Genre: Action and Spy Running Time: 2 hrs. 11 min.
Release Date: May 24th, 1985 MPAA Rating: PG
Director: John Glen Actors: Roger Moore, Christopher Walken, Tanya Roberts, Grace Jones, Patrick Macnee, Patrick Bauchau, Fiona Fullerton, Alison Doody, Desmond Llewelyn, Lois Maxwell, Walter Gotell
t starts in the snowcapped regions of Siberia, with immediate intensity as superspy James Bond (Roger Moore) discovers the body of a dead Agent 003 buried in the snow. Snagging a hidden microchip, he combats skiers, snowmobiles, helicopters, and plenty of gunfire as he careens and snowboards to safety – in a British boat disguised as an iceberg (piloted by yet another sexy fling). It’s easily the most thrilling introductory sequence of the entire series so far, paired handsomely with new music by John Barry (and a creative interlude of notes from The Beach Boys) that rivals the unique tunes from his previous efforts. This culminates in a memorable and energetic title song by Duran Duran, featuring women in neon paint – all working to herald the arrival of one of Roger Moore’s most exhilarating Bond features (as if rebuffing the fact that he was 58 years old during the film’s release).
When Bond returns to London, Q (Desmond Llewelyn) analyzes the microchip, determining that it is a copy of one designed to withstand electromagnetic pulse damage, manufactured specifically for the British government. Zorin Industries, run by the ex-KGB, East German Max Zorin (Christopher Walken), has clearly illegally distributed the product – but business investigations have turned up nothing. This is somehow linked to his unusual success with horseracing, having consistent wins despite competing thoroughbreds with inferior bloodlines.
Aided by the knowledgeable operative Sir Godfrey Tibbett (Patrick Macnee), Bond attends an equine sale at Zorin’s gargantuan estate, under the cover of businessman “James St. John Smythe” (or as he humorously pronounces it, “Sinjin Smithe”). The secret agent snoops around the grounds, meeting new Bond girls Jenny Flex (Alison Doody in her first role, before playing alongside Indiana Jones in his third film); Stacey Sutton (Tanya Roberts), a mysterious woman who refuses to introduce herself; and May Day (Grace Jones), a muscular assassin who delivers an even colder shoulder to 007 than Stacey did. Though Zorin wises up to Smythe’s identity, Bond still manages to escape, crossing paths with the Soviet’s General Golgo (Walter Gotell) and his agent Pola Ivanova (Fiona Fullerton), as well as a contact with the CIA. Soon, he learns of Zorin’s oil pumping station and a plot to wipe out Silicon Valley’s domination of microchip production.
“A View to a Kill” moves very swiftly, springing straight into the action with very little setup. And it’s about time the series embraced its greatest quality: high-octane adventure. The action scenes are wonderfully complex, destructive, and generally humorous, perfectly outdoing the film’s predecessors with stunts and creativity (the fire engine chase is undeniably spectacular, especially considering that it’s the most unnecessary connecting sequence). It may possess the lack of sincerity that Moore’s portrayal brings, but the complementing components are quite successful. Additionally, the primary villain is memorably vicious and well acted, the henchmen and their demises are bombastic and amusing, and the set pieces are extravagantly grandiose. It also features one of the best mixes of music, utilizing the James Bond theme (still too infrequently), the title tune, and Barry’s update of the sensational riffs from “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.” And with iconic bravado, the climax at the Golden Gate Bridge in a blimp (the Skyship 500) is absolutely electrifying.
– Mike Massie