Grace Jones goes from Nightclubbing to mine flooding in Roger Moore’s final Bond film, the story of a Silicon Valley industrialist (Christopher Walken) in bed with the Russians. Some things never change.
The nonsensically titled A View to a Kill starts strongly with a stunt-heavy ski chase and top-tier theme song (even if Duran Duran rob us of the chance to hear what a Grace Jones Bond theme could have been), before settling into a leisurely jaunt round a horse-racing estate; as high-octane as it gets for a 007 pushing 60. Bond proves about as good a spy as Rory Gilmore is a journalist, relying on conveniently timed exposition and blowing his own cover at every opportunity. If it wasn’t for the incompetence of his adversaries James Bond would have never made it past 55.
Max Zorin’s evil plan is lifted directly from Superman (on which director John Glen had worked), plotting to blow up the San Andreas fault, submerging Silicon Valley and making his microchip monopoly the envy of McCain Ltd. Of course every Bond villain makes one tiny yet fatal mistake, and Zorin’s is to attempt his speedy getaway in a blimp; a vehicle that takes ages to inflate and can be stopped by tugging on a limp rope, which is really playing into the 58-year-old agent’s hands.
Despite some inventive set pieces and impressive locations (including a hilarious Paris car chase involving half a taxi), A View to a Kill is marked by apathy in front of the camera. Moore and Walken both look like they would rather be golfing, and of the movie’s 3 identical blonde women, the worst actor (Tanya Roberts) is the main Bond girl; Midge from That ’70s Show pretending to be the “state geologist”. Jones is easily the best part of the film, but she is underused and (spoiler alert) sacrifices herself for the old white man whose job it is to die for Queen and Country.
Instead Bond constantly leaves the state geologist perched in precarious situations (“Stay there!”) while she screams “James!” for much of the 2-hour runtime. Moore’s swansong is bloated but made entertaining by ridiculous one-liners (“The bubbles tickle my… Tchaikovsky!”), murders that wouldn’t be out of place in a Final Destination movie (deadly underwater fan, car wash kill) and a French character called Mr. Aubergine.
This silly instalment proved the final straw for Bond fans who by 1985 had endured their hero going to the Moon, infiltrating a sexy octopus cult and fucking on the phone to Margaret Thatcher. With Moore out to pasture, the franchise took on a more serious tone under Timothy Dalton. That is not to say A View to a Kill is as bad as Die Another Day, the entry that precipitated the shift into Craig-era sincerity. It has enough ’80s action to avoid completely sinking like a lead balloon, but the idea of Christopher Walken as a Bowie-esque Nazi experiment with Grace Jones as his henchman probably worked better on paper. Before they started writing the script.