A View to a Kill (1985) / Action-Thriller

MPAA Rated: PG for violence, sensuality and some language
Running time: 131 min.

Cast: Roger Moore, Christopher Walken, Tanya Roberts, Grace Jones, Patrick Macnee, Patrick Bauchau, David Yip, Fiona Fullerton, Manning Redwood, Alison Doody, Willoughby Gray, Desmon Llewelyn, Robert Brown, Lois Maxwell
Cameo: Dolph Lundgren
Director: John Glen
Screenplay: Richard Maibaum, Michael G. Wilson (based extremely loosely on the story, "From a View to a Kill", by Ian Fleming)

Review published November 3, 2007

A View to a Kill is a notable film for some because it would mark the final appearance of Roger Moore (Octopussy, The Cannonball Run) as 007.  In my mind, it's more notable because it is the worst of the Bond films, although I'll grant that is an arguable point to make (though Roger Moore himself considers it the worst he's done).  Moore looks a little too long in the tooth to be performing the death-defying feats his character does, but that's just one of many reasons this film fails to ever take hold.  The plot is ridiculous, the villains hammy, and the Bond girls are barely consequential.  This is a film made on autopilot -- adhering to the tried and true formula to the point where all it is is an exercise in regurgitation.  At 2 hours and 10 minutes, it is also long and dull, with so-so action except for the opening ski/snowboard scene and high-flyingclimax.  With practically no character development and a story that inspires more laughs than interest, there's ample evidence to suggest a completely new direction would be warranted from here on out.

The plot is as simple as they come.  In this outing, Bond must thwart the nefarious scheme by a mad computer industry giant, Max Zorin (Walken, Last Embrace), who devises a plan to take over the world's burgeoning computer chip market.  Zorin's plot involves the seismic eradication of Silicon Valley, California, where approximately 80% of the world's microchip industry resides. 

With the exception of one of my favorite Bond themes by Duran Duran, A View to a Kill, is a showcase of how boring Bond can be when the producers look more at the ingredients to a Bond adventure than the story before they set out to make a movie.  Moore looks bored playing 007 throughout, as there is nothing left for him to explore, spouting not-terribly-witty double entendres and looking nonchalant at whatever happens around him.  Not that he has much to inspire him, since the story itself is laughably executed, with villains in Walken and Grace Jones (Conan the Destroyer, Vamp) cast more on sinister looks than charisma or grit.  Tanya Roberts (Sheena, Body Slam) only exists for eye candy and screaming, as she does in nearly every one of her films. She comes off as so vapid, it shows that Bond is all about the beauty and not the brains when it comes to his attraction toward women.

The humor that marred some of Moore's weaker efforts is evident, though not close to funny here.  Terrible jokes abound, such as Bond, when witnessing a man murdered before his eyes by a puppet shaped like a butterfly at dinner remarks (very inappropriately), "Waiter, there's a fly in my soup".  Dumb comic relief roles are given to a bunch of accident-prone SF cops and a slew of needless Russian adversaries, who are as stereotypical as can be.  Grace Jones' character of May Day is completely one-dimensional, while Walken gesticulates and pauses to give the appearance of a man with murder on his mind, but doesn't come across with nearly a fraction of the genius one would need to be the world's most formidable chip designer.  Even the gadgets prove to be a non-factor (in fact, I can't even recall any employed on Bond's part).

The vertigo-inducing finale floating high in a blimp above the Golden Gate Bridge is impressive, but unfortunately, it remains the only scene of exceptional interest in the entire film.  By this point, we're bored by Bond's shtick, and couldn't care less about Zorin and his mad quest for domination of the business world, since it is unlikely such a farfetched scheme could ever work, both in premise and execution.  Glen's (For Your Eyes Only, The Living Daylights) treatment as director is definitely pedestrian, and his use of obvious stunt doubles and phony looking sets undermines whatever excitement might be generating in any of the set action pieces.  His inability to winnow down the padded film to a standard 105 minutes proves the worst move of all.

The best thing I can say about A View to a Kill is that it isn't unwatchably bad, but even the most lackluster of Bond outings have moments of interest spaced close enough apart to overcome being completely zoned out.  Not so much here.  At least the stunt work is uniformly good, perhaps the film's sole saving grace.

A View to a Kill is strictly for Bond completists, perhaps only worth revisiting from time to time to see just how weak a Bond outing could be.  Luckily, future filmmakers learned from the mistakes shown here, proving that Bond might be down, but never for the count.

-- Preceded by Dr. No (1962), From Russia with Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), You Only Live Twice (1967), On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), Diamonds Are Forever (1971), Live and Let Die (1973), The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Moonraker (1979), For Your Eyes Only (1981), and Octopussy (1983). Followed by The Living Daylights (1987), Licence to Kill (1989), GoldenEye (1995), Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), The World is Not Enough (1999), Die Another Day (2002), Casino Royale (2006).

Qwipster's rating:

2007 Vince Leo