I’m not sure why I chose to watch this one in particular. I am kind of working through the Bond films prior to the release of No Time to Die but there’s no way I’m going get to all of them before the end of September so convention would suggest that this be one I leave in the box. Maybe that’s why; knowing this one is often maligned I guess thought I’d see if it needed re-evaluating.
The problem with A View to a Kill is that it is all just so lacklustre. People have put this down to the age of Roger Moore but I don’t think that’s it. Moore was 58 at the time which is broadly the same age that Brad Pitt, Robert Downey Jr. and Tom Cruise are now and they are still making action films. Besides Moore had stunt doubles and, as is very obvious throughout the film, he was using them. It does look a little odd seeing him bed the younger women but I don’t think this is the problem. It is the action that is pedestrian, the plot that is tired and the script that is lazy.
Director John Glenn was in the middle of a run of making Bond films that started with The Spy Who Loved Me and ended with License to Kill so he wasn’t past it either. Similarly writers Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson had better 007 movies behind and ahead of them. This is probably why people blame Moore who bowed out after this one, but I suspect it was more a case of everyone getting a little complacent.
There are two car chases in the movie, the first through the streets of Paris which doesn’t actually involve any other vehicles but offered some nice marketing opportunities for Renault (and you thought product placement in Bond films started with Pierce Brosnan and BMW) and the other where 007 is escaping from the San Francisco police in a fire truck that feels like a rejected scene from Smokey and the Bandit. Seriously, he causes thousands in criminal damage (and one particular officer’s promotion) to avoid arrest when surely a phone call would have done the job. Most of the CIA seem to know and respect him so it wouldn’t have been a problem. Considering that this is the franchise that has audaciously flipped cars in ways never done before in both 1974 and 2006, this is just pathetic.
My other bugbear is the moment where Bond is hanging off the rope of an airship and the bad guy thinks that smacking him into the Golden Gate Bridge will get rid of him only for Bond to jump off and tie said rope to the bridge preventing their escape. Did you not see that coming Max Zorin? You’re supposed to be a genius. Also Zorin has a number of premises and places of business but every time Bond turns up at one of them he is there. That is either an incredible coincidence or he is a very present and hands on boss.
In terms of the plot and the script, it seems the only reason James Bond sleeps with Grace Jones’ formidable henchwoman May Day is so that, in response to the question of whether he ‘slept’ well he could use the line ‘I was a little restless, but I got off eventually’. Similarly they way they shoehorn in the title, borrowed – unlike the story – from Fleming, is so clumsy. ‘What a view.’ says May Day looking out over Silicone Valley just before they plan to flood it to take over the microchip market. ‘To a kill.’ Replies Zorin. What?
There is good stuff as well though even if it doesn’t quite balance things out. Christopher Walken’s Zorin is actually a very convincing psycho and the ski chase at the start and the pursuit up the Eiffel Tower are both fun. It also has that great theme tune by Duran Duran (although the credit sequence it plays over with women wiggling around in day-glow make up and ribbons is terrible). Let’s not forget that Patrick Mcnee who played Steed in The Avengers (1961 – 1969) is in the film too, which is pretty cool. It’s like William Shatner turning up in a Star Wars movie.
Not all bad then, but mostly.
The Ripley Factor:
The film isn’t as bad as some with its representation of women either. She may have her fair share of ‘Oh James, save me!’ moments and she evidently can’t climb ladders but Tanya Robert’s Stacey Sutton is a determined business woman who isn’t hesitant to pull a gun on people who intrude into her home. She is relatively proactive and doesn’t immediately leap into bed with the leading man which sets her apart from three of the other women in the film. I know it’s all relative but on the Plenty O’Toole to Anya Amasova scale she’s nearer being Onatopp.
Jones’ May Day is sold as one of the series’ toughest baddies too. The strap line of the film suggested that she may even have been a match for Bond. She can’t even overpower Walken at one point though and she turns all mushy and lovelorn when he rejects her. She still shows herself to be strong physically and emotionally at the end though, before she turns into an unconvincing dummy and gets blown up.