A View to a Kill
directed by John Glen
(United Artists/MGM, 1985)

The connection between prize-winning racehorses and global domination of the computer market isn't immediately obvious unless you pay careful attention to the convoluted plot of A View to a Kill, Roger Moore's final outing as superspy James Bond.

The villain here is Max Zorin (Christopher Walken), a microchip industrialist who plans to destroy Silicon Valley (and, with it, much of his competition) by unleashing a devastating force at a key point of the San Andreas Fault. The resulting upheaval will, he believes, flood the entire valley, killing millions.

Of course, so far as maniacal villains are concerned, you can't get much better than Walken. (His manner while machine-gunning his own employees at the bottom of a flooded mine is perfect evidence of his rightness for this role.)

The rest of the cast is a mixed success.

Tanya Roberts, as geologist Stacey Sutton, is one of the most helpless Bond girls we've seen in a long while. She screams and minces her way through the film, relying on Bond at every turn for rescue. Grace Jones is menacing as Zorin's hired thug May Day, but her acting is weak and she doesn't have the physique for superhuman feats of strength more appropriate to Jaws (Richard Kiel) in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker.

Patrick Macnee (formerly John Steele in The Avengers) does a good turn as agent Godfrey Tibbett, as does David Yip as CIA agent Chuck Lee. Fiona Fullerton makes a nice, too brief appearance as Soviet agent Pola Ivanova, and Walter Gotell is back as her too-cool KGB superior, General Gogol.

There are some excellent action sequences here, although I have to question the need for another ski chase in the beginning. Bond's wild ride through Paris in pursuit of a parachutist is classic, as is the climactic battle atop San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. There is some powerful punch in the scenes down in Zorin's mine, but the police rout by Bond in a fire truck is too Keystone Koppish by far. There is very little in the way of the usual Bond gadgetry here; Desmond Llewelyn as Q is notable mostly for becoming an electronic voyeur.

Besides Moore, A View to a Kill marks the final appearance of Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny.

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 1 December 2001

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