A View to a Kill

2.5 of 5 stars

view_to_a_kill_xlgIf watching Roger Moore’s last outing as Bond, James Bond, gives you the feeling you’ve seen it before, it’s because you have—back when it was called Goldfinger. Goldfinger is considered by many fans and critics to be the best Bond film. Subtle callbacks to the Sean Connery classic, such as the scene in Skyfall when Silva has Bond strapped to a chair and his hand inches toward Bond’s crotch, are usually appreciated. However, A View to a Kill feels more like a knockoff than homage.

This time the psychotic Eurovillain is played by American actor Christopher Walken (1978 Academy Award winner for Best Supporting Actor, The Deer Hunter). Like Auric Goldfinger, Christopher Walken’s villain owns a horse stable. Only instead of nuking Fort Knox to increase the value of his gold supply, Walken proposes causing an earthquake in Silicon Valley to increase the value of his own microchips, which he tells his partners-in-crime are more valuable than gold.

Goldfinger explains plan to knock off Fort Knox.
Goldfinger explains Operation Grand Slam.
Christopher Walken explains plan to destroy Silicon Valley.
Christopher Walken explains Project Main Strike.

The scene is lifted directly from Goldfinger, right down to one partner refusing to take part in the plan, called Operation Grand Slam Project Main Strike, and subsequently being murdered. Walken’s presentation ends with him assuring his audience, “Babies, before we’re done here, you’ll all be wearing gold-plated diapers.”

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The cynic in me can’t help but think the following meeting took place:

INT. EON BOARDROOM, EARLY 1986

ALBERT R. BROCCOLI

How do we make another successful Bond film?

MICHAEL G. WILSON

How ‘bout we copy our most successful film: Goldfinger?

BROCCOLI

It can’t be too obvious

WILSON

I know, we’ll replace the henchman with the opposite.

BROCCOLI

What’s the opposite of a short Asian man?

WILSON

A tall black woman?

BROCCOLI

Green light!

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The main criticism many have of the film, however, is at 57 Roger Moore was too old to play Bond. Of this, I agree. Moore was beginning to show his age, and it took monumental suspension of disbelief to buy him picking up women in their 20s and holding his own in a fight. While no one expects actors to do all their own stunts, when it is clearly a stuntman climbing that flight of stairs, it’s time to step out of the role of an action/adventure hero. Bond fans affectionately refer to Roger Moore as “Grandpa Moore.”

That’s not to say A View to a Kill doesn’t have its moments. Seen primarily as a vehicle to deliver awesome set pieces, this is actually a pretty good movie. The pre-title sequence features a well-done ski chase that’s only partially ruined by the inclusion of the Beach Boys’ “California Girls” playing on the soundtrack. We’re also treated to a destructive car chase through the streets of Paris in which miraculously no pedestrians are killed, and another chase through San Francisco involving police cars and a fire truck that’s equal parts thrilling and humorous. The henchwoman, May Day, also surprisingly has a satisfying character arc. Duran Duran’s energetic theme song blares in unashamed 1980s glory.

There’s also something of a running meta-joke in the movie with 007 constantly using aliases but still introducing himself in last name-first name-last name again order. “St. John-Smythe, James St. John-Smythe,” and “Stock, James Stock.”

This is also the movie with the Japanese bathhouse scene that would provide comedic fodder for the first Austin Powers movie. The movie should provide a disclaimer: Engaging in sexual activity, or other vigorous exercises, in hot water is hazardous to the health. Also, kids, hot water doesn’t exactly make for the best lubricant. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything.

A View to a Kill is probably Grandpa Moore’s most hated Bond film, but I don’t think it’s as bad as all that. It’s certainly better than the embarrassing Moonraker. The worst thing that can be said about it is that it’s no Goldfinger, even though it tries to be.

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