/on the Golden Gate Bridge, it's really thrilling despite the over-screaming on Tracy Roberts' part. (End Spoilers)

A View to a Kill is one of the lesser Bonds unfortunately. Even with a great villain like Max Zorin and a pretty good story, there are too many problems with the action and a lot of other things too. Roger Moore shows his age and Tanya Roberts is plain awful. (Spoilers) I still want to know who thought it was a good idea to have James carry Stacey down a ladder and turn it into probably one of the cheesiest moments in Bond history. (End Spoilers) It's still a watchable movie but it just doesn't deliver what a Bond movie should. It's not as fixated on creating humour as Octopussy was but there's a real lack of fun this time around. A View to a Kill just strikes me as lazy.

On a fun side note, this is the first film appearance of Dolph Lundgren! Dating Grace Jones at the time, he was lucky to get a part as an extra when an actor failed to show up when he was supposed to.



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