Sunday, 4 December 2011

A View to a Kill

Lowdown: James Bond at the Silicon Valley.
The pages of history will probably remember 1985’s A View to a Kill in the light of the family experiences Bond films have provided me: this is the series’ only episode I had the pleasure of watching at the cinemas in the company of my sister (for the record, the cinema was Ramat Gan’s now dead Ordea). You can also argue A View to a Kill is remembered as the last of Roger Moore’s Bond and/or as a film that clearly takes its cues from its two prequels, For Your Eyes Only and Octopussy. No surprises there, really: Moore’s age clearly shows (he was in his late fifties by then), and this trio of Bond films were all directed by the same guy – John Glen.
However, A View to a Kill is clearly the inferior of the three. It follows all the normal queues, starting with an extreme action scene that’s totally unrelated to the main film, moving through avant-garde opening credits, and then exposing us to a villain that can only be stopped by a gadget equipped Bond taking action into his own hands and various women into his (or their) beds. This time around the villain is portrayed by Christopher Walken, an actor I could never really sympathize with, in the role of a psychopath silicon valley millionaire that’s out to do something nasty. The key problem is the film focusing too much on Walken character’s horse racing ventures, which are dead boring. So boring that even Grace Jones in the role of Walken’s right hand can’t get the film started.
It’s not just the plot, it’s also the locations. Most of the film is set in the USA, and despite a short excursion to Paris there simply isn’t that exotic feeling that other Bonds were saturated with. Even Paris doesn’t do it anymore: most of has have been there, unlike the locations most other Bonds go for. The same goes with Bond's cars: there is nothing flashy this time around, certainly nothing to rival the car that turns to a submarine (The Spy Who Loved Me) or the boat that turns into a glider (Moonraker).
On the positive side, one has to praise the visionary side of the Bond series yet again: although by 1985 we all knew computers were important and we’ve all heard of the Silicone Valley, it was up to the Bond series to take the task of portraying the end of that valley as a cataclysmic event that requires no one but the best to dismantle.
Disappointing scene: The final showdown over the Golden Gate Bridge is quite disappointing. Even when considering digital effects didn’t exist at the time, the scene simply fails to impose the grandness of the location on the action.
Overall: My four year old and I agree, A View to a Kill not only feels more contrived than usual, it is a fairly boring film too. And “boring” is not a word one should find in the James Bond dictionary. 2 out of 5 stars.

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