A View to A Kill (1985)

There are Bond films and then there are Bond films and then there is A View to a Kill. I’m by no means a Bond fan, but after watching A View to a Kill, I found myself mixed with feelings of anger, disappointment and disbelief. How is this a Bond film? How? Where are the cool gadgets? Where are the fun action scenes? Why are all the Bond girls aggressively unattractive? Who signed off on this?

The opening moments are a good indication as any that someone, somewhere completely lost all sense of sanity, entertainment value and the Bond franchise. As Bond flees through the icy climate, chased by Soviet baddies, he takes to snowboarding and someone decided it would be a great idea if The Beach Boys started playing. Through what logic is that a good joke?

The Bond franchise has had some ridiculous moments: a dog reaction shot in Moonraker, the Bayou boat race in Live and Let Die and ninjas using guns in You Only Live Twice. However, absolutely none of them are as painful and facepalm inducing as the many moments in A View to a Kill. It’s a film that consistently left me in a state of despair and disbelief.

This is a film where James Bond decides, out of the blue, to cook for a girl. Wait, what? James Bond? Cooking? As in in the kitchen? Making food? So the film doesn’t show him actually cook the dish, but the fact that it has such a superfluous, ancillary and completely pointless moment where he cooks this dish for a girl adds nothing but a sense of complete disbelief for the poor audience who is subjected to this atrocity.

And yet another moment of absolute disbelief is when the film decides that a great murder weapon would be a fake butterfly which is flung into the face of some informant, injecting a deadly poison into him. It’s not poetic, or cool, or demented, or interesting, it’s stupid. Who even thinks of such a thing?

And while I could write even more about these absolutely moronic moments, it’s endemic of the larger structure of the film. What starts out as a film about a special microchip somehow becomes about the horse races and the plot only becomes more implausible and scatterbrained after that point. Perhaps it would be okay if it got us to cool and interesting set-pieces, but it doesn’t.

Most of the action set-pieces are dull, uninspired or just poorly made. I could be wrong, but this could be the Bond film with the least amount of action. The only notable set-piece that stands out in my mind is when Bond decides to lift a fire truck and is chased down by a gang of cops. It’s unwieldy, ridiculous and makes no sense.

It’s not exciting to watch the action pieces. There’s no suspense, the stakes aren’t there and once the clock does start ticking, it’s too late and the resolution comes off as contrived. Bond isn’t given much to do in the way of heroics. Sure, he gets to beat up some thugs, but the film robs him of his glorious triumph.

And speaking of getting robbed, Christopher Walken must have signed a contract that stole his talent because he’s absolutely dull and uninteresting in this film. This is when he was a young and promising actor, off of such films as The Deer Hunter and Heaven’s Gate, although the failure of the latter might be the reason he ended up in this film.

He’s the dullest, driest and least compelling Bond villain to make it into the films, especially when he goes into so-evil-you-can’t-believe-it mode. When he begins machine gunning down masses of people, he’s trying to be menacing and maniacal, but he just comes off as awkward. I think a good chunk of it is the material, but a lot of scenes it seems like Walken isn’t even trying.

And combined with worst villain, we get one of the worst Bond girls. Stacey Sutton (Tanya Roberts) isn’t a poorly written character, but she’s not interesting at all. I blame almost all of this on Tanya Roberts’ performance. I don’t want to sound mean, I’m sure she’s a nice person, but she is annoying in this film.

Part of it is her voice. It’s not aggressively annoying, but it’s just off enough to be completely unsettling and make almost everything she says sound a bit daft, even though the film is trying to write her as a smarter Bond girl. And, honestly, she’s not attractive in the least. I’ve not been one to leer over the Bond babes, but if you’re going to have on in there anyway, don’t make her so bland. I hate to fall back on stereotypes, but in a lot of ways she does feel like that dumb blond, and I don’t think it’s the writing but the acting.

And then, there’s the ending scene. The Moore era Bond films have amused their selves by making Bond’s after mission sexcapades a joke, but here it’s taken to a sophomoric level and reduces one of the recurring Bond characters into a peeping tom. It’s a gag for the like of some trashy ‘80s comedy about horny young boys, not a James Bond film.

I’ve nothing nice to say about this film. At times, I wondered if the Bond series could make a worse film, but this film is easily shows that when it comes to the bad, things can always get a whole lot worse. There’s nothing fun, enjoyable or good about this Bond film. It doesn’t even have any camp value. I’d recommend any other Bond film before even suggesting you view this horrible, horrible film that absolutely kills everything good, amusing, interesting and entertaining about the Bond series.

© 2011 James Blake Ewing