A look back during this 30th anniversary of AVTAK, with a winsome review by Robert Baum
Roger Moore renews his license to kill in his seventh and last–it is about time he did so–mission for British Intelligence. A View to a Kill is the latest cinematic adventure of Ian Fleming’s agent 007, better known as Bond, James Bond. Moore certainly has no need to consider a return to the role as he is simply too old to be believable engaging in antics so outrageous here they virtually dwarf the hyperbolic opus Moonraker (1979). However, Moore’s fourth outing was far more fun than this disappointment directed by John Glen.
Bond goes up against a mysterious tycoon named Max Zorin (Christopher Walken, the first time an Oscar winner has played a Bond adversary), an equine enthusiast who plans to monopolize the microchip market. Does anyone think this sounds a bit familiar? It is a virtual repackaging of Goldfinger if you ask just about any Bond aficionado. Zorin’s mistress is an Amazon named May Day (the very flamboyant pop music diva Grace Jones).
Of course, Bond finds a lady in the form of a pretty bland–sorry, blonde–geologist named Stacy Sutton (Tanya Roberts, formerly the last member of “Charlie’s Angels”). Sutton has had a long feud with Zorin and has refused the megalomaniac’s multimillion-dollar offer to shut her mouth. However, she does fall for the charm of a certain British agent. It is not John Steed, though that might not be bad guess as Patrick Macnee of “The Avengers” plays one of Bond’s allies who meets a premature demise. Macnee is amusing for his brief time onscreen. He joins fellow “Avengers” alumni Diana Rigg (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service) and Honor Blackman (Goldfinger) who have appeared in Bond films.
With regard to Bond’s female co-star, Roberts is nice to look at but she is not a great beauty nor does she make for a believable geologist. She is rather dull and all she seems to do is wait for Bond to come to her rescue, And this Bond looks like could do with some rescuing himself as it obviously takes a bit longer for Moore to escape peril this time. No doubt the producers were enchanted by the sight of Roberts clad in but an animal pelt in last summer’s Sheena: Queen of the Jungle, which apparently reused her costume from 1982s The Beastmaster.
As Zorin’s mistress and assassin, Jones is too outrageous and seems to be doing little more than a reprise of her role as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s she-warrior ally in last summer’s Conan the Destroyer. While certainly not lacking in presence, Jones is a bit masculine–even more so than Moore frighteningly. Jones is so aggressive she makes Lucianna Paluzzi in Thunderball (1965) look like a schoolgirl.
As for Bond’s adversary, Walken’s portrayal is underplayed at times and appears campy in others. Walken is a good actor but he is so often upstaged by Moore which isn’t exactly a chore for the Englishman. On the plus side, Walken does make for an adequate adversary.
The casting of Walken, Jones, and Roberts is a stunt that crashes and burns (though not like the villain’s airship) but not so impressive as the par for the course action sequences devised by stuntmeisters Remy Julienne, Martin Grace, and the death-defying daredevils.
British synth pop quintet Duran Duran’s title tune is rather silly. No doubt producer Albert Broccoli and first-time producer, co-writer (and stepson) Michael Wilson, were hoping to have a song to reach out to the younger folk. As the likes of Shirley Bassey, Matt Munro, and Nancy Sinatra would be the sort of artists most adolescents would regard as too fuddy-duddy for them to take seriously. However, it is the cheesiest song since Lulu’s title tune for Moore’s second mission The Man with The Golden Gun (1974). The title sequence is a bit tired, like the film’s leading man, and Maurice Binder’s work here almost would be more fit to serve as a music video for elevator music
While the long-running franchise–though Bond looks winded here–might possess some of the most amazing stunts, spectacular locales, and gorgeous women, one would probably never know it in seeing this film. A View to a Kill lacks the magic and fun found in just about any previous Bond film; even the disappointing The Man with the Golden Gun and the out-of-this-world excessive extravaganza Moonraker.