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Ranking the Bond Movies: #17 – A View to a Kill (1985)

I had a feeling about A View to a Kill. When I saw it the first time, I knew I liked it more than its reputation would suggest. Going in this time, I figured it would drop a bit. I knew my opinion on the first watch was probably influenced by Walken, so I figured this would suffer a bit of a drop. But honestly — this still pretty much ended up in the area it was at last time. The only difference is that other films climbed up on my list, so this didn’t drop so much as it fell by default.

My opinion of this film is the same, if not higher, than the first time I saw it. I really like this one. It’s a little on the slow side, in terms of pacing, but on the whole, this is a great movie. I think it works very well, has memorable characters, memorable moments — of course it’s not one of the best Bond movies ever, but in terms of the Roger Moore films, I think this is definitely okay. It definitely has some stupid moments that are the hallmark of the Moore years, but on the whole, I think you can do a lot worse for a Bond movie.

Also — the tandem of Christopher Walken and Grace Jones alone makes this more interesting than at least four or five other Bond movies. I think this is a very underrated movie in terms of people’s perception of it. As a Bond film, it’s just okay (hence the ranking), but even at 17, a film can still be underrated.

We open with a fucking title card, which is basically their way of saying, “Yeah… we know. It’s obvious.”

The cold open begins in the Soviet Union, where apparently The Thing is taking place.

And here’s Bond, about two weeks shy of 70, looking for a body in the snow.

Henchman can’t shoot.

Oh look, now he’s on one ski.

This is cut and paste from all the previous films. Which is not necessarily a bad thing (though not particularly inspired, either).

Oh no! Snowboard attack! This is no match for our automatic weapons!

“California Girls”? This has gotta be a top five worst song decision for the franchise, up there with “London Calling” and “Die Another Day.”

TokyoRemix:

I’d like to point out, once again if I can, that Roger Moore was born in the 20s. A snowboarding scene is just…I can’t. I can’t.

So yeah – shoot, boom, all that jazz.

And he’s got a submarine shaped like an iceberg.

I guess they retrofitted Stromberg’s escape pod.

And he’s got a bitch in there with him.

TokyoRemix:

Look at this thing. It has a wrap-around couch and a middle section that rises out of the floor by remote control. It’s a total shag pad. Did MI6 outfit this just for Bond? 

 

(Mike Note: Maybe it’s one of Q’s “retirement” vehicles.”)

The shape of the sub should not be lost on you. (Note: It’s a penis.)

Credit Sequence. “A View to a Kill,” by Duran Duran.

I actually really like this one.

We then open in London. Bond goes to see M, and there’s Moneypenny, whose pension must have kicked in by now. Thank god they don’t have them flirt. It would have been creepy as fuck. They look like they just got back from Cocoon.

TokyoRemix:

In the Connery years, the Bond-Moneypenny relationship was pretty believable. He was slick, she was pretty, she teased him, he made innuendos. Now it feels like Roger Moore is flirting with her because he feels bad for her. Lois Maxwell and Roger Moore were both 58 for this movie — and it’s harder to sell a playful relationship between two people whose ages combined are 116.

Oh look, Q has a robot. That’s how you know it’s the 80s.

TokyoRemix:

Maybe it’s the outfit, but to me, Q looks and acts older here than he does ten years later in GoldenEye.

And Q explains about microchips and how they’d all be fucked if a nuclear bomb ever went off and how they created chips that can’t be damaged by that, and how the KGB has gotten their hands on the chip. They figure the Russians got inside the factory that makes the chips – Zorin Industries, led by Max Zorin.

Bond wants to check out Zorin, but is told he’s a staunch anti-communist and leading yada yada yada – he’s the Bond villain. That’s how these conversations work. Someone doesn’t believe it, Bond says, “Well…” and then he goes and checks them out, and they’re the villain.

TokyoRemix:

Oh shit! I didn’t know we were doing My Fair Lady!

(Mike Note: I’d make a joke about that, but I just noticed that her tits are actually below the frame in that next screenshot and shuddered a little bit.)

Bond, M, Q and Moneypenny (nice that they get a field trip) go to the racetrack, where they see Max Zorin.

Walken up in this bitch! We’ll talk about him later.

We also meet his primary henchman – May Day.

Let’s talk about her now, because when you see Grace Jones, you have to mention the giant fucking she-hulk in the room.

TokyoRemix:

May Day is pretty freaky looking, and it takes awhile to get over that. She’s just like Zorin — super strong and pretty evil, although we may (day) not think of her that way forever. Actually, the character starts off as very simple; she’s a nut case who makes love violently (though not as well as Xenia Onatopp in GoldenEye, I should say) and murders people for Zorin. Supposedly, they’re in love, but that changes when Zorin shows his true colors.

(P.S. Is that Ken Watanabe standing next to her?)

Ah…Rio.

Bond meets a private investigator who’s been looking into Zorin’s shit.

How does nobody see that?

Dead.

TokyoRemix:

We find out later that May Day didn’t even know about the meeting with Bond, meaning she chose to kill this guy in front of a drillion people and then sky dive off the Eiffel Tower. So that’s a great idea. How about when he was on the toilet or something? People would buy that.

That’s how you do it. Run up some stairs. The elderly don’t do stairs well.

TokyoRemix:

This would be a great opportunity to get in some product placement for Stannah Stair Lifts.

Oh no! Fishing pole in my way! Just like how the Russians stopped Napoleon!

I love when things remind me of Les Vampires. Who’d have thought I’d be saying that about Grace Jones?

“I believe I can fly…”

Oh, but it ain’t over.

That’s one way to get down some stairs.

TokyoRemix:

Oh, sure. In a Renault 11. What is it with Roger Moore and shitty, French cars?

Clearly Moore.

Only Roger Moore could end up in a chase like this.

It’s actually like yin and yang. Also, I love how they didn’t give her any dialogue unless they needed to. It’s like they knew. (Also, it makes her screen presence better.)

Not sure what the fuck the random laugh is about, though.

TokyoRemix:

Yeah, I’m not gonna lie. That scared the shit out of me. Walken’s awesome, though.

Bond then gets himself invited to a thoroughbred sale Zorin is having.

He goes under the alias of James St. John Smythe (pronounced so wonderfully as ‘sinjin’ Smythe), along with Sir Godfrey Tibbett, another agent, who poses as his chauffeur.

It’s like the fucking Circus Maximus, where all the chariots are getting ready in Ben-Hur. Look at this fucking place.

Oh, I guess we should mention one of the Bond cars now.

TokyoRemix:

Ah yes, the Rolls Royce Silver Cloud. The picture of elegance. Most of our generation knew it from the Grey Poupon ads, and their spoof in Wayne’s World. There’s nothing really to say about this car, other than the fact that it’s very classy, it’s one of a long line of Rolls Royces that appear in Bond films, and that it ends up at the bottom of a lake in a scene that was borrowed in The Transporter 3 with Jason Statham’s Audi A8.

Bond also meets Jenny Flex, who I’m guessing talks in her sleep. (10%)

TokyoRemix:

Bond can’t really sleep with this one because Alison Doody was only 18 at the time, making her the youngest ever Bond girl. It’s okay, though, because four years later, she was in Venice talking in her sleep with former Bond actor Sean Connery. Guessing that 10 percent just jumped to around 50.

There’s a really great scene here where Bond and Sir Godfrey, without a word, continue the façade of nobleman and chauffeur while they check the room for bugs.

They then sneak out onto the terrace, leaving a prerecorded dialogue playing for the people listening.

While on the terrace – a chopper comes in, and off of it comes Stacey Sutton, our Bond girl. More on her later.

You know they’re gonna fuck, and yet – it’s more of a morbid fascination than anything.

Anyway, Bond’s got some sunglasses that see through windows or something, and sees Zorin writing Stacey what is presumably a very big check.

TokyoRemix:

Gonna go out on a limb and ask — aren’t these just polarized sunglasses? They reduce the glare on this window, and that’s what polarized sunglasses do. According to Wikipedia, those have been around since 1936 and have been regularly available for decades. Q Branch has really outdone itself here.

(Mike Note: I think they’re also bifocals for Moore.)

He then sneaks into the office and makes a copy of the check.

It’s weird, neither Zorin nor May Day have actually said anything of substance yet. It’s almost like they’re not trying to make them the villains or something.

Ah, but here we go.

Best delivery in the movie – Bond asks Zorin if he rides horses, and Walken says:

“I’m happiest… In the saddle.”

Pure Walken. 100% pure Walken. An impressionist couldn’t have done a better job.

Bond then goes over to Stacey. I love how he’s throwing out the St. John Smythe name. It’s such a pretentious name, and he has such fun saying it. That’s exactly what I’d be doing if that were my cover.

Anyway – now’s a good time to talk about Stacey.

TokyoRemix:

Oh, Stacey. Your mom has got it going on. Which isn’t hard to believe, because it turns out that actress Tanya Roberts’ mother was actually younger than Roger Moore. That’s icky territory, and it makes Moore look comically old in comparison. Remember in For Your Eyes Only, when Bibi Dahl is all over Moore, and even HE’S repulsed because she’s 32 years younger than him? Tanya Roberts is 28 years younger than Moore. Getting past the terrible age difference, her performance is laughably bad — she received her SECOND Razzie nomination for worst actress for this film.

Sutton has her rare moments where she isn’t completely awful, but she’s sort of like Christmas Jones in The World is Not Enough; too young and glamorous to be a convincing scientist. She makes Bond cook her dinner, and then he puts her to bed, even though she’s looking at him with the sex eyes? I have no idea why she’s even with him this whole time. You’ll see later, but there’s a point involving a fire truck where he could leave her and the rest of the movie goes a lot more smoothly.

 

(Mike Note: Apparently Moore said when he found out her mother was younger than him, that’s when he decided he wasn’t playing Bond any more.)

Cock block!

Ah ah, you can’t block the magic dick.

You can only divert the forces.

Anyway, at night, Sir Godfrey goes into the stables, where earlier in the day he saw Zorin’s horse (which won the day they were at the track, which they figure is on some sort of illegal drugs to make him run so well) actually disappear from a closed stable.

Well that’s a fucking creepy shot.

But don’t worry – it’s Bond.

Stable go down.

They got an underground horse hospital down there. That’s like some 28 Days Later shit. Imagine randomly waking up in that place, for whatever reason, and no one else is around.

ToykoRemix:

I always overthink these underground bases. They remind me of Resident Evil. Remember that place? How many decades did it take to build that? I guess my problem with like half the stuff we see with Bond villains is — how does nobody know what you’re up to? Rich people get watched like crazy! And the answer is always, “Well, it’s all going on in secret in the underground base!” Yeah, the underground base that cost $10 million and 4 years to build with like seventy different contracting firms. The IRS knows about that shit.

Shit, it looks like a Rolling Stones hotel room in the 60s.

Apparently they injected the horse with a microchip that gives him steroids during the race.

Whatever that shit don’t matter much, because we got company.

Bond and Sir Godfrey come upon a shipping operation down in the basement, where Zorin is hoarding a shitload of microchips.

Usual fight stuff. Nothing new.

Yeah, so this happened. Not in the movie – in life. Christopher Walken and Grace Jones practiced kick boxing together. I’m pretty sure this alone makes the movie worth it.

TokyoRemix:

And Grace Jones seems to be egging him on. “Now, let’s see if you can defend yourself, you sweat from a baboon’s balls!” 10 percent.

(Mike Note: On a serious note, are we sure that’s not Arsenio?)

And there’s no reason they couldn’t give Barbara Bach that outfit?

Oh yeah – they make out too.

Look at his face.

This movie has intangibles going for it. I’ll give it that.

TokyoRemix:

He’s about to give Grace Jones his intangibles.

Yup – all Moore.

So Zorin and May Day go looking for Bond (since his tape diversion ran out) – and May Day recognizes him as the dude from the Eiffel Tower when she killed that guy. (Weird how it took her this long.)

Found him.

“Does this motherfucker think I’m going to fuck him?”

“This motherfucker’s got some balls.”

“Well all right.”

TokyoRemix:

Christopher Walken, you are indeed a sport.

(Christopher Walken Note: “You’re a cantaloupe.”)

I like that they get right to business here.

“I see you’re a woman of very few words.”

“What’s there to say?”

Grace Jones may not be the most versatile actress, but they do a great job of making her fit.

“Nuh uh, motherfucker, I’M on top.”

Which one of the two do you think is more likely to have something?

And in the morning, Bond meets with Zorin.

Which – now’s a good time to talk about Zorin.

TokyoRemix:

Max Zorin is the best part of this movie, hands down. I’ll say right here and now — I don’t enjoy this movie very much at all, but it’s worth watching just for Christopher Walken. I guess that makes A View to a Kill kind of like the franchise’s The Rundown.

Max Zorin was born in Dresden shortly after World War II. He is the result of experiments conducted by Dr. Hans Glaub in creating super children (wunderkind?) by injecting pregnant concentration camp inmates with steroids. As a result, he’s a genius who is super strong, and the only drawback is that he’s a psychopath. He goes full Walken in this movie, which is awesome.

If anything at all could make this movie better for me, it’s less horse crap and more Walken. But anyway, Zorin is an ex-KGB agent who leaves to become a leading French industrialist with major interests in the US. His plot, which will unfold later, involves establishing himself as the top global microchip manufacturer.

Let me also take a moment to point out – the one-liners aren’t so bad here. I had it in my head that the Moore films got more ridiculous on the one-liners as they went along, but this one’s actually pretty light on them. And when they’re there, they pretty much play them straight the way Connery did it. There’s no mugging after them. I thought I was gonna get a bunch of groan-worthy lines, but honestly – it’s been pretty okay so far. A little light on plot, but otherwise – it’s working for me. Not like, Spy Who Loved Me working, but as a Bond movie, but in its own way.

Anyway – Zorin takes photos of Bond and requests information on him.

See – all of this is usual Bond/villain fare.

And look at those reactions!

Bond then goes on a ride with Zorin. (Where the fuck are they, Sleepy Hollow?)

Oh, poor Sir Godfrey.

Zorin then has Bond do a steeplechase with him, with the condition that if Bond makes it all the way around, he can keep the horse. (The horse, naturally, is wild, and they make it more difficult for him by raising the jumps too.)

Not to mention all the guys beating the shit out of him as he rides.

It’s actually a pretty exciting sequence.

Bond then takes it off the track, hoping to get out of there.

Yeah… see, what had happened was…

Does he ever not get captured? How can such a great spy get caught so many times?

Then they take Bond out to the lake to kill him.

And he survives, naturally.

Then we find out that Zorin was actually trained by the KGB back in the day, only now has gone rogue. I like when villains are like that. Trained by the enemy, then they think, “Man, it’s so much cooler not doing shit by rules,” and then they become their own entity and both sides are like, “Well, fuck, I guess we need to kill this asshole.”

Jesus.

(P.S. That guy on the left edge of the frame, holding the gun? Dolph Lundgren.)

Ah, the boardroom scene. I love these moments. You know someone’s getting killed.

I love that May Day’s in a business suit.

Zorin says he’s going to blow up Silicon Valley, giving him all the microchips and a monopoly. So for that, he blackmails all these other guys into giving him $100 million (apiece), plus half their net income.

Boss Tanaka isn’t a fan of this proposal. And we all know what that means.

TokyoRemix:

Borrowing from Goldfinger here. We have an illegal act proposed, someone doesn’t want any part of it, so he’s escorted away to be taken care of. He’s then disposed of. Personally, I prefer Mr. Solo’s ride with Oddjob. I’m not going to let it ruin my day, but just like the underground bases, how did they get this blimp with these trick stairs? Can you imagine Christopher Walken having that conversation at the blimp maker? “Yeah, that’s right. I want the stairs to turn into a slide and the floor at the bottom to just open up. It’s, uh…for emergency exits. No, no, never more than 10 feet off the ground.”

Motherfucker has a zeppelin.

Aww shit – Full House up in this bitch.

Then follows the single best line in the film. Zorin and May Day go up into the cockpit, and May Day (uncharacteristically. I actually wondered why they were having her speak here when it’s totally unnecessary… and then they answered. Now I understand) says, “Wow! What a view.”

And then Zorin says, “To a kill.”

GET IT? IT’S THE TITLE! What I love about it is that he whispers it, almost like he wanted to get the title in there. It would be like if someone called out, “Harry Potter!” and then Daniel Radcliffe just instinctively muttered under his breath, “… and the Chamber of Secrets.” I love it. It’s so unnecessary.

Bond then goes to Chinatown, where he meets a CIA contact. He finds out that Zorin’s German horse doctor used to experiment with pregnant women in concentration camps, giving them steroids in the hopes of making the children smarter. It had a small success ratio, though the children who were born with the high IQs did end up being psychotic. Zorin is naturally one of the Boys from Bavaria.

Bond then hitches a ride from a fisherman, who has complained that Zorin’s oil pumping station has ruined one of the best crab spots in the bay. See what I mean? This is your standard Bond progression. Seemingly innocuous location, heavily guarded, suspicious activity, like local animal life disappearing – obviously a hideout or place of illegal operation. Bond goes to check it out. This does fit the structure of Bond.

TokyoRemix:

Yes, but it fits the structure of Bond around minute 30 of the film. We show up somewhere, weird stuff’s going on, it’s heavily guarded, and it ends up leading us to our villain. In this case, we’ve met our villain early, and the screenshot here of the dock takes place a full 59 minutes in. The whole first 55 are spent on a dog and pony show. Or just a pony show, I guess. We’re just starting to get a look at the villain’s operation, and at this point, Quantum of Solace only has 35 minutes to go.

We find out it’s Zorin’s headquarters for his “Main Strike,” which is what’s gonna blow up Silicon Valley.

Oh no! The fan is on and it’s gonna suck him in! Just like that one episode of Doug where he’s the mayor for the day and the ice cream factory goes haywire.

Bond ends up escaping because his air canister blocks the propeller, and by happenstance, two people are there to assassinate Zorin, so they (well… one of them) get caught instead of Bond (and to them, he’s still dead).

The one who gets away –

She has a Bond car.

She’s Pola Ivanova. She’s the one… poking around Zorin’s operation.

Get it? … because of her nipples, poking through the…

Oh, and they fuck.

Having a bit too much fun in the tub there, Pola?

In a nice musical touch, they fuck to the love theme from Romeo and Juliet and then afterward, Pola sneaks out with what she thinks is the tape she recorded of Zorin (obviously Bond switched it), and the music from Swan Lake is playing. (Black swan, too.) I appreciated that.

Oh no, the old 1, 2, cassette switcherette! Just like Marie Antoinette used!

Also, what up, General Gogol?

I wonder what would happen if she just came back like, “Yeah, so uhh… I forgot my tape. Can I uhh… get that?”

Really, Bond? Taking notes? Is the senility kicking in already? Or can you actually not figure out what the fuck that means without writing it down first?

Well that answers that question. Which begs the additional question – what kind of fucking agent are you?

Well, look who’s back – our Bond girl. About fucking time. Only 55% of the movie gone.

Bond then follows her home and breaks into her house while she’s taking a shower. Because that’s not weird at all.

Only she’s fucking ready.

She thinks he’s a Zorin henchman. Only there actually is one of those at the house.

Well, there was.

Only then more come. And it’s like Scarface up in this bitch.

Hey, fuck you, maricón!

They actually have a fight scene where he tries not to break a vase. I guess you have to do what you can to take your mind off the fact that HE’S SIXTY.

TokyoRemix:

Yeah, what’s with the not breaking the vase thing? I mean, shit, this is James Bond, not Jackie Chan. And yes, he’s SIXTY. Well, 58 to be precise, but Judi Dench was 60 when she started as M. For that matter, Bernard Lee was only 54 when he started as M! The 00 agent retirement age is 45, but what’s thirteen years, here or there?

(Mike Note: Probably a statutory rape charge for Bond.)

Anyway, they fight off all the henchmen and have dinner, naturally.

Bond makes a quiche. (Before he gets into her quish, you know what I’m saying let me get one UP TOP!)

We find out she’s pissed because Zorin bought out her father’s company and fucked her over. The check he wrote her was hush money to drop the lawsuit she filed against him.

And apparently she doesn’t want that money. But you know what she does want?

Come on, you know what she want.

SHE WANT THE DICK.

Do you often fall asleep while a strange man is in your house?

How do you not give it up to someone who stayed by your bed with a shotgun all night?

TokyoRemix:

This is so very Bond. Hot girl in bed, him in the chair with a shotgun. What are you doing, man?

(Mike Note: I feel like Connery would have fucked her, fell asleep, the henchmen, if there were any, would come in stealthily at night, and he’d pick up the shotgun, blow the guy away over the balcony railing and make a quip right before he fucked her again. But then again, it is 7:30. Moore needs to get some rest or else he falls asleep during the briefings.)

Bond and Stacey go to City Hall to check out what Zorin is planning. It looks like where they shot the train sequence of The Untouchables.

They find out he has a mine.

And a gun.

Zorin tells the mayor to call the police and say there’s a break-in. And he kills the mayor, because the Bond villain has to kill someone. (Tip of the iceberg with this one.)

ToyoRemix:

This is probably my favorite seen of the movie, because Walken’s so good. He tells the mayor to call the cops and report a break in. He then tells the guy that Bond and Stacey had broken in, shot the mayor (the guy he’s telling this to) and set the place on fire. The mayor says, “But that means…I would have to be –“

“Dead!” Walken shoots him right in the chest. Doesn’t get much better than that.

Just once I want to be involved in an arson like that. Doesn’t have to be illegal. Just – I want to be like, “All right, let’s do this,” and then just fucking pour gasoline everywhere and light the fucking match. That would be so awesome.

TokyoRemix:

We’ll talk later.

“Please – victims first.”

Dude, at least drink some of that 151 first. That’s a liter and a half you’re wasting.

“This is for my homies.”

Anyway – Bond and Stacey escape the burning elevator, Poseidon Adventure style.

And then Life of an American Fireman style.

Not once though do they dance into the fire. I don’t get it.

The cops want to arrest him for killing the mayor. He tells them he’s Bond. James Bond. The cop don’t care, so Bond does what he’s done to countless women over the years.

So this is going to happen.

TokyoRemix:

This is where he should have ditched Stacey. She doesn’t even know who he is, and she’s only after Zorin to get back at him for trying to take over her family’s company. She’s not integral to this plot in anyway, Bond-wise. Bond’s got the info on Zorin’s plan and can take it from here. But we need a Bond girl, so hop in the fire truck, ho!

(Mike Note: This article’s subtitle is “Hop in the Fire Truck, Ho!”)

Oh no, the ladder’s unhitched! (Just like Stacey’s dress in about five minutes…)

Also, Bond weirdly says “Bond. James Bond” again here. I guess the senility is kicking in. (That must be what he does in the home, right?)

Because he just had to fucking climb out on the ladder, right? Just driving the fucking thing wasn’t enough.

I feel like the producers sat down and said, “Okay – how do we make this chase sort of like Bullitt, but also completely ridiculous?”

TokyoRemix:

By recreating the stunt from The Blues Brothers, but with a fire truck instead of a police car. Also, let’s have a bunch of pursuing police cars get smashed up for comedy! That was a Blues Brothers thing, right? I’m betting that next, they’re going to sneak into Zorin’s hideout while Cab Calloway distracts everyone by singing “Minnie the Moocher.”

That. That is how.

So they go check out the mine.

You know, for a rich dude, he really shows up in some unrealistic places. I never understood the hands-on approach with villains.

This just looks like a Grand Theft Auto level.

TokyoRemix:

See, I was thinking more Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Can Walken just start ripping out still beating hearts?

Of course he’s got a bomb.

And it takes a fucking layout of Zorin’s plan to make Bond realize what it is – he’s digging the mines underneath two lakes along two major fault lines, and will detonate explosives that will look like earthquakes and cause the lakes to flood.

And then there’s a bigger bomb on some sort of “lock” that keeps the faults from moving. So when that goes, the faults will basically destroy Silicon Valley.

And of course, they’re discovered and are chased. That usual business.

“Throw me the idol, I throw you the whip!”

TokyoRemix:

Wow, that makes all three Indiana Jones movies mentioned in this article. I say “all three” because you don’t talk to me about that other piece of shit.

 

(Mike Note: So I guess we’re gonna gloss over that scene with Walken and the aliens…)

Zorin then floods the faults, not giving a shit that May Day and all the workers are down there.

Because why not?

“Good – right on shedule.”

This is why you mow down a hundred people – to give yourself time to escape in a fucking airship that takes twelve minutes to inflate.

Anyway – May Day realizes Zorin doesn’t give a fuck about her and becomes a good guy. You know, for all the jokes I make – she’s actually one of the better henchmen out there.

TokyoRemix:

Agreed. And with Walken…Ebony and Ivory.

Oh man – Walken waxing poetic about killing thousands of people. It doesn’t get any better than that.

There’s a fucking great moment here where Zorin says, “The greatest cataclysm in history,” and the doctor says, “And all attributed to natural causes,” and Walken laughs, then gets very serious, turns to the doctor and says, “Exactly.” The delivery is brilliant.

Bond then gets onto the big bomb and May Day hulks out and pulls both him and the bomb up.

And then May Day realizes the magic dick is more important than she is.

There’s a great shot of her looking right up at Zorin’s airship as she explodes. You don’t normally get that kind of arc in a henchman. I like it.

And now it’s time for the showdown. The plan is foiled, and now it’s time to settle things once and for all.

How do you let yourself be kidnapped by a ZEPPELIN? Slowest drive-by ever.

TokyoRemix:

Okay, I was thinking the same thing. This is like being crept up on by a guy with a peg leg, asthma and an oxygen tube.

All Moore. No stunt doubles.

Let’s not waste time – obviously this is going to end on the Golden Gate. How could you not?

Bye, Max.

Well, that’s one way to do it.

“Whoa, the humanity! WAHHHH!!”

And it ends with General Gogol giving Bond the Order of Lenin, and wanting to thank him for saving the day. They say they’re looking for Bond –

Yeah, that’s pretty much where he is.

“Just cleaning up a few details.”

Final Thoughts on A View to a Kill:

TokyoRemix:

There are a few very good things in this movie, but they’re dragged down by just about everything else. I like Zorin, of course, and May Day, who gets her moment. The doctor is pretty much useless. The Bond girl is appallingly bad, and more often than not gets named the worst main Bond girl in the franchise’s history. I want to be kind, but someone has to be the worst and Stacey’s a pretty solid choice. All the other little things add up to really detract from the film.

Q isn’t quite up to snuff here, nor is M — Robert Brown is definitely not Bernard Lee, and nowhere near as good as Judi. Bond’s random allies are purely functional. Sir Godfrey Tibbett is a random horse expert/MI6 contact who’s only really in the movie so the role could go to Patrick Macnee, the star of the famous British spy TV show The Avengers. And I defy any casual viewer to remember the CIA agent Chuck Lee for more than a half an hour after finishing the movie. I watched it two hours ago and I still had to go on IMDB to make sure I got his name right. Is this supposed to be our Felix Leiter/Jack Wade? Seriously?

I should note that the whole horse thing was completely unnecessary. We see that Zorin’s rich and that he dopes his horses. The whole underground horse hospital and the horse show around it is useless. The social scenes (especially those without the villain in them) shouldn’t last more than a few minutes, but we’ve got nearly an hour in which we find out that Zorin’s the bad guy (fucking really!) and that he’s stockpiling microchips. We could have gotten this information in another way that doesn’t involve 45 minutes of horsing around a 16th century palace. Who goes to events like these? (Sixty year old English men, apparently.)

 Which brings me to my next point. Moore is unbelievably old here. The man wanted to retire years earlier, and this is the proof he should have. I believe we see him jog once or twice, but he looks tuckered out most of the movie, and his sex scenes are even less convincing than the action scenes.

It’s perfectly acceptable to have made Silicon Valley the focus of the film, but the ending feels a bit abrupt. We see Silicon Valley for the first time around halfway through the movie, but then we spend most of the time in a mine that could be anywhere. Then they realized this, and squeezed in a fight on top of the Golden Gate Bridge to remind us that the whole thing has indeed been about San Francisco. It’s a good fight, but is this what we were getting to the whole time? 

I have nothing but praise for Christopher Walken. He made this movie bearable for me. It’s not as actively bad as Octopussy, or even Die Another Day. But I rank it at #18.

My Final Thoughts:

I was seriously just gonna post a video of Walken laughing as my final thoughts, but I felt I should at least try to be serious about it.

The reason this is #17 for me instead of #18 and is ranked above Tomorrow Never Dies is because, to me, Tomorrow Never Dies is just there. There’s really not much of interest in that movie for me. It’s engaging and all, but there’s really nothing to make me think, “I really want to watch that movie.” Here, I think about it and I go, “Walken!” And that, to me, makes me put this a spot higher. Either way, as long as we agree this belongs where it is. I think of Bond movies in five tiers (not set tiers, since the ones on the fringe sort of belong into both tiers surrounding them). There are the bottom four, which are bad. Then the next four, which are subpar. To me, that’s the area we’re in now. Then that next four are pretty good. Then there are the solidly good ones, and then the great ones. There aren’t a set number of each, but it’s pretty easy to break down which ones belong in which section.

Basically my point is — it’s pretty clear which area this belongs in, and it’s not worth getting into the problems this film has, because honestly, I enjoy it. I overlook the problems because of Walken and because of certain other elements. But I think we can say that without the presence of Walken, this had the possibility of being just as bad as Octopussy and For Your Eyes Only.

– – – – –

Official Bond Number: #14

Release Date: May 22, 1985 (San Francisco premiere)

May 24, 1985 (US release)

June 12, 1985 (London premiere)

Run Time: 131 minutes

Budget: $30 million

Box Office: $50.3 million domestically, $152.4 million worldwide

Title Song: “A View to a Kill,” by Duran Duran

Music By:

Based On: Mostly just Bond. The title is from the short story “From a View to a Kill,” but the story is largely original.

Director: John Glen

Writer: Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson

First Line:  “I thought you’d never get back.” “Well, there was a heck of a crowd on the piste!”

Last Line: “007 alive.” “Where is he? What’s he doing?” “Just cleaning up a few details.” “Oh, James!”

– – – – –

Cast:

Roger Moore, as James Bond
Robert Brown, as M
Desmond Llewelyn, as Q
Lois Maxwell, as Miss Moneypenny
Geoffrey Keen, as Minister of Defence
Walter Gotell, as General Gogol
Tanya Roberts, as Stacey Sutton
Christopher Walken, as Max Zorin
Grace Jones, as May Day
Patrick Macnee, as Sir Godfrey Tibbett
Alison Doody, as Jenny Flex
Willoughby Gray, as Dr. Carl Mortner
Fiona Fullerton, as Pola Ivanova
Patrick Bauchau, as Scarpine
David Yip, as Chuck Lee
Dolph Lundgren, as Venz

– – – – –

Bond Villain:

  • Max Zorin

Bond Girl:

  • Stacey Sutton

Secondary Villain:

  • None

Secondary Bond Girl:

  • I guess Jenny Flex, but he doesn’t fuck her, so not really.

Bond Villain Chick:

  • May Day

Henchmen:

  • Technically May Day as well. I like that she fits as both.

Allies:

  • Sir Godfrey Tibbett

Other Important Characters:

  • Dr. Carl Mortner
  • Pola Ivanova
  • General Gogol

– – – – –

Locations:

  • Siberia
  • London
  • Ascot, England
  • Paris
  • Chateau de Chantilly, France
  • San Francisco

– – – – –

Cars:

  • Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II (Sir Godfrey)
  • Cadillac Fleetwood 75 (Zorin’s henchmen)
  • Renault 11 (Bond in France)
  • Ford LTD (Bond, while tailing Stacey)
  • Jeep Cherokee (Stacey)
  • Chevrolet Corvette C4 (Pola Ivanonva)
  • Ford Bronco (Chuck Lee)

– – – – –

Gadgets:

  • The polarizing sunglasses
  • The ring with a camera in it.
  • Zorin’s ID scanner in his office.
  • Bond’s checkbook that allows him to pick up the indentations from the previous check.
  • The electric shaver that picks up bugs.
  • The credit card that electronically opens locks.
  • Q’s “Snooper” robot.

– – – – –

Trivia:

  • Roger Moore said this was his least favorite of his Bond movies, due to the violence, him feeling he as too old for the part, him having no chemistry with Tanya Roberts, and “A genuine dislike of Grace Jones.”
  • May Day is the first henchman (or henchwoman) to sleep with Bond. (Are we not counting Helga Brandt? Though I guess she’s more of a secondary Bond girl/villain chick. So I guess that makes sense. No women really ever got their hands dirty in these films. May Day’s the first woman you can actually call a henchman.)
  • After this film, Lois Maxwell was told she’d be retiring as Moneypenny. She thought she’d get promoted to M, but at the time, Broccoli said he didn’t think audiences would believe Bond being given orders by a woman. (Ha!)
  • They announced in 1984 that David Bowie was gonna play Zorin, but he turned it down, saying he didn’t want to watch his stunt double fall off cliffs for five months. He did Labyrinth instead. (Sting apparently also turned down the role.)
  • Maud Adams is visible as one of the extras at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco.
  • This is the only Bond film where the famous catchphrase “Nobody ever leaves the KGB” is said.
  • Apparently a lot of the story elements were just Goldfinger reword. Which makes a lot of sense as to why the film moves so slowly.
  • Roger Moore drove the fire truck himself, since the stunt driver was too short to reach the pedals.. That’s pretty cool.
  • “A View to a Kill” is the only Bond song to reach #1 on the U.S. charts.
  • This is the first Bond movie where Michael G. Wilson is credited as a full producer.
  • This is the only title taken from an Ian Fleming work that’s been altered. The original short story is “From a View to a Kill.”
  • Title translations: (Italy) Moving Target, (Canada & France) Dangerously Yours, (Spain) A Panorama to Kill, (Belgium) Dangerous Mission, (Greece) Operation: Moving Target, (West Germany) In the Face of Death, (Israel) Murder in the Eyes, (Japan) The Beautiful Prey, (Sweden) Living Target, (Latin America) 007 In the Aim of the Assassins / The Preview to a Death, (Finland) 007 and a View of Death, (Denmark) Agent 007 in the Line of Fire.
  • The opening sequence of this film is the first time Bond is shown on a mission inside Russia.
  • This is the first Bond film not to state the title of the next Bond film in the end credits.
  • Walken became the first Oscar winning actor to star in a Bond film with this.

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One response

  1. Loved this review. Interestingly enough, I wrote a review for ‘A View to a Kill’ on my blog. I think our opinions are probably the same.

    November 1, 2012 at 2:52 pm

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