It’s true that Roger Moore was, in his own words, about 400 years too old to be playing the part once again, for the seventh and last time. But he’s still Roger Moore. He still has the charm.
The plot is a stock standard Bond plot. MI6 have discovered that there’s this super-villain planning something really big but they’re not sure exactly what it is. Bond has to find out. To do that he has to get close to the villain by insinuating himself into the villain’s inner circle. Then Bond will conduct a low-level psychological guerrilla war against the villain, getting him angry enough to make a few mistake. Then Bond destroys him and saves the world.
In this case the super villain is (as in so many Bond movies) a crazed industrialist. Max Zorin (Christopher Walken) is obsessed with horse racing, oil wells, computer chips and world domination. He’s the result of a Nazi science experiment intended to produce geniuses. He is a genius but he’s totally unhinged and psychopathic. Bond gets close to him by posing as a possible purchaser of one of Zorin’s super horses (also the result of an experiment by a crazy Nazi scientist).
The biggest problem with this movie is that at 131 minutes it’s much too long. There’s nothing particularly wrong with the first half of the movie except that there’s too much of it and it’s too slow. At about the halfway point the pacing picks up dramatically, the plot starts to become more interesting and we get some pretty decent action sequences. The fire engine chase is particularly good and the action climax with the blimp is justly famous. The taxi chase early on is also terrific.
Peter Lamont was art director or production designer on most of the Bond movies from the early 70s up to the first decade of the 21st century. He could always be relied upon and does his usual fine job here. So A View to a Kill looks good.
Christopher Walken is an interesting Bond villain. He’s definitely creepy although perhaps he needed to make Zorin a bit more larger-than-life. Tanya Roberts as the Bond girl has been much criticised. I don’t know why. She’s not much of an actress but she does what she needs to do, which mainly consists of looking terrific (which she does extremely well) and getting rescued by Bond. As far as the cast is concerned the standout is Grace Jones as May Day, Zorin’s girlfriend and chief henchwoman. She looks bizarre, crazy and scary which is obviously why she was picked for the rôle. She’s actually much scarier and more sinister than Zorin.
The pre-credits action scene with the infamous snowboarding to the sounds of a cover version of California Girls has been accused of excessive silliness. It is silly, but silliness and campiness were things that you just have to accept in Bond films of this era. What’s interesting (and very pleasing) is that once that sequence is out of the way the silliness and campiness disappear and the rest of the movie has a slightly serious if mildly tongue-in-cheek tone that is closer to classic Bond.
Mention should be made of Duran Duran’s pretty good title song which also hits the right tone for a proper Bond movie.
If you compare it to another much-disliked Bond movie, the lamentable Die Another Day, which I reviewed here recently then A View to a Kill doesn’t seem too bad. At least, unlike Die Another Day, it feels like a proper Bond movie.
With a bit of tightening up in the first half and with a bit more energy and enthusiasm from Moore and Walken this could have been a very good Bond movie.