Wednesday, March 20, 2013

"50 Years of Bond" Retrospective - #14: A View to a Kill

For Your Eyes Only started the official downward spiral of Roger Moore’s career as James Bond, as people were starting to get pretty sick of him. Octopussy didn’t help in giving it any new life. But, when A View to a Kill came out, it slaughtered that era.

This was the first Bond film to be produced by current Bond co-producer Michael G. Wilson, and what a weak way to start that trend. This is such an uninspired, ridiculous, half baked, overblown and boring mess of a film that, at the time, was the worst Bond film yet. IT DIDN’T EVEN DESERVE TO SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY, AND YET THEY STILL GAVE IT THE GREENLI-okay, let’s just talk about it for a minute.

In this film, Bond is sent on a new mission to investigate the case of Max Zorin, the generic villain whose deceptive image of taking extreme interest in horse racing hides a much deeper plan. Sounds like many of the other villains. What is his ultimate goal? Well, it’s to blow up Silicon Valley, for… some reason. I can’t really remember it, but I’m sure it’s so evil and horrid, and not like any of the other plans of the other villains in the previous films… You are dead to me, movie.

Yeah, it’s pretty bad when, during the opening action sequence on snowboard, the movie’s already ruined for you when they start playing the Beach Boys. Not only does this have some of the most absurd moments in the entire franchise, it’s just about the most undisciplined, rehashed movie I’ve seen thus far. It is repeating every single note of the much better Bond films, none the least of which are copied directly from Goldfinger. Unlike Goldfinger, it’s not the least bit enjoyable to watch. It is at least competently made from an aesthetic standpoint, but the problem is that it’s just… stupid! Take, for example, the title sequence, set to the song by Duran Duran. Truth be told, this isn’t a half bad song, but it’s set to the wrong kind of opening sequence, and even worse, it simply doesn’t belong in the James Bond universe whatsoever. What made it qualified? Is that really the only material they could come up with?

But it doesn’t stop there. The last two films kinda hinted at Roger Moore losing his knack as Bond, but this one confirmed it. He just feels too visibly aged to be taken seriously as the Bond he once was, and again, I’m sure he’s trying, but the problem is that the studio didn’t know what to do with him anymore. They didn’t even know the right people to pair him with, because the Bond girls he shares the screen with are just so dull.

Of course, when none of my attention is focused on the flaws of the narrative, pacing, or the acting, it’s spent asking one repeated question. “What is Christopher Walken doing in this movie?” This seems like the decision that virtually came out of nowhere. Maybe the studio had been a fan of his work, including his Oscar winning performance in The Deer Hunter, and wanted him to be in one of their films, but he does not mesh with the universe of Bond AT ALL. It’s not like Javier Bardem or Christopher Lee, where you know it’s them, but they just get so lost in the role you don’t care. Every time I see this villain, I only see Christopher Walken. I’m sure he’s having some fun with it, but he was not the right choice. It’s way too distracting.

As for the action, it’s so disappointing. It’s all so unmemorable, so flimsy, and overblown, even by the standards not only of Bond, but of Roger Moore. Actually, I take that back. The final confrontation on the Golden Gate Bridge is actually pretty good. Why is it that the only action sequences I’ve liked in these last few movies are the ones that toy with my fear of heights? Everything else, I don’t remember a thing.

Unlike movies like Diamonds Are Forever, I wasn’t in the minority opinion. Critics didn’t like it, audiences didn’t like it, and it didn’t do too well at the box office, at least compared to the previous Moore films. Even Roger Moore thought it was terrible, citing not only his visible aging and his complete lack of chemistry with Tanya Roberts, but mainly because of the depiction of the violence, noting how completely out of character it was from the other cinematic entries. With this film over, Moore decided to pass the torch along, and officially retired from James Bond. This film was an embarrassment, and EON were gonna have to pull themselves together if they were going to make the next film right. Were they successful? Well… Join me in the next review.

* / *****

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