May 21, 2011

∴ #5byBond: A View To A Kill

This week’s #5byBond film is A View To A Kill, from 1985. It’s Roger Moore’s last run as the British agent, his seventh. Moore is 57 years old as he makes this film, well past his prime as an action actor.

This film is also the last run for Lois Maxwell, as Moneypenny. Maxwell has played that role in each of the now-fourteen EON-produced Bond flicks.

Christopher Walken holds some promise for this film, playing the villain. He became the iconic, damaged Vietnam soldier in his 1978 turn as The Deer Hunter’s Nick.

Ditto Grace Jones as Walken’s henchman (henchwoman?). Sleek, exotic, she exudes a moderately frightening, athletic androgyny. She might reach through the screen and grab you.

The title song was sung by Duran Duran, which in 1985 had been on hiatus and reformed briefly for this recording.

My notes:

  • this film begins with more endless skiing. I don’t think Connery ever skied, not sure about the Bonds following Moore.
  • Bond switches to skiing on a “surfboard,” and the soundtrack switches to The Beach Boys “California Girls” as the bad guys fall down the slope. We’re beginning with a parody of past Bond spy flicks. At least we know what this film wants to be.
  • Patrick McNee plays Sir Godfrey! The old Avenger looks good, and McNee is an enjoyable actor. Refreshing appearance.
  • Grace Jones is a good villainess, exotic and fierce.
  • Tanya Roberts is the Bond Girl in this outing. A poster girl of the eighties, she was an it-girl when this film was made, as well as a marginal actress.
  • And the Rolls rolls into the lake. Ah, well. At least this film has had one decent automobile.
  • Nice waterfront location shots at Fisherman’s Wharf and elsewhere in San Francisco. This film could use more of them.
  • Bond has an electronic card from The Sharper Image that picks window sash locks. Dumb.
  • Moore is looking really old for his role this time around.
  • An Apple 2 is featured in one scene. Quite a throwback. Best gadget in the film.
  • James Bond escapes in a fire truck. With sirens blaring. I’m sure no-one will notice. The movie goes off the rails at this point, in keeping with the long-running tradition for second halves.
  • Bimbo geologist discovers Zorin’s secret plan: to flood fault lines with the contents of a lake, by detonating explosives inside a mine. The resulting earthquake will flood Silicon Valley and give Zorin a corner on the semiconductor market. I suppose no-one will notice that Zorin caused the disaster in the first place. Details.
  • Walken makes a good psychopath, chuckling while indiscriminately firing a machine gun into a crowd of mine employees. His employees.
  • A blimp! A blimp! Zorin’s escape vehicle is a blimp!
  • May Day becomes a good guy, sorta like Jaws did at the end of Moonraker. Unsatisfying. Bad guys should stay bad.
  • Bond saves day, gets girl, and we bid adieu to Roger Moore as 007.

A View To A Kill is often rated lowest among the Bond films. Still, I enjoyed it more than the awful Never Say Never Again last week and Octopussy the week before. Walken was an enjoyable nutjob, and Grace Jones was entertaining, if underused. She could have held down a fatter role playing queen goon.

As a Bond girl, Tanya Roberts was indeed a wash-out. Pretty to look at (in a 1980s sort of way), she couldn’t act, and her tawny voice was like nails on a blackboard for me.

Onward. Up next, Timothy Dalton’s first turn as 007 in 1987’s The Living Daylights.