A View to a Kill

A View to a Kill is a strange one in the canon. Generally seen as one of the weakest entries, it definitely isn’t anywhere near as bad as it’s reputation would suggest. Yes, Moore was too old and there was too much stunt double work, but really the only thing that really feels off about this film is that it feels the most formulaic. It never tries to be anything more than another one. However, that is really the only downside. Well that, and Stacey Sutton being the WORST Bond girl. It’s not even close.

On to the good:
The soundtrack
Barry’s score is absolutely fantastic and one of my favorite of the entire series (exception for California Girls). Duran Duran gives an all-timer of a theme song, still the only one to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100. My favorite track is Golden Gate Fight.

The villains
Max Zorin is one of the greatest villains in the franchise. Walken is perfect and overloads on the camp, making everything better. His death maybe his best scene and that’s saying something. May Day is one of the best henchmen, strong and charismatic, her stalking of Tibbet is one of the scariest moments in the series. Her heel turn at the end and death stare to Zorin is perfect.

The setpieces
The film opens with a fantastic icy chase, undone only by the egregious use of the Beach Boys. The entire sequence at the French chateau is excellent: Bond’s and Tibbet’s interactions being hilarious, Zorin’s reaction when he discovers who Bond is, Stacey’s rejection of Bond being creepy (which is undrecut by her later actions. The fight in Stacey’s house is entertaining, as is the fire truck chase through San Francisco. The burning of city hall is excellent and perfectly setup by Zorin. The climax in the mine is a bit of a let down (as most Bond film’s climaxes are), but May Day’s defection and helping Bond to save the day is a nice usurp on the usual Bond formula. Also, the final fight on top of the Golden Gate Bridge is fantastic.

Overall, it isn’t a perfect film, but one that I believe is unfairly maligned. Sure Pola Ivanova should have been Anya Amasova, but that doesn’t really hamper the film or the enjoyment of the scene in anyway. AVTAK is by no means the greatest film ever, but there is so much to like here. Walken, Jones, the setpieces, the soundtrack, it makes for a fun, if maybe not the greatest of Bond films.

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What really undermines AVTAK in my view is the lack of really using its potential. Walken can act far more psychotic and threatening than the film lets him, the fight scenes for Moore are a far cry from even the standard of the series and should rightfully have involved at least one with May Day, ideally right in the middle of the bed scene. Then there were some creative decisions - no doubt due to the aim to include the formula ingredients - that just didn’t sit well and were rightfully criticised as Keystone Cops parody. Finally, San Francisco wasn’t used as well as in, say, Vertigo or Bullit. This is of course always a financial matter as well. I could have done without the fire truck chase and would have preferred showing more of the city in a less hectic atmosphere.

Then again, AVTAK has a number of memorably bizarre moments, Moore in dinner jacket in bright daylight coughing up the Eiffel Tower after May Day, then driving the wrecked Renault, the Ascot scenes (rehashing a Gardner plot element there) and the dirigible meeting. Like often in those days, the nature of it is a bit episodic, they way scripts were written around stunts and set pieces. But even if it didn’t satisfy (for long), it had the potential to make one wish for more. If perhaps not with Moore any more, who now really was far beyond it.

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It’s unfortunate that Roger had a facelift, which made his eyes seem scarily wide, plus the bright blue contacts. He had looked great in FYEO and OP.

Films are still written around set pieces, so I don’t see this as a problem here. The fire engine chase, though, is just too much and the stuntmen appear too obviously in places. On the plus side, there’s the fight at Stacy’s house, as is the car sink scene, the dirigible, that German scientist guy, and Zorin.

My first Bond film, or at least the one that I can remember seeing first, so this one will always have a special place in my heart.