A View To A Kill (1985)

DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
edited July 2012 in Reviews Posts: 19,724
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  • Posts: 4,731
    I have always been vastly disappointed by the hate and slander that Bond's 1985 adventure receives. It currently resides at number three in my rankings, and for great reasons too. Back when I first started collecting the Bond movies on DVD and/or VHS tapes, AVTAK was the first that I bought on DVD, and remained my only purchased Bond movie along with GoldenEye on VHS for a period of about five months. During that time, I watched both of these great movies often. AVTAK had me captivated right from the pre-title sequence where Roger Moore engages in a high-stakes ski chase in Siberia against the Russians. As the movie went on, I was treated to a murder at the Eiffel Tower and the ensuing chase for May Day, detective work at Max Zorin's horse stables, the murder of a KGB agent at Zorin's oil pumping station, a fiery encounter at San Francisco City Hall and the ensuing fire truck escape, a flooded mine, and a hair-raising climax on the Golden Gate Bridge. It was purely unbelieveable! Everything was working- Roger Moore as 007, Christopher Walken as "Nightfire's" Max Zorin, stunning action scenes, a rockin' soundtrack by John Barry, and heart-pounding scenes like Zorin's betrayal in the mine and the fight on the Golden Gate Bridge. From this point forward, I was 100% hooked on the world of Bond.
  • edited December 2016 Posts: 264
    A View to a Kill

    Moore's old age (57) didn't bother me too much since he was in good physical shape and full of wit, but casting a love interest amplified the disconnect. Moore's fatherly gentlemanly demeanor in AVTAK definitely made everything feel warm, and Christopher Walken's megalomaniac billionaire Max Zorin, in contrast, was a great performance. Though the story unfortunately follows the Goldfinger formula yet again, flooding Silicon Valley was an interesting plan.

    I liked the self-parodying satire such as the skiing intro, but the first hour was paced quite slowly. Horse racing was only a minor subplot, not a very interesting one, and the film spent a lot of time on that. It would not have been hard to cut 20-30 minutes of content from this ilm. But the movie did have some pretty great moments as it picked up. The golden gate bridge fight stands one of the best action scenes in any Bond movie, but many of the scenes in the film were hit or miss.

    I'm a big fan of Moore, but a 7th entry of predictable story, silly gags, outlandish plots, cliched innuendos and over-sexualized women had to come to an end. Change was needed. With the first half of the film having classic spy elements and the second half having the action and violence we'd see in later movies, this entry shows the series in a crossroads. A View to A Kill was the end of an era.

    Theme Song: (Duran Duran) Totally full of life, representing the excess of the 80's. Definitely in the top 10 Bond themes.
    Bond Girl: Stacey Sutton was 39 years younger than Moore. Despite being a geologist, she ends up being a useless airhead anyway.
    Villains: Max Zorin, as stated earlier, was great! Also, May Day was an interesting unique character.
    One-Liners: Didn't really have any memorable lines.

    Overall Rating: 5/10 (Mediocre)
  • royale65royale65 Caustic misanthrope reporting for duty.
    Posts: 4,372
    A View To A Kill

    The customary brinkmanship between Cubby Broccoli and Roger Moore concluded sooner than usual. After his success in vanquishing Sean Connery in the “Battle of the Bonds”, Moore knew that he had the winning hand. While, conversely, Broccoli knew that it would be churlish to proceed without a bankable star.

    Yet for all concerned, the general consensus suggested that this would be Moore's last assignment as 007.

    In 1960, Ian Fleming published From A View To A Kill, as part of the For Your Eyes Only anthology, truncated to A View To A Kill for the 14th Bond picture. In Fleming's original story, Bond is called to investigate the murder of a dispatch rider, near Paris. Only the Paris location was lifted for the film, as there was precious little to take from the story. With only the title and location taken from Fleming, the filmmakers decided instead to give Moore a spectacular swansong.

    The scribes, the venerable Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson, now promoted to co-producer alongside Cubby, originally devised the grand and fanciful plot to have Halley's Comet veer off course and smash into Silicon Valley. That fantastic plot recalls films such as The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker and their heightened reality scenarios.

    The world seemed particularly violent in the mid-80's; terrorist actions, CIA backed revolutions and upheaval in the Soviet Union were most unpalatable; hence why the filmmakers chose to retreat from the headlines and instead go back to the simple, breezy episodes that typified the 70's Bond movies.

    This slight readjustment to the series caused the filmmakers to shy away from the Cold War plots that provided the backdrop to the last two films, For Your Eyes Only and Octopussy. Perhaps the filmmakers also wanted to disassociate 007 from the bungled CIA schemes.

    Therefore, the creative team determined it was high time to focus on humour and spectacle. The filmmakers had successfully anticipated the prevailing Zeitgeist for almost a quarter of a century, but this time they got it ever so slightly wrong.

    A new breed of action hero was emerging, with names like Stallone, Murphy, Schwarzenegger, and later Willis and Gibson. These films were big on death tolls and explosions, balanced out with one liners and quips, the very trend that Dr. No had established back in 1962. If the world wasn't getting more violent, then the cinematic world certainly was. Art imitating life.

    And against this new wave of action hero was a geriatric Bond – Moore would be 57 when production began on A View To A Kill – in a film that hearkened back to the 70's. In comparison, the Bonds seemed jaded.

    Perhaps the audience in the mid 80's were oversaturated with Bond films. Two movies had come out within 6 months of each other in 1983. In both of these pictures, one had fifty-something-year-old actors, reliving their prime. The Bonds were in danger of becoming passé, just something one’s father enjoyed.

    Indubitably, the filmmakers were aware of this and included extreme sports, such as base jumping and snowboarding, still in their infancy, to pep things up a little.

    John Taylor, bassist of Duran Duran and the biggest band at that time, approached Cubby offering to do the theme song. With all these elements in place, the filmmakers were sure they could appeal to the younger audience.

    A View To A Kill is a peculiar and schizophrenic type of picture. For example, the film features a youthful and dynamic villainous pairing of Christopher Walken's Max Zorin and Grace Jones as his henchwoman, May Day, versus the aged forces of MI6. During the Ascot scene, which features Bond, M, Q, and Moneypenny and Sir Godfrey Tibbett, the age difference is quite marked and quite embarrassing.

    Other examples are the forward thinking plot being regressed by the spectacle of the Bond films of the 70's. Also, one has clever and imaginative action scenes like the steeplechase and the fire at San Francisco's City Hall, opposed by humour laden chase scenes, such as the nighttime fire truck escape and the Parisian taxi chase, all played for laughs.

    There is some strong female characterization, embodied by Grace Jones' flamboyant and memorable May Day, and yet squandered by Tanya Roberts as the main Bond Girl, Stacey Sutton.

    The character of Stacey is well written - an oil heiress, Stacey is embroiled in legal wrangles with Max Zorin, who is trying to buy Stacey's oil share. Despite Zorin's repeated overtures, Stacey is holding firm and has got a job working as a state geologist at City Hall. She allies herself with Bond after Zorin sends his goons after her. A worthy character, in the vein of Melina Havelock and Octopussy.

    Unfortunately, Roberts is no more than a pretty airhead. Alas, she has little chemistry with Moore, who would have been better served with a more age comparable actress, such as Maud Adam's Octopussy.

    Further instances of the dichotomous nature of A View To A Kill are Roger Moore's easygoing charm contrasting with the cut-throat nature of 80's business ethos, represented by Walken's Zorin; and there is also an increased level of violence to the film (much to Moore's chagrin), mirroring current cinematic trends. Yet this is up against overt humour and sight gags, reminiscent of the 70's Bond pictures.

    With all these conflicting elements, one would imagine the director, John Glen, would deliver a film full of colour and not - as is the case - the weakest of the Bond movies of the 80's.

    In order to have the required spectacle of a 70's style Bond film, the plotting takes a back seat. The writing was the foundation for the rejuvenated Bond pictures of the 80's. Without a strong story, Glen's directorial style is slightly lacking.

    By this time one had an established crew working on the Bonds, from Glen as director, to Alan Hume as his Director of Photography – the third Bond film that they had collaborated on – to Peter Lamont as Production Designer. One even had Bob Simmons, the legendary stunt arranger, as a horse wrangler. Perhaps familiarity does breed, not contempt, but a slight complacency; not pushing the boundaries to see what the undoubted talents of the crew were capable of.

    Or maybe the reason behind A View To A Kill's rather pedestrian style is the continued meddling from MGM, the studio behind the Bond films, which stymied up the creative team. After United Artists experienced financial difficulty in the early 1980's, MGM purchased U.A, despite MGM not being in very good financial shape itself. Whereas U.A. let EON's production team get on with making the Bond movies, MGM interfered. With such a small pool of films for MGM – the only guaranteed money maker was the Rocky franchise - it was vital that A View To A Kill made money.

    Notwithstanding A View To A Kill's slight malaise, there is still an awful lot to enjoy in the film, as there is with every Bond movie.

    The final act in particular is terrific, from the mine under the San Andreas lake – surely one of Lamont's most technically impressive sets – right through to the thrilling climax on top of the Golden Gate Bridge.

    All of which compensates for the earlier phase of the movie, while in France, the picture spends an inordinate amount of time investigating Zorin's dubious race horse activities, instead of the main thrust of the plot, which is concerning the Russians having a pipeline into Zorin's microchip facility.

    The locations are also interesting. One would expect a Bond movie to be filled with exotic beaches or snowcapped mountains, and not the cities of Paris and San Francisco. Naturally, being a Bond film, the filmmakers have May Day base jumping from the Eiffel Tower and Zorin setting fire to San Francisco's City Hall – not the usual touristy things to do.

    The urban locations seem to be recalling the trio of the Guy Hamilton directed pictures of the early 70's. Indeed the two aforementioned comedic chase scenes could have been transplanted from the Hamilton films. Regardless, one has to admire the stunt/effects teams for their ingenuity throughout the entire movie - lead by the sterling talents of B.J. Worth, Remy Julienne, John Richardson and Martin Grace.

    Other strengths are John Barry's marvellous, atmospheric and foreboding score, sans the inexplicable inclusion of the Beach Boy's “California Girls” in the PTS. “Snow Job”, played also in the PTS, is a perfect example of Barry's evolving sound, with electric guitars overlaid with the portentous orchestration, yet it still contained the inimitable DNA of the Bondian sound. “May Day Jumpers” begins with a threatening motif, as befitting Jones' character, then veers off into the classic “James Bond Theme”, arranged by Barry for Moore's take on 007.

    Barry implemented Duran Duran's theme song superbly, be it as an exhilarating action cue or as a moving romantic piece. This romantic reworking of the theme song is poignant and touching. A beautiful, goosebump inducing treat from Mr. Barry. It is even used as a heroic key, whereby Barry uses the piece of the song usually related to the lyric “dance into the fire”, when Bond rescues Stacey from the burning City Hall.

    The greatest strength to A View To A Kill, however, is Christopher Walken's portrayal of Max Zorin, whose oddball persona is thoroughly suited to the sadistically gleeful character of Zorin.

    Zorin was born out of the horrific experiments conducted by Dr. Carl Mortner, who gave steroid injections to pregnant women in Nazi concentration camps. Although most women aborted, a few went on to have babies, with extremely high I.Q's, but with a side effect of being psychotic.

    As the movie goes on, Zorin becomes more and more unhinged; his psychosis laid bare, happily slaying dozens of his mine workers, or abandoning his girlfriend cum partner in crime, May Day. Zorin's only attachment is to his father figure, Mortner.

    Zorin is both humorous and scary and is a great antagonist for Bond, even more so when Zorin bests Bond. There is a real needle between the pair, which is most unusual for Moore's Bond, who normally interacts with his villains in a more gentlemanly, tête-à-tête way.

    Despite poor actors littering A View To A Kill in the tertiary roles – the Parisian taxi driver is the most obvious and excruciating – there are two wonderful actors in the guise of Patrick Macnee and Fiona Fullerton, as the horse trainer, Sir Godfrey Tibbett and the Soviet agent, Pola Ivanova, respectively.

    Macnee and Moore share a genuine camaraderie together and it is a great delight to watch Bond tease Tibbett mercilessly as they go undercover at Zorin's magnificent stables. Indeed, Macnee plays Tibbett with such wit and genteel charm, one feels his loss, as the film’s obligatory sacrificial lamb.

    Fullerton's Ivanova is mischievous and sexy, in a break from her usual roles, and would have made for a more suitable lead Bond girl than Roberts.

    On a sad note, this is the final assignment for Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny. With 14 movies to her credit, Maxwell was an institution as Moneypenny, serving under three Bonds - Sean Connery, George Lazenby and Roger Moore - creating the flirtatious banter with 007, that became a staple for the series. On her last picture Maxwell goes out in style, as she and the rest of the MI6 brigade don their fanciest outfits for the trip to Ascot.

    Things did not get of to the most auspicious of starts, however, when the 007 Stage at Pinewood burnt down in June of 1984. Cubby ordered the stage rebuilt and it was officially completed on January 7, 1985.

    Arthur Wooster's second unit began shooting in July '84, and the first unit shortly after that. To say thank you for the extraordinary co-operation that San Francisco had given to filming A View To A Kill, Cubby had the première in the city on May 22, 1985.

    Although A View To A Kill was successful, it did represent a drop in overall receipts, totalling $152 million. That was $30 million less compared to Octopussy's results in North America, but was only slightly less than For Your Eyes Only, at $55 million, to A View To A Kill's $50 million. Still, for a production budget of $30 million, as were For Your Eyes Only and Octopussy, A View To A Kill made quite a sizeable profit.

    A View To A Kill was the last Bond for Roger Moore. It is an unsatisfactory way to bid farewell to the man who was crucial to keeping the series afloat.

    Granted, Moore should have hung up his shoulder holster with Octopussy, a much more fitting way to end Moore's tenure. Moore looked good for his age, but that age is a mite too old to be playing 007. Moore's age is engaging in one sense, as one fears for him. Not the reaction that the filmmakers were going for, but an interesting observation to make, nonetheless.

    Regardless, Moore's performance in A View To A Kill is top notch, being suave and charming as ever, mixed in with a little steely determination. As with John Glen's other efforts, the character of Bond is well defined, giving Moore's Bond something to do other than visiting exotic locations and quipping.

    For example, at Zorin's party at his French stables, Moore has a fine time posing as an eccentric Englishman, in almost a pastiche of the roles Moore stereotypically played.

    There are instances of espionage and detective work scattered throughout the picture, and Bond shows his resourcefulness, when, underwater, he breathes air from a tyre of a submerged Rolls Royce, which was carrying the unconscious Bond and the dead Tibbett.

    Since Glen began directing Moore, his interactions with the main heavy of the piece, has gotten colder. This is especially true of Zorin, with an undercurrent of hostility between the two men.

    Two prime examples of this are when Zorin orders Tibbett to be killed, and when Zorin murders a City Hall employee right in front of Bond and Stacey, framing Bond in the process. Bond's “It's not mutual” and “Speechless with admiration”, respectively, are practically spat out with Bond's contempt for Zorin.

    Bond is his usual provoking self at Zorin's party, and one sees a more paternal figure as he takes care of Stacey. It is a shame that the filmmakers decided to discard this rather novel approach to Bond and Stacey's relationship, in order to have them be romantic at the end of the movie.

    Throughout his seven Bond pictures, Roger Moore provided a steady hand, when the films were at their most inconsistent. Moore was essential in ensuring the Bond series had long term success; and indeed Live and Let Die, The Spy Who Loved Me, and Moonraker are amongst the three highest grossing Bond films to date.

    The public perception of spies had changed, certain styles had been and gone, but against it all was Roger Moore's Bond - seemingly impervious to cinematic trends, a vital touchstone to this ever changing world in which we live.

    Through Moore's sense of self assurance, his lightness of touch, and haughty indifference, he established his own unique take on the character of 007, with his advancing years being offset wonderfully by his laconic humour. As Moore's original screenwriter, Tom Mankiewicz said, “Moore was the old Etonian dropout that Ian Fleming had envisaged”. Nobody does it better.

  • BirdlesonBirdleson San Jose, CAModerator
    Posts: 30,994
    Nice job @royale65 .
  • Major_BoothroydMajor_Boothroyd Republic of Isthmus
    Posts: 2,691
    A View To A Kill

    It was tough going. This was always one I had a little soft spot for because it was released just prior to me really getting in to Bond. But this film's pace is tired. Many other Bond films have a really good third or solid half but AVTAK doesn't.

    May Day and Zorin are pure evil - even more than most Bond villains because they take first-hand delight in killing and I do like how Walken plays Zorin. It's interesting to see him disregard Bond in so many ways - like he doesn't really rate him. It's not the usual banter - Zorin seems like he doesn't really have time for Bond or see him as a serious threat particularly. Much of the film ignores Bond and this more than any of his films feels like Moore playing Moore rather than 007. Especially his banter with MacNee when he's making disparaging remarks or his fatherly comforting of Stacey. That seems like Moore rather than Bond.

    The film is brutal in a way that is only really matched by LTK. But Bond seems to have accepted the world he's entered in to in LTK and he's ready to fight fire with fire whereas Bond in AVTAK appears more disgusted by what he seems, unready for what will happen and unsure how to handle it. 'Bungling around in the dark' Zorin says to him - and he's right.

    The film's climax works quite well - it certainly is a better final fight than TLD or FYEO (although the actual rock climbing aspect of FYEO has it beat.) And it is fairly iconic in the series and a great chuckling send off for Zorin - amused even by his own death - as much as all the people he killed.

    The soundtrack is very good - and does so much heavy lifting in many of these scenes - but I actually prefer listening to this soundtrack on its own rather than tied to the movie. And when I listen to the soundtrack it doesn't conjure up images of the movie - the way YOLT or even DAF do - I just think more of a Bond montage in general. and if they were going celebratory then I wish they'd used the '007 Theme' for the part where he snowboards across the lake rather than California Girls.

    The revelation is good in the sense that until the mine scene we don't know the full extent of Zorin's plans. But I'd say aside from the Paris sequence and the final bridge fight this film just plods along with May Day offing people creepily and not much else to drive the pace.

    With the Duran Duran song, the marketing campaign with Grace Jones front & centre and the computer game for the ZX Spectrum 48k and Commodore 64 - this will always remind me of a beloved and specific time in my life. But taken in isolation AVTAK is easily among the weakest of the series and entertainment wise it could easily slide below DAD.

  • Daniel316Daniel316 United States
    Posts: 210
    That was A View To A Kill. Final Thoughts? Pretty good


    To start out with positives I Loved the cast of characters as a whole and found them all to be rather good. Mayday was a pretty good henchwomen/Bond girl imo, her strength was a unique twist on a bond girl and her and Zorin just kill it whenever on screen together. I quite enjoyed the action scenes and stunts here such as the fight with Bond and Zorin, the mine massacre and the PTS. the setting was imo atmospheric and engaging for the most part. John Barry's musical score here is just amazing and one of his very best Bond scores. I also generally like the overall feel of this movie, it feels like a celebration and the true end of the Moore era and they fired off all cylinders with this entry and I very much appreciate this.

    We of course have Roger Moore as Bond, Moore always delivers for me and this movie was no exception in him delivering a solid performance. But of course I have to lastly mention the legendary Christopher Walken as Max Zorin, what an amazing performance he gave, the character was such an evil psychotic genius, had great lines, a great personality and frankly he had me wondering what Zorin would do next, Zorin definitely steals the show here.


    Now as for the negatives, the character of Stacy Sutton while not bad is sometimes annoying especially when she constantly screams James like a banshee. the cinematography here if I'll be honest isn't to great and sometimes looks like a made for tv movie, this is by no means a deal breaker but isn't great. I mentioned that Moore did good here but I'll be honest his constant stunt double usage and his mostly not to good physical appearance look weren't very appealing. Last but not least There are also some rather slow moments that do ruin the rather alright pacing but it's not Thunderball levels of bad.


    Overall I quite enjoyed this film and find it to be massively overhated, it's nowhere near the worst bond film and I think it deserves to be looked at more fairly. My final rating is an 8.5 out of 10
  • LocqueLocque Escaped from a Namur prison
    Posts: 259
    Fifty-seven was Roger Moore in his last outing as James Bond and looking every bit his age. When he's called upon by the script to flirt with women half his age, he just comes across as a sad, dirty old man. It also becomes very apparent that, while he usually moves stiff as a board, he miraculously turns spry and nimble whenever he performs a stunt in a wide shot.
    Old, tired, and running on autopilot, and that's not just Roger Moore: the plot is a routine retread of Goldfinger, but with gold bullion replaced by microchips - a futile attempt to appear up-to-date.
    Tanya Roberts plays the kind of Bond girl who even in 1985 must have been an anachronism: a useless damsel-in-distress who keeps needing to be rescued and whose every other line has her screaming for "JAAAMES!!!"
    Even Christopher Walken, a man seemingly born to play a Bond villain, is a letdown, his performance quickly descending into a cackling lunatic.
    There are a few good action sequences, but it's not enough to save this mess.
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