In its 21, soon to be 22, cinematic outings, the Bond series has made a few missteps. Die Another Day was, for me, a total letdown, the sight of Madonna’s muscled arms was enough to put me off my popcorn and the pondering plot and silly stunts too over the top, even for the Bond of the day.
It’s unfortunate though that, despite being my favourite Bond actor to date, it’s Roger Moore who has racked up the most misguided films of the franchise. For Your Eyes Only is average at best and Octopussy is largely a dull affair. By then of course, Moore was also beginning to age quite badly, and the result was that several of the action scenes looked rather silly indeed.
Then there’s A View To A Kill.
Released two years after Octopussy, Moore himself has long since admitted he was far too old for the part, his action scenes rendered ridiculous as the sight of a 57-year-old saving the world was just too much to swallow. These two latter films helped serve Moore’s reputation for playing Bond for laughs, a claim that while true to a large extent is a little unfair when you watch back his earlier efforts such as Live and Let Die and The Spy Who Loved Me. Yes there are laughs but he could do the action hero just as good as anybody – when he was the right age for the role.
Of course, Moore’s age also throws up major problems when coupled with the film’s Bond girl, Stacey Sutton. Looking more like father and daughter than lovers, their tryst at the film’s end is a disturbing image with the phrase, ‘You dirty old man’ springing instantly to mind. However, that pales in comparison to the sight of Moore in bed with Grace Jones. Here was a woman deliberately billed as one scary lady. I doubt even Bond would get out of that situation alive.
A closer look at these two Bond girls gives further confirmation of why the film deserves to languish in the Dungeon. Tanya Roberts as Stacey was, undoubtedly, a very attractive female (for further confirmation check out Beastmaster) but in the acting stakes she was, shall we say, underwhelming. All screams and flatly delivered lines, it’s an excruciating performance to watch. Plus, she’s a geologist? Really?
Then we come to Grace Jones. Presumably picked for her physique rather than her acting chops, she’s acutely painful to listen to at times and her constant expression with gritted teeth and furrowed brow suggests she was feeling the pain just as much as the audience.
It’s the plot itself that seals the deal though. Max Zorin’s plan to destroy Silicon Valley to make himself a ton of money is, in itself, no more preposterous than many other Bond stories. In fact in many ways, it’s less ambitious than other Bond villains. Here’s just a greedy, albeit insane, evil genius who wants to make a quick buck. However, it’s the routes the story takes to get there which hold little merit. Take the pre-title sequence. Played out to the Beach Boys, Bond’s silly, stunt-filled escape from the pursuing villains in Siberia sets an uneasy tone from the off, with Bond being portrayed as some sort of Extreme Sports nut who gets his kicks from spying on the side. The fact that he’s soon to draw his pension doesn’t help much.
The Paris chase sequence is better, but the silly escape from San Francisco City Hall is unnecessary, more of a diversion than helping the plot along in any way.
And that’s the case with many of the scenes throughout the film. There’s no real sense of a thought-out plot or any overall feeling of where the film wants to go. It’s more a collection of random action sequences laced together to keep you going until the final showdown at Silicon Valley. Once that’s dispensed with, we’re then treated (thanks to Stacey Sutton being seemingly unaware of a huge airship hovering over her) to the Golden Gate Bridge finale, when the sight of Moore battling with Walken takes on comical proportions.
So, weak plotting, the worst Bond girls ever, and a leading actor who was old enough to play Bond’s dad make this the worst Bond so far. And if those reasons weren’t enough, even Roger Moore himself has said that A View To A Kill is his least favourite of his Bond films. And that’s why it’s currently shackled up in the Dungeon.