Posted by: dougery | August 4, 2011

Better Late Than Never: A View to a Kill (1985)

As bad as some of the preceding ‘chapters’ in the Bond series have been, they have nothing on A View to a Kill (1985). “But Doug, how bad was it?,” asks anonymous reader. I’m glad you asked.

A View to a Kill is so bad it took me three nights to complete my viewing of a 2 hour movie. I just couldn’t invest myself in a plot that revolved around silicon microchips, horse-racing and geology. Maybe my attention span for visual media has been reduced after months of finishing most days with a 22 minute episode of Futurama or South Park. Maybe, but I doubt it.

A View to a Kill is so bad because of Roger Moore. This is Moore’s 7th and final outing surpassing Connery’s 6. The number is obviously fitting but also kind of sad. He spent a dozen years as 007 and in this film the man was 57 years old. Moore has been hit or miss as the secret agent with a license to kill. I really enjoyed his debut Live and Let Die and the hilariously named Octopussy. Man with a Golden Gun is very memorable in its own way, largely because of non-Moore reasons. But the rest have been pretty dire. A View to a Kill is Moore’s death spiral. His heart just isn’t in it any longer. Like U.S. presidents, there should be a term limit on an actor for playing James Bond. 8 years or 4 films, whichever comes first.

A View to a Kill is so bad it took me a week and a half after seeing it to muster up the courage to write about it. Maybe courage is the wrong word. I was just thoroughly unexcited to reenter its world. But I received the Living Daylights in mail yesterday and the show must go on.

A View to a Kill is so bad because its featured vehicle/gadget is a zeppelin. A blimp, an effing blimp, people.

A View to a Kill is so bad because of bond girl Tanya Roberts as Stacey Sutton. Perhaps this is simply a personal opinion, but I think bond girls need to have a bit of Kickassedness to them. Roberts character is smart and capable, she is stubborn and tenacious but also much too kittenish and all of these traits don’t add up to her being dangerous or self-sufficient. She still needs to be saved, this time out of the cliche-iest cliche that ever cliched, the stranded, burning elevator just ready to drop. Grace Jones’s May Day far outstrips Roberts performance, but then again the former might have pushed the danger a bit too far toward glowering crazy person. Mix the two together and you might have a genuinely complex love interest.

A View to a Kill is so bad because the most memorable thing about it is the hideously overproduced theme song by Duran Duran.

A View to a Kill is so bad because it trades in exotic locales for instantly recognizable landmarks. The Eiffel Tower and the Golden Gate bridge, while effective settings in their own right, are a visual tell that the series cares less about setting and more about spectacle.

A View to a Kill is so bad because, and understand how much it pains me to say this, Christopher Walken. For me, Walken will float forever through the air, dancing off the hotel walls in music video for Fatboy Slim’s “Weapon of Choice.” (Which, incidentally would have made a much better theme song for a Bond film than most of the songs that have been produced for the part). He gets a lifetime pass for his idiosyncrasies. His bit parts on SNL. Deer Hunter aside (where he and De Niro were essential components of an essential feature), maybe Walken was just designed to turn quirky little one-offs into something much more special. Either way, his over-the-top psychotic Bond villain Max Zorin uses a machine gun to mow down his own workers for what felt like 40 hours. Laughing maniacally as an underground cavern filled with water and men drowned, Walken/Zorin was somehow… boring. A shadow of Christopher Lee’s brilliant Francisco Scaramanga.

A View to a Kill is so bad because it is one of those movies where its own title is used as a melodramatically delivered bit of dialogue.  From imdb:

[Hovering over Silicon Valley in their airship]
May Day: Wow! What a view!
Max Zorin: To a KILL!

Bond Grade (out of 007) 001

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