A View to a Kill: Roger Moore gets old
Ivan Radford | On 20, Sep 2021
A View to a Kill, a Bond film so bad that even Roger Moore himself didn’t like it. If that isn’t a warning sign enough, it’s at least a resounding reminder that the movie marked the point at which the king of arched eyebrows and 007’s licence to kill needed to part ways.
It’s certainly no mean feat that Moore made it this far, having starred in 7 Bond films, surviving everything from a coffin and submarine to a voyage into space. In his final outing, he somehow survives the onslaught of horses, a machine gun and none other than Grace Jones – although the sad fact is that the reason he manages to do so is increasingly clear, as his stuntman becomes more and more obvious. That, of course, is an inevitable consequence of him getting uncomfortably old – when James Bond sleeps with a younger woman at the end of the opening sequence, it’s not just awkward, it’s unpleasant.
So why bother with A View to a Kill at all? Certainly not for Christopher Walken’s dreadful villain Max Zorin, whose evil plot mainly involves attempting to destroy Silicon Valley. Where most Bond villains are nefarious but classy to some degree, Zorin actually machine-guns people to death himself – a rare moment of a bad guy doing some disturbingly nasty and an even rarer moment of a Bond movie being unpleasantly, gratuitously gory. Patrick Macnee – Mr John Steed himself – brings some fun as Bond’s undercover sidekick, and Jones’ May Day is impressively intimidating, but neither can make this mess of a movie entertaining, while the finale set on top of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge is so rooted in an improbable yet specific real life location that it’s just laughably fake.
The only good thing about the whole sorry affair is the music. The opening song by Duran Duran is one of the best Bond themes of all time. John Taylor went behind Barry’s back to get Duran Duran the gig and he turned out to be the composer’s biggest fan. The score, meanwhile, marks John Barry’s 10th Bond soundtrack and he’s on fine form, never over-using the Bond theme while also finding fantastic ways to rearrange Duran Duran’s song – the A View to a Kill fanfare alone is an instant classic, while one smart sequence takes an On Her Majesty Secret Service cue and reworks it into a snowbound track that almost makes the film sound exciting.
But music can only do so much, and it can’t disguise the lacklustre mess that’s on display here – when your opening ski chase is intentionally dubbed over with a cover of The Beach Boys’ California Girls instead of John Barry, that’s the sign of a franchise that’s forgotten its own identity.