Monday, March 12, 2012

"A View to a Kill" (1985)

Starring Roger Moore, Christopher Walken and Grace Jones
Written by Michael G. Wilson and Richard Maibaum
Directed by John Glen
Rated PG - Violence, language, sex
Running Time: 131 Minutes

James Bond (Roger Moore) is ambushed in Siberia while searching for the body of 003, hoping to recover a missing microchip.  After escaping, MI6 learns that the KGB have obtained closely-guarded technology for creating microchips resistant to the effects of an electromagnetic pulse.  Bond is assigned to uncover the leak in Zorin Industries, maker of the chip, and discovers that it may be Max Zorin (Christopher Walken) himself.

While investigating Zorin, Bond comes across an assassin named May Day (Grace Jones) who appears to be tying up loose ends.  Bond travels to France where Zorin is selling horses bred in his stables, and Zorin discovers Bond is getting close to his operation, and tries to have him killed.  Bond escapes, and follows Zorin to the United States, where he discovers that Zorin plans to destroy Silicon Valley by setting off explosives underneath two nearby fault lines.

Also trying to stop Zorin is the lovely geologist Stacey Sutton (Tanya Roberts) who wants revenge on Zorin for stealing and ruining her family's company.  Together with Sutton, Bond must stop Zorin's evil plans before it decimates the west coast of the United States and gains a monopoly on computer microchip production.

Despite a few enjoyable sequences, "A View to a Kill" is a pretty bad Bond film.  The plot just sort of meanders about for a while but never really throws anything truly interesting out for the audience.

Aside from this uninteresting script, a huge problem is that Roger Moore is just entirely too old to be playing James Bond here.  He was about 60 at the time, apparently the same age as his Tanya Roberts' mother.  It makes watching the film almost painful at times since Moore is performing the stunts of a much younger man, and continues to seduce women far, far younger than he is.

Christopher Walken plays Max Zorin like he plays everything else - like a crazed lunatic.  By the time the film's climax rolls around, he's in full-on Walken mode, the usual exaggerated speech mannerisms going full out as he climbs into his zeppelin and shouts, "Moah!  Moah... powa!" to the pilot.  He seems like he's having fun, but Zorin won't really go down in history as one of the best Bond villains, even if he is memorable.

Another problem is that while some of the action sequences are generally enjoyable, they're also overly comedic.  This overly cartoonish approach to the franchise is one of the things that make Roger Moore's tenure with the franchise some of my least favorite films.  In one scene, Bond commandeers a French taxi to chase May Day through Paris, and the back half of the car gets sheered off by cross-traffic... and then Bond continues to drive the front half of the car!  Later, after being framed for murder, Bond is chased through San Francisco, but the SFPD are presented as incompetent buffoons.  The film's two best action sequences are a horse chase on Zorin's estate and the climax over the Golden Gate Bridge, but honestly all the comedy does here is serve to drain the danger out of any of the action.

As such, "A View to a Kill" feels more like an unfunny parody than a proper Bond film, which is unfortunate.  Combined with an uninteresting script and Roger Moore's advanced age, "A View to a Kill" is an entirely skippable entry in the James Bond franchise.

See Also
James Bond