Here we are at last, folks, the final film in Roger Moore’s seven-film run as 007. Will he go out on an Octopussy-like high note? Or sink back down into Moonraker‘s orbit?
Honestly… it’s a little bit of both.
1985’s A View To A Kill is one hell of an uneven movie. If you thought Octopussy was sprawling, think again, because this movie is all over the place. It feels about six hours too long, and has one of the more ridiculous plots in the Roger Moore films – which is saying a lot.
On the surface, the plot doesn’t sound that complicated or ridiculous. Christopher Walken plays an industrialist involved in the manufacturing of microchips, who could be selling them to the Soviets. And he’s also… rigging horse races? Oh, and has an elaborate scheme to plant a bunch of explosives underneath the San Andreas fault and flood Silicon Valley. While he watches in his blimp (because underground lairs were so 1975).
A View To A Kill is perhaps the greatest example of what one could expect from a Roger Moore Bond movie: It’s got an uneven plot, a terrible balance between campiness and the macabre (as evidenced by the sudden appearance of a Beach Boys song right in the middle of a thrilling ski chase during the cold-open), and a mixture of both memorable and instantly forgettable characters.
Christopher Walken is great as Max Zorin, though he’s underused and doesn’t get to do very much. Still, it’s great seeing him chew the scenery, and I found his character’s affinity for gleeful murder and destruction both chilling and entertaining. As far as Bond Girls go, there are two here: May Day, Zorin’s deadly right-hand lady, played by Grace Jones, and Stacey Sutton, played by original Charlie’s Angels actress Tanya Roberts. Jones is great in her role, and and her character is easily one of the more memorable Bond Girls to date. Roberts, on the other hand, is absolutely terrible, and provides the series with yet another blonde, hapless damsel in distress. I found her so tiresome that I was actually disappointed when Bond saved her from falling off the Golden Gate Bridge.
Moore is at the end of his rope in this film, literally and figuratively, and looks positively geriatric. Any suspension of disbelief about him being James Bond has completely gone out the window, as Moore himself looks tired in each and every action scene he’s in. He was never a spring chicken, but it’s hard to watch a 57 year old jump around, punch people, and hang from ropes high above the skyscrapers of San Francisco and not fear that he’s going to hurt himself. Even his performance is bad, as at this point he’s simply “phoning it in” and trying nothing new or compelling with the role. He’s just there to wear the suit and creepily make out with younger women.
While entertaining at times, A View To A Kill is neither memorable nor terrible. It simply exists as a placeholder until we can move on from one Bond era to the next. I can’t tell you how relieved I am to see a Timothy Dalton film queued up. I, like Roger Moore himself, am so ready to move on.
Next up: Dalton’s first mission, The Living Daylights.