Rewatching the James Bond films chronologically. Of all the movies made in 1985, not many scream “1985” more than A View to a Kill. Blond blurb: Bond is investigating a new type of microchip, one that can survive an electromagnetic pulse. This puts him in the path of mega-rich businessman Max Zorin, who is plotting to take over Silicon Valley with his indestructible chips, killing a lot of people along the way. Bond background: Bond adds safecracking and competitive horseback racing to his long list of skills. He’s back to working undercover in this one, under the name “St. John Smythe,” which everyone pronounces “Sinjen Smythe.” Bond also cooks a delicious quiche for breakfast. That’s actually character development, because back in Live and Let Die, he couldn’t figure out how to use his breakfast juicer. Bond baddies: You know all those comedians who impersonate Christopher Walken? I’m convinced they’re impersonating him from this movie. As Zorin, Walken’s unique line delivery is on full display. On the plus side, he looks like he’s having great fun with the role. As for the character, they try to set up this big mystery of where Zorin came from, with scenes discussing his past with the KGB and how he might be the result of genetic engineering, but this info doesn’t really add up to anything. Bond babes: Aside from being way too young for Roger Moore, Tanya Roberts doesn’t make much of an impression as the main love interest. Bond reunites with an old flame, Paula, and they discuss their mutual past as rival spies. This hints at where the series will go during the Brosnan years. Also, Alison Doody of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is all flirty with Bond, making her both a Bond girl and an Indy girl! The movie’s real leading lady, though, is actress/singer/weirdo Grace Jones as May Day, Zorin’s killer henchwoman. She’s a striking presence, no doubt, but her sex scene with Bond is troubling for two reasons. One, because it’s Roger Moore and Grace Jones in bed together. Two, because they’re faking each other out — she’s banging him to distract him from Zorin’s scheming, and he’s banging her to maintain his cover. It’s just icky. Bond best brains: Bond has a credit card from the Sharper Image (!) which somehow can open locked windows with the press of a small button. How does that work? Q plays with a remote control car, saying it’s really sophisticated surveillance equipment. Sure it is. Bond bash-ups: Yes, more skiing! The opening ski chase is the first time most people ever saw a snowboard, which would have been cooler if the filmmakers hadn’t punctuated its debut with the Beach Boys’ “California Girls.” The chase up and down the Eiffel Tower is one of the movie’s iconic scenes, so I was surprised to see it come and go so quickly. A horseback chase is cool, evoking old fashioned Westerns. Then we get to San Francisco. After a fistfight or two, there’s a madcap chase through the streets of SF involving a fire truck and the hokiest rear projection effects this side of Airplane. The finale acquits itself with a mine shootout, followed by Zorin’s blimp (yes, blimp) attacking the Golden Gate Bridge, with a mixture of great stunts and more wonderfully cheesy effects. Bond baggage: The emphasis on Silicon Valley speaks to the home computer revolution kicking off at the time, and a lot of talk about steroids in both horses and human athletes calls back to the rise of steroid-use paranoia in ‘80s sports. Duran Duran does the theme song, in case you’re still not sure it’s 1985.
Bond babble: My secret shame: I actually liked this one. Yes, some of the performances are wooden (cough-Moore-cough), but A View to a Kill has fun villains, some exciting set pieces, huge production value, and a plot that just zips right along from one adventure to the next. It’s lighthearted Moore Bond, but it’s fun lighthearted Moore Bond.
Next week: DALTON!!!
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