Of all the modern formulas in the movie industry, the James Bond series is among the most pleasurable and durable. Lavish with their budgets, the producers also bring a great deal of craft, wit and a sense of fun to the films. Agent 007 is like an old friend whom an audience meets for drinks every two years or so; he regales them with tall tales, winking all the time. The 15th and newest Bond epic, A View to a Kill, is an especially satisfying encounter.
As Bond, Roger Moore takes on a brilliant but psychotic Russian named Zorin (Christopher Walken) and his lethal assistant, May Day, played by the astonishingly muscular and sleek Grace Jones. The villain`s plan, as in most Bond films, is nothing less ambitious than the takeover of the world, which he plans to do by controlling the international microchip market. Because 80 percent of the world`s microchip production comes from California`s silicon valley, Zorin simply has to close up the San Andreas fault with an explosion and bury the valley under a massive flood. Opening with a breathtaking ski chase in Siberia.
A View to a Kill is the fastest Bond picture yet. Its pace has the precision of a Swiss watch and the momentum of a greyhound on the track. There is a spectacular chase up and down the Eiffel Tower and through Paris streets, which Bond finishes in a severed car on just two wheels. But none of the action prepares the viewer for the heart-stopping climax with Zorin`s dirigible tangled in the cables on top of San Francisco`s Golden Gate Bridge. For all its similarities to earlier episode – deadly villains and gorgeous women – A View to a Kill is a little different.
It is less gadget-ridden, and Bond relies more on old-fashioned know-how: trapped underwater in a car, he escapes and breathes through the tire valve while waiting for his would-be assassins to leave. The world`s technological advances have caught up with Bond, but they never render him obsolete. The Bond movies operate on a level much deeper than their dazzling surfaces: they represent assurance in a world laden with global anxiety. And not only does goodness win out, it does so with style and humour. The movies are fantasies of idealism in which even the hero`s sins are turned into delicious double entendres. “Did you sleep well?” asks Zorin. “A little restlessly,” replies Bond after a night in May Day`s arms. “But I finally got off.”
Their comic-book characters, the good ones that is, are especially alluring – dashing, talented and impervious to danger. Most of all, Bond is a gentleman – a chivalrous knight who has time-travelled. When he saves the “good girl” of A View to a Kill and holds her in his arms on top of the Golden Gate, it is a sublime romantic gesture. It is true that Roger Moore is showing his age (57) in the role, but there are plenty of tunes left in his violin. James Bond is still a virtuoso, with a licence to thrill. -LAWRENCE O`TOOLE