Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Review: "A View to a Kill" Still Has its Charm 30 Years Later

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 34 (of 2015) by Leroy Douresseaux

A View to a Kill (1985)
Running time:  131 minutes (2 hours, 11 minutes)
DIRECTOR:  John Glen
WRITERS:  Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson (based on the character created by Ian Fleming)
PRODUCERS:  Albert R. Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson
EDITOR:  Peter Davies
COMPOSER:  John Barry
SONG:  “A View to a Kill” performed by Duran Duran
Golden Globe nominee


Starring:  Roger Moore, Christopher Walken, Tanya Roberts, Grace Jones, Patrick Macnee, Patrick Bauchau, David Yip, Fiona Fullerton, Manning Redwood, Alison Doody, Willoughby Gray, Desmond Llewelyn, Robert Brown, Lois Maxwell, Walter Gotell, and Daniel Benzali

A View to a Kill is a 1985 spy and adventure film from director John Glen.  It is the 14th entry in Eon Productions' James Bond film franchise, and it is also the seventh and last time that actor Roger Moore played James Bond.  2015 also marks the 30th anniversary of A View to a Kill's original theatrical release (specifically May 1985).

A View to a Kill takes its title from the short story, “From a View to a Kill,” which first appeared in the 1960 short story collection, For Your Eyes OnlyA View to a Kill the movie finds James Bond investigating a horse-racing scam perpetrated by a power-mad French industrialist, who also has his eye on monopolizing the worldwide microchip market.

A View to a Kill opens with M16 agent James Bond (Roger Moore) locating the body of agent 003 in Siberia.  From the body, Bond (agent 007) recovers a microchip originating from the Soviet Union.  The microchip turns out to be a copy of one designed to withstand an electromagnetic pulse, and one made specifically for the British government by a private contractor, Zorin Industries.

Bond discovers that Zorin Industries' owner, Max Zorin (Christopher Walken), breeds racehorses and may be cheating by drugging his horses.  Bond travels to Zorin's palatial estate outside of Paris and pretends to be a prospective buyer of thoroughbred horses.  Bond learns, however, that Zorin has even bigger plans on the west coast of the United States, specifically Silicon Valley in California.  Before Bond can uncover Zorin's diabolical plot, he will have to survive Zorin's Amazon-like body guard, Mayday (Grace Jones).

Roger Moore was the first actor I saw portraying James Bond, and it only took a few Bond films with Moore before the actor imprinted upon my imagination as being the quintessential James Bond.  Over the years, I have pretended, a few times, that I preferred Sean Connery as Bond, especially when I was with friends who claimed that they preferred Connery as Bond.  I have even been in the thrall of the three actors who have, to date, succeeded Moore as Bond:  Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig.  I do think that Dr. No, the first film featuring Connery as Bond, remains the blueprint for both a Bond movie and for a secret agent movie.  Still, I come back to Roger Moore as Bond.

The past few years, I have revisited the two James Bond movies that I first saw while in high school, For Your Eyes Only (1981) and Octopussy (1983).  I recently revisited A View to a Kill, and after this nostalgic mini-Bond film festival, I am sure of my love for Roger Moore as my cinematic James Bond.

Now, I won't pretend that A View to a Kill is a great film or that it is even the best of Moore's Bond filmography.  For one thing, the entire horse-racing subplot feels like padding to make the story longer, but it is fun.  Christopher Walken is an engaging Bond villain, and Grace Jones is a delightful riot as his bodyguard, Mayday.  Thus, any subplots and story that give them even more screen time is perfectly good padding.  In fact, the horse-racing section of the film is the reason we get to see actor Patrick Macnee as Bond's partner, Sir Godfrey Tibbett.

After 12 years as Bond, Moore was, by 1985, the oldest actor to play Bond, being 58-years-old when he retired after A View to a Kill was originally released.  He definitely shows his age in this film.  Maybe, it was time for him to retire, but, at least, his last film was fun, even if it wasn't outstanding.  Yes, Tanya Roberts delivers an awful performance as Bond girl, Stacey Sutton, but Roberts is likable.  She puts out the effort, and that is worth something even if the result is pitiful.

Besides, Tanya Roberts helps Roger Moore go out with a bang, as she is the last of the three women he beds in this film (including Mayday).  A View to a Kill certainly delivers what we like about Roger Moore as James Bond, and it makes me appreciate him all the more.

7 of 10

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

1986 Golden Globes, USA:  1 nomination: “Best Original Song - Motion Picture” (John Barry and Duran Duran for the song "A View to a Kill")

1986 Razzie Awards:  1 nomination: “Worst Actress” (Tanya Roberts)

The text is copyright © 2015 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.

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