I’ve often called A View to a Kill “a Bond too far.” It’s Roger Moore’s final turn as James Bond, and he really shows his age in this one.
But for the longest time, I considered A View to a Kill the worst Bond movie from the EON series. However, this current marathon has shown me it’s not nearly as bad as I remember. Thus far, The Man with the Golden Gun remains the dullest one of the lot with Octopussy the most ridiculous. I don’t rank it above Moonraker, though I had to think about that.
This time out, Bond takes on Max Zorin, a billionaire who plans to flood Silicon Valley and take over the microchip industry himself. Bond’s first lead is Zorin’s horse-breeding, where his thoroughbreds are winning by incredible leads. Bond poses as a wealthy buyer with a horse expert posing as his long-suffering manservant. Bond finds a lead to a young woman, played by Tanya Roberts. It turns out she is an oil company heir who was cheated out of her company by Zorin. Their digging uncovers Zorin’s plan to set large bombs off under San Jose to flood Silicon Valley with sea water.
Part of the problem with A View to a Kill is Moore’s age, as well as Lois Maxwell’s. Their chemistry and performances are fine, and Bond’s first scene with Moneypenny does not (mercifully) contain the same level of flirtation as past outings. Director John Glen does not hide the fact that Moneypenny has been at that desk since 1961. However, he pays no attention to Moore’s age (57 at the time of release.) Unlike the unofficial Bond film, Never Say Never Again, Bond is simply Bond, and we’re expected to buy that Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan are the same guy as Moore’s Bond in A View to a Kill. As a result, Moore is forced to behave as though he’s unchanged from The Spy Who Loved Me.
But Moore works well with what he has. It’s a little jarring to see her bedding several young blondes – an MI6 agent in the worst pre-credit sequence ever, an almost identical KGB agent, and 30-year-old Tanya Roberts, who plays heiress Stacy Sutton. The exception is a scene with Mayday, played over-the-top by Grace Jones. The part was written with Jones’s larger-than-life persona, and she delivers as one of the best Bond henchmen (Henchwomen?) ever.
Christopher Walken plays Zorin, a psychotic billionaire groomed by the Soviets, gone rogue, and the result of Nazi breeding experiments. The part had been written for Bowie, but Walken owns it. He is one scary dude to begin with.
And of course, A View to a Kill has probably one of the top 5 Bond themes of all time. The Duran Duran song is also one of their best.
However, the producers had already screen-tested James Brolin, looked at Michael Billington, and considered both Dalton and Brosnan for Octopussy. Between the extreme silliness of Octopussy and Moore’s age glaringly ignored in this one, the movie might have been better, and better regarded, if one of those four had already taken over the Bond mantle.