A View to a Kill (1985)

bond50So we finally come to A View to a Kill as I work my way through the Bond 50 boxset. I would like to say it was a neglected entry in the Bond series, a flawed film with surprising redeeming features. But that wouldn’t really be true. The only thing I can really say about it is that it means I can finally say adieu to the Roger Moore incarnation [1] and at long last now see Timothy Dalton’s Bond for the first time, something I have looked forward to since buying this set last year. There really isn’t much positive that can be said of A View to a Kill though.  You know you are in for a rough ride as soon as the Beach Boys boom out of the speakers during the familiar pre-credit snow-boarding sequence.

Moore himself is clearly just too old for the part, and was honest enough to say so, announcing his retirement from the film series having being talked into doing two too many. His Bond was always rather fun and self-deprecating, but his age here (he was 57 I believe) is damaging to the film. Christopher Walken’s psychotic Zorin (clearly evil, clearly a threat in every scene)  is a good Bond villain, but alas he is utterly wasted in a rather vapid plot about horse-doping (in a Bond movie?!). There is a missed opportunity sub-plot regards genetic manipulation/experimentation of super-humans that should have really been brought to the fore.  Instead the main plot, involving Zorn’s plan  to create an earthquake that destroys Silicon Valley ensuring the global domination of his own chip-manufacturing company  seems more a scheme of Superman‘s Lex Luthor than a Bond villain. But that’s not the film’s weakest link. Nor is the rather typically odd performance of the slightly crazy-looking Grace Jones (does she ever act?) as Zorn’s madcap henchwoman Mayday.

No, the proverbial nail in the coffin for A View to a Kill, that likely confirms its title of worst Bond movie ever, is Tanya Roberts woeful turn as Bond girl Stacy Sutton, clearly the worst Bond girl to ever ‘grace’ the screen (and that’s taking into account Denise Richard’s infamous nuclear scientist Christmas Jones years later). “James, don’t leave me!” she cries in the burning elevator shaft as Bond clearly searches for an exit for them. “Oh James!” she wails in further jeopardies. She is utterly irritating and without any redeeming features. Clearly just a one-dimensional damsel-in-distress, it’s true she isn’t helped by the vapid character written for her but dear oh dear, her performance is truly awful. I sniggered as she escaped the inferno without even a mark on her white dress or on her pretty face, even still wearing her high heel shoes, and soon ended up driving a fire truck through San Francisco’s streets whilst pursued by cops, still in those damn high heels.  It was just so bizarre. The whole film is  like a compendium of the Worst Bond Girl Moments.

Still, this film, like Octopussy before it, is clearly the best reason for the Bond 50 boxset. I cannot fathom why anybody would wish to buy this film individually or even own up to owning it except as a necessary part of a packaged set.  But still, it’s done, and I can at last move on…

1) In truth, Roger Moore’s tenure as Bond actually surprised me, as before I always felt his was the weakest of them, and yet I have quite enjoyed his take on Bond- as a whole I feel the films are possibly equal to those of Sean Connery. Individual films featuring Connery are no doubt superior- but on the whole, just as Connery’s films slipped in quality and Connery’s ego and contempt of the character increasingly filtered through into the films, Moore’s work-ethic and sincerity for the part and the films themselves, weak as some of them are, is clearly evident. Daft as they are, they somehow feel more honest.