UK / USA, 1985
Review by Leo Goldsmith
Posted on 19 March 2005
Source MGM DVD
Features: The Genealogy of James Bond
By the time of Roger Moore’s last appearance as James Bond, the producers had firmly cemented the formula: a couple of car chases, some tepid Cold War intrigue, rampant promiscuity, a byzantine high-tech world-domination scheme, and a title that is completely nonsensical. But in A View to a Kill, Moore is pushing 60 and virtually sleepwalking through the film. His last outing is a rather inauspicious affair, a pastiche of ideas from earlier films with little variation.
Most unwelcome in this film is the pretense of Bond’s agility, by now entirely implausible for a man of Moore’s age. Body doubles and rear projection are introduced without even an attempt at continuity, and Moore hops from bed to bed with women about 30 years his junior. Most unpleasant of these is his tryst with Grace Jones: on the one hand, a well-intentioned attempt to tear down the Bond-girl color barrier; on the other, a rather disturbing image.
But true to the rest of the Moore cycle, A View to a Kill is entertaining and untaxing, with near-slapstick touches (listen out for the Beach Boys) and naughty repartee:
“Well, my dear, I take it you spend a lot of time in the saddle.”
“Yes, I love an early morning ride.”
“Oh, I’m an early riser myself.”
Add to this the usual Cold War-isms (appeals for détente, hot-tub negotiations with beautiful KGB agents, and Grace Jones as a character named “May Day”) and the film moves lightly enough through its 131 minutes.
Like so many of the late Moore films, A View to a Kill’s most interesting aspects result from inspired casting, especially Patrick Macnee’s cameo as a predictably short-lived sidekick and Grace Jones’ Schwartzeneggerian acting. But of course the real star is a bleech-blond Christopher Walken as arch-villain Max Zorin, a respectable French industrialist with a New York accent who is actually the psychopathic product of Soviet experiments with “selective breeding.” With his typically idiosyncratic line-readings (“Intuitive improvisation is the secret of genius!”) and nervous laughter, Walken is enough to distract the audience from the implausibly perfunctory love scenes and the thin plotline (something to do with microchips).
All in all, A View to a Kill at least has the value of not taking itself very seriously. Its action sequences are suitably baroque, besetting the Eiffel Tower and the Golden Gate Bridge in turn, and involving everything from a fire truck to a high-tech blimp. It is not much of a farewell for Roger Moore, but like the Duran Duran theme song, it is innocuous enough.