One of the worst things a Bond film can do is waste a potentially amazing villain. If you had told me that Christopher Walken was playing a Bond villain, I would expect the movie to revolve around that character. A Walken villain should rival Goldfinger and Dr No for iconic status in the franchise and has the potential to be one of craziest and nastiest villains 007 has ever faced.
Unfortunately, we get no such good fortune here. Walken is indeed a very capable villain but he is wasted. He gets one decent “boardroom” scene but doesn’t even dispatch the necessary board-member himself. He gets a dastardly plan but it is hardly putting the world at jeopardy. His henchwoman, Mayday, actually does more of the killing and gets a cooler role in the film than he does.
Not that Grace Jones is the best of the villains Bond has faced either. She doesn’t compare to Jaws or Oddjob, other than dressing bizarrely and acting even worse. She tries to kill Bond, sleeps with Bond, doesn’t kill him when she gets the chance, tries to kill him again and then works with him. It is a mess of a role that unfortunately mirrors the quite dull story she is a part of.
A scandal involving micro-chips was never going to be that exciting after we have had many a nuclear threat, virus from space or a plan to destroy the planet and live under the sea. The whole thing feels very un-Walken and doesn’t live up to the actor’s potential.
You can almost see the decision to move away from the silly. This is probably the least silly of the Bond movies. It is played very straight, with plenty of decent, but fairly standard action scenes and quite a dull central investigation for Bond to walk through. We are spoilt with serious and edgy Bond now but when you took the silly away from Moore’s era, you were left with a dull, uninspired film.
Not that Moore seems to have much more spying left in him. Moore looks uncomfortably old in places. To try to imagine that he is the spy snowboarding at the beginning of the movie is laughable and no mention of his advancing years is ever made (something Never Say Never Again did very well). When he is matched up with the customary Bond Girl, the mismatch is clear and the age gap more noticeable than you’d really like.
Not that Tanya Roberts offers much as Bond Girl Stacey Sutton. She is the usual damsel-in-distress, caught up the movies’ events. At least Grace Jones manages to kick-ass and aid Bond when it matters, getting quite a decent ending to her characters story in the process.
Although it never feels like it, this is clearly the end of the road for Roger Moore’s Bond. The fact that the credits don’t end with the usual title of the next movie but just a generic “James Bond will return” shows that even the people behind the series must have been aware that fresh blood needed to fill old shoes.
Overall, A View to a Kill is a wasted opportunity. Christopher Walken could have been an iconic Bond villain but is as generic as most of Moore’s later foes tend to be. Moore’s older Bond is ignored in favour of the audience being led to believe he can still jump, fight, snowboard (!) and seduce like a man at least ten years younger. Time for less Moore and a new Bond.
Rating – 2
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)