Here is my potentially most controversial opinion so far – A View to a Kill is not bad. It is, in many ways, quite good. Easily the third best
movie of the lot
(after The Spy Who Loved Me and For Your Eyes Only). It is at least theoretically possible that I
am suffering from Stockholm Syndrome at this point at the end of the Roger
Moore era. But I don’t think so. This movie does not deserve its terrible reputation. Moore
Alright, so, the opening scene has to be dealt with. We’ve got another skiing scene on our hands only this time, Bond ends up on a makeshift snowboard. Scored to a cover of “California Girls”. An awful cover of “California Girls”, not that this fact matters, because just the fact of having “California Girls” in a Bond action scene should make your soul die a little bit. I will admit that this is not a great start. Okay, that’s an understatement. This is the worst start imaginable. He ends up snowboarding down to a dumb-looking submarine that looks like a bit of floating ice and whose hatch has a Union Jack on it.
How often do you get to use the phrase, “Thank God for Duran Duran”? Well, here it is. After the never ending balladry, going back 4 movies now, Duran Duran finally injects some life back into the James Bond theme song. This one was a big hit and I remember seeing it a lot on MTV and it is totally deserved. It is a great theme song with one caveat, which is that it is not a great musical accent. Bond movies like to play the theme song as an instrumental during the course of the action, and this one does not work for that purpose. It’s the polar opposite of “You Only Live Twice” which was a terrible theme song (partially due to Nancy Sinatra’s awful warbling vocals) but a great accent.
It’s worth mentioning just how much use this movie makes of the “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” theme which, of course, I absolutely adore. It shows up in the opening scene (which, all things considered, is not *that* terrible if you remove the Beach Boys cover) and all throughout this film. It does have an unfortunate “meedly meedly” guitar accent but just its presence makes me happy.
I kind of love everything about Mayday. Grace Jones is just so, so very weird in the best possible way. She’s a perfect counterbalance to Christopher Walken’s Max Zorin, who’s kind of a boring villain. Walken, in particular, doesn’t really seem to have a good handle on how big he wants his performance to be, so sometimes he flirts with bugfuckery but mostly he’s just there, taking up space and being blonde for some reason.
Speaking of Jones, I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least allude to this:
It’s a pretty dumb sketch but it was my first exposure to Jones and I still think of it as her persona. She kind of scares the shit out of me as a woman but she does wear a totally epic thong in the scene where she fights with/wrestles with Zorin.
Patrick Macnee is in this movie, and he gets to participate in some nice spying action with Bond. He gets offed too quick but what are you gonna do?
The plot involves Zorin destroying
Silicon Valley with
his own personal earthquake machine which is both way too big and way too
small. He invented an earthquake
machine! What the fuck? But he’s using it to drown a bunch of
computer industry nerds? I can think of
a billion cooler things to use an earthquake machine for.
Finoa Fullerton plays a character who isn’t worth mentioning except for the fact that she may be the absolute worst actress to appear in a Bond movie to date, and that is really saying something.
The Bond girl is played by Tanya Roberts and I admit that is probably the Stockholm Syndrome speaking but I kind of liked her performance as Stacey Sutton. Not “liked liked” but was very tolerant of. She’s American, which puts her behind the eight ball immediately. But she’s a reporter, not a nuclear scientist, so at least you don’t have to pretend that she’s super smart.
The blue screen effects have not improved at all. At least this will be the last film where they have to pretend that Old Man Moore is doing anything other than hanging around a studio set, wearing tuxes and seducing female extras.
Something I really appreciate about Max Zorin – he cleans up his evil villain plot. Most evil villain plots fall apart logically because they require an enormous amount of labor by guys who would never, in a million years, keep their mouths shut. How could Blofeld have built a volcano base without that fact leaking to the press? It doesn’t make sense. Well, Zorin, on the cusp of putting his plot into action, just drowns all of the Teamsters involved in created his earthquake machine, and just to be sure they’re dead he shoots a machine gun at the ones who don’t drown immediately. That’s quality planning!
Mayday saves the world (well, the techie nerds, at least) but she still kind of goes out like a chump. Her end is pretty disappointing, with the saddest explosion in the world.
Zorin and Bond have their final showdown on top of the
for plot reasons that are more trouble than they’re worth to diagram out. Zorin ends up plunging to his death into the
icy waters of the Bay. Golden Gate Bridge
It is implied pretty strongly that Q is a stone-cold pervert, because he lingers way too long on the final “Bond fucking on camera in front of the ministry” scene.
Bond sleeps with the woman piloting the submarine at the beginning, Mayday (who fucks on top, naturally), and Sutton.