Watching ‘A View to a Kill’ now, as an adult and a woman with an awareness of various issues in Hollywood and the entertainment industry in general, was a little like hearing fingernails on a chalkboard – there’s the long moment of torture with a brief reprieve at the bottom, before it starts again.
Firstly, Roger Moore is my least favourite Bond (I don’t count George Lazenby). He was corny, smarmy, had very little regard for women as actual people, and was thoroughly unattractive. The Moore Era consisted of impossible plots, over-the-top villains, and ridiculous gadgets. The fight scenes where incredibly camp and obviously fake, the special effects had a lot lacking, and the stunt doubles couldn’t have looked less like Moore had they tried. Some would argue that it was a Golden Era, but I feel those Bond films lost themselves in their own formulas.
‘A View to a Kill’ features a much younger Christopher Walken as billionaire villain (they’re never poor, are they?) Zorin seeking to destroy Silicon Valley via the San Andreas Fault, so he can have a monopoly on the newly invented silicon computer chip. Bond teams up with a geologist named Stacy (Tanya Roberts) to foil the dastardly plot.
This Bond film was one of the few to feature more than the token damsel in distress. Zorin’s hired assassins are three female warriors, including the statuesque Grace Jones as May Day. Also appearing is Alison Doody who went on to co-star in ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’. There’s a female Russian spy in there somewhere who Bond beds and betrays for information. So in some ways, ‘A View to a Kill’ took a step forward on the feminism front, but took two steps back in having Stacey do not much more than fall about and scream a lot.
So what was good about it? There weren’t any space battles, for a start. May Day is redeemed and foils her boss’s plan. The female characters are useful, not just screen decoration. The final stunt sequence wasn’t too bad, being on top of the Golden Gate Bridge. Here at least some of the fighting looked real. Walken’s Zorin was a proper sociopath, but his backstory sounded even more interesting than the film’s plot. There weren’t too many silly gadgets.
Roger Moore was corny, smarmy, had very little regard for women as actual people.
But how does it hold up against the modern Bond films?
Not well. Moore might have paved the way for the formulaic Bond film after Connery retired from the role, but it was Peirce Brosnan and now Daniel Craig who have really built the character into what he is today. Brosnan’s Bond was mostly serious, with a few glib lines here and there. Both Brosnan and Craig were troubled characters, scarred, guilty, and suffering complicated relationships with women. Moore’s Bond spent more time snapping out corny lines, and seducing women way out of his class than was really feasible. Perhaps that speaks more to the qualities of films of that decade and how they have evolved than anything else.
All in all, ‘A View to a Kill’ wasn’t the worst Bond film ever made, but it’s far from the best. Looking back on it thirty years later unfortunately highlights its many failings, but it still has some redeeming qualities.