Finally, the end of the road, a Bond film for which even Roger Moore thought he was too old. He was, of course, quite right. Let’s not beat about the bush, A View To A Kill is awful.
What? You want more? Where to start. There are very few moments that A View To A Kill actually feels like a proper Bond film, except when it’s ticking off the occasional past legacy. But Rog is absolutely going through the motions at this point, and he’s going through them slowly and with some difficulty because he’s quite clearly past it. The rest of the cast resembles a freak show that would put Britain’s Got Talent to shame; Christopher Walken is in full on weird mode, but fails at any point to come over as threatening; whoever thought Grace Jones could act needs to be taken out and shot; and poor old Patrick Macnee looks like he’s stumbled in off the set of an entirely different film and is now being kept as Rog’s slave.
(A note on those old legacies, though: while I didn’t list it out originally, pretty much any Bond film with either a large set of henchmen or international investors gets them together and sits them round a table, and the cunning twist here is that the table has been set up in – an airship! What larks. It is the most Bond-like moment in the whole film, so thanks to whichever film did it first. [hurriedly scrambles back to start watching Sean Connery Bonds again])
If any of the action scenes redeemed it, it mightn’t be so bad, but there’s some Paris-based rumblings that are faintly ludicrous at best, and a chase on a fire engine that feels like a deleted scene from Herbie Rides Again rather than a main set piece in a Bond film. Almost no-one involved with the production has fond memories, and we should just be thankful that this finally convinced everyone it was time to put The Amazing Eyebrow out to pasture and get someone younger and better in. Given that much of the talent behind the camera, including the screenwriter and director, came back again next time, quite how they got it so badly wrong here all round when that can’t all be blamed on the practically octogenarian star is a matter that’s probably not worth expending much time contemplating, but is still somewhat strange.
Anyway, despite being as ripe as a six month old pear at the bottom of the fruit bowl, A View To A Kill still managed to show the power of the Bond brand by having a further legacy or four on the rest of the series.
1. It’s all in the game
A View To A Kill holds the distinction of being the first Bond film to be represented by a computer game. The likes of Goldeneye on the N64 were but ten years away at this point, but the fact that the Bond franchise has produced some high quality games and that one all time classic probably couldn’t have been guessed from the amazingly shoddy graphical adventure unfolding on the C64 and other comparable platforms. Still, we’ve all got to start somewhere. There was almost a game for Octopussy, but it was never actually released; the mind can barely grasp what 8-bit innuendos we’ve been denied by that decision.
2. It’s all in the family
Speaking of talent in front of and behind the camera, one of the most regular names to appear on Bond films is that of Michael G. Wilson. Having had a hand in writing every Eighties Bond, he’d also acted as an executive producer since Moonraker, but AVTAK marks the first time that Cubby’s stepson stepped up to join the big man as a fellow producer. When Barbara Broccoli then joined him on producing duties from Goldeneye, the family template was set and Wilson and Broccoli continue to steer the direction of the Bond series to this day. He’s also had cameos in a remarkable fourteen films of the series, making him the Stan Lee of the Bond movies. (Is it too late to get Stan? He’s ace. Oh, okay.)
3. Board of Bond?
Despite the stunts being mainly ropey, one of them turned out to become iconic after all, and it’s probably a moment that will send shudders down the spines of most Bond aficionados. Snowboarding, despite having been done for around 20 years, was still a niche sport, attracting no attention outside the hardcore skiing world until an old man’s unconvincing stunt double slid down a hill on a converted ironing board to the accompaniment of The Beach Boys. Thirteen years later, it was an Olympic sport. See, even the worst Bond films can be a force for good.
4. The name’s the thing
And just a final note on a legacy first mentioned in From Russia With Love. The tradition of naming the next Bond film in the end credits went slightly askew last time, when Octopussy predicted the next in the series would be called “From A View To A Kill”. Maybe in a sense of embarrassment at getting the title so shamefully wrong, A View To A Kill simply stated that “James Bond Will Return” and left it at that. Without even realising, the Broccolis had given an early indicator of the uncertain future the Bond films were about to start facing…
Next time: Come on, Tim! It’s The Living Daylights.
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