I’m not sure if I’ve ever discussed this on this page, but for the last 15 years, I have been a big fan of the James Bond series. I started watching them as a nine year old and even though some aren’t so great, they are usually at least pretty entertaining. I remember how proud I was of myself when I memorized each of the movies in chronological order… again, I’m a dork. So with the arrival of Bond’s next outing, No Time to Die, finally hitting theatres next month (as a Bond-aholic, November is a more fitting month, but it’s whatever), it seemed like an ample time to stroll down memory lane.
Y’all, I’m really not proud of much. One of the many things I’m not proud of is my enjoyment of Roger Moore’s final Bond outing, A View to a Kill. Two movies after he was supposed to quit the role, Moore returned to play Bond nearing his 60’s. Moore was a pretty good looking 45 when he starred in Live and Let Die. Shoot, he’s a fine looking 57 here, but maybe not to be playing Bond, who pounces on whatever woman he comes across and kicks ass and takes names. He’s basically a grandfather doing the aforementioned activities, and it looks a little silly. Moore actually agreed, saying this was his least favorite of his Bond films due to the violence and the fact that his warranty for this role was long past expired. Yet for me, A View to a Kill is a pleasure… of the guilty variety.
Moonraker was also quite the guilty pleasure, for how gleefully silly it was. A View to a Kill is a guilty pleasure because… it’s really not a good movie, but I enjoy it anyways. I enjoyed it as a kid, for the same reasons I enjoy it as an adult. Though being older now, its faults are in plain sight. There are plenty of them, to be sure… but at the same time, I have sort of a soft spot for it. It’s by turns very silly, very over the top, some of the action looks a tad wonky (I mean, you got a grandpa taking on multiple goons) and on occasion, horribly acted. Yet this film burns in the memory for me, for a number of reasons. Not just for what I mentioned, but because, despite the fact that Moore didn’t want any more of this role, the movie has memorable action sequences, memorable villains, and then some. After revisiting the last few Bond films, which had dullards for villains, I welcomed the over-the-top absurdity of A View to a Kill with open arms.
The film opens with the world’s most charming geriatric (Moore, aware of the silliness) as he is in the snowy region of the U.S.S.R, being chased by villains for reasons that probably don’t matter at all to the story. Amidst this, Bond snowboards down a hill, and insert immediate stupid as a poppy cover of The Beach Boys’ “California Girls” plays with it. Again, this isn’t one of Bond’s finest hours, though this scene, despite that detail, is fun. Bond ends up in a boat, disguised as an ice berg, and he escapes the clutches with a woman who probably works for MI6. Like all women in a Bond movie pre-Dalton, she swoons over him, and you know… yada yada. Again, the sight of Moore can feel a little off, but the old man does have his charm.
We then get the opening title song, this time sung by Duran Duran. Say what you will about Moore’s stint as Bond, but in terms of the title songs, they pulled out all the stops. And I’m not gonna lie: I friggin’ love this song. On the way to work today, I listened to it twice, back to back. It’s so Duran Duran, which means it’s so 80’s, but it’s purely Bond, and the song mixed with the usual naked women in the background thing, gets me hyped every time I watch this movie. Heck, the rest of the movie probably doesn’t even live up to this sequence, but it’s such a banger. It was recently brought to my attention that this was the only Bond song to reach #1 in the United States, and that just makes me love it more. It was not nominated for the Best Original Song Oscar however, but this was also the same year that they decided to nominate The Color Purple for 11 Oscars, and sent it home with nothing. So they must’ve had a stick up their ass that year.
Anyways, to the movie. Apparently the opening did have significance to the plot, so my bad. While there, Bond acquired a computer chip that is capable of withstanding a nuclear electromagnetic pulse that would normally destroy a normal chip. You know, that old chestnut. Anyways, turns out the chip was made by Zorin Industries, so Bond decides to look into the founder of the company, named Max Zorin (Christopher Walken, reminding me a lot of his Max Schreck from Batman Returns). Zorin appears to be a normal fella, but in fact, he plans on setting off an earthquake in San Andreas, which would wipe out all of Silicon Valley.
At Zorin’s side is his henchwoman and lover, May Day (Grace Jones, a handsome but frightening woman) who Bond first encounters during an action sequence set on the Eiffel Tower. She skydives off of it… it’s pretty neato. He also… climbs into bed with her, in a turn that isn’t quite so convincing. Along the way, Bond also comes across one Stacey Sutton (the late Tanya Roberts), who has some involvement in Zorin Industries. Though after being attacked in her home and rescued by Bond (this is one of the film’s oddest-looking fighting scenes), she finds herself joining Bond for the ride. Why? I… don’t honestly know. That being said, even at 57, I’d feel safe with him.
Christopher Walken is actually the first Academy Award winner to ever join a Bond film, so that’s pretty cool. He is also one of the more memorable of Moore’s Bond villains, and maybe it’s because, well, he’s Christopher Walken. He’s not even given that much of a role, but you know he’s having fun with it. And you know what else? I could remember both his and May Day’s names without having to turn to IMDb, and that’s more than I could say for the last few. Jones’ May Day is a frightening presence, and I’m not even sure why. Maybe it’s her eyes… if I saw that woman staring at me, I would dart in the other direction. Jones is no doubt fabulous, but she also manages to be intimidating, sometimes without even saying a word. She is definitely the better of the film’s Bond girls.
Which brings me to Stacey Sutton, the thorn in this film’s side. Well, okay, she might not be the main thorn, but she’s one of the biggest. I feel bad speaking ill of the deceased, but Roberts’ performance in this film is pretty bad. Most probably also remember her as Midge Pinciotti on That 70’s Show, and she fit that role beautifully. She was nominated for the Worst Actress Razzie, and it’s pretty plain to see why. As a kid, I thought nothing of it. Perhaps I was too caught on the fact that Donna’s mom was a Bond girl to notice. Revisiting the film though, every line delivery of hers feels completely false and either overacted, or underacted. Not to mention, this character adds nothing to the story.
There are pieces of bad acting here and there though in A View to a Kill. Moments where I couldn’t help but chuckle at the corniness of it. It was also an odd sight to witness Moore and Lois Maxwell, the original Moneypenny, still showing up to the same roles for all these years (granted, this was the last time for both of them). Some of the henchmen and sidekicks are idiotic and some of the filmmaking choices can feel clumsy.
Yet… I find myself recommending the film as mindless entertainment. This is obviously lightyears away from the heights of a Goldfinger, but the film still has enough goods to deliver for it to get by. Even if they’re for my eyes only. I was on the cusp of rating this film lower simply for the things that don’t work, but also what doesn’t work doesn’t fully get in the way of the fun, and what does work. The film has some cool action sequences, such as the one on the Eiffel Tower, and the final act, set in the San Andreas mine and on the Golden Gate Bridge. It has villains that might not be anything special but are at least memorable and have something of a personality. And to wrap a bow on the whole thing is that kick-ass title theme. A View to a Kill might not be a good film, and these might not be logical grounds for recommending a film, but they’re enough grounds to enjoy a Bond film.
James Bond, and I, will return with The Living Daylights.