Roger Moore is back for the seventh and last time as James Bond. He’s an old man by now, pushing sixty. His wrinkles have multiplied, and his hair is thinning (or he just has on a bad wig). He still has the same cheeky smile as before, but maybe now his smile is hiding something. It knows that his time is over. In A View To A Kill, the fourteenth Bond movie, Moore’s age apparently has no effect, because Bond is given some of the most outrageous and implausible stunts to perform.
These stunts include hanging from a fire truck ladder that has swiveled to the side, dangling him just above oncoming traffic (at one point, he kicks off a couple of hats), riding a horse through a deadly steeplechase, skiing under heavy fire and incessant pursuers, climbing out of an inflamed lift, driving a car that gradually gets all its bits smashed off (it ends up as a two-wheeled convertible), and fighting two foes while trying to save the damsel on top of the Golden Gate Bridge. Even Jackie Chan would find it difficult to accomplish all this. But I suppose Jackie Chan isn’t James Bond.
Roger Moore is James Bond, and finally, there is proof that James Bond is ageless. Or invincible. There is no explanation for how he manages to pull off all these stunts, and I’m not sure I’d want to find out. The franchise has reached a point where believability is no longer required. In some scenes, it is obvious that a stunt double is jumping onto lifts, out of cars, hanging from ledges, and are we meant to care? No. We are meant to accept that the doubles are Moore. Lord knows it’s tough, though. And then when Bond gets into bed with all the gorgeous women (some of them are not so gorgeous in this movie), again we are unable to believe it. He is old enough to be their grandfather. And sleeping with your grandfather is wrong on all kinds of levels.
The age of Moore aside, A View To A Kill suffers from a myriad of other problems. The script is poorly devised. The plot is clear (unlike previous efforts), but the direction that it takes is often long-winded. There is a lengthy scene that involves the fire truck I mentioned earlier, and a bunch of police cars giving chase. A lot of time and money has obviously gone into its choreography and design, but what is it all for? What connection does it have to the story at hand? It is not a part, but apart. And anything that is apart should rightly be discarded.
There are also a number of Bond girls this time round, and a couple of them pay tribute to the age-old Bond tradition of having double-entendred names. There’s the very prominent May Day, played by Jamaican singer Grace Jones, and the not so prominent Jenny Flex, whose name got a chuckle out of me. I am pretty sure her character exists only because of her name. She is quickly forgotten. And then there’s the Tanya Roberts girl; the normal one. She is one of the victims of Max Zorin’s grand scheme that seeks to destroy Silicon Valley in order to seize control of the mechanical engineering business. She is, in some ways, an essential character, but Roberts has much more to develop in the acting department. Many of her lines fall flat and come off as being unintentionally humorous.
Christopher Walken plays Zorin, the maniacal psychopath who may or may not have been the product of World War II genetical experiments that sought to spawn a smarter and stronger generation. Walken is A View To A Kill’s only gift. He is a charming man with a sinister smile. You can believe it for a second, but then you’re dead. His plan is a bit silly, but I can see it working. Of course, it doesn’t, and he meets his demise in a way that’s befitting of all Bond villains. Given a stronger script and sharper direction, Zorin could have been one of the franchise’s most memorable bad guys.
The franchise is still suffering from a lack of originality. The Moore movies have come and gone, and left an impression that’s so forgettable that even if Lazenby were to return for one more, I’d be filled with anticipation. Maybe I am exaggerating, because Dalton is up next, and I hear that he is a good Bond. The fourth actor to star in the fifteenth movie; cinema’s most enduring series is trudging on, against all odds, and against all failures.
Best Moment | Nope.
Worst Moment | So much of it. Tanya Roberts’ acting, the chase sequence, the fight scenes. The illogical courses of action undertaken by numerous characters.