A View to a Kill
August 24, 2011 Leave a comment
Title: A View to a Kill
Year: 1985. Well, I guess the title is slightly better than Octopussy (1983). However, if this weren’t a Bond film it would rank with Snakes on a Plane (2006), Smokin’ Aces (2006), Lucky Number Slevin (2006) as a film remembered for its terrible title and nothing else. (And what the hell was happening Hollywood in 2006?) While nearly a dozen different moments from Octopussy stuck in my head from childhood the only thing I could remember about A View to a Kill before re-watching it was the poster and the song. Not a good sign. The poster, by the by, speaks volumes. Back in the 1960’s, one of the producers at EON described the Bond films as “comic strips for adults.” I think that’s about right. But what the A View to a Kill poster promises, not at all inaccurately as it turns out, is a comic book for 12 year-old boys. The pen and ink drawing employees the same iconic shorthand that any reader of Marvel or DC would instantly recognize from countless comic book covers. Our hero is in the center, impossibly balanced above all else while a shoeless damsel in distress clings to him; he with a gun, she with a skirt bellowing up high and a blouse riding down low. They are looking not at the villain, who is behind them holding a smokin’ gun, but out at us, breaking the fourth wall and inviting the reader (or ticket buyer) to join them on their adventure. The other dominate image, the Golden Gate Bridge, also broadcasts a change in thinking for EON as they turn their back on one most important things that makes Bond Bond. Bond was always an English hero who reflected what Brits wanted to see when they looked in the mirror. He is a man of impeccable taste, quick wit and good humor. He is an intelligent operator as quick with his brain as he was with his PPK. Above all, he represents the crown with dignity and is a natural ambassador for all the ideals England holds dear. In 1985, the States too had an action hero who represented everything Americans wanted to be in their wildest fantasies; Rambo from Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985). This John Rambo was very different than the one we met three years earlier in First Blood (1982). While that film was ham fisted and leaned too heavily on stereotypes, it was none-the-less an attempt to explore some heavy ideas. In the movie, Rambo is a Viet Nam vet who returns to find a very different America then the one he thought he was fighting for. Yes, the film finds him running around the North Western woods killing off redneck cops but he was also a deeply conflicted man who was at war with himself, unable to come to terms with being treated like an obsolete tool of war. The film was critical of our treatment of the men and women who served bravely in that controversial war and it didn’t paint the good old US of A in the best light. Rambo 2.0 on the other hand was a recruitment poster boy. He practically had “Be all that you can be!” tattooed across his six pack, a red, white, and blue propaganda action-figure selling Reagan’s vision of America. First Blood Part II gave us a steroid jacked, monosyllabic, one-man army recruited to single handedly correct the history books. (He even gets the line “Do we get to win this time?”) For $2.75 moviegoers got more explosions than the Fourth of July and as much nuance as you find at the bottom of a Bud pounder. Rambo was ugly, loud and carried a big stick called a freaking M60E3. He was the anti-Bond. (See also Schwarzenegger in Commando (1985)) Perhaps feeling their man could use a 1985 update, Cubby and Co. decided it was a good idea to shoehorn Bond (the film more so than the character) into this mold of the Ronald Reagan era action hero. It didn’t work out so well.
Film Length: 2 hours 11 minutes. It feels like 5 and change.
Bond Actor: Roger Moore. “That’s wasn’t Bond” said an 81-year-old Moore at the 2008 premiere of Quantum of Solace. True, he felt the Daniel Craig film was too violent but he conceded that it wasn’t a film for his generation. “That’s keeping up with the times, it’s what cinema-goers seem to want and it’s proved by the box-office figures.” However the quote, “That’s wasn’t Bond,” was not about Bond 22 but Bond 14, AKA A View to a Kill. Moore was working the red carpet in ‘08 to promote his memoir “My Word is my Bond.” In the book, Moore reveals he had hated guns since he was a teen thanks to being shot in the leg by a friend with a BB gun. This goes a long way to further explain his more humorous/less violent approach to 007. He recalled being dismayed and saddened by the violence in his 7th film and calls it his least favorite. We will cover the 1985/Rambo style violence below but for now lets look at Moore’s other problem with his last Bond film. By his own admission, Moore was too old. When he officially announced his retirement from playing James Bond on December 3,1985, Moore was quoted as saying he felt embarrassed to be seen performing love scenes with beautiful actresses who were young enough to be his daughters. Indeed, two of the sex scenes in this movie could generously be described as creepy, but there are worse embarrassing moments. At 57 years old, Moore simply no longer had the agility or strength to perform even the most basic physical acting. At one point in the film, Moore is seen putting both of his hands onto another man’s shoulders so he can jump three feet down onto a slowly descending lift. In another scene, Bond enters a house by climbing thorough an open window. From the interior, we see Bond pop his head in to look around in a medium close –up. We then jump cut to a medium wide shot where both of Moore’s legs are now inside the window and firmly on the floor. I say this not at all to pick on Moore, he’s 57 for Christ Sake; the man is aloud to get old. But much like witnessing a retired boxer step back into the ring or seeing an aging slugger’s average dropped below the Mendoza Line, it’s no fun and kind of depressing to watch Moore still trying to be Bond after his odometer has clicked well past the half-century mark. Needless to say, the movie suffers. In a misguided attempt to make up for Moore’s lack of ability, Glen stages set pieces that feature Moore being hung in the air off anything the director can find. Bond is made to hang over cliffs, mineshafts, balconies and elevator shafts when he’s not clinging to fire truck ladders, The Golden Gate Bridge, The Effie Tower and even a blimp.
Director: John Glen, at the helm for the third time with 007 License to Dangle officially became the incredible shrinking director. After bursting out of the gate with For Your Eyes Only (1981) and hitting a triple with Octopussy, Glen himself admits on the DVD extras to having used up all his good ideas. He talked about how hard it was to “scour (his) brain” to come up with things for Bond to do that “we haven’t seen before.” His solution? A fire truck. “I mean, what little boy doesn’t love a fire truck?” he chuckles. Perhaps, but I think you’ll find, Mr. Glen, that you are not making Goonies, Police Academy II or Back to the Future, all 1985 films aimed at a younger demographic that, incidentally, beat your movie at the box office. I mean, what little boy doesn’t love pirates, cops who make funny noises or time traveling Delorean? Never the strongest director when bullets weren’t flying, Glen was always extremely talented when it came to putting together action set pieces. While there are strong moments in this film, most notably the base jump from the Eiffel tower and the brief shot of horses racing though the woods, these moments are swamped by what comes before or after. Most of the action sequences make absolutely no sense (the horse jumping bit) or are meant to play for laughs and are simply unfunny (the fire truck chase.) This is a movie where a woman is running on the ground and manages to get scooped up by baddies chasing her in a freaking zeppelin. A bit of free advice; if you find yourself on foot being chased by a zeppelin, a quick step to the right or the left ought to do the trick. Zeppelins are not known for their ability to corner tightly. Glen gives us detours involving Russians and audiotapes that take forever to develop with minimal pay-off. There are clichés from an elevator crashing to the ground seconds after characters escape to a drawbridge that is jumped by the chased but foils the pursuers. All the while Bond is dangling off this and that like a ragdoll in the wind. An example off all of the above rolled into one ugly mess; Bond has to save the girl from San Francisco’s City Hall before it’s burnt to the ground. Carrying her fireman style slung on his back, Bond makes his way to the roof as fire trucks arrive and a crowd gathers. We get a shot of a park bench across the street from city hall and see a drunk bum out of central casting. Bottle in hand, he is awaken by the chaos and looks across the street. As we cut from shots of Bond carrying the woman down a ladder on his back to fire fighters fighting the blaze to on lookers gasping and ohhhhing and ahhhing, we for some reason keep coming back to this drunk, watching the goings on in wide eyed amazement. At one point, Bond slips down one rung and the drunk drops his bottle. When Bond finally gets to the bottom, the faceless crowd cheers over the Duran Duran theme song being played triumphantly on horns. We never see the bum again. Why was he the surrogate for the people of the Bay Area? Was the experience mean to change his life? Did he run out and join the San Francisco Fire Department? Did he move into the burnt down city hall where he squatted for the next few years? Did he piss on a fire fighters leg? Did he drop to his knees and praise Jesus? We have no clue. This bum was made to be a big deal and literally zero happens with him. This is a microcosmic of the entire film. There are several characters that are introduced and dropped with no real flow or pacing. All they do is break up the action and then disappear without any real meaning for their existence. It’s like the editor traded in his Steenbeck for a blender.
Reported Budget: $30,000,000 estimated. That would make it the most expensive Glen film and $4 million behind Moonraker (1979), the most expensive Bond to date.
Reported Box-office: $49,667,000 USA and $152,400,000 worldwide. Not a bust but down considerably from the $57,403,139 USA $187,500,000 worldwide numbers for Octopussy. While Sly Stallone was redefining what it meant to be an action hero in Rambo II and Rocky IV (#2 and #3 at the box office in 1985) Bond found himself sandwiched between Chevy Chase in Fletch (#12) and European Vacation (#14) for good old lucky #13. No mater how you slice it, this was the worst return on investment in Bonds 23 year history. In fact, the past few films have been soft at the box office and getting worse. Like many icons from the 1960’s, Bond was lost in 1980’s and didn’t truly rediscover his stride until the 90’s. (See also Neil Young, pre Untouchables (1987) Sean Connery, women who don’t shave, Charles Manson) One last note, Dolph Lundgren, who played Ivan Drago in Rocky IV has a blink and you’ll miss it role as KGB agent Venz in this movie.
Theme Song: “A View to a Kill” performed by Duran Duran. With a band named after a character from Barbarella (1968) Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes and the three brothers Taylor brought new wave to Top 40 radio, and looked amazing while doing so. Le Bon described his bands sound as “the Sex Pistols meets Chic.” To my ear it sounds more like “Let’s Dance” era David Bowie by way of The New Romanics with a dash of The Pointer Sisters, but what do I know? Perhaps Mr. LeBon has a Johnny Rotten screaming away inside him, just trying to get out. Or not. Anyway, for those not around in the early 1980’s Duran Duran was it. They gained notice in America for their dangerous first single “Girls on Film.” 1982 saw the LP Rio which featured the still enjoyable tunes “Rio,” “Save a Prayer,” and the Roller World Saturday night favorite, “Hungry Like the Wolf.” When the DJ put that baby on we would all shout with joy and skate like the wind. Next came Seven and the Ragged Tiger which was the “Hit record” vaulting into the Top 10 and guaranteeing Le Bon and crew would be hung in every girls locker from here to homeroom. But, dodgy singles like “New Moon On Monday,” “The Reflex,” and the terrible attempt at crafting a sporting event anthem, “Wild Boys,” seemed like a drop in quality, to me at least. Besides, I had moved on to Van Helen’s 1984 and Princes Purple Rain. (See that, even at the tender age of eleven I had a discerning ear and knew crap when I heard it.) So, it was at the tail end of this slide, one that seemed to be even quicker then their rise, that Duran Duran was tapped to record the theme song for Bond 14. On paper, this is a no brainier. For starters, they were one of the biggest bands at the time. In their videos, in heavy rotation on MTV during this period, the group was seen as pretty boy, jet setting, party like rock star rock stars (PG version) which fit with Bond like gadgets and girls. And to top it all off, they were British. Done and done. “A View to a Kill” features Le Bon’s distinctive vocals and the Duran Duran keyboard sound. This song couldn’t be any more of its time, and that is not a knock. They are stuck with the ever present problem of jamming the film’s title into the choirs but when they sing “dance into the fire” all is almost forgiven. It’s a weaker entry when put next to all the great Duran Duran singles but it rocks harder than any Bond theme since Mecca belted out “Live and Let Die” 12 years previous. “A View to a Kill” hit #1 in the US and #2 in the UK making it the highest charting Bond tune to date, with a bullet. Incidentally, after this last hurrah the group went on hiatus and despite flashes of a comeback, they never hit their early 80’s heights again. As for the video below, I normally go out of my way to pick clips that show nothing from the films. Here I make an exception and when you check it out, I think you will 100% understand why. By the by, for those of you under 30, this is what an A Plus, state-of-the-art, cutting edge MTV video looked like in the music stations 80’s heyday. Enjoy.
Opening Titles: Need more evidence we are in the mid-1980’s? Bring on the neon! For you kids out there who didn’t live though the decade and look back upon it as a neat-o time, you need to understand neon was everywhere and people of tasted hated it. But we could do nothing about it. In the credits we see girls wearing neon lipstick with neon eye shadow and neon fingernails on neon skis. The skis thing truly speaks to me. I skied at the time and there was nothing; from the skis themselves to boots to polls to jackets to hats; not a piece of equipment or clothing that could be purchased for the sport of skiing that didn’t come ONLY in neon. You absolutely had no chose if you hit the slopes between ’84 and ’89 than to have some neon somewhere on your body. Anyway, a woman unzips her shirt to revile the films title which is clever I guess, and then amongst the neon is a fire and ice motif as chicks with Gene Simmons eye make-up (in neon) dance and do their thing.
Opening Action Sequence: The first thing we see after the MGM lion roar is not the familiar gun barrel sequence but a disclaimer saying there never is, was or will be anyone quite like Max Zorin. 214 Facebook users from the “Everybody is Special in Their Own Way” group “liked” this intro and several others gave it a “poke.” 😉 According to the handy-dandy booklet that comes with the Ultimate Edition DVD’s, after shooting was finished EON discovered a fashion designer by the name of Zoran owned a company called Zoran Ladicorbic Limited which sounds Bondian indeed. Fearing Mr. Zoran may no longer feel special after learning about Max and would then use Zoran Ladicorbic to destroy the world, not clothe it, EON’s lawyers insisted on the legal speak at the top. We then cut to Siberia where Russians are skiing around on the ground and flying around in the air up to no good. We know they Russians because they have a big red star painted on the side of their helicopter and snowmobiles, we know they are in Siberia because there is snow, and we know they are up to no good because they are Russians. We then see Bond looking not unlike Paul Simon on his eponymous album cover. You know those guys who walk about the beach with metal detectors?
That’s what Bond is doing only in the snow. He finds a frozen body and recovers a microchip from a locket around the dead man’s neck. No sooner does Bond put the chip in his pocket and those pesky Russians are shooting at him. Olen’s don’t fail me now! Bond successfully evades his 20 pursuers by skiing, tumbling and hurdling down the mountain until an exploding snowmobile sends him flying into a ditch where lays face down as a teamster stands just out of frame and throws snowmobile parts at him, including a skid. Bond grabs the prop from the sploded snowmobile and used it as a snowboard. In 1985 snowboarding was still a nitch thing and much like many in the Casino Royale (2006) audience were introduced to parkour via Bond, I’m sure this was the first time many saw a man snowboarding. Sure, the skid didn’t have bindings or anything but who cares; it is a really cool way for Bond to improvise an escape and I’m willing to go roll with it. What I’m not willing to overlook is the music cue. Please forgive the pause in the action but we need to break this down. The job of the open is to set the table for the rest of the film. We are in the middle of a chase that is meant to throw us into Bonds world so naturally, we have gadgets, Russians, skiing, and the Bond theme. But once James starts to shred on his faux Burton, we here the familiar cords of The Beach Boy’s 1965 top five hit “California Girls.” Why on God’s green earth or in holy hell would anyone pick this song to play at this moment? What are they trying to say? We see Bond doing something new that (at the time) most had never seen. The first time you see snowboarding the thing I would think that it most closely resembles would be skateboarding, maybe you could think of surfing. When a few shots later we see Bond snowboard over open water I guess perhaps the surfing comparison would be more appropriate. If that’s what Glen was going for, why not start the Beach Boys when Bond hit the water, not thirty seconds prior when he’s in snow? But if we are meant to think of surfing, then why “California Girls?” It’s not like the Beach Boys didn’t write a tune or two about hangin’ ten. From their first three records alone you’ve got Surfin’ Safari, Surfer Girl, Catch a Wave, The Surfer Moon, South Bay Surfer, The Rocking Surfer, Surfer’s Rule, Surfin’ USA, Noble Surfer, Surf Jam, Surfin’ and what I would have chose if I had to, their cover of Misirlou, the tune made famous by Mr. Surf Rocker himself, Dick Dale. And then on top of all that, it’s not even the Beach Boys performing the tune. You would be forgiven if your first guess was “Oh, it’s the Dave Lee Roth cover because he had a hit with ‘California Girls’ in 1985” but you’d be wrong. (And while we are here, let’s just forget about Diamond Dave’s solo career. Cool with you?)The cover is performed by Gidea Park. Who you ask? Gidea Park I answer. Named after a park in east London these guys are the best damn Beach Boys cover band on that side of the Atlantic. What happened here, could EON not secure the rights? Well then don’t use the song, that doesn’t at all work anyway, in the first place! For crying out loud, EON has a hit song full of energy from a super popular band that was record for this movie! Stick the Duran Duran tune in there if you need something. I think, think, this was all supposed to play has funny, and perhaps 1985 moviegoers were slapping their parachute paint cover knees, but I seriously doubt it. It’s simply not funny. So, to recap; we have third rate rip off performing a reference that makes no scene and stops the film dead while simultaneously sucking all the cool out of anything Bond maybe doing and is so unfunny as to be cringe worthy. Sadly, you can take the last sentence and apply it to 85% of this film. The one thing this open got right; it lets us know exactly what we’re in for.
Bond’s Mission: Bond gets briefed by Q while the gadget guru is dressed like a butler and playing with a robotic cat. Add this to the fact the Moneypenny looks like Little Bo Peep off to find her sheep and it’s very difficult to focus on the exposition. It turns out the body that Bond found in Siberia was that of 003. He was in Russia to swipe a microchip and only got so far. After a look at the microchip on the indispensable micro-comparator, we see that the stolen Russian chip is identical to a nuclear blast resistant chip the Brits commissioned from an outside contractor, one Max Zorin. But he can’t be the bad guy, he’s a staunch anti-communist. No evidence is presented to back this up but we will take M at his word for now. Anyway, it’s off to the races where Zorin will be hanging out in the owners box. Here we meet one Sir Godfrey Tibbett, MI6 equestrian expert who has no idea how Zorin is able to produce winning horses from inferior bloodlines. But perhaps Achille Aubergine knows, he’s French so naturally he hangs out at the Eiffel Tower, you can find him there. Turns out good old Archie doesn’t know about Zorin’s horses either, but there is a horse auction going on at Zorin’s chateau, perhaps Bond could snoop around there. After divulging this extremely important piece of information that Bond could have found by perusing the style section of Le Paper, Aubergine is killed. Further more, when Bond tells Sir Godfrey about the horse auction, Tibbett nods knowingly and says he can get them on the guest list. This is how the entire film unfolds, which is to say it goes all over the place while standing still. Wouldn’t MI6’s equestrian expert, one who can quickly get himself and Bond an invite to this exclusive auction, have known about said event? This means Bond traveled all the way to Paris for nothing. Well, not nothing. If he didn’t go to Paris we wouldn’t get the fishing hook murder, the Eiffel Tower base jump, or the split car case scene. And why the hell do we care about the horse racing mystery in the first place? This is a very long walk away from that whole Russian’s steeling microchips thing that got 003 killed wouldn’t you say?
Villain’s Name: Max Zorin, who as we are told at the beginning, is most certainly a made up character. Turns out this disclaimer is completely unnecessary. Not even the most delusional soul on the planet, much less a successful fashion designer, would mistake this cat for a real person. I suggest you sit down, pour yourself a drink (shaken, stirred, canned or bottled) and get a load of this; it’s a doozy. Max Zorin’s official bio, according to M. “Born in Dresden, strayed from East Germany in the late ‘60’s, French passport, speaks at least five languages, no accent … made his first fortune in oil and gas trading now a second in electronics and high tec.” We also already learned he’s a staunch anti-communist with a terrible dye job and 1970’s cop sunglasses. Later, on the very same grandstand, we hear General Anatol Gogol (Yahhh Gogol!) add a little more to the story. Zorin spent sometime behind the iron curtain and was in fact a member of the KGB, or more accurately, still is. “Nobody leaves the KGB!” Even later, while strolling on San Francisco Fisherman’s Warf, the CIA tells Bond that Zorin’s horse veterinarian is Dr. Carl Mortner AKA Hans Glaub AKA Doctor Monocle. Turns out Dr. Monocle was a Nazi, (or still is, Nobody leaves the Nazis!) who hung around the concentration camps during WWII. He passed the time injecting pregnant prisoners with experimental drugs that made their offspring super strong and super psychotic. “You think Zorin could be one of those kids?” You think? So, mama Zorin was injected with some kind of HGH that made her kid strong and crazy. How did he end up in the KGB? Did the Russians rescue him and raise him? While that was going on why wasn’t the evil Nazi Dr. Monocle, who acts like Zorin’s father, facing judges at Nirenberg? No matter, we are talking about Max here, who is, let me see … a Jewish born medical experiment birthed in a concentration camp who is raised in Russia by a Nazi doctor and suffers from sever roid rage making him an acknowledged psychotic who none the less is recruited into the KGB only to flee to France where he makes billions in oil and war profiting by double dealing microchips to both the East and the West all the while racing and auctioning off steroid infused horses and he can still just waltz into San Francisco’s City Hall at any hour of the night carrying 5 gallon canisters of gasoline? (That last bit comes later) Yes, that him.
Villain Actor: Christopher Walken. Now, I know what your thinking, “Holy shit! Christopher Walken as a Bond villain! That’s the best idea I’ve ever heard. Who better to play a steroid pumped, psychotic, KGB, capitalist, Jewish, jockey, pyro hell bent on taking over the world?” and you should be right but I must disappoint you. First off, Walken had not entered his self-aware/over the top/William Shatner school of acting period yet. If I had to put a finger on it, I’d say that began with the Frank White role in King of New York (1990) and was fully realized in True Romance (1993). That’s not to say he couldn’t get nutty as proved by his Nick in The Deer Hunter (1978) or his scene stealing turn as Duane in Annie Hall (1977). But it just wasn’t cowbell fever crazy yet. As Zorin he does have his moments. He gets to yell the line “He compromised mine!” in the Walken way. He also has great scene with Moore where the two are discussing horses. Unbeknownst to Bond, while they are talking, Zorin is looking over 007’s bio on the computer. With each new bit of info; British secrete service … license to kill … extremely dangerous; Walken puts forth a little snort and giggle as if he can’t believe his good fortune to have been matched with such a skilled adversary. He has one more scene with Grace Jones that is note worthy but that’s kind of it. Much hay is made about Walken being the first Oscar winner (Best Supporting Actor for Deer Hunter) to play a Bond villain but they don’t do much with him and his talents are pretty much wasted. Perhaps because of Max’s ridiculous back-story, the writers had no idea who Zorin was or what to do with him. I’m sure Walken had no clue. It’s just one more missed opportunity in a film chock full of em.
Villain’s Plot: Turns out Max has bigger plans than living off his twitchy horses. And just so we are clear, when I say twitchy, I mean Roger Clemons throwing a broken baseball bat Mike Piazza’s head during the World Series twitchy. “From A View to a Kill” was a short story that first saw the light of day in a Fleming anthology of Bond tails called “For Your Eyes Only.” This collection, published in 1960, consisted of stories written for a never realized Bond television series. Fleming’s “From A View to a Kill” had Bond solving a case involving the disappearance of NATO couriers in France. Much like they did with The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), EON took the name from Fleming’s story and nothing else. So for the second time, producers created a 100% original Bond adventure and therefore all the blame must be lay upon EON’s doorstep. On the indispensable DVD extras Glen says he was heavily involved in the scripting. They started by finding locations and then crafting a story around that. Fair enough. After all, this is the crew that two short years earlier found a storybook city in India that I’m sure 99% of moviegoers were seeing for the first time in Octopussyso, what did these intrepid location scouts come up with this time? The Eiffel Tower? The Golden Gate Bridge? San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf? Ohhh, and they went to Iceland to shoot icebergs that end up getting 30 seconds of screen time. Are you kidding me? What did these guys do, take the travel budget, say F it, and spend two weeks in Disney World while looking for locations at EPCOT center? Bond movies are meant to take us to exotic locations, not tourist traps. I never look up the writers but sinners Richard Maibaum and Michael Wilson must come forward and atone. The steroid horse thing is a mess and doesn’t tie into the second half of the film but it at least holds our interest and has some intrigue. As for Max’s diabolical scheme of pumping seawater into San Andreas fault to cause a “double earthquake” so the silicon valley will drown and Zorin Industries can corner the microchip market, well, it’s as unwieldy as this sentence. Bond goes to San Fran and tracks down Stacey Sutton, a geologist who was bequeathed an oil company. Zorin wants said oil company and is willing to pay $5 million to get it. Why? He’s about to drown half of California and control every microchip on earth? What’s he need this lousy $5,000,000 oil company for? Sutton also works as a geologist for the city and her boss is a bureaucrat who is either in Zorin’s pocket or an unwilling pawn, we never learn which. OK, so Bond wakes up in Sutton’s house and asks why Zorin would be pumping seawater into his wells as opposed to getting oil out. Why don’t we go down to city hall to find out Sutton responds. Cut to city hall, Sutton comes running out of her boss’s office, crying because she’s been fired. Cut back to her house, Bond says if only he could see a map of where the fault line goes, perhaps they could figure this out. Cut back to city hall with Sutton and Bond looking for the maps. Why waist all this time? The entire plot unspools in this unfocused confusing fashion. Bond is a smart guy and we figure out what the hell Zorin is doing before Bond and his geologist friend are even in the ballpark. And then there is the dialog. “That’s odd, seismic activity
near Zorin’s offices…But why would he be pumping sea water into the fault, that’s incredibly dangerous … flooding a fault could cause a major earthquake but why would Zorin want to do that … on the tape Zorin mentioned to Silicon Valley, what’s the connection … I need to know his intentions if I’m going to go to the top … if only we knew how those fault lines ran … that information is available at city hall, hey I still have my pass card! And I’ll contact Washington to get more help! Don’t waist any time, we only have 24 hours…” This goes on and on, they talk about double earthquakes and keystones keeping the entire state of Californian from falling in the ocean and “that keystone is right under us, if he blows that he will flood the entire Valley! And look James, the once in a blue moon peek of the spring high-tide is in 45 minutes! Well, we better hurry then!” I mean this is a film where the villain literally laughs as he says “Nobody can stop me now” while the evil doctoer, WITH A GOD DAMN MONOCLE, looks on twisting his fingers like Montgomery C Burns. This is not a Bond film, it’s a SyFy Original that went straight to DVD.
Villain’s Lair: Wow. Let’s give credit where credit is due, Zorin’s estate is breath taking and one of the few highlights of the film. Shot at The Château de Chantilly located just north of Paris this is the kind of joint Jay-Z would run around while pouring Crystal on naked chicks in one of his early aughts videos. It is on these immaculate grounds that Zorin hosts a party that boasts an eclectic guest list. Given his unusual background, I guess it understandable that Texas oil men and sheiks would be mixing with several folks in 16th century period costume and a Geisha or two. Once Bond joins them it looks like the starting field of The Cannonball Run (1981). The most impressive building on the grounds is the Grandes Écuries or The Great Stables which are said to be the most beautiful in the world an you will get no argument here. The story goes that a 18th century Prince (Louis Henri, Duc de Bourbon, Prince of Condé if it ever comes up on Jeopardy) had a dream that he would be reincarnated as a horse. So, he commissioned stables worthy of royalty to be built so his hooves would never need to touch dirt. A famous architect (Who is Jean Aubert, Alex?) went forth and built a dwelling more luxurious than you, I, or any one we know will ever live in where horses could eat hay and shit. Since he was a Prince and very, very rich, this was thought of as the act of an eccentric man as oppose to someone who is bat shit nuts. Zorin, of course, has made some addition of his own like a secrete lab under the stables where Lance Armstrong has been know to drop in during the mountain stages of the Tour De France. The other striking room is Zorin’s office, full of little chachka like priceless woodcarvings and Napoleonic paintings.
Villain’s Coolest Accessory/ Trait: You mean besides being a steroid pumped, psychotic, KGB, capitalist, Jewish, billionaire, jockey? Well, I’d go with the hair. That blond dye job just screams “I’m crazy!” If you saw this hair on the subway, you would think “that’s something,” and then say something. The other interesting thing about old Max is he has more gadgets then Bond. He retrofit his 17th century stables with a huge cargo lift; good for transporting horses underground to conduct steroid experiments in private. The way the drug gets into the horse is thanks to an implant that holds the drug until it’s administered by the push of a button hidden a jockey’s whip or a gentleman’s cane. You would think the two devices would be able to talk to each other via a simple radio wave an you’d be correct, but somehow a microchip is involved and waalaa, the horses and Silicon Valley are connected. Weak sauce. Zorin, mad genius that he is, had the forethought to rig his steeple chase course with gates that can be raised and lower at the push of button in case, say, he’s ever on the course and being chased by a British agent. Zorin also has a camera hidden behind a gorgeous mirror in his office. This camera is hooked up to a device with advance face recognition software that reminds us how cool it is when stuff in Bond movies that seemed outlandish is commonplace 25 years later. Much ink has been spilled pointing out how similar Zorin and Auric Goldfinger’s plot for taking over the world are but I see the two as kindred sprits when it comes to large three-dimensional maps. Both baddies just can’t wait to get a room full of men to watch as they pull the maps out of the floor and dramatically spell out their plans for world domination. In fact, both men as so proud of these maps that if someone in the room doesn’t care for the presentation, they are killed off immediately; Goldfinger’s detractor in a industrial car compactor, Zorin’s by being dropped from a blimp via a trick staircase. The blimp itself is quite a nifty gadget that when deflated can look just like a run-of-the-mill-motor-home and with one push of a button becomes a high speed air-to-ground kidnapping device.
Badassness of Villain: Yes. When Bond looks you in the eye and tells you killing his partner was a mistake and you respond “You amuse me Mr. Bond,” that’s badass. When you put an unconscious Bond into the back of his Rolls Royce and push the car into a lake while cackling at 007’s demise, that’s badass with a good dose of crazy thrown in. (Ed. Note: The only thing I remembered when rewatching this movie was Bond surviving this ordeal by using the air in the tire to breath. I thought that was so cool as a kid and I was crushed when my father bluntly told me “never could happen.”) Walking into city hall and burning it down? Throwing a guy out of a blimp? Leaving the KGB? All of this, A #1 badass. And you anit seen nothing yet. In the 1980’s something made it OK to show hundreds and hundreds of people getting mowed down by machine guns on the big screen in the name of entertainment. There were a few rules, these people had to be faceless, the deaths had to be mostly bloodless (Despite bodies being Swiss cheesed with bullets) and their was no aftermath to clean up; the story would simply blow by the piles of dead bodies and go onto the next bit of business. This made for a weird kind of guilt free/zero moral consequence enjoyment in watching people get slaughtered. Films like Terminator (1984), Red Dawn (1984), Commando (1985), First Blood II and I’m sure countless more I can’t remember stacked up the body count in tasteless fashion. Well, Glen and Co. clearly felt they needed to “update” Bond and give their new movie this “modern” convention. True, many a Bond villain has threatened nothing less that killing every human being on the planet but they did so in a way that was (A) over the top and clearly fiction and (B) they never get to the killing because Bond always saves the day. Not so with Zorin. Near the end of the film countless workers and several of Zorin’s most trusted asides are spread out in several mine tunnels. They are working hard for their boss, lining the mine with explosives. The idea is to blow the mines and send water from the above lakes rushing through the shafts into the fault causing an earthquake that would flood most of Northern California. Bottom line, dead men tell no tales so Zorin blows the tunnels early and adios muchachos. Fine, he’s a bastard. But then we get shot after shot of these men screaming and drowning. Then, some come pouring into the main room where Zorin and his henchman Scarpine are watching from a safe perch above the rushing water. These two breakout machine guns and start laughing their asses off while shooting the drowning men and women. And this keeps going and going and going. I mean it’s almost endless. A dude tries to climb out of the water at Zorin’s feet and he’s kicked and shot in the face. May Day and Bond must navigate floating bodies as they try to escape. And we cut back to Zorin killing more and more guys. It’s 100% out of place and does nothing for the film other than show how tasteless it’s creators are. Look, everything in all art is context. I’m not against this kind of violence at all if it works within the context of the film, even if it’s over the top. A coked up Tony Montana killing everything that moves in the climax of Scarface (1983) is a hyper over the top. But everything in the movie has been over the top and leading to this moment. The graphic slaughter in the first act of Saving Private Ryan (1997) brings home the horrors of D-Day and in a larger scene, war. Seeing Zorin kill hundreds by drowning and shooting has zero value and is beyond gratuitous. It draws attention to itself for all the wrong reasons because it has no context within the film and even less in the James Bond canon at large. It doesn’t even add to Zorin’s badassness, it’s just shoves more garbage into this ass bad film.
Villain’s Asides/ Henchmen: God bless Grace Jones. She is the only saving grace (hee hee) in this film and she 100% kills it. I know she and Moore had their behind the scene issues and I don’t care how big of a headache she was; it was worth it. Jones is a Jamaican-born model, singer, fashion icon and performance artist who has done so much cool stuff it would take up take up half the entry to list. Lets just say she kicks ass. As May Day, Jones is my favorite henchman this side of Jaws. She’s a ruthless assassin with a funky fashion sense and thighs that could strangle a boa constrictor. The single best moment of the film comes when she and Zorin are sparing in the Château de Chantilly’s workout room. She and Zorin fall and wrestle on the mat until he final gets her pinned. She bits and hisses at Zorin’s face like a trapped dog. Then the two embrace in a passionate kiss and it becomes clear that this is their mating ritual. They are about to get going when a ringing phone interrupts. When Zorin gets up to answer Jones pouts like a kid eating his vegetables. The scene is sexy, scary, poignant and funny all at once. May Day gets to parade around in amazing outfits, each one cooler than the last. She runs around oilrigs and mine shafts with 8 inch heels and jumps off the Eiffel Tower wearing the sexist ninja outfit ever. She even gets to be Jesus at the end of the film, sacrificing herself to save the rest of humanity…well, at least the greater San Francisco metro area. Whenever May Day wasn’t on screen I was eagerly awaiting her next appearance. Then there is Dr. Carl Mortner / Hans Glaub/ Doctor Monocle who injects the horses and in some creepy scenes acts like Max’s grandfather. When he shouts “Maxxxxxxxxx” while Zorin and Bond are fighting it’s just out and out strange and it kind of made my skin crawl. The Nazi doc also needs to learn how to handle explosives when traveling via helium filled aircraft. Not because helium is flammable you see (it’s not) but because it a bad idea to fumble dynamite when your in a enclosed container a few hundred feet off the ground. Lastly there is Scarpine who besides having a neato scar, looking like a soccer hooligan, and shooting up rooms full of men really serves no purpose.
Bond Girl Actress: Tanya Roberts. A Bronx girl, Roberts stole America’s heart as the Shemp Howard of Charlie’s Angels, joining in the last season as Julie Rogers. She also served as delightful eye candy in the late night HBO favorite The Beastmaster (1982). In Sheena: Queen of the Jungle (1984) she got top billing as Sheena who was basically a chick Tarzan. She is also hands down the worst actress to play a Bond girl so far. Granted, she is not given the strongest character to work with but Ms. Roberts didn’t necessarily see it that way. One the DVD extras she talks about how her character is integral to the plot and not just a girl on Bond’s arm. This is like saying consumption of Scotch is integral to being a devout Mormon. In the fourteen Bond films up to this point, there hasn’t been a less necessary Bond girl. Or one with such a pedestrian name.
Bond Girl’s Name: Stacey Sutton. What? We go from Octopussy to Stacey Sutton. There’s not middle ground here folks? As we discussed above, she took over an oil company from dear old granddad, studied geology in college and then…Zorin! Despite her credentials she spends the entire film saying the most moronic things and is not one bit of help in cracking the case. When she isn’t talking she’s simply a girl on Bonds arm and not the sexiest one at that. With her blond feathered hair she looks like every girl I went to school with in the 1986 or every housewife in the greater Milwaukee metro area in 2006. Considering the devastatingly sexy Grace Jones is over on the other side I’d say Bond got the short end of the stick in this adventure.
Bond Girl Sluttiness: Bond fends off several of Zorin’s goons when they invade Suttons spacious home. She is visibly shaken so Bond cooks her a quiche. “What’s a quiche?” “It’s an omelet.” They dine by candlelight, tell tales of days past into the evening, and Bond even offers to go lock up and re hook up the phone. “The box is right outside my bedroom window.” Why you little minx, perhaps you are more interesting than … oh Jesus, she’s fallen asleep. Well, I guess that’s understandable; she did change outfits three times in the course of three scenes which I’d imagine is exhausting. Anyway, ever the gentleman Bond tucks her in and sleeps in a wooden chair, shot-gun at his side which in a better film could have been a sly visual reference to a John Ford era western but here it gave me a moment to go to the fridge for another Brooklyn lager.
Bond Girls Best Pick-up Line: “The bubbles they tickle my … Tchaikovsky!”
Bond’s Best Pick-up Line: “I take it you spend a lot of time in the saddle.”
Number of Woman 007 Beds: Four. Picking up where the California Girls left off in the open, Bond takes out a chopper with a smoke signal gun and looks around to see a British flag on an open hatch. Clearly inspired by Karl Stromberg’s love nest/ watercraft in The Spy Who Loved Me Bond commissioned Q to come up with a similar design hence the love nest iceberg boat piloted by some blond chick. Bond breaks out a bottle of Vodka (they are in Russia) which is well shaken (he was skiing, snowboarding and surfing) and gets down to getting down (it is five days to Alaska.) In a nice little role reversal for 007 it is he who shows up naked in the ladies bed. The lady in question would be May Day who ties a ribbon around the Maypole with Zorin’s blessing. Foolish man. For lady # 3 we have Pola Ivanova, the Russian agent who exists in the film only to get her Tchaikovsky tickled in the hot tub. (Yes, there is some business about her having a tape and Bond needing to get it but since it was recorded at the very same time Bond was also spying on Zorin, he could have just as easily picked up on conversation. The tape exists only to justify Ivanova and Ivanova exists only to sleep with Bond.) Finally, Bond bonks the Bond girl as is now required in the closing scene. In perhaps the least sexy sex scene put to film, we see just the top of their heads above a shower curtain as Q watches the goings on via the camera on the damn remote control cat.
Number of People 007 Kills: Three. Perhaps in an attempt to counterbalance the blood orgy Zorin unleashes in the mine, Bond himself only kills in two instances which bookend the film. In the open, two chaps in a Russian helicopter smack their aircraft into the side of a mountain after Bond fills the cabin with smoke. Then, at the end, Bond and Zorin tangle on a Golden Gate suspension cable until Zorin finds himself hang of the edge (people dangling again.) He gets in a little last laugh then plunges to his death in the icy waters of the San Francisco Bay far below. I believe Otis Redding wrote a song about it while sitting on the doc. In between there are a lot of fake-outs and false positives. Two dudes get boxed in an assembly line only to come out the other side. Several baddies get blasted with a shot gun that turned out to be loaded with rock salt. I would write them down as a kill and they would get up, dust off their pants, and jump into a car to drive off.
Most Outrageous Death/s: After Max swan dives off the bridge, the Nazi Dr. Monocle determines that the best way to get Bond is to throw a stick of dynamite at him. Dr. Monocle is in a blimp, a good thirty to fifty yards away from Bond, who is on a narrow, rounded cable. What are the chances this bomb will (A) even reach Bond and (B) explode at the exact second it’s closest to him before falling to the roadway below? We will never know because Dr. Monocle fumbles the throw. (No, the tuck rule does not apply, in replays you can clearly see he was not making a throwing motion with his arm. PS It was a fumble Brady!) Dr. Monocle and Scarpine play hot potato with the thing until it blows them out of the sky.
Miss. Moneypenny: Lois Maxwell in her last Bond film. A close friend of Moore’s since the 1940’s when they were in the same class at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) Maxwell was asked to comment on her two Bonds. “I always said I’d have Roger for a husband, but Sean for a weekend lover” which I think sums up the difference perfectly. The only player to be in all 14 films up to this point and second only to Desmond Llewelyn in overall appearance (18 for Q) Maxwell always served admirably and brought a sweetness to the Bond franchise. So how do producers reward her for her years of service? In her first scene she is dressed in a pink outfit that makes her look like every bridesmaid’s nightmare. We get a little joke regarding the hat rack where Bond takes her hat off and tosses it to her but that’s about it. Next, we see her at the track cheering on the ponies like a degenerate drunk at Aqueduct and then that’s it. I was thinking, is this how Moneypenny leaves the stage? Are they going to do something at the end for us to remember her by? Yes, they do, and I wish to God they hadn’t. As we’ve discussed, it’s now become Bond film law that before the closing credits roll, MI6 will track down Bond to find him screwing the Bond girl. The way this film ended was with the blimp going boom and since Bond didn’t check in with headquarters after the incident it is feared 007 was on the blimp and now dead. M is desperately working the phone to find out more information about his #1 man. We cut to see loyal, lovely Moneypenny sobbing, fearing her James is gone forever. We then cut to Bond in the shower bonking the least interesting Bond girl to date. This is Moneypenny’s curtain call? This is our final image; Moneypenny crying her eyes out thinking Bond is dead while he’s getting his rocks off? Could you think of a crueler exit for this beloved character? Why do this to her? I hate this movie.
M: M and his Soviet counterpart, General Gogol get some of the best lines in the film. After briefing Bond on the microchip deal, M looks at the three piece suit sporting 007 and tells him to “get properly dressed.” A funny line because he his always so. General Gogol gets to yell at Zorin “nobody leaves the KGB!” and also gets the biggest laugh in the film. After all is said and done and Bond is still thought to be dead, Gogol shows up at Universal Exports to present “The Order of Lenin for Comrade Bond. The first time ever awarded to a non-Soviet citizen.” M seems perplexed “I would think the KGB would applaud the destruction of Silicon Valley?” “On the contrary Admiral” the giggle Gogol responds “where would Russian research be without it.” This is funny, and we could have cut to Bond in the bath here keeping Moneypenny out of it. There is also the MI6 equestrian expert Sir Godfrey Tibbett who is an interesting enough character and presents a good comic foil for Moore. And for the record, when he was running around the stables at night in a black leather jacket I was reminded of John Belushi sneaking around campus in Animal House (1978).
Q: “007, if you read any memos from my department your would realize this is a highly sophisticated equipment.” Really? Looks like a remote controlled cat you could pick-up at Radio Shack for $29.99.
List of Gadgets: Outside the remote control cat, a tool Bond never uses, Q presents none of the gadgets in this film. They just kind of appear in Bond back pocket when he needs them. We’ve got the beachcomber metal detector that finds the microchip on the dead guy, a microchip Q examines on the incredibly useful micro-comparator. (Ed Note I feel like we have seen the micro-comparator in the past but for the life of me I can’t figure out in which film. Any help from you dear reader would be gratefully accepted). The chip itself is neat in that it can’t be taken out by a magnetic pulse, like ones given off in a nuclear blast. One would think a functioning microchip would be the least of your problems on the day after, but there you go. We also have the iceberg party boat and the shaver used to find bugs in hotel rooms makes a return
(Last seen in Live and Let Die (1973) I believe). At Zorin’s party, Bond see’s Zorin talking to a woman in his office though a window. Her breaks out a pair of sunglass that got me very excite. Will they let him see though walls? Will he be able to zoom in and see what Zorin is writing? Will they allow him to read lips? When he puts them on, they do nothing besides making him look like Truman Capote. Seriously, he puts them on, adjusts some dials, and nothing happens. I watched again to see what I missed and it appears they may have cut down on the glair off the window, but isn’t that was all sunglasses do? The ring that takes photos of people at the party is more useful but my favorite gadget doubles as a clever bit of product placement. Bond is about to breaking into a home via the window. He reaches into his pocket to get a credit card to do the old unlatch the windows lock trick, a movie stand-by. Turns out the credit card has an electronic magnet so instead of swiping the card he simply puts it next to the lock and open sesame. Apparently, anyone can pick up this neat toy at their local Sharper Image.
Gadgets/British Government Property Bond Destroys: Nothing destroyed per se but MI6 ought to have that iceberg boat steam cleaned. After all, it was 5 days to Alaska so what happened in there? God only knows. Hey, that’s another Beach Boys tune.
Other Property Destroyed: One Russian snow mobile and one Russian chopper in Siberia but that is nothing compared to havoc he reeks in Paris. After May Day leaps off the Eiffel Tower, a feet that would have been much more impressive had we not seen Superman fly around the landmark to save Lois Lane five years earlier in Superman II (1980), Bond carjacks a taxi from a wine swilling Parisian cabbie. “My car! My car!” he screams sounding not unlike Pepe Le Pew as Bond proceeds to get the car decapitated and chopped in two while riding backwards down steps and jumping off the roof of busses. Finally, in what may or may not be a nod to the wedding he trashed with a boat in Live and Let Die, Bond jumps onto a boat to trash a wedding, breaking through the glass ceiling and landing on the wedding cake. “Congratulations!” According to M, this little jaunt through The City of Lights cost 6 million franks. I was very happy to get this information because I always wondered who at MI6 picked up the tab for Bonds rampages. We know Q gets shocked with the bill when equipment in the field doesn’t make it back and now we know “00 overseas destruction” comes out of M’s budget. He also trashes half of San Francisco while hanging off the back of a fire truck, no bill is mentioned.
Felix Leiter: Having given up on Felix after his rather sold performance in Live and Let Die the CIA sent Chuck Lee who was played by David “I go first Indy” Yip of Temple of Doom (1984) fame. Since it’s not Felix we can assume the CIA agent will serve the same purpose as a red shirt on an USS Enterprise away team and sure enough poor old Lee gets it before we really got to know him. As always, the rules from Zombieland (2009) are wise to keep in mind at all times and not just during the end of days. After all, if Lee followed rule # 31 (Check the back seat) he would still be with us today. And that goes double for Sir Godfrey Tibbett.
Best One Liners/Quips: May Day “Wow! What a view….” Zorin “…to a kill.” What? No, not really, the best line is “Nobody leaves the KGB.”
Bond Cars: They even screw up the car in this movie. Bond gets a generic grey Ford that would make a suburban Mom embarrassed to ride around in. Tibbett gets to drive Bond around in a classic Rolls Royce. The Rolls used in the film was actually Cubby Broccoli’s car. Apparently he would hang around the set going into a near panic whenever one of the actors was driving it. At one point Bond asks Tibbett, who is undercover as Bond driver/ man servant, to go into town to inform headquarters of the doping scandal happing at Zorin’s horse farm. Tibbett uses the excuses he’s going to wash the car as a reason to leave. When he realizes he is being followed into twon, Tibbett pulls into a corner lot PB station with one of those cheep car washed in its parking lot. He then proceeds to drive this amazing car through scouring brushes and filthy recycled water. I mean, it would kill any owner of a Rolls to subject the finish to such treatment and Oh look, it did kill him. The most true to life scenario in the film yet.
Bond Timepiece: None which is better than the digital crap we’ve dealt with the last few films.
Other Notable Bond Accessories: James is rocking the Olens once again. He also breaks out two aliases in this adventure; Sinjin Smyth the rich heir who later become James Sinjin Smyth and James Stockton of the London Times.
Number of Drinks 007 Consumes: 4. When he meets his French connection (bum da bum ching) at the Eiffel Tower the two share a bottle of Bollinger 75 before the Frenchman is kill by a fishing hook. Bond also drinks some red with Sutton and an empty bottle can be seen in the back ground so we will assume it was more than one glass. He also tries to have some bubbly with Sutton when two first meet at Zorin’s party “You didn’t say what part of the States you come from Mrs.” “No I didn’t” but it doesn’t go so well. In the open, he shows up to the love nest iceberg boat with a bottle of vodka which he refers to as “very shaken” which brings me to an interesting point; Roger Moore never orders a martini and never says the words “Shaken, not stirred.” In Live and Let Die they tried to establish Moore’s drink as Bourbon and water but for some reason they never followed up on that. He has had shaken, not stirred martinis ordered for him (Triple X in The Spy Who Loved Me) and mixed for him (Manuela in Moonraker) but he himself has never requested the drink that is most associated with James Bond.
Bond’s Gambling Winnings: When Bond visits the track, he of course had to lay a bet. It happened to be on Pegasus, Zorin’s doped up horse, which of course wins. This move reminded me of when Bond used Khan’s loaded dice in the previous film. It’s a shrewd F you to use the villain’s cheating to your own advantage and proves once again the Bond is a truly great poker player.
List of Locations: Iceland, Switzerland, France and the United States. Switzerland plays Siberia in the open and Iceland provided four shots of icebergs for the sequence. The various Santa Clara Valley and Bay Area locations are ho-hum by Bond standards. We also hit all the Europe on $50 a day spots in Paris so it’s left to The Château de Chantilly to do all the heavy lifting. I wish the entire film took place here. Save all the sets at the chateau, the only other memorable one is the huge main room in Zorin’s mine. It reminded me immediately of the mine in Temple of Doom only three times as big. It is really quite striking but when it’s flooded I couldn’t help but return to Temple of Doom, remembering that just a year earlier did the same thing. Another point I wanted to cover is that A View to a Killinspired the first Bond based video game. Available for the Commodore 64, the game put you in Bonds shoes to experience three “boards;” the May Day chase through Paris, the escape from city hall with Sutton and the race to defuse the bomb in Zorin’s mine. While rewatching all the Bond movies I often found myself thinking of how much video games are influenced by these films. Take any Bond skiing sequences and you have a SSX Snowboarding game, or take his gun battles in the air, on the water and in cars and you could graft a Grand Theft Auto sequence on it. In fact, his globe trotting while searching for clues and chasing baddies would make for a kick ass sandbox game, so I wonder why “Goldeneye 007,” recently reissued for the Wii, is the only Bond game to have meet with any kind of wide spread praise? It seems like making a great Bond video game would be a no brainer. Perhaps much like “Batman: Arkham Asylum” defied all expiation and proved you can do a
superhero game well we just need the right team to tackle 007. (Ed note: I love me video games but I have never played a James Bond title. I’m an XBOX guy so if anyone has any suggestions as to which one to try out, I assume Goldeneye, please let me know your thoughts.)
Bonds Special Abilities Displayed: Just when you thought Bond couldn’t up his skiing game after For Your Eyes Only here comes the Beach Boys errr, Gidea Park to prove you wrong. OK not really. Truth be told, this is one of the weaker ski sequences. Sure it features 007 tumbling and getting up, skiing on a single ski, and snowboard but we have seen much more impressive moves in the powder from Bond. Showing himself to be the kind of 80’s man you might want to take home to mom Bond proves he can cook a mean quiche, can tie a knot strong enough to secure a blimp to a bridge (you get a merit badge for that in scouts) and if you’ve ever locked out of your house, he can deftly pick a lock. As for the ever expanding list of vehicles Bond is licensed to operate, it’s seems as if it’s gotten to the point where Glen gathers his writers and they just have a brain storm. Have we seen him on a snow mobile yet? I’m not sure but let’s do it. How about a taxi that’s been split in two? No, and I like were you going with that, make it happen. What if we put him on horse and then tried to make him all kinds of Christopher Reeve on a rigged jumping course? Jesus man, that’s Superman you’re talking about, show some God damn respect! But your point is taken. We could do that also have him jump from a horse to a car just for the fun of it ok? Wait guys, wait a minute. I have it! A hook and ladder fire truck! Quick, get me the mayor of San Francisco on the phone, we have a movie to make!
Final Thoughts: Bottom line, the longest tenured Bond stuck around the party for one to many. If Sir Roger left after a six-pack, I think his overall legacy would be much rosier. However, he ordered that seventh martini and kept trying to extend closing time, sitting at the bar well after all the fun was had and the lights had been turned off. As is often the case when this happens, Moore awoke the next morning with a bad taste in his mouth. He then made his way to the bathroom, looked in the mirror and said himself “Jesus, I hope I didn’t embarrass myself.” You did indeed Roger, but you are not alone. No one got out of this one without a serious blemish on the old resume. Look, making a movie is about choices. Every story point, location, character, line of dialog, costume, etc. etc is a choice. And then within those choices there are hundreds of more choices made by hundreds of very talent people working very hard to put out a film that they will be proud of and that audiences will enjoy. I have such appreciation for everything these craftsmen and women do. Added to which I have a nearly bottomless reservoir of good will for James Bond. I’m willing to overlook a lot, especially when everyone involved is working to get it right. But here, the entire crew just made bad, lazy, and all together wrong choices across the board. It gives me no pleasure to rip this thing up, but ripped up it must be. Octopussy may have been lacking on the plot front but it was fun as hell and everyone involved seemed to be having a blast. A View to a Kill is dreary drudgery that’s as much fun as the debt ceiling debates. No one involved seems to give a toss, almost like they are punching the time clock and looking forward to time off. Let’s just stick Bond on the screen, have him do something outrageous, and call it a day. The audience will feast on anything we feed ‘em. How else can you explain a movie where a cat food bowl with “pussy” written on it passes as wit? And I didn’t even get into the fifteen minutes of painful keystone cops antics. It was right about the point when half a dozen cop cars were falling off a rising draw bridge that I called bullshit on the entire affair. I simply gave up. Why not? The crew gave up on this puppy long before I did. Grace Jones is the only one even trying and she got labeled a diva for her efforts. When I finally got done watching I felt duped, cheated, like a sucker. “Step right up, step right up, see the most famous action hero of all time James Bond….” Only Roger Moore was right, this was not James Bond. It’s truly a bummer that this is how Moore and Maxwell leave the stage. By the end of the film, I got the feeling that even Glen and crew knew they had a clunker on their hands. For the first time ever, the end credits don’t give us the title of the next Bond movie, they simply promise “James Bond Will Return.” Well, that’s good news. He sure as hell wasn’t here for this crap fest. I truly hoped I would never have to issue this rating at Blog, James Blog but A View to a Kill earned every last drop.