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A View to a Kill (1985)
The recovery of a microchip off the body of a fellow agent leads James Bond to a mad industrialist who plans to create a worldwide microchip monopoly by destroying California’s Silicon Valley.
A View to a Kill is a 1985 spy film and the fourteenth in the James Bond series produced by Eon Productions, and is the seventh and final appearance of Roger Moore as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. Although the title is adapted from Ian Fleming’s 1960 short story “From a View to a Kill”, the film has an entirely original screenplay. In A View to a Kill, Bond is pitted against Max Zorin (played by Christopher Walken), who plans to destroy California’s Silicon Valley.
The film was produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, who also wrote the screenplay with Richard Maibaum. It was the third James Bond film to be directed by John Glen, and the last to feature Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny.
Despite receiving mixed reviews from critics, who frequently took umbrage with the effects of Moore’s advanced age on his performance, it was a commercial success, with the Duran Duran theme song “A View to a Kill” performing well in the charts, becoming the only Bond theme song to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and earning a Golden Globe nomination for Best Song.
A View to a Kill (1985) Trailer
A View to a Kill (1985) Reviews
This is an exciting scene though somebody conveniently forgot that: A) It would actually take 007 two elevators to get to the bottom floor, by which time the villainess would surely be long gone, and B) Hopping from the top of a structure of such shape would have the paratrooper crashing against the structure sooner than later (it’d be like jumping from one of Egypt’s pyramids and hoping not to hit anything on the way to the ground).
One could assume May Day’s shortcomings derive from her character’s silent approach, but that didn’t stop Oddjob from becoming one of the prime Bond henchmen with the simple uttering of a few “aaaahhhs” in “Goldfinger”(1964), the greatest Bond ever.
If the movie has one fatal flaw, that has to be the casting of its two main leads. Most of Roger Moore’s Bonds have a great deal of entertainment value and there’s no doubt that his success in the role (taking over for the seemingly irreplaceable Connery) is one of the main reasons why the series has lasted until today, but at 57 he looked 2-3 movies too old to keep playing 007. By then, he didn’t much resemble his own likeness from the gun barrel sequence anymore (as taken a decade earlier).
It may be normal to wonder whether the action we are watching on screen is being executed either by the actor or by a stuntman, but when we find ourselves doing it while the character is doing such trivial things as climbing up a flight the stairs, then there’s definitely cause for concern (at least by this point they could dye Moore’s hair and that of his stunt doubles’ in the same color tone, making it harder to tell them apart).
When it came to his very young female costars, it had become somewhat odd to see them in bed together and when the same happened with the ferocious May Day, one had to fear for his well-being. It’s a shame that both Pierce Brosnan (“Die Another Die”) and Moore retired from the role with their very worst efforts, leading many audiences to forget that both had already made more than their share of good Bonds.
I recall that in the very last Outguess Ebert contest, the sole winner named “A View to a Kill” not only as his favorite Bond entry but also among his favorite all-time films. This only serves to prove what Dean Martin once sang about everybody loving somebody sometime.
A View to a Kill (1985) Credits
A View to a Kill (1985) Plot
MI6 agent James Bond is sent to Siberia to locate the body of 003 and recover a Soviet microchip. Q analyzes the microchip, establishing it to be a copy of one designed to withstand an electromagnetic pulse, made by government contractor Zorin Industries.
Bond visits Ascot Racecourse to observe the company’s owner, Max Zorin. Sir Godfrey Tibbett, a racehorse trainer and MI6 agent, believes Zorin’s horses, which win consistently, are drugged, although tests proved negative. Through Tibbett, Bond meets with French private detective Achille Aubergine, who informs Bond that Zorin is holding a horse sale later in the month. During their dinner at the Eiffel Tower, Aubergine is assassinated by Zorin’s bodyguard May Day, who subsequently escapes.
Bond and Tibbett travel to Zorin’s estate for the horse sale. Bond is puzzled by a woman who rebuffs him; he discovers Zorin has written her a cheque for $5 million. That night, Bond and Tibbett infiltrate Zorin’s laboratory, where he is implanting adrenaline-releasing devices in his horses. Zorin identifies Bond as an agent, has May Day assassinate Tibbett, and attempts to have Bond killed.
General Gogol of the KGB confronts Zorin for trying to kill Bond without permission, revealing that Zorin was initially trained and financed by the KGB, but has now gone rogue. Later, Zorin unveils to a group of investors his plan to destroy Silicon Valley, which will give him and the potential investors a monopoly over microchip manufacture.
Bond travels to San Francisco and meets with CIA agent Chuck Lee, who says Zorin is the product of medical experimentation with steroids performed by Dr. Carl Mortner, a Nazi scientist who is now Zorin’s veterinarian and racehorse-breeding consultant. Bond then investigates a nearby oil rig owned by Zorin, and while there finds KGB agent Pola Ivanova recording conversations and her partner placing explosives on the rig. Ivanova’s partner Klottoff is caught and killed, but Ivanova and Bond escape. Later Ivanova takes the recording, but finds that Bond had switched tapes.
Bond tracks down State Geologist Stacey Sutton, the woman Zorin attempted to pay off, and discovers that Zorin is trying to buy her family oil business. The two travel to San Francisco City Hall to check Zorin’s submitted plans. Having been alerted to their presence, Zorin kills the Chief Geologist, and sets fire to the building to frame Bond for the murder and kill him. Bond and Stacey flee from the police in a fire engine.
Infiltrating Zorin’s mine, Bond and Stacey discover his plot to detonate explosives beneath the lakes along the Hayward and San Andreas faults, which will cause them to flood and submerge Silicon Valley. A larger bomb is also in the mine to destroy a “geological lock” that prevents the two faults from moving simultaneously. Once in place, Zorin and his security chief Scarpine flood the mine and kill the workers.
Stacey escapes while Bond fights May Day; after realising Zorin abandoned her, she helps Bond remove the larger bomb, putting the device onto a handcar and riding it out of the mine, where it explodes and kills her.
Escaping in his airship with Scarpine and Mortner, Zorin abducts Stacey while Bond grabs hold of the airship’s mooring rope. Zorin tries to knock him off, but Bond moors the airship to the framework of the Golden Gate Bridge. Stacey attacks Zorin to save Bond, and in the fracas, Mortner and Scarpine are temporarily knocked out. Stacey flees and joins Bond out on the bridge, but Zorin follows them out with an ax. The ensuing fight between Zorin and Bond culminates with Zorin falling to his death.
Mortner attempts to kill Bond with dynamite, but Bond cuts the airship free, causing Mortner to drop the dynamite in the cabin, blowing up the airship and killing himself and Scarpine. Later, General Gogol awards Bond the Order of Lenin for foiling Zorin’s scheme.
A View to a Kill (1985) Box office
A View to a Kill (1985) Critical Response
This was the first Bond film with a premiere outside the UK, opening on 22 May 1985 at San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts. The British premiere was held on 12 June 1985 at the Odeon Leicester Square cinema in London. It achieved a box office gross of US$152.4 million worldwide. In the United Kingdom, the film grossed £8.1 million ($13.6 million).
On its opening weekend in the US and Canada it grossed $13.3 million from 1,583 theaters over the four-day Memorial Day weekend, the biggest opening for a Bond film ever at the time, but not enough to beat Rambo: First Blood Part II which was number one for the weekend with a gross of $25.2 million from 2,074 theaters. It went on to gross $50.3 million in the United States and Canada.
Other large international grosses include $11.7 million in Germany, $9.1 million in Japan and $8.2 million in France.
Although its box office reception was excellent, the film’s critical response was mostly mixed. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 38% based on reviews from 61 critics, which is the lowest rating for the Eon-produced Bond films on the website. On Metacritic, the film has a score of 40% based on reviews from 20 critics, indicating “mixed or average reviews”.
One of the most common criticisms was that Roger Moore was 57 at the time of filming—and that he had visibly aged in the two years that had passed since Octopussy. Washington Post critic Paul Attanasio said, “Moore isn’t just long in the tooth—he’s got tusks, and what looks like an eye job has given him the pie-eyed blankness of a zombie.
He’s not believable anymore in the action sequences, even less so in the romantic scenes—it’s like watching women fall all over Gabby Hayes.” Sean Connery declared that “Bond should be played by an actor 35, 33 years old. I’m too old. Roger’s too old, too!” In a December 2007 interview, Roger Moore remarked, “I was only about four hundred years too old for the part.”
Moore also said that, at the time, A View to a Kill was his least favourite Bond film, and mentioned that he was mortified to find out that he was older than his female co-star’s mother. He was quoted as saying, “I was horrified on the last Bond I did. Whole slews of sequences where Christopher Walken was machine-gunning hundreds of people. I said ‘That wasn’t Bond, those weren’t Bond films.’ It stopped being what they were all about. You didn’t dwell on the blood and the brains spewing all over the place”.
Pauline Kael of The New Yorker said, “The James Bond series has had its bummers, but nothing before in the class of A View to a Kill. You go to a Bond picture expecting some style or, at least, some flash, some lift; you don’t expect the dumb police-car crashes you get here.
You do see some ingenious daredevil feats, but they’re crowded together and, the way they’re set up, they don’t give you the irresponsible, giddy tingle you’re hoping for.” Kael also singled out the dispirited direction and the hopeless script. “Director John Glen stages the slaughter scenes so apathetically that the picture itself seems dissociated. (I don’t think I’ve ever seen another movie in which race horses were mistreated and the director failed to work up any indignation. If Glen has any emotions about what he puts on the screen, he keeps them to himself.)”
However, not all reviews were negative. Lawrence O’Toole of Maclean’s believed it was one of the series’ best entries. “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 who an audience meets for drinks every two years or so; he regales them with tall tales, winking all the time. The 14th and newest Bond epic, A View to a Kill, is an especially satisfying encounter.
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.” And although O’Toole believed that Moore was showing his age in the role, “there are plenty of tunes left in his violin. James Bond is still a virtuoso, with a licence to thrill.”
Brian J. Arthurs of The Beach Reporter, however, said it was the worst film of the Bond series. Chris Peachment of the Time Out Film Guide said, “Grace Jones is badly wasted.” Norman Wilner of MSN also chose it as the worst Bond film, while IGN picked it as the fourth-worst, while Entertainment Weekly ranked it as the fifth-worst.
Danny Peary had mixed feelings about A View to a Kill but was generally complimentary: “Despite what reviewers automatically reported, [Moore] looks trimmer and more energetic than in some of the previous efforts … I wish Bond had a few more of his famous gadgets on hand, but his action scenes are exciting and some of the stunt work is spectacular. Walken’s the first Bond villain who is not so much an evil person as a crazed neurotic.
I find him more memorable than some of the more recent Bond foes … Unfortunately, the filmmakers – who ruined villain Jaws by making him a nice guy in Moonraker – make the mistake of switching May Day at the end from Bond’s nemesis to his accomplice, depriving us of a slam-bang fight to the finish between the two (I suppose gentleman Bond isn’t allowed to kill women, even a monster like May Day) …
[The film] lacks the flamboyance of earlier Bond films, and has a terrible slapstick chase sequence in San Francisco, but overall it’s fast-paced, fairly enjoyable, and a worthy entry in the series.”
Also among the more positive reviews was Movie Freaks 365‘s Kyle Bell: “Good ol’ Roger gave it his best. … Whether you can get past the absurdity of the storyline, you can’t really deny that it has stunning stunt work and lots of action. It’s an entertaining movie that could have been better.” Walken was also praised by online critic Christopher Null for portraying a “classic Bond villain”.
Bond historian John Brosnan believed A View to a Kill was Moore’s best Bond entry. He said Moore looked in better shape than the previous Bond film, Octopussy. Brosnan, an airship enthusiast, especially admired the dirigible finale.
Neil Gaiman reviewed A View to a Kill for Imagine magazine, and stated that “When Grace Jones went to bed with Moore, I was sure the producers had hit upon a way to kill the old fellow off with dignity, but when Bond was seen wandering around fresh as a daisy the next morning I realised how escapist this all is. Unless he just rolled over and went to sleep, of course, which is what I was strongly tempted to do.”
Roberts was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award as Worst Actress, but she lost the trophy to Linda Blair, who appeared in Night Patrol, Savage Island and Savage Streets.
A View to a Kill (1985) Accolades
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