My first reaction when A View to a Kill ended: meh.
This to me is the weakest Bond film with Roger Moore mainly because it almost looks like they weren’t even trying. Aside from Roger Moore probably being too old to pull off the role at that point in his career, there’s just some really sloppy (lazy?) film making going on in this movie. There are weird jump cuts in the editing. John Glen does not come close to directing at the level that he did with For Your Eyes Only or Octopussy. I didn’t care about any of the characters, especially the ineffectually bland Bond girl Stacey Sutton (more on her later). Christopher Walken was good as the villain Max Zorin, but his performance wasn’t enough to save this film. The storyline doesn’t rise to the levels of its predecessors and, perhaps due to Moore’s age of 57 when they were shooting the film, the action sequences do not approach the levels of intensity or entertainment of the previous Moore films.
That’s the big take away from this film for me. It’s boring. It’s probably the most boring film in the series. There’s not one thing going on in this film that is compelling the viewer to continue watching.
Let’s start with Roger Moore. He’s definitely giving this film his best shot, but his best isn’t good enough anymore. Other than his comedic timing (the scene where he and Sir Godfrey, disguised as his valet, arrive at Zorin’s auction, and Bond merrily orders him around), Moore can pull off neither the action scenes nor the romantic scenes. He later would say that he was horrified to find out that he was older than the mother of Tanya Roberts, who played Stacey Sutton.
Speaking of Stacey Sutton, we have yet another terribly acted Bond girl. However I think what makes her the most ineffectual is that she’s most like the Damsel in Distress archetype of any Bond girl in the series to this point. She’s utterly incapable of taking care of herself and has little impact on the story. In my opinion, she’s the weakest Bond girl thus far in the series.
Max Zorin was a good villain, plaid sadistically and effectively by Christopher Walken, who was probably the biggest star to appear as a villain in a Bond film to date, other than perhaps Robert Shaw in From Russia With Love or Telly Savalas in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. He brings a certain panache to the role, as well as to the film, but his character and his goal are somewhat muddled. Perhaps they were going for a smarter storyline, but trying to corner the world’s microchip market isn’t as readily an accessible threat than some others in the series. Understandably, it would be a big deal if it happened, but the film makers needed to do a better job of making it so. The other problem with this plot line is the necessity to destroy Silicon Valley by means of using explosions to cause an earthquake, which was a little too similar to what Lex Luthor was trying to do in Superman less than a decade earlier.
Using Grace Jones as May Day, Zorin’s henchwoman, was a strength in this film. She has a ferocity that suits the series well, but like Jaws in Moonraker, she loses her menace once she finds out that Zorin has double-crossed her and she becomes and ally to Bond, and is ultimately responsible for saving the day. Some would call this a character arc, but it feels too much like a “come to Jesus” moment. If she was doing it clearly to get revenge on Zorin, it would have been more satisfying.
Lazy film making + lazy story development + lazy character development = boring movie.
All of this leads to a film that is forgettable. I dislike Moonraker because it’s a an absurd film, but I would probably watch it ahead of A View to a Kill again because at least it felt like they were trying. This film is just weak and boring and kind of a waste. Just like Diamonds Are Forever did with Sean Connery, A View to a Kill clearly demonstrated that the franchise was ready for the impending transition from Roger Moore.