This is the James Bond movie where Christopher Walken sneaks up on someone… in a blimp. In a blimp, people. Need I say any more? Oh, okay…
Strange goings on amidst the microchip manufacturing industry prompt British Intelligence to send in James Bond (Roger Moore). 007 investigates billionaire industrialist Max Zorin (Christopher Walken) and his deadly companion May Day (Grace Jones), trailing them from London to Paris and San Francisco, assisted by horse trainer Sir Godfrey Tibbett (Patrick Macnee). Tibbett is murdered by May Day, who frames Bond for the deed. On the run, Bond locates heiress Stacy Sutton (Tanya Roberts), whose drilling company was taken over by Zorin. Together they uncover Zorin’s plan to flood Silicon Valley and thus monopolize world production and supply of microchips.
If there is a common thread running through Bond films of the 1980s, it is one of near-consistent mediocrity. Yet A View To A Kill stands out as the absolute rock bottom, dig a hole and bury it, nadir of the series. The pre-credits sequence sets the tone. Bond snowboards away from gun-toting KGB agents to a ghastly cover version of “California Girls”, hops aboard an artificial glacier/submarine and romances a fake-tan casualty with flared teeth and feathered hair. A View To A Kill plonks poor, past it Roger Moore in mid-eighties hell, represented by the appalling theme song from Duran Duran (A big hit in its day, but now best-remembered for lead vocalist Simon Le Bon’s strangulated performance during Live Aid), and the two, worst Bond girls of all time. Tanya Roberts wafts through the movie in a perpetual daze. Grace Jones embodies everything vacuous about an era where someone could become a star based on ego, outré fashion sense, and ruthlessness alone. Those might sound like ideal qualities for a villainess, but Jones merely bares her teeth and “vogues” throughout the whole movie. A sorry attempt is made to make her seem sympathetic towards the finale, which mystifies since May Day callously killed affable Sir Godfrey. Why is Bond so cut up about her death? It’s wonderful to see the great Patrick Macnee sharing scenes with Moore (having earlier co-starred in The Sea Wolves (1980)), but he is killed off so abruptly, literally anyone could have played that part.
Christopher Walken, the first Academy Award winner to sign up for a Bond villain, drew some good notices. He’s a hoot as Max Zorin, genetically engineered Nazi superman/ex-KGB/billionaire megalomaniac. The scriptwriters are so eager to tick every box it’s a wonder they didn’t make him a sodomist bestial necrophiliac too, but that would’ve been flogging a dead horse (boom boom). A disclaimer was added when the real-life Zoran Corporation threatened to sue producers for defamation. Director John Glen helmed every Bond movie of the eighties. He started out as second unit director/editor on the series and subsequently, his films pay more attention to stunt work than performances or story. The action is deathly dull here from the fire engine chase through San Francisco to the sluggish skirmish amidst an abandoned mine. Only the perilous fist fight atop the Golden Gate bridge proves exciting. As for dear old Roger Moore, this shoot proved especially torturous for him since he was recovering from laser surgery. No amount of facial tinkering was going to disguise his age and Moore himself said: “I was about 400 years too old for the part.” His tenure as Bond had its ups and downs, but many still harbour a lot of affection for the jovial gent. This was poor send-off.