Hello everyone and welcome to the fourteenth official installment in my series of reviews chronicling the James Bond film franchise. When last I left you, we had just reviewed what would have been number fourteen in the series, had it been an official EON production. However, the film we reviewed (1983’s Never Say Never Again) was an unofficial title starring the great Sean Connery in his final outing as James Bond, and thus shall not be counted in the overall tally here. Now with that little side trip out of the way we can get back to the business of running through the official canonical series. And tonight we have ourselves somewhat of a landmark film to contend with. It is in a way, the end of an era here for these reviews, as tonight we wave goodbye to Sir Roger Moore. There are those who certainly will not miss him, since during his reign, the series as a whole got very silly and convoluted, not that it wasn’t already to a degree before mind you, but during the Roger Moore era we were subject to such shenanigans as James Bond in outer space, James Bond in a gorilla/clown get up, and now in this movie, the straw that broke the camels back for me, and perhaps the most unforgivable of all possible Bond movie sins, James Bond making love to a butt ass ugly woman. For shame, Roger, for shame. Add to that, in this movie, Moore was 57 years old, and looked every bit of the grandfather figure he was at this point, instead of the cool, young (well mid 30s/40s anyway), suave spy you expect to see when you think of what James Bond ought to look like.
With all that said though, I don’t want to come down too hard on ol’ Roger here. He was put in a pretty tough spot there at the start. Before him, there had been two official Bonds, the iconic and irreplaceable Sean Connery, and the amateur actor/model George Lazenby, who had been such a flop that Connery was offered unheard of amounts of cash to return for his final official Bond picture in 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever. Moore to his credit, never tried to imitate Connery, as many would have done. His Bond was a creation entirely his own. Gone was the cool graceful alley-cat that Connery brought us, and here was the proud and tall Lion-esque Bond of the Roger Moore era. When given good directors and decent scripts to work with Moore did give us some very good, and in some instances, great Bond films, such as the tremendous “The Spy Who Loved Me” and the surprisingly toned back (for a Bond film in the 80s especially) “For Your Eyes Only”. And barring that, his movies were at least, normally, a hell of a lot of fun. And if I may go on a bit of a side-tangent, that’s the one thing I miss the most from the current crop of Bond movies out there, in that they seem to have forgotten how to let Bond just have a little fun. Yes, Bond needs to be serious now and then, and I enjoy a good suspenseful thriller as much as the next guy, but at the end of the day, when I go to see a James Bond movie at the theater, all I really want is to kick back in my seat and just enjoy a little of the classic Bond wit and charm of years gone by (with a good dose of hot babes and butt kicking thrown in to be sure), although again, maybe not quite to the level of campy silliness and absurdity that it reached at the peak of the Moore era.
And now that brings us to our feature film for this review, 1985’s “A View To A Kill”. First things first, our villain this time around is the psychotic but brilliant Max Zorin, played here by a very young, and a very blonde Christopher Walken. I suppose it was evident from the very beginning that Walken was literally born to portray a James Bond villain, and he more than lives up to the task here of creating a cold and calculating, not to mention, downright sleazy adversary for our favorite secret agent to contend with. It’s just a shame Walken couldn’t have had his moment as a Bond villain in a better movie a few years down the line. Zorin’s backstory is a unique one. He was born in Germany during World War 2 as part of a Nazi experiment in which pregnant women were injected with massive amounts of steroids in order to create some super duper killing machine offspring for the Fuhrer. Thankfully, the program was a major flop as most of the pregnancies wound up in miscarriages, but the few surviving babies all wound up as very intellectually brilliant young lads, but also, psychopathic madmen who absolutely refused to go to bed without their desert.
Now Zorin, all grown up, is a billionaire many times over, who in his spare time enjoys horseback riding and is also to be found practicing martial arts, strictly as foreplay it would seem, with his flat top sporting ebony beast of a girlfriend, who also serves in the role of henchman here.. And in one of the most horrifying, sickening, vomit inducing, moments in the history of the franchise we are subject to the most heinous affront to the eyes that is the aged Roger Moore engaging in the act of coitus with this steroid ridden brute of a lady. Ugh. Bond first picks up Zorin’s scent in this movie thanks to a needless and stupid, however clever, habit he has of fixing horse races via some very tricky biological chicanery involving, you guessed it, steroids. His main scheme in this movie though, involves microchips. Yes, little tiny microchips. Not a huge laser beam, not the gold stashed in Fort Knox, or a nuclear device capable of destroying the entire planet, just some state of the art (at the time) chips produced by the little brainiacs of silicon valley, that he intends to, through whatever means available to him, completely corner the market on and get his little, err well, huge piece of said microchip pie all to himself. If in the process he has to arrange it so that a few million or so innocent people have to meet their untimely demise, well, hey, what’s an evil madman to do if he can’t let loose every once in a while, am I right, or am I right? Right.
Of course, in the role of foil here as always is the aging Agent 007, who is charged with the task of preventing this catastrophe from occurring as well as punishing all the evil doers by kicking their ass thoroughly and then screwing their girlfriends in front of them to show them who’s boss. Which Bond will do here, just as soon as he’s popped in his dentures and finished making his Ovaltine (shaken, not stirred…) . Joining Bond this time around for a good chunk of the film is Sir Godfrey Tibbet, a veteran MI6 operative, and expert horse trainer. Don’t ask me why the British secret service needed horse experts on payroll in the mid 80s, but I will simply ignore that and allow that they did nonetheless. And as always we have the usual support group of M, Q, and Miss Moneypenny. Speaking of which, it is worth noting here that Lois Maxwell who had been in the role consistently since 1962’s ‘Dr. No’ made her final appearance as Bond’s perpetually yearning, ever waiting, secretary in this film. I’d like to imagine after the events in this film that this version of Bond (when he’s finished with the women who are now 1/3 his age) finally takes off with Miss Moneypenny to spend the rest of their days at a nice peaceful old country cabin with matching front porch rockers. In the traditional role of the classic Bond girl here is Tanya Roberts who plays the character of Stacey Sutton, the daughter of an oil tycoon that Bond meets when the plot finally leads him to San Francisco, the location of the majority of the film’s latter half’s action set pieces.
Tons of vehicles and property are destroyed… and there’s chases involving helicopters, firetrucks, and a big gunfight with your normal horde of baddies from Goons Inc in an underground compound. All par for the course. Finally, this movie commits one of the biggest annoyances with me near the end. The scene, Zorin is flying over beautiful San Fran while thinking of some nefarious plot in his mind. Looking out, his girlfriend exclaims ‘What a view!’ to which he replies ‘To A Kill!’… After dialogue like that I don’t think I need to write anymore about the overall level of creativity and care put into this movie. Overall if you’re a Bond fan, and you have a few hours to kill, it’s not totally unwatchable, but if you’re only a casual enthusiast this is one probably best left in the five dollar bin at Walmart. There are plenty of better Bond flicks that both precede and follow this one. That’s all for this review.. See you next time when we continue this series with a new and much improved movie, and a new and improved James Bond as well.
A View To A Kill gets a two out of five: FORGETTABLE.