Exactly 20 years ago, on May 22nd 1985, Roger Moore’s seventh James Bond film, A View To A Kill had it’s premiere in the US. With the tagline of ‘Has James Bond finally met his match?’ and a cast filled with such actors as Christopher Walken, Tanya Roberts, and Grace Jones, the film proved to be Moore’s last in the series, and the role of 007 was passed onto Timothy Dalton. CBn looks back at some of the reviews of this Bond film; from the good to the bad…
‘Moore definitely goes out on a high note with this effort.’
Ryan Cracknell, Apollo Guide
‘In this 007 film, former real man James Bond not only eats quiche, he literally bakes it.’
Dan Lybarger, Nitrate Online
‘A View To A Kill’ by: Andrew Hicks
‘This is one of the weaker James Bond movies out there, but it’s still not that bad, if you don’t mind a movie with a running time of over 130 minutes. It would have been better with about thirty minutes of boredom cut out and if, perhaps, the director had coaxed a better performance out of Christopher Walken. I like the guy and think he’s a decent actor and definitely one of the strangest individuals on the planet (good to know I’m not alone), but as villain Zorin he’s way too bland.
Roger Moore makes his seventh and final appearance as James Bond, and I think it was about time for the guy to step down. In this one, he just doesn’t seem too enthusiastic about being the single most indestructible babe magnet on the planet. Of course, I wouldn’t be able to manfacture much enthusiasm either if I had to sleep with Grace Jones. That’s a nasty-looking woman right there.
The plot this time has Walken as an ambitious microchip manufacturer who plans to create an earthquake that will destroy Silicon Valley, eliminating his competition. Maybe that’s where Bill Gates got the idea to send the CEO’s of Atari and Commodore 64 to sleep with the fishes. Grace Jones, the least feminine woman out there (Sandra Bernhard being the runner-up in that competition) is his musclebound assistant, May Day. Her name, of course, comes from the phrase shouted by every man who’s ever seen her topless. And as usual, it’s up to James Bond to stop everything.
A View To A Kill moves slowly and is acted without much eagerness or excitement, yet has some merit as a Bond movie. It’s got all the violence and chase scenes, some that are fun, some absurd. The sequence with Bond hanging from a fire truck ladder falls into the latter category (Latter. Ladder. Get it?), as does the entire last twenty minutes of the movie, which I’ll just say involves a dirigible and the Golden Gate bridge. Still, nearly every James Bond movie is better than this one, which should be watched only by true fans of the series.
‘No Bond outing is awful, but this one comes close.’
John J. Puccio, DVDTOWN
‘Not as bad as its reputation, but certainly among the lesser Bonds.’
Jeffrey Westhoff, Northwest Herald
‘A View To A Kill’ by: James Berardinelli
A View To A Kill represents the farewell bow of two long-time Bond film actors: Lois Maxwell, who portrayed Miss Moneypenny in all fourteen official movies from Dr. No to this one, and Roger Moore. While Moore’s stamp on Bond was never as memorable as Sean Connery’s, seven pictures and thirteen years gave him the time and opportunity to re-shape the British agent in his own image — something he did with the likes of The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, and For Your Eyes Only — the best entries of his tenure. But all eras end, and A View To A Kill lowered the curtain on this one, opening the door for Timothy Dalton to take the role.
A View To A Kill is often numbered among the worst of the series, but, upon closer inspection, this film is a vast improvement over Octopussy. Even though Moore sleepwalks his way through the part, making it apparent that he should have departed two films ago, and Tanya Roberts can’t act to save her life (although she certainly can scream), we’re back to a more conventional, straightforward Bond than the convoluted mess of the previous movie. The stunts are more spectacular than ever, Christopher Walken is a chilling psychopath (a role he has become intimately familiar with over the years), and Grace Jones is viciously effective as his sidekick.
Walken plays Max Zorin, a brilliant-but-unstable industrialist who intends to corner the market on computer chips by destroying Silicon Valley with an earthquake. Bond is sent out to stop him, hopping from Europe, where he’s partnered with Tibbet (Patrick MacNee), to the United States, where he joins forces with geologist Stacey Sutton (Roberts, the only ex-“Charlie’s Angel” to play a Bond girl). Locations include arctic Russia, Paris, and San Francisco.
The film opens with a lively, fast-paced chase across a snowscape, with Bond using skis, a snowmobile, and an improvised snowboard to escape his attackers. John Barry has a little fun with the music here, inserting some forty seconds of the Beach Boys’ “California Girls” as 007 zips down a mountain and across a small pond. This is one of the series’ better pre-credits sequences, and provides a solid intro to Duran Duran’s chart-topping title song.
Trying to do a few things that haven’t previously been attempted with Bond, A View To A Kill features a pursuit through the Eiffel Tower that ends in a death-defying leap, an out-of-control horse race, a road chase with 007 in a fire engine, and a struggle at the top of the Golden Gate bridge that has Bond fending off a blimp. There are conventional action sequences as well, including a car chase through Paris and several energetic fist fights. These thrills and stunts are the real reason to see this film.
A View To A Kill concludes Roger Moore’s reign as 007 on a significantly higher level than it began (with Live And Let Die), leaving all that the actor brought to the role — both good (his sly charm) and bad (his fatuousness) — to posterity. Unlike Connery, Moore never said “never again”, but, despite his fans’ wishes, it’s highly improbable that he’ll ever come back for another engagement. A View To A Kill is the last time this Bond will be in our sights.
‘As certain films in the Bond series have set specific benchmarks for tone, A View to a Kill is James Bond in comic book perfection.’
Almar Haflidason, BBC
‘Moore should have bowed out after the superb “Octopussy”, but this is still a pretty good time at the movies.’
Rob Thomas, Capitol Times
‘A View To A Kill’ by: Steve Rhodes
In a fast chase high atop the Eiffel Tower, James Bond, in 1985’s A View To A Kill, climbs the stairs in pursuit of the killer known as May Day. Just when he’s about to capture her, she takes a flying leap to escape. With a striped parachute to break her fall, she glides easily to the ground.
The killer, played by the strikingly tall and ultra-macho Grace Jones, has jet-black hair shaped like “Winged Victory.” With Jones’s rippling muscles and her sinister and sexy scowl, her acting is best when left to the physical. When she speaks, her limitations as an actress become immediately obvious.
Roger Moore, still at the peak of his Bond form, shows no sign of tiring of the role. (Okay so he’s not and never was Connery’s equal.) But this is Moore’s last outing as the world’s greatest secret agent.
Christopher Walken plays a rich Swiss industrialist named Max Zorin, a mean blonde with a big head of hair, who lives in a palace that the French kings would have envied. Even with all his riches, he scams to fix horse races so that an inferior bred horse can win.
Zorin’s biggest scheme includes the ending of “the domination of Silicon Valley.” So how is he going to wipe out the heartland of American chipdom? Well, just remember it’s in California. You can figure out the basic idea.
Walken is surprisingly underutilized and restrained in the film. Why director John Glen didn’t let Walken cut loose remains a mystery?
One particularly imaginative sequence in the picture has Bond about to be drowned in a sinking car. He stays alive by sucking the air from one of the tires until the bad guys leave the shore, figuring he must have died.
Bond films delight through their travel views of luscious locales as well as their action. In this episode, in addition to Paris, we have a magnificently sunny San Francisco, albeit mainly the touristy Fisherman’s Wharf area. Dozens of San Francisco police black-and-whites bite the dust when they chase a hijacked fire truck with Bond and his female companion, played by Tanya Roberts, going across the city’s hills and bridges.
With a strong cast of supporting characters, including Walken, Jones, and Patrick Macnee from “The Avengers” and with Moore in fine form, the movie, nevertheless, is often a snoozer. The action sequences from steeple chases to fast inflating dirigibles are imaginative, but the story never establishes any rhythm or builds much sustained energy. The net result is a story that has us yearning for those much older Bond films that never lost your attention.
‘The worst James Bond film ever.’
Brian J. Arthurs, Reporter-Southern California
‘Another fine moment from everyone’s favourite super-spy.’
Clint Morris, MovieHole