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Published on October 26th, 2015 | by Vyctoria Hart

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A View To A Kill: Mayday May Day!

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A View to a Kill is the seventh and last James Bond film featuring Roger Moore as the eponymous spy, with Christopher Walken as the villain Max Zorin and Grace Jones as his sidekick May Day.

Story

The film begins in Siberia with Bond finding an experimental Russian microchip on the body of 003. This leads to the discovery that the Soviets have access to the same technology as the Western powers. It is suspected that the source is the manufacturer Zorin Industries, a company owned by Max Zorin a French industrialist from East Germany with an incongruous New York accent. What can we say, it was the 80s. Bond observes Zorin at Ascot races where one of his horses wins under suspicious circumstances. After a detour through Paris- where an informant is killed by May Day through a poisoned butterfly- Bond ends up at Zorin’s French estate for a high stakes horse sale. He is accompanied by a respected horse trainer and former MI6 agent (played by British TV legend Patrick Macnee) in the guise of his valet/chauffeur. Between them they discover that Zorin is doping his horses using a sophisticated microchip delivery system. Unfortunately they are discovered, Bond’s associate is murdered and Zorin attempts to kill Bond as well. It’s then reveal that Zorin is the product of Nazi experiments on pregnant women and was then trained by the KGB. He has now gone rogue and intends to take control of the world supply of microchips by destroying Silicon Valley. Both Bond and the Soviets want to preventthis as both sides benefit from the technological advances made there. The action then moves to San Francisco where Bond meets and loses various allies; seduces a geologist with a quiche; nearly gets set alight by Zorin; hangs off a speeding fire engine and takes a romp through a mine shaft. In the end the villain is defeated when his abandoned side kick sacrifices herself to prevent the flooding of Silicon Valley, but not before he escapes in a portacabin Zeppelin. Ultimately the airship becomes entangled on the Golden Gate bridge and after a brief vertiginous fight Zorin falls to his death. The story ends with Bond being awarded the Order of Lenin for his part in preventing Zorin’s plan.

Title Sequence And Bond Theme

If anyone ever asks you to sum up the best and worst of the 1980s in five minutes or less, just show them this title sequence. Visually it’s a dayglo technicolour nightmare of glowing fingernails, makeup, guns and underwear. For some reason there’s a gun that turns people to ice via lazers and an ice sculpture woman being melted with a blow torch. The usual silhouette women have either snowflakes or flames drawn on them whilst they dance about or pretend to ski rather unenthusiastically. Weirdly the titles put a lot of emphasis on skiing- with some odd gymnastics thrown in- even though skiing only appears in the pre-title sequence of the movie. All in all the title visuals have very little to do with the main bulk of the film, they feel lazy and a bit slapdash. Which is a shame since they’re accompanied by one of the best Bond theme songs – the Duran Duran’s “A View To A Kill”. It’s the only Bond theme to reach number one in the charts in the States and it was the highest charting in the UK up to that point. It just goes to show that you can’t judge a Bond by it’s theme tune.AViewToAKillTitles

The Villain And Their Plan

Max Zorin is one of my favourite Bond villains because Christopher Walken is clearly having so much fun with the role. He’s a real 80s guy. Despite his history with both the Nazis and Soviets he’s only interested in his own gain, rather than anything ideological. Which makes him the perfect for the changing international atmosphere at that time, what with the detente and the perestroika that was to come. His plan too flood Silicon Valley by pumping water into the tectonic fault lines is relatively sensible for a Bond villain. It’s his total inability to just straight up kill Bond that proves to be his downfall. Both Zorin and May Day have so many opportunities to just shoot Bond in the face and instead they try to drown him, burn him, kill him in a horse race- it gets laughable very quickly. I mean May Day repeatedly kills Bonds associates with ruthless efficiency and then just leaves. I know it happens a lot in Bond movies but in this one he never really feels genuinely threatened by anyone.

Locations

Siberia, Paris, San Francisco – none of them are especially well shown off in this film. The Eiffel Tower and Gold Gate Bridge both appear as scenes for climactic fight scenes but there rest feels like it could it be a sound stage anywhere. Only Château de Chantilly serving as Zorin’s French estate and stables is shown to its full advantage.

The Gadgets

From a submarine poorly disguised as an iceberg to Q’s very own voyeurism robot the MI6 gadgets are universally terrible. They haven’t aged well and frankly I suspect they were pretty poor when the movie first came out anyway. For some reason Zorin has a love of airships, and whilst one provides the excuse for the best pun in the movie the other is ludicrously disguised as a portacabin. As a steampunk I’m legally required to love airships but they’re neither fast or discreet enough to function as get away vehicles.

Most Inappropriate/Politically Incorrect Moment

Sadly I can’t nominate the whole movie so it’s a tie between the stereotypical portrayal of the French characters and the various women who appear solely to have sex with Bond. Seriously, there’s a female Russian agent who seems to exist solely so she can get in a hot tub with James Bond. May Day’s bizarrely skimpy outfits also get an (dis)honourable mention, as well as her super creepy sparring/foreplay sequence with Zorin (which is immediately followed by her having sex with Bond as well)!

AViewToAKillFight

Weirdest Moment

In the pre-title sequence a dramatic and thrilling chase through the Siberia snow is ruined by Bond suddenly snowboarding to a cover of the Beach Boys “California Girls” for no real reason. It kills the tension stone dead.

Best One Liner

When Zorin is announcing his plan to destroy Silicon Valley one his investors objects and is lead downstairs by May Day. The stairs vanish and the man falls to his death from what is revealed to be an airship high over San Francisco. Zorin nonchalantly turns to the others and asks “So, anyone else want to drop out?” You just know Zorin bought that airship just to one day say that line.

How Good Is It Really?

It’s not good. At all. It has the lowest Rotten Tomatoes rating of all the official Bond films, thats ALL of them, including Moonraker. It isn’t just that Roger Moore was 57 when the film was made. The average age of the MI6 staff is 63 in this film, everyone on the British side seems to be past it. Specifically it’s the issue that James Bond is a very physical role and sadly Moore just lacks energy throughout the entire film. So much of the role is taken by stunt doubles that he hardly seems involved and the parade of women literally falling into bed with him just seems a bit sad in the end. Theres a phoned-in quality to the bulk of the acting and writing. It feels like they had a list of marks they wanted to hit throughout the film – fight scene, quip, eyebrow raise, landmark, romance, quip, daring escape, fight scene – and they found the easiest route to reach them all. So many moments in the movie lack any proper motivation: why does May Day sleep with Bond instead of beating him to a bloody pulp; why is the horse expert pretending to the valet instead of the other way around; why is Bond seducing women with quiche and why does it succeed? There’s maybe ten to fifteen minutes of quality footage in this movie so I’d recommend just listening to the title music and then watching any other Christopher Walken movie instead.

Vyctoria Hart

Vyctoria Hart

Steampunk illustrator, disabled cosplayer, cat wrangler, maker of terrible puns. I draw under the name of Phantoms Siren.
Vyctoria Hart

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