Friday 14 April 2017

Movie Review: A View To A Kill (1985)

The fourteenth James Bond spy adventure and the seventh to feature Roger Moore, A View To Kill is a strong contender for the worst Bond movie of all time.

After recovering a microchip from a dead British agent in Siberia and escaping his Soviet pursuers, James Bond (Roger Moore) is asked to investigate the activities of industrialist Max Zorin (Christopher Walken). Working with Sir Godfrey Tibbett (Patrick Macnee) Bond uncovers a plot to illegally juice racing horses by implanting adrenaline-releasing devices in their legs.

Bond tangles with Zorin's assassin May Day (Grace Jones) and stumbles onto the mysterious Stacey Sutton (Tanya Roberts) accepting a cheque for $5 million from Zorin. Much worse is to come: Zorin, who is revealed to be a KGB-created psychopath, has intentions to corner the global microchip market by triggering a massive earthquake along the San Andreas fault to destroy Silicon Valley. Bond and Sutton team up to try and stop a series of underground explosions designed to kill thousands.

By far the best thing about the film is the Duran Duran tile song. Directed by John Glen, A View To A Kill is a slipshod, lethargic effort.  At 57 years old Moore is now decades beyond being convincing as a dashing spy involved in high-stakes physically-demanding battles, so the stuntmen again take centre stage. Moore is reduced to ludicrous close-ups, where he generally winces his way through trouble.

Much worse are the romantic interludes, now bordering on disgusting. Bond couples with British agent Kimberley Jones (actress Mary Stavin, 28 years old), KGB Agent Pola Ivanova (actress Fiona Fullerton, 29 years old), and Grace Jones as May Day (37 years old). The main girl and love interest is the unfortunately talentless Tanya Roberts (30 years old). The average discrepancy in age between Bond and his four sexual conquests is 26 years; Bond was comfortably old enough to be the father of all these women.

The plot may have partially saved the film, but by now the reservoir of ideas has run bone dry. About half the film is consumed with a story about microchips embedded in race horses; this turns out to be next to irrelevant. Zorin's plan to destroy Silicon valley is provided about one minute of exposition before the action moves to a nondescript mining site where explosives are being packed. Of course, there is a digital ticking clock.

The set piece locations include the Eiffel Tower and the Golden Gate Bridge, both boring in their familiarity. There is an endless slapstick chase scene on the streets of San Francisco, complete with a stupid sheriff, and a break-in at city hall says a lot about the lack of imagination: Bond reduced to rifling through dusty cabinets in the hell of municipal bureaucracy.

Roberts is saddled with perhaps the worst-written Bond girl role in the series. She is relegated to repeatedly hanging off edges and shrieking "JAMES!" for help, in a display of brain-dead scripting meeting the actress-as-decoration.

But the nadir is reached when a main character grabs a machine gun and mercilessly mows down hundreds of extras. A once-proud series based on wit, smarts, charm, exotic locations and genuine sexual magnetism - in short, the best of everything in the imaginary spy world - is reduced to an emotionless, featureless, perfunctory and derivative slaughterhouse.

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.

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