A VIEW TO A KILL. Directed by John Glen; written by Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson; produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson for MGM/UA. Starring Roger Moore, Tanya Roberts, Christopher Walken and Grace Jones. Rated PG.
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It's nice to know, these days, that there are some things you can count on. Like James Bond movies.
This most recent effort will not disappoint true Bond fans, but it won't surprise them, either. With a couple of exceptions, it's business as usual for 007.
Typically, the plot of View to a Kill is completely absurd and ultimately unimportant to one's enjoyment of the movie. This time around, Walken is the villain who wants to take over the world, or at least part of it. His nefarious schemes naturally run afoul of Bond, who singlehandedly saves the Free World from destruction yet again. Walken's character has an interesting twist or two to it. But for the most part he's not particularly memorable, as Bond villains go.
His sidekick, May Day (Jones), however, is something else again. View to a Kill will no doubt be remembered as "the James Bond with Grace Jones." She has the exotic looks, the menacing manner—in short, the physical presence—to be a classic villain in this kind of movie. If her part were larger, the movie might have been better. It would have been interesting, for example, to see her as the principal bad guy instead of just a henchperson.
Moore doesn't do anything new with Bond, which is probably not too surprising. Why mess with success? The problem, however, is that he's not as young as he used to be, and is beginning to look it. The double entendres are still funny and the stunts are still imaginative (for the most part) and well executed.
But it's getting harder and harder to believe that Bond is still so cool and invincible. Having to deal with a few of the normal pains of middle age might breathe new life into the old boy as a character.
Roberts makes an attractive partner for Bond, in spite of her single-expression acting style. She looks good, screams nicely, and even gets in a few licks against the bad guys. What more does a Bond girl need?
Of course, the actors in such a movie, even Moore, are really just means to an end. The real reason anyone goes to see James Bond movies are the stunts and the scenery. The latter is properly exotic, posh and sophisticated here. The locations range from a French chateau and the Eiffel Tower to the Golden Gate Bridge. And along the I way, the clothes are fittingly suave, elegant and expensive.
The best action scene comes at the very beginning of View to a Kill, even before the usual soft-core credits. Here Bond escapes from the Russians across treacherous Siberian wastes, while engaging in an astonishing trick skiing exhibition. There are some other exciting and funny stunts later in the movie (as well as a few that are just ho-hum), but, unfortunately, they don't match this first bit's combination of wit and thrills.
It's hard to decide whether to recommend A View to a Kill or not. It is fun to watch, but immediately forgettable, except for Grace Jones and the skiing sequence. If you've never seen a James Bond movie, but I would like to, don't start with this one. (It's not the best of the breed.) But if you're a fan, by all means see it. It keeps up the traditions very well.
June 5, 1985