Movie Review: A VIEW TO A KILL

It’s been nearly 33 years since the release of A View To A Kill. At that time, it was critically panned and didn’t do as well as it’s predecessor (Octopussy). It’s taken three decades for AVTAK to go from “worst Bond movie ever” to “I guess it’s enjoyable in a campy kind of way.” The film is one of the wackiest in franchise history, and having the oldest James Bond actor ever (Roger Moore was 57!) gives it an even odder feel. I saw this movie in the theater when was 7, so even though I know it is a poorly made flick, I do enjoy it on some level.

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Even before we get to the gunbarell, we see a disclaimer that reads: “Neither the name Zorin, nor any other name or character in this film, is meant to portray a real company or actual person.” Was there a real life villain named Zorin? Is AVTAK a true story?Apparently, there was a real fashion design company known as Zoran Ladicorbic Ltd. The gunbarell gives us the exact same one Roger Moore did for The Spy Who Loved Me, eight years earlier. No disrespect to the late great Sir Roger Moore, but his looks certainly had changed and it was time to do a new gunbarell shot. I guess some Bond actors have it in their contracts: I do only one gunbarell shot and they get used for all my movies!

The movie opens up in Iceland pretending to be Siberia. 007 has been sent to locate the frozen body of 003 and recover a microchip connected to the Soviet Union. What ensues is a terrific ski chase scene that gets ruined by Bond inventing snowboarding, while “California Girls” plays during the action. More on that later, trust me. The stunts in this pre-title action sequence are very impressive, even though Roger Moore’s stunt man does all the work. After Bond escapes into his floating glacier submarine with a young lady for some sex-time (five days to Alaska!), we get one of the best Bond songs ever. Duran Duran was a pretty hip choice for 1985. Even though the song doesn’t fit the usual type of Bond song, for some reason it just works. Although, the name of the song should have been called “Dance Into The Fire.”

Bond returns to London to have the microchip analyzed. It’s quickly discovered that it’s a copy of one designed to withstand an electromagnetic pulse and made by government contractor Zorin Industries. Bond and the MI6 team take a day in at the races and spy on Max Zorin (Christopher Walker) and his androgynous bodyguard May Day (Grace Jones). Zorin is French, German, Russian and has an American accent. Ummm okay.

Next we see Bond at the Eiffel Tower having lunch with a French detective who specializes in horse racing. This man, who is so French that he is Pepé Le Pew in human form, has been investigating Zorin’s horses. May Day kills him with a poison-tipped butterfly (look, just go with it) and Roger Moore’s stunt double chases her all the way up the Tower, where she parachutes off it. This is another moment in the movie where the ballsy stunt keeps this movie interesting. After a silly car chase around Paris, that sees Bond’s car ripped apart, Bond ends up visiting Zorin’s luxury horse stable and palace in the French country side. Sir Godfrey Tibbett (Patrick Macnee), a racehorse trainer and MI6 agent, has been assigned to be Bond’s sidekick. He’s posing as Bond’s butler, while Bond is posing as a potential horse buyer named… wait for it… James St. John Smythe. More on this ridiculous alias later…

For some reason Bond forgets all about microchips and believes that Zorin’s horse was drugged and the movie spends about 45 minutes focusing on the shady business of horse ownership. At Zorin’s place, Bond meets a mysterious, beautiful woman named Stacey (Tanya Roberts) and discovers that Zorin has written her a check for $5 million. Later that night, Bond and Tibbett break into Zorin’s lab and learn that he is implanting adrenaline-releasing devices in the horses through microchips! See it all ties together, sort of. Bond has a really weird sex scene with May Day, Zorin identifies Bond as an MI6 agent and then has a horse race against Bond. All this time before, May Day failed to recognize Bond as the man who chased her around the Eiffel Tower. May Day kills Tibbett by choking him (she is freakishly strong), and then she and Zorin believe that Bond is dead after they attempt to drown him in a car.

The KGB confronts Zorin for killing Bond without their permission, because they feel Zorin still belongs to them. Keep an eye out for a really young Dolph Lundgren in this scene.  Zorin unveils to a group of investors his plan to destroy Silicon Valley which will give him a monopoly over the microchip industry. We are done with the horse plot.

Bond is off to San Francisco where he learns from a CIA agent that Zorin could be the product of medical experimentation with steroids performed by a Nazi scientist who is now Zorin’s physician. Bond then investigates a nearby oil rig owned by Zorin and while there finds a sexy KGB agent recording Zorin’s conversation about his evil plans. Bond is able to steal the recording off her after shagging her in a Japanese bathhouse. Bond tracks down the woman he met briefly at Zorin’s in France named Stacey Sutton. She’s the one that Zorin attempted to pay off to purchase her family’s oil business.

Keep in mind, Bond is now pretending to be a London financial journalist named James Stock. Bond and Stacey head to S.F. City Hall to review Zorin’s files. However, Zorin and May Day catch them. Zorin and May Day set City Hall on fire and frame Bond for a murder. Bond and Sutton escape the burning building and get in a fire truck. What happens next is Bond and Stacey (who breathlessly says the name James a lot) are in a fire truck chase vs the cops from an unseen Police Academy movie that took place in San Fran.

Bond and Stacey sneak into Zorin’s mine and discover his dastardly plan is to detonate explosives beneath the lakes of the San Andreas fault. This will cause a massive flood and will destroy the Silicon Valley area. Bond and Stacey are spotted and chased by May Day. Zorin then sets off the explosives drowning his workers, and those who aren’t drowned are shot by him. When May Day realizes that Zorin has betrayed her, she helps Bond remove a large final bomb by placing it onto a handcar and pushing it out of the mine. May Day stays on it to make sure the handbrake doesn’t move and once outside, the bomb explodes, killing her and destroying Zorin’s dreams of controlling the microchip industry.

Zorin, who had already escaped in his blimp, abducts an oblivious Stacey. Bond grabs hold of the mooring rope and hangs on for dear life. Zorin tries to knock Bond off the rope by having him crash into the Golden Gate Bridge, but Stacey attacks Zorin, and Bond is able to tie the rope to the bridge. Sutton flees and joins Bond out on the top of the bridge, but a crazed Zorin pursues them with an axe. Zorin and Bond fight on the bridge and it climaxes with Zorin falling to his death in the waters of San Francisco Bay. Before his fall, Zorin lets out a tiny chuckle that is quite amusing to me. Zorin’s mad doctor attacks Bond using sticks of dynamite (I guess blimp owners carry that?!) but Bond cuts the cable free, which causes the Nazi doc to drop the dynamite in the cabin. The dynamite explodes, destroying the blimp.

Q goes spying on 007 and finds Bond and Stacey making love in the shower of her home. Roger Moore ends his 7th and final Bond movie in the shower, with a woman almost 30 years younger than him, and his last words as 007 are “oops I dropped the soap”. If this doesn’t sum up A View To A Kill, I don’t know what else does.

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Bond’s coolest moment? Roger Moore’s James Bond is at his charming best during Zorin’s party.

Bond’s most embarrassing moment? Clearly it’s snowboarding to a cover of a cover of the Beach Boys classic “California Girls”. This might be the most embarrassing moment in the 55 years of Bond movies. Even for this movie, this was over the top.

Bond’s best line? The morning after having sex with May Day, Zorin asks Bond how he slept, to which Bond says “A little restless, but I got off eventually.”

Best acting performance? Walken is a good villain in a Trump meets Stewie kind of way, but I think it’s Grace Jones that gives the best performance. She knows she is in a nuts flick, and it suites her perfectly.

Bond’s most “sexual predator” moment? Forcing himself on a young coworker for 5 days from Siberia to Alaska.

Worst line in the movie? Three-way tie between anytime Tanya Roberts says “James” – Each time “St. John Smythe” is said – Whatever nonsense comes out of the mouth of that Uber-French detective.

What I noticed for the first time after watching this for the 98th time? It dawned on me how many hours, maybe days, it took for Bond and Tibbett to record their fake dialogue, when Zorin’s people bugged their room.

Best action sequence? That Eiffel Tower chase is really well shot. It also goes to show you how powerful the Bond producers are. They got to shut down and shoot at this famous world landmark.

Who or what is the title song about? I think it’s about how dangerous Bond’s life is.

Best looking cinematic moment? The climax in San Francisco, on the blimp, with shots overlooking the city and the Golden Gate Bridge.

How could the villain have succeeded? Why does Zorin need to destroy Silicon Valley to control microchips? He’s killing his potential customers, since microchips aren’t made there. He should have just stuck with being an evil horse owner.

Which other Bond actor could have starred in this movie? Roger Moore sticks out like a sore thumb. Duran Duran, Christopher Walken, Grace Jones, Tanya Roberts, a plot about technology… this movie needed a Bond like a young Pierce Brosnan: 1985 Remington Steele.

Does Bond ever think he might die? When he’s being sucked into that underwater propeller, yup.

What would have made the movie better? Besides having a younger Bond actor, they needed to drop most of the horse plot.

What’s in a name? As mentioned before, Bond uses James St. John Smythe and James Stock as aliases.

What’s in a title? A View To A Kill comes from an Ian Fleming short story titled From A View To A Kill, which came from a poem. In the film, May Day and Zorin say the title in a memorable way.

Drinking game: This a twofer. Take a sip of an Americano anytime you hear “St. John Smythe” and Tanya Roberts as Stacey say “James”.

“WTF?!” moment: Roger Moore and Grace Jones in bed together. Here’s a little behind the scenes for you… Jones had a black dildo with her during the sex scene. Moore was not pleased.

Fun fact: David Bowie, Sting and Rutger Hauer were all consider for the role of Max Zorin.

Overall ranking: 20th out of 24.

Review synopsis: I can’t call this the worst Bond movie ever because it knows how bonkers it is and never lets up. The locations are some of the best in the franchise’s history. Roger Moore acknowledged he was too old by this point to be romancing women who had mothers younger than him. He wasn’t long in the tooth. He had tusks! Despite all that, he was always a joy to watch as Bond. Walken and Jones make a formidable duo, while Roberts is the worst main Bond girl ever. Yes, worse than Denise Richards. For all my bad mouthing of AVTAK, if it was on TV tomorrow I would probably watch it again.

 

 

 

 

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