Saturday, November 08, 2008

May Day!

Roger Moore and Tanya Roberts watches things go down in flames in A View to A Kill.

To continue the celebration of James Bond, I'm going to feature the absolute worst James Bond movie: 1985's A View to A Kill. Roger Moore's seventh and final adventure as 007. Of the Bond films made in that decade, A View to A Kill was by far the most entrenched in 80's-ness. Silicon Valley, cassette walkmen, Grace Jones - it's all in there. Like any 007 movie, there are redeeming features as the stunt man team get a serious work out here. Plus, Duran Duran at the height of their teeny bopper fame. And now...the moment you haven't been waiting for...a a review of that disaster that is A a Kill!

Let's start with what I liked about A View to A Kill. The theme song was nice, like most Duran Duran songs it makes no sense but sounds great. Watching Christopher Walken and Grace Jones make a great evil pair of villians with Walken's staggered cadences and Jones' maniacal laughter that makes me want to buy Honda Scooters (do they still make those?) was fun. Growing up in the Bay Area, the fact that 2/3rds of this movie takes place in the San Francisco vicinity is pretty awesome. And the stunt man team goes above and beyond, even being on the cutting edge of extreme sports. Base jumping off the Eiffel tower and snowboarding are all featured here. Plus fancy skiing, a great car chase and fighting on top of the Golden Gate Bridge up the ante. If we stopped there we would have a great movie! But there's more...much more.

We'll start at the top of the foodchain, Roger Moore was way to freakin' old to be James Bond at this point. I don't know what his literal age was, he doesn't look a day over 60, too old to be running with young girls and convincingly intercut with stuntmen for closeups. Watching Moore make out with a twenty something blonde in a hot tub is paaiinnful to see (though probably not painful for him) at this point (I could imagine Bond saying "Watch the hair plugs darling, they're property of Her Majesty's government.") And I know he's acting, but Moore wheezing his way through action sequences seemed really authentic. I guess if he had a Jack LaLane physique his age would have been less of an issue, but he didn't. James Bond looked like a man late for his own yacht party instead of a daredevil spy.

To make matters worse, he's paired up with the worst of the Bond girls - Stacy Sutton played by Tanya Roberts. Stacy Sutton is written as a supposed former Oil company boss and geologist who has a ton of intellectual knowledge and yet manages to be as dumb as a post. At one point, she literally gets kidnapped by a blimp. A flying blimp sneaks up behind her and carries her away. Even as James Bond is yelling "Look out behind you!" a good 60 seconds before she gets snagged. Though certainly beautiful, Tanya Robert's raspy voice transforms to an ear splicing shriek in every action sequence she's involved in. "JAMES!" she screams over and over like an aural equivalent to fingernails on a chalkboard. Roberts couldn't do anything about how the character was written, but that shrieking thing? She had control over that. I have to stop for a second, I just heard her scream and I think my ear is bleeding.

With the two stars failing miserably and a generic plot in play (they stole the story from Superman and plan to sink part of California under water) there isn't much else to do. San Francisco Keystone Cops, an unconvincing change of heart by Grace Jones towards the end, flat direction by the king of flat direction John Glen lead us through boredom and exasperation as the franchise goes to hell in a handbasket. If you watch the incredible locations in the background and ignore anything in the foreground it's a pretty picture, otherwise A View to A Kill almost lives up to its title. After seeing this movie, you may not want to see another James Bond movie again. It's more diabolical than a plot by SPECTRE, fortunately it failed.

A View to A Kill trailer

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