MI6 trawls the archives to see how critics of
the day received Roger Moore's final outing as James
Bond in the 1985 film "A View To A Kill"...
Time Tunnel: Review Rewind
20th May 2009
New York Times - May 24th,
As lavishly escapist as they are, the latest James Bond films
have become strenuous to watch, now that the business of maintaining
Bond's casual savoir-faire looks like such a monumental chore.
The effort involved in keeping Roger
Moore's 007 impervious
to age, changing times or sheer deja-vu seems overwhelming,
particularly since so much additional energy goes into deflecting
attention away from him and onto the ever-stronger supporting
characters whose presence is meant to rejuvenate the Bond formula.
View to a Kill,''
which opens today at Loew's Astor Plaza and other theaters,
those efforts pay off only during the early sections, when
the film seems determined to be a bigger and better variation
on Bonds gone by. The first moments bring spectacular iceberg
scenery, another dazzling title sequence (by Maurice Binder,
arguably the real hero of the series), an instant-hit title
song by Duran Duran, a chateau larger than any known train
station, and Grace Jones. For an encore, the film visits
the San Andreas Fault, the Eiffel Tower and the Golden
But as the scenery improves, the Bond films lose personality;
indeed, John Glen (who directed this and ''For
Your Eyes Only'') has referred to himself as ''almost a managing
director'' on the Bond team. Mr. Moore is dapper as ever,
but here he seems overpowered by his surroundings, especially
since the screenplay (by Richard Maibaum and Michael G.
Wilson) has few flashes of the customary Bond humor. He
is not helped by the less-than-dynamic plot twists involving
Silicon Valley, nor by Tanya
(''Sheena'') Roberts, a Barbie
doll brought to life in the multi-faceted role of a geologist
who is Bond's leading lady.
The story pits Bond against one Max
Walken), a wicked financier who has, among other things, his
very own blimp. He also has racehorses, a vast estate, and a
plot to corner the market on silicon chips by destroying a large
part of California. This alone would be enough to make him a
worthy adversary for 007, but the film makers have taken the
extra precaution of adding Miss Jones as May Day, Zorin's hit
woman extraordinaire. Miss Jones doesn't do much with her dialogue,
but her startling visual presence is one of the film's bigger
''A View to a Kill'' should
be no surprise to anyone who has seen the other recent Bond films
with Mr. Moore, and no strain on the intelligence or memory of
anyone else. It does hold the attention, in a what-won't-they-think-of-next?
manner, while under way. It's entirely forgettable a moment later.
Variety - June, 1985
is hardly a red-blooded American boy whose pulse isn`t quicker
by the familiar strains of the James Bond
theme and the first sight of the hero cocking a gun at any enemy
coming his way. Unfortunately, A View to a Kill, the 16th
outing for the Ian Fleming characters, doesn`t keep the adrenaline
pumping, exposing the inherent weaknesses of the genre.
Trading on the Bond name, outlook is good
for initial business, but momentum is likely to falter,
just as the production does. The potential for cinematic
thrills and chills, what with glamourous locations, beautiful
women and exotic locations, is still there, but in "A
View to a Kill" it`s the execution that`s lacking.
A traditionally big Bond opening, this time a daring chase
through the Alps, gets the film off to a promising start
but proves one of the film`s few highlights as it slowly
slips into tedium. Basic problem is on the script level
with the intricate plot never offering the mindless menace
necessary to propel the plot.
First third of the pic is devoted to introduction of characters
in a horse-fixing subplot that has no real bearing on the
main action. Bond`s adversary this time is the international
industrialist Max Zorin (Christopher Walken) and his love-hate
interest, May Day (Grace Jones). Bond tangles with them
at their regal horse sale and uncovers a profitable scheme
in which microchips are surgically implanted in the horse
to assure an easy victory. Horse business is moderately
entertaining, particularly when Patrick Macnee is on screen
as Bond`s chauffeur accomplice.
Action, however, jumps abruptly to San Francisco to reveal
Zorin`s true motives. He`s hatching some master plan to
pump water from the sea into the San Andreas fault causing
a major earthquake, destroying the Silicon Valley and leaving
him with the world`s microchip monopoly.
Film sags badly in the San Francisco
section when it should be soaring, partially due to Bond`s joining
forces with American
geologist Stacey Sutton (Tanya Roberts). Try as you might to
believe it, Roberts has little credibility as a woman of science.
Her delivery of lines like "I`d sell everything and live
in a tent before I`d give," makes the obvious laughable.
While Bond pics have always traded heavily on the camp value
of its characters, "A View to a Kill" almost attacks
the humor, practically winking at the audience with every move.
Director John Glen, who previously directed "For Your Eyes
Only," has not found the right balance between action and
humor to make the production dangerous fun. Walken, too, the
product of a mad Nazi scientist`s genetic experiments, is a bit
wimpy by Bond villain standards. With hair colored an unnaturally
yellow he seems more effete than deadly.
As his assistant, Grace Jones is a successful updating of the
Jaws-type villain. Jones just oozes `80s style and gets to parade
in a number of sensation outfits (designed by Emma Porteous)
giving a hard but alluring edge to her character. As for Roger
Moore, making his seventh appearance as Bond, he is right about
half the time, he still has the suave and cool for the part,
but on occasion he looks a bit old for the part and his coy womanizing
seems dated when he does. Other instances when the film strives
to stake its claim to the rock video audience backfire and miscalculate
the appeal of the material.
Opening credit sequence in MTV style is downright bizarre and
title song by Duran Duran will certainly not go down as one of
the classic Bond tunes. [Hmmm...Editors.] With all of its limitations,
production still remains a sumptuous feast to look at. Shot in
Panavision by Alan Hume, exotic locations such as the Eiffel
Tower, San Francisco Bay and Zorin`s French chateau are rendered
beautifully. Climax hanging over the Golden Gate Bridge is chillingly
real thanks to the miniature artists and effects people (supervised
by John Richardson). Production design by Peter Lamont is first
The Washington Post - June
the finale of "A
View to a Kill," James Bond (Roger Moore) dangles
from a blimp, an almost painfully appropriate metaphor
for the adventure series that is now bloated, slow moving
and at the end of its rope. It`s not double-oh-seven anymore,
but double-oh-seventy, the best argument yet for the mandatory
Bond`s adversary here is Max Zorin (Christopher
Walken), a renegade KGB agent turned billionaire industrialist,
who, in league with his lover/bodyguard May Day (Grace
Jones), is plotting to corner the microchip market by
destroying Silicon Valley.
Why is Zorin so evil, you ask? It turns out that he was "created" in
the Nazi concentration camps by a Mengele figure experimenting
with steroids on pregnant women. Most of the children died;
those who didn`t survived with extraordinary intelligence
and more than a touch of psychopathy. Bond first grows
suspicious when one of Zorin`s horses, despite its inferior
bloodlines, wins a major race at Ascot. Masquerading as
James St. John Smythe, he attends a horse auction at Zorin`s
Versailles-like estate, where he meets Stacey Sutton (Tanya
Roberts), an heiress fallen victim to Zorin`s aggressive
mergers and acquisitions practices.
"A View to a Kill" is nothing if not thorough
- it rolls nazism, communism and merger mania into one.
In between, the movie follows the usual Bond formula, except
the gadgets are a cut less ingenious, the women a notch
below stunning, the puns and double-entendres something
besides clever. "I`m happiest in the saddle," says
Zorin. "A fellow sportsman," says Bond. Nudge,
nudge, wink, wink. There is some magnificent stunt work,
which only underscores how inadequate Moore has become.
Moore isn`t just long in the tooth - he`s got tusks, and what
looks like an eye job has given him the pie-eyed blankness of
a zombie. He`s not believable anymore in the action sequences,
even less so in the romantic scenes - it`s like watching women
fall all over Gabby Hayes. And unlike "Never
Say Never Again," which
made a theme out of Sean Connery`s over-the-hilleries, "A
View to a Kill" never acknowledges Moore`s age.
We`re just supposed to take him at face value, and once again,
the pound has declined. Jones looks terrific - with her powerful
spindly limbs and hard polished skull, she`s a large, splendid
driver ant - but the minute she opens her mouth, all the air
goes out of her performance. She`s an icon, not an actress. And
Roberts is an absolute howl as Stacey. When Bond fills her in
on Zorin`s plans, she brays, "dat`s incredibewee dangerous!" and
flounces off in a pink nightie. She is, by the way, an expert
geologist. Walken wears a blond wig, a formidable contraption
that lifts from his baldness in a simian sweep - he looks like
Dr Zaius and talks like Joey Bishop. He`s trying to send up the
material, but at this late date, Bond has moved beyond camp into
Time - June 10th,
For the record, this is the 14th James Bond film and the seventh
to star Roger Moore. The opening thrill sequence is once again
a ski chase. The most exotic (or should one say grotesque?) of
his several love interests (or should one say sex objects?) is
the black pantheresque model, Grace Jones. The villain, joylessly
played by Christopher Walken, this time schemes improbably to
blast open the San Andreas Fault, wiping out Silicon Valley so
that he can corner the microchip market. If the picture did not
carry the credits of Writers Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson
and Director John Glen, one would suspect it was made by microchips
making overdrafts on a depleted memory bank. It is exhausted
and exhausting, an old joke retold once too often.
Newsweek - June 1985
his seventh film as James Bond, Roger Moore seems tired
succumbs to all the cliches and conventions associated
with its forerunners but lacks the spirit to compete.
Bond productions have come to sacrifice urbanity for exotic
stunts and fast action. With the exception of
an ingenious plot idea and the unconventional beauty Grace
Jones as the Amazonian May Day, the film comes off as an
insipid foil for a couple of brilliant stunt sequences. ….There
are shots in A View to a Kill that make your heart go out
to Roger Moore.
In his seventh movie as James Bond, Rog
is looking less like a chap with a license to kill than
a gent with an
application to retire. Moore is an extremely engaging fellow
and an admirable professional, but when he turns on that
famous quizzical smile, his facial muscles look as if they’re
James Bond Time Tunnel
View To A Kill -