Director: John Glen
Cast: Roger Moore, Tanya Roberts, Grace Jones, Patrick Macnee, Patrick Bauchau, Desmond Llewelyn, David Yip, Willoughby Gray, Alison Doody, Fiona Fullerton, Robert Brown, Lois Maxwell, Walter Gotell and Christopher Walken
Plot: When a microchip shows us in Siberia that is identical to secret British technology, 007 (Moore) is sent to investigate the company who created it, led by Max Zorin (Walken).
A View to a Kill was the last film by Moore and hasn’t aged very well. While it had a massive commercial success upon its release (it is still a Bond film, after all), critics have considered it one of the worst of the bunch. I always remembered this movie fondly, maybe because I am a massive Christopher Walken fan and seeing as he takes any old role these days, it is great to see him in one of his stock villain roles as his younger self. I also believe that A View to a Kill hit the point, where we were all a little fed up of Moore, especially as he has clearly aged beyond the advisable point. It has its downsides, yes, quite a few, but it delivers where it needs to.
The biggest problem I found with the film was the flimsy plot. After a cut and pasted opening sequence (skiing again?!), Bond returns to MI6 with a microchip that resembles the British design exactly. The KGB have an informant inside Zorin industries, perhaps Max Zorin himself. One little thing that I thought was odd was that the microchip’s job was to withstand EMPs, so Britain could function if a nuclear strike happened a little too close to home. The microchip’s job is purely defensive, not aggressive – sure, it is worrying that there is a Russian mole, but does it really need Britain’s best spy to investigate something that isn’t an immediate threat. Of course, when Bond does poke his nose into Zorin’s unusually talented racehorses (it always struck me as a weird and unrelated line of investigation for Bond to begin with), Zorin is so obviously a bad guy that Bond has no choice but to investigate further. It is a common flaw with Moore’s Bonds (or perhaps John Glen’s, who is usually the director when these plot holes occur), that make you roll your eyes, when the action gets underway. However, the horse breeding part of the movie is bearable, because it does give Bond room to do his usual snooping and banter with the various villains. We slowly get to know the various bad guys, which is handy, because A View to a Kill juggles a lot of henchmen, each better than you remember (Scarpine is always a treat I forget about).
I much prefer it to the middle act, where Bond fakes his death and goes about chasing up leads on his own. This part of the story lacks a grounded theme and asks the audience to hold their belief at several moments. A KGB spy, Pola Ivanova, shows up from Bond’s past, also investigating Zorin, and Bond steals vital clues from her. It is shoe-horned into the plot, gives the writers a chance to get a pretty girl into a Jacuzzi and is so out of the blue, it takes us out of the moment. Bond then teams up with Stacy Sutton, who is one of the more hated things about this film. She is pretty much Bond girl 101 – not as annoying as Mary Goodnight from The Man With the Golden Gun, but she hardly makes it into the top ten. Tanya Roberts plays it helpless, so the male audience get a kick out of Bond constantly rescuing the beautiful blonde girl. Regardless to how you take Roberts’ Bond girl, you do feel that Bond going through City Hall’s records makes for a much slower act, lacking the constant interaction between the interesting villains. It does have a pretty good car chase sequence involving a fire engine at the end, but you will be grateful when the movie enters the finale.
Ah, the finale. The climax to a View to a Kill really does save this movie. The plot no longer matters. All we need to know is that Zorin wants to flood Silicon Valley to complete his evil plan and Bond needs to stop that. The flooding of the mine is always excited as Bond is totally outmatched with a cavern full of armed men and May Day proving to be one of the more threatening villains in a while (she goes through Bond’s allies like meals in a day). While Bonds are fairly predictable by nature, there are still some shocks to be had in how far Zorin is willing to go to get what he wants and it does throw up some interesting ends to some character arcs. If the mine wasn’t enough, the final fight takes place on top of the Golden Gate Bridge and it is one of my favourite endings to a Bond film – especially when it comes to the Roger Moores. Most of this is down to Christopher Walken. Zorin is a terrific addition to the Bond rogue gallery and he is one of the more impressive villains. I love how Walken plays it with the small bursts of psychotic glee. It is the nervous laugh he comes out with when his life is in danger or his plans begin to fall apart. He is the main reason you will come to watch this film, and he is the main reason I will most likely watch it again – several more times.
Final Verdict: While the plot is too weak to hold the film together, great set-pieces and some interesting villains make A View to a Kill better than the critics tell you it is.