A VIEW TO A KILL (United Artists, 1985)
★ The fourteenth James Bond film produced by Albert R. Broccoli. US release date: May 24, 1985. Budget: $30 million. Worldwide box office gross: $152.6 million (US domestic gross: $50.3 million; international gross: $102.3 million). Running time: 131 minutes.
Recovering the body of agent 003 in Siberia, James Bond (Roger Moore) finds a unique microchip, impervious to damage from electromagnetic pulses, which Q traces to a company called Zorin Industries. Bond, now teamed with agent Sir Godfrey Tibbett (Patrick Macnee) first meets the company’s owner, Max Zorin (Christopher Walken), and his bodyguard, May Day (Grace Jones), at the elegant Ascot Racecourse in England, where the agents uncover Zorin’s plot to enhance the performance of his racehorses via steroid-releasing implants. Bond also meets California state geologist Stacey Sutton (Tanya Roberts), to whom Zorin gives a $5 million check. Zorin turns out to be a genetically enhanced former KGB agent gone rogue, who intends to corner the world’s supply of microchips by destroying California’s Silicon Valley with a massive double earthquake.
Behind the Scenes
Despite the fact that the previous two Bond films, For Your Eyes Only and Octopussy, had found success by returning to the From Russia with Love formula of putting intrigue ahead of bombastic adventure, in A View to a Kill the filmmakers decided once again to return to the Goldfinger model of outrageous fantasy. In many ways, A View to a Kill is a veritable remake of Goldfinger—but it fails in every way that film succeeded.
Max Zorin, like Auric Goldfinger, is out to to corner the world market on a valuable commodity—microchips instead of gold bullion. Instead of nuking Fort Knox, he’ll destroy Silicon Valley with earthquakes. It’s a logical plan as the schemes of Bond villains go, considering the valley’s proximity to the very dangerous San Andreas Fault—but the film makes no effort to establish the larger threat. In Goldfinger, a simple explanation uttered by Bond underscored the danger to the free world if the US gold supply were irradiated for fifty-eight years. But no one ever explains how Zorin’s monopoly on microchips threatens life as we know it. As a result, there’s no reason for the audience to care about microchips, Silicon Valley, or the story.
A more interesting plotline is teased early in the film: the notion that Zorin has developed a microchip that is impervious to magnetic pulse damage. A villain who could wipe out every computer in England, including early-warning systems, while his own systems are protected, is a credible and chilling threat. But the idea, once raised, is never elaborated upon. (Interestingly, the concept of an electromagnetic weapon targeting England would be resurrected a decade later as the ultimate goal of the Janus crime syndicate in GoldenEye.) Similarly, the entire sequence filmed in France at Zorin’s estate has nothing to do with the film’s main plot, though it’s delightful to see Patrick Macnee in a largely comedic role.
Christopher Walken, meanwhile, was the ideal person to play the maniacal genius Zorin, but the character itself is bland and poorly realized. The sequence in which he and his henchman Scarpine (Patrick Bauchau) casually machine-gun his own workers in the Main Strike Mine is a case of literal overkill. And yet A View to a Kill is also a Bond movie with very little action. The snow-surfing sequence in the pre-credits teaser is well made, but once again it’s ruined by a goofy musical score—the Beach Boys and James Bond just don’t mix. The raging-fire sequence in San Francisco City Hall, though suspenseful, just rehashes what audiences had already seen in the disaster movies of the previous decade (e.g., The Towering Inferno). And the nutty fire-truck chase through San Francisco belongs in a Ghostbusters movie, not a Bond film. The action in the Main Strike Mine is fantastic, and includes some excellent production design work from Peter Lamont. But didn’t Steven Spielberg cover the same ground in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom a year earlier?
A View to a Kill is also a surprisingly tame entry in the series romantically, perhaps presaging the safe-sex Bond films of the late 1980s. The only titillation comes from a brief liaison between Bond and KGB agent Pola Ivanova (Fiona Fullerton) in a hot tub. On the other hand, Tanya Roberts, a beautiful, sexy, and very photogenic actress, spends most of the film in conservatively cut formal dresses and coveralls—quite the miscalculation.
The few high points include the Main Strike Mine action—the best part of the film—and John Barry’s score, which is reminiscent of Goldfinger and repeats instrumental elements of the catchy Duran Duran title song at key moments.
|James Bond||Roger Moore|
|Max Zorin||Christopher Walken|
|Stacey Sutton||Tanya Roberts|
|May Day||Grace Jones|
|Sir Godfrey Tibbett||Patrick Macnee|
|Chuck Lee||David Yip|
|Pola Ivanova||Fiona Fullerton|
|Bob Conley||Manning Redwood|
|Jenny Flex||Alison Doody|
|Dr. Carl Mortner||Willoughby Gray|
|Miss Moneypenny||Lois Maxwell|
|General Gogol||Walter Gotell|
|Minister of Defense||Geoffrey Keen|
|Achille Aubergine||Jean Rougerie|
|W. G. Howe||Daniel Benzali|
|Pan Ho||Papillon Soo Soo|
|Kimberley Jones||Mary Stavin|
|Butterfly Act Compere||Dominique Risbourg|
|Whistling Girl||Carole Ashby|
|Taiwanese Tycoon||Anthony Chin|
|Paris Taxi Driver||Lucien Jerome|
|U.S. Police Captain||Joe Flood|
|The Auctioneer||Gerard Buhr|
|Mine Foreman||Tony Sibbald|
|Screenplay by||Richard Maibaum|
|Michael G. Wilson|
|Producers||Albert R. Broccoli|
|Michael G. Wilson|
|Associate Producer||Thomas Pevsner|
|Director of Photography||Alan Hume|
|Music by||John Barry|
|Title song performed by||Duran Duran|
|Production Designer||Peter Lamont|
|Art Director||John Fenner|
|Construction Manager||Michael Redding|
|Set Decorator||Crispian Sallis|
|Costume Designer||Emma Porteous|
|Production Supervisor||Anthony Waye|
|Production Managers||Philip Kohler|
|Ned Kopp & Company|
|Jon Thor Hannesson|
|Assistant Director||Gerry Gavigan|
|Second-Unit Director and Photography||Arthur Wooster|
|Ski Sequence Director and Photographer||Willy Bogner, Jr.|
|Camera Operator||Michael Frift|
|Action-sequences arranged by||Martin Grace|
|Driving stunts arranged by||Remy Julienne|
|Title Designer||Maurice Binder|
|Special Effects Supervisor||John Richardson|
|Sound Editor||Colin Miller|
 “A View to a Kill (1985),” The Numbers, accessed July 17, 2020, https://www.the-numbers.com/movie/View-to-a-Kill-A.