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, 1985
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.

In ''A 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 Gate Bridge.

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 Zorin (Christopher 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 assets.

''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
There 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 rate.”

The Washington Post - June 1985
At 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 retirement age.

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 irrelevance

Time - June 10th, 1985
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
In his seventh film as James Bond, Roger Moore seems tired out. "A View To A Kill" succumbs to all the cliches and conventions associated with its forerunners but lacks the spirit to compete.

Hollywood 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 lifting weights.

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