In today’s Internet era, where everyone who has an opinion about something has a forum in which to share it, opinions on James Bond are a dime a dozen. But in 1985, we the little people, the regular movie going audience, had little choice but to read and accept the opinion of ego deficient cretins (otherwise known as professional film critics). They were the only game in town, they had a stranglehold on print and television media, and boy did they ever use it to throttle the latest James Bond epic: A VIEW TO A KILL! Condemnation of this film was nearly unanimous.
The most bizarre and out-of-left-field critique of the film came from Bond and Beyond: The Political Career of a Popular Hero , written by Tony Bennett and Janet Woolacott. Here, Ms. Woolacott’s strident feminist tendencies and anti-Bond sympathies come to light with this remark: May Day’s death, to put it bluntly, expresses the pious hope that both the women’s and black liberation movements might take themselves off somewhere into the California desert and blow themselves up.”
David Edelstein of The Village Voice took a less abrasive, but no less critical, view of the film: “After the virtuoso opening of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom-which featured Harrison Ford in a tuxedo, and which out-Bonded Bond-how can audiences accept these artless crack-ups and flaccid fisticuffs? Long, long ago, James Bond films had an edge. They were adventure stories told in elegant shorthand-all sleek, ironic, amoral thrills. When Roger Moore lumbered aboard in 1973, they went from the snazziest thrill machines to the flabbiest; they lost their silkiness, their irony and their zip. They went for cheap yucks suddenly-not just bad puns, but slapstick chases and Smokey and the Bandit stuff with sputtering sheriffs….A VIEW TO A KILL is pure tedium.”
Janet Maslin in The New York Times called the film “entirely forgettable” and “less than dynamic”. Janet even managed to get in a few cutting remarks about Roger Moore’s age: “The effort involved in keeping Roger Moore’s 007 impervious to age, changing times or sheer deja-vu seems overwhelming.”
Jack Kroll of Newsweek, May 27 1985. p. 74, said: In his seventh film as James Bond, Roger Moore seems tired out. A VIEW TO A KILL succumbs to all the cliches and conventions associated with its forerunners but lacks the spirit to compete. Hollywood Bond productions have come to sacrifice urbanity for exotic stunts and fast action. With the exception of an ingenious plot idea and the unconventional beauty Grace Jones as the Amazonian May Day, the film comes off as an insipid foil for a couple of brilliant stunt sequences. ….There are shots in A View to a Kill that make your heart go out to Roger Moore. In his seventh movie as James Bond, Rog is looking less like a chap with a license to kill than a gent with an application to retire. Moore is an extremely engaging fellow and an admirable professional, but when he turns on that famous quizzical smile, his facial muscles look as if they’re lifting weights.”
Jet Magazine, June 24 1985. p. 56-8 chose to focus much of its attention on the interracial aspect of the film: “Grace Jones, described as “bizarre, beautiful, masculine, and feminine,” steals the show in her second film, the latest James Bond feature, A VIEW TO A KILL. A former fashion model and disco artist, Jones plays Christopher Walken`s accomplice, May Day. The two plan to destroy Silicon Valley to gain control of the hightech industry. Bond`s mission is to stop them. May Day is a woman who commits murder and makes love with the same degree of passion. The stunning Jones, who designed many of her own costumes for the film, had the chance to display her skills as a kick boxer, as well as her skills as a seductress. Despite the film industry`s traditional caution in dealing with interracial intimacy, Jones transcends race in her passionate scenes with two white men.”
Ralph Novak of People Weekly, June 17 1985. p. 16 said: “James Bond just isn`t what he used to be. Roger Moore, who portrays 007 once again in this film, is fifty-seven. His face shows a few wrinkles and some of the bounce has vanished from his step. The movie`s script appears about as tired as Moore does. A lackluster opening sequence is borrowed almost wholesale from The Spy Who Loved Me, and the film`s main action scene doesn`t measure up to those from other Bond films. Singer Grace Jones turns in a good performance as a villain, but the movie`s other actors don`t help the film any. Tanya Roberts plays Bond`s love interest with a thick New York accent and struggles with any line over three words long. Christopher Walken is a tad too laid-back in his role as the main villain. Maybe it`s time for producer Albert Broccoli to find a young 007, Jr.”
Time, June 10 1985. p. 83 said: “A VIEW TO A KILL is the fourteenth James Bond film, the seventh starring Roger Moore. Written by Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson and directed by John Glen, the story begins with a familiar ski chase. From there, the plot moves on to pit Bond against villain Christopher Walken who wants to blow up the San Andreas Fault, so Silicon Valley will be swallowed up and he can control the microchip market. Grace Jones plays Bond`s bizarre femme fatale in this stale film.”
Perhaps the most damaging criticism came from none other than Sean Connery himself: “Bond should be played by an actor 35, 33 years old. I’m too old. Roger’s too old, too!”
But audiences had the last laugh. Box office was solid if not spectacular and the grosses were hefty enough that Roger was still a contender for the role when pre-production began on THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS in late 1985. Had he wanted the role, he probably could have held on to it for an inconceivable 8th time, but wisely he chose to resign himself from the running in a letter to Cubby Broccoli in December, 1985.