The 14th official Bond, and the 7th (and last) with Roger Moore in the famous tuxedo. This time Bond is investigating a microchip… hang on in there because this explanation my go off the rails…
At the start of the film Bond is in Russia, retrieving a computer chip from a dead double-o agent. Once back home and its investigating, the chip turns out to be made by Zorin Industries. The chip can withstand an EMP explosion, meaning that in the event of a nuclear explosion, anyone with this chip in their technology would be okay to operate as normal. Off Bond goes to Ascot to spy on Max Zorin (Christopher Walken). Zorin’s horse wins but needs controlling at the end of the race by one of his ‘henchwomen’, thus introducing May Day (Grace Jones). Sir Godfrey Tibbet (Patrick Macnee), who is an MI6 agent and horse trainer, believes Zorin’s horses are drugged to win. He arranges a meeting for Bond with a French investigator called Achilles Aubergine at the Eiffel Tower. Aubergine is killed and Bond loses the assassin while pursuing. Posing at St. John Smythe and his butler, Bond and Sir Tibbett go undercover at Zorin’s mansion/country estate to see what they can find. He almost finds some information from Stacey Sutton (Tanya Roberts) who attends a gala to meet with Zorin covertly. As Bond cannot get near her, he, and Sir Tibbett resort to snooping. They find out that microchips are embedded in the horses which control the release of a steroid, helping the horses win. Bond sleeps with May Day to ensure cover is not broken, but after a meeting Zorin is able to work out who Smythe really is – a ‘License to Kill’ secret agent. Sir Tibbett is killed, and various attempts are made on Bond’s life. KGB General, Gogol (Walter Gotell) visit’s Zorin to tell him off for getting mixed up with Bond, but Zorin announces he doesn’t need to KGB sticking their noses in, despite being trained by them himself. With Bond seemingly out of the way Zorin moves his plan forward, he meets fellow bad guys in his zeppelin/airship and announces his intention to destroy Silicon Valley, thus stopping 80% of the world computer chips being made – meaning he would have the monopoly. Bond learns that Zorin is the child of a Nazi experiment to create super intelligent people and that as a psychopath he probably is a bigger threat than to just the world of horses. Bond goes to one of Zorin’s oil pumping stations and finds out that its working wrong. He bumps into KGB agent Pola Ivanova, who has a tape of Zorin’s intentions. Bond sleeps with and switched the tape for himself (his 4th sexual encounter in the film). Now he has more of an idea that Zorin’s plan involves land, so he goes undercover as a reporter to the local government in charge of these kind of things. He meets Stacey again; she is working there to try and make ends meet. Zorin has taken over her grandfather’s oil company and she is trying to fight it but is running out of money. After piecing the evidence about Zorin together, they go to confront Stacey’s boss but Zorin turns up and kills the boss and tries to frame Bond and Stacey in the process. They escape the police in a fire engine and go to Zorin’s mine to put a stop to him. They discover a bomb, Stacey gets captured, May Day helps Bond deal with the bomb and Zorin escapes with Stacey. Bond manages to stop Zorin escaping in his airship over the Golden gate bridge. A fight ensues and Zorin is killed, Bond saves the day and gets the girl.
With all this happening, it is no wonder that the film has a runtime of over 2 hours (131 min). This was an original film, based purely on an Ian Fleming title, but with original content which was written by Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson – who both have other writing credits in the Bond universe. John Glen once again directs this, as he did most of the official 80’s Bond films. The budget was $30 million and at the worldwide box office the takings were $152.4 million – so it was a major success.
In interviews, Moore has suggested that this was his least favourite Bond films in the franchise. Age was catching up with him and he was horrified to find out that he was older than Tanya Robert’s mother. He was also unhappy with the amount of blood and guts, in particularly criticising the way that Zorin just gunned down innocent people for no real reason. This was also some of the critique that film reviewers had about this entry into the Bond universe. However, it was also equally praised by other film critics suggesting that this was the best Moore performance, he looked sharp and was engaging. So, a bit of a mixed bag when it comes down to it. As far as the cast goes, I thought Moore’s last outing as 007 was good, this is possibly one of my favourite Moore outings – “The Man with the Golden Gun” being my top pick. By now you know what to expect from the eyebrow raising suave secret agent, and Moore does not fail to deliver. As well as it being Moore’s last film, it also happens to be Lois Maxwell’s last outing as Miss Moneypenny. After 14 other appearances in the role the last time you see her is crying into her hanky before she retires from her majesties secret service. She (Maxwell) was a fantastic servant to the role and always delivered keenly with a rye and knowing smile. Desmond Llewelyn is of course Q in this film and Robert Brown returns as M. Walter Gotell also returns as General Gogol, a role he never really got enough credit for. A major casting choice for this film was Christopher Walken, who by this time already has as Academy Award to his name. He is fantastic as Max Zorin, easily once of Bond’s best villains. It’s a pity that by this stage in the Bond franchise everything was so throw-away, because he would have been great as a reoccurring bad guy for a follow up film. He is menacing and witty and commands attention with his on-screen presence. His number 1 is May Day, played by Grace Jones. Fresh off the back of her performance in “Conan the Destroyer” (1984) she is intense and menacing – somebody who clearly isn’t going to let Bond get away with his usual antics… well, until he gets away with his usual antics anyway. I’m not really a fan of Grace Jones, in this film her presence is more affective than her dialogue delivery which is wooden at times. It’s nice to see Patrick Macnee in this film, who for years had been one of “The Avengers” with Diana Rigg – famously the only woman to marry Bond. Mcnee always manages to deliver well in everything I have seen him in, he suave and cool, but is only a moment away from a cheesy smile. Then there is Tanya Roberts, as Stacey, silky smooth on the eye but at times in this delivering line which felt forced. There are moments where she comes alive and delivers a great performance, but there are times where she looks and sounds uncomfortable too. Keep an eye open for Dolph Lundgren making his acting debut (he got the role as he was in the right place at the right time, dating Grace Jones during filming). Also making a debut is Alison Doody, who some people may know as Elsa in “Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade” (1989) where she get’s to actually kiss a one of the Bond stars (Connery).
There are lots of nice locations in this and there is plenty of action. For me this is a typical Bond film and is has all the elements to be a successful film. Stereotypical of the era, Bond beds 4 woman, which is joint record in the Bond films. There is plenty of attitude from all the stars in the film. There are a few gadgets for the kids to enjoy seeing. The soundtrack by John Barry is epic. The theme tune by Duran Duran is excellent – in some polls it has been voted the best Bond theme song, but I won’t debate that here. My only real criticism, if any, is that there is an awful lot crammed into this film. This easily could have been condensed to be more effective, or it could have been a series of films. Considering where film starts off and ends – dealing with a microchip and then a location which famously makes microchips (Silicon Valley) – it takes a bloody long time to get there. I guess that’s how the excess of the 80’s works though – why have a little of something when you can gorge on as much as you can cram in.
I love this film, I loved the cheesy computer game in the 80’s, I had the famous watch which was released in association with this film. A great send off for Moore, and a great film all around. Family friendly, loads of fun, and a great and stylish adventure.
Title Song: A View to a Kill – Duran Duran
In terms of Bond films this is an 8 out of 10.
In terms of movies in the long and illustrious history of film I would give this a 7 out of 10.
Bond, James Bond, 007 – Ranking
|1||007: Goldfinger (1964) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|2||007: The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|–||007: A View to a Kill (1985) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|–||007: Dr. No (1962) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|–||007: From Russia with Love (1963) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|3||007: Thunderball (1965) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|–||007: The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|–||007: Moonraker (1979) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|4||007: You only live twice (1967) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|–||007: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|–||007: Diamonds are Forever (1971) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|–||007: For Your Eyes Only (1981) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|–||007: Octopussy (1983) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|007 (Unofficial): Never Say Never Again (1983) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|5||007: Live and Let Die (1973) ⭐⭐⭐⭐|