A View To A Kill

A View To A Kill (1985) Director: John Glen

★☆☆☆☆

The title for A View To A Kill comes from the Ian Fleming short story called “From A View To A Kill” in an anthology although the film shares almost nothing in common with the story. Throughout A View To A Kill we become painfully aware that Roger Moore is far too old to continue playing the role of James Bond. His face looks stretched and gaunt like a skeleton, and in fact he apparently had quite a bit of cosmetic work done prior to shooting the film, though he always denied it. In fact, many of the women he encounters in the film are old enough to be his grandchildren –this is not exactly the dashing hero of years past. A View To A Kill was the last Bond film to feature Lois Maxwell as Moneypenny, and thankfully it was the last to feature Roger Moore as James Bond.

The best part of the film is the opening scene in which we find Bond in Siberia grabbing a microchip from the frozen body of 003. He is then caught in a dramatic ski-chase scene, but it quickly devolves into a silly moment with Bond skiing to the tune of “California Girls” by the Beach Boys for some reason. He escapes to his hidden submarine and so on. When we finally get to the main plot, it revolves around dated ’80s technology – microchips are being produced by the Russians, likely the KGB, through a shell company called Zorin. MI6 shadows the CEO of Zorin at a horserace, the man is named Max Zorin (played by Christopher Walken). This eventually leads Bond to pose as a millionaire and he attends a horse auction in France to further investigate Zorin, but he is then caught up in a high-speed chase through Paris, which leads up the Eiffel Tower, and across the city in pursuit of Zorin’s guard, an androgynous woman named May Day who Bond eventually sleeps with in one of the most uncomfortable Bond Girl moments (May Day is played by Jamaican pop icon Grace Jones).

However this is all merely a cover. The true plot becomes evident as the film progresses. Zorin (who is apparently the victim of Nazi experiments) goes rogue from the KGB and he unveils a secret plan to destroy Silicon Valley by detonating bombs along the Hayward and San Andreas fault-lines causing massive earthquakes and flooding. Bond prevents the explosions and he trails Zorin to his blimp-like plane over the Golden Gate Bridge where they dramatically battle until Zorin falls to his death in the San Francisco Bay -perhaps the best scene in the film. Interestingly enough, the Soviets wind up praising James Bond in the end for killing this rogue criminal -a remarkable sign of the easing Cold War tensions in the late ’80s.

Among the long list of terrible James Bond films, A View To A Kill should be relegated somewhere near the bottom of the pile. It is a miracle that James Bond survived the 1980s at all!

To top it off, A View To A Kill features one of the worst Bond theme songs performed by Duran Duran (though it was a cheesy ’80s hit tune). Two other Bond girls make appearances in the film alongside the aging hero: actresses Fiona Fullerton and Tanya Roberts -both about thirty years younger than Roger Moore.

Octopussy

Octopussy (1983) Director: John Glen

★☆☆☆☆

The thirteenth canonical Eon James Bond film, or the scandalously titled “Octopussy,” is also the sixth Bond film to star the silly and dapper Roger Moore. The film takes its title from Ian Fleming’s short story found in Octopussy and The Living Daylights -a short story collection published in 1967. The film’s plot borrows very little from the original short story.

Once again, John Glen direct’s the film (he worked on On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, The Spy Who Loved Me, and Moonraker; and then he directed For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, A View To Kill, The Living Daylights, and License To Kill).

There was a background controversy underlying the release of the film. Sean Connery had signed on to reprise his role as James Bond in the non-Eon film Never Say Never Again, much to Albert “Cubby” Broccoli’s chagrin. The two films locked horns in competition for revenue, and derailed Roger Moore’s plans to retire from playing James Bond (thus ending Josh Brolin’s chance to appear as Bond) and ultimately Eon’s Octopussy ($187.5M) beat out Warner Bros.’s Never Say Never Again ($160M). Nevertheless, Octopussy is another mostly forgettable Bond movie rife with campy jokes and a really ridiculous plot that takes Bond on an adventure chasing Faberge eggs dressed as a circus clown through locales like East Berlin and India.

The film opens with a slapstick-riddled action sequence with Bond undercover at a communist military establishment, perhaps in Cuba, but Bond escapes thanks to an attractive woman at his side. However, the central plot of the film is driven by the assassination of 009 while serving as an undercover clown escaping the Soviets while moving from East to West Berlin. He crashes through a window carrying a Faberge egg, a jeweled egg created by the Russian House of Faberge as a gift for the Russian Empire. However, the egg is proven to be a fake. Bond is sent by MI6 to an auction for the egg where he quickly identifies the purchaser, Kamal Khan, the former Afghan prince (played by French actor Louis Jourdan). Amidst an affair with Magda, a new Bond girl, James Bond is captured and brought to Khan’s palace where he discovers that Khan is working with Orlov, an expansionist Soviet general (played by British actor Steven Berkoff). Bond escapes and is led on an adventure through India where, in a particularly cheesy scene, Bond meets his contact, Vijay on the street who is playing the famous Bond theme while disguised as a snake-charmer. Vijay is played by Vijay Amritraj, the famous tennis player, and his scenes in the film are filled with amusing tennis jokes.

Bond tracks his way to a floating island palace occupied by an ‘Octopus cult’ led by a jewel smuggler named Octopussy (played by Maud Adams who also starred as a Bond Girl in The Man With The Golden Gun). He learns about the smuggling operation between Orlov and Khan via fraudulent circus troupe. Bond infiltrates the circus and uncovers a plot to detonate a nuclear warhead and spearhead a war between Europe and the United States. Bond trails the bomb to a train headed for West Germany, kills the assassins, including Orlov, and escapes dressed as a clown in yet another silly stunt. In the end, he persuades Octopussy to join him and disable the nuclear warhead and defeat Khan. They do so in a plane over India where Khan finds his ultimate demise.

Rita Coolidge performed the theme song for Octopussy, “All Time High.” It is a decent but melodramatic ’80s theme song for such a poor film.