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A View to a Kill (1985) is the fourteenth spy film of the James Bond series, and the seventh and last to star Roger Moore as the fictional MI6marker agent James Bond. Although the title is adapted from Ian Fleming's short story "From a View to a Kill", the film is the third Bond film after The Spy Who Loved Me and Octopussy to have an entirely original screenplay. In A View to a Kill, Bond is pitted against Max Zorin, who plans to destroy California's Silicon Valleymarker.

The film was produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, who also wrote the screenplay with Richard Maibaum. It was the third James Bond film to be directed by John Glen, and the last to feature Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny.

Despite being a commercial success and earning a Golden Globe nomination, A View to a Kill was poorly received by critics and was also disliked by Roger Moore himself. Christopher Walken, however, was praised for portraying a "classic Bond villain".

Plot

In the pre-title sequence, James Bond (Roger Moore) is sent to Siberia to locate 003's corpse and recover a microchip. Upon doing so, he is ambushed by Soviet troops but flees in a submarine built to resemble an iceberg. After Bond has returned to England, Q (Desmond Llewelyn) has the microchip analysed and informs M (Robert Brown), Bond and the Minister of Defence that its design is an exact match of a microchip made by Zorin Industries. The retrieved microchip is also designed to withstand the damage caused to other chips by a nuclear explosion.

Bond and his superiors visit Ascot Racecoursemarker to observe the company's owner, Max Zorin (Christopher Walken). While at the track, Zorin's horse miraculously wins the race; Sir Godfrey Tibbett (Patrick Macnee), a horse trainer, believes Zorin's horse was given drugs, although when screened prior to the race, it did not show any signs of doping. Through Tibbett, Bond meets a French private detective named Aubergine (Jean Rougerie) to discuss how the horse won. Aubergine informs Bond that Zorin is holding an annual horse sale later in the month. However, during their dinner at the Eiffel Towermarker, Aubergine is assassinated by Zorin's mysterious bodyguard, May Day (Grace Jones). Bond steals a Renault taxi to chase May Day but fails to apprehend her.

Bond and Tibbett travel to Chantilly, Francemarker where Bond poses as James St. John Smythe (pronounced "sin-jin-smythe"), a rich dilettante. They break into Zorin's secret laboratory and learn that he is using microchips in his horses to release a drug when prompted by a hidden switch. Their intrusion is discovered however and Tibbett is later killed by May Day, but they fail to kill Bond in an attempt to drown him in a lake. Later, General Gogol (Walter Gotell) from the Soviet Unionmarker shows up at Zorin's estate with several other KGBmarker agents, but Zorin, an ex-KGB agent himself, becomes upset with Gogol and forces him to leave.

In his airship, Zorin unveils to a group of investors his plan to destroy Silicon Valleymarker in an operation he dubs "Main Strike" in order to gain a monopoly in the microchip market. Bond later learns that Zorin is a psychopath, the product of Nazi medical experimentation during World War II, and later trained by the KGB.

007 goes to San Franciscomarker and spies on an oil rig owned by Zorin. He catches KGB agent Pola Ivanova (Fiona Fullerton) trying to blow up the rig, while recording Zorin announcing his plans. Bond soon meets state geologist Stacey Sutton (Tanya Roberts), whose oil company had been taken over by Zorin, and the two team up to steal documents about his plan from the San Francisco City Hallmarker. Zorin arrives, holding them hostage, and then forces a city official to call the police. He kills the official with Bond's Walther PPK and sets the building on fire in order to frame Bond for the murder. Bond and Sutton escape from the fire but when the police try to arrest Bond, they escape in a fire engine.

The next day, Bond and Sutton infiltrate Zorin's mine, discovering his plot to detonate explosives beneath the lakes along the Hayward Fault and the San Andreas Faultmarker causing them to flood. A larger bomb is also on site in the mine to destroy a "geological lock" that is in place to prevent the two faults from moving at the same time. Once destroyed, it would supposedly cause a double earthquake. Zorin and Scarpine flood the mines, nearly killing Bond and May Day and murder all of the mine workers as they attempt to flee. Stacey manages to escape. Because she was betrayed, May Day helps Bond remove the larger bomb that would destroy the lock. They put the bomb on a handcar and push it out of the mine along a railroad line. May Day stays on the car to hold the faulty brake lever, sacrificing her own life as the bomb explodes outside, away from the lock.

Sutton is quickly captured by a devastated Zorin, who is escaping via airship with Scarpine (Patrick Bauchau) and his mentor, Dr. Carl Mortner (Willoughby Gray). Bond grabs hold of the mooring rope and clings on as the airship ascends. Zorin tries to kill Bond by flying him into the Golden Gate Bridgemarker, but Bond manages to moor the airship to the bridge framework, stopping it from moving. Stacey attacks Zorin and in the ensuing fracas, Mortner and Scarpine are temporarily knocked out. Stacey flees onto the bridge and joins with Bond, but Zorin comes after them with an axe and engages in a fierce battle with Bond. Bond gains the upper hand and sends Zorin plummeting off the bridge to his death. An enraged Mortner attempts to kill Bond with a bundle of dynamite, but Bond slashes the mooring rope, causing Mortner to drop the dynamite into the cabin. Seconds later, the dynamite explodes and destroys the airship, killing Mortner and Scarpine.

In the aftermath, Bond is ironically awarded the Order of Lenin by General Gogol. Q, inside a special van in California, uses his fake-dog surveillance camera to locate 007. He finds him safely making love to Stacey in her shower.

Cast



Maud Adams is said to be visible as an extra in one of the Fisherman's Wharf scenes; in the DVD documentary Inside A View to a Kill, Adams explains that she was visiting her friend Moore on location and ended up in the crowd, but admits she is unable to actually see herself in the film; In the same documentary, director John Glen confirms that Adams appears as an extra, but does not specify where she is visible. The appearance remained a mystery for years until she was identified as standing in the background during one of the Fisherman's Wharf scenes. As a result, Adams appears in three Bond films, previously in The Man with the Golden Gun in 1974 and in Octopussy in 1983.

Production

A View to a Kill was produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson. Wilson also co-authored the screenplay along with Richard Maibaum. At the end of Octopussy during the "James Bond Will Return" sequence, it listed the next film as "From a View to a Kill", the name of the original short story; however, the title was later changed.

When a company with a name similar to Zorin (the Zoran Corporation) was discovered in the United States, a disclaimer was added to the start of the film affirming that Zorin was not related to any real-life company. This is the first Bond film to have a disclaimer (The Living Daylights had a disclaimer about the use of the Red Crossmarker.)

Casting

Early publicity for A View to a Kill in 1984 included an announcement that David Bowie would play Zorin. He turned it down, saying, "I didn't want to spend five months watching my stunt double fall off cliffs." The role was offered to Sting and finally to Christopher Walken.

Dolph Lundgren has a brief appearance as one of General Gogol's KGB agents. Grace Jones, who was dating Lundgren at the time, had asked the film's producers to find a cameo for him. Lundgren appears during the confrontation between Gogol and Zorin at the racetrack, standing several steps below Gogol.

Filming

The film was shot at Pinewood Studiosmarker in Londonmarker, Icelandmarker, Switzerlandmarker, France and the United States.Several French landmarks such as the Eiffel Towermarker, its Jules Verne Restaurant and the Château de Chantillymarker were filmed.The rest of the major filming was done in the Fisherman's Wharfmarker and the Golden Gate Bridgemarker in San Franciscomarker. The Lefty O'Doul Bridge was featured in the fire engine chase scene. The horse racing scenes were shot at Ascot Racecoursemarker.

The production of A View to a Kill began on 23 June 1984 in Iceland, where the second unit filmed the pre-title sequence. On 27 June 1984, several leftover canisters of gasoline used during filming of Ridley Scott's Legend caused the Pinewood Studios' "007 Stage" to be burnt to the ground. Broccoli arranged its reconstruction which was done by the end of July 1984. The soundstage was renamed "Albert R.marker Broccoli's 007 Stagemarker". The filming of A View to a Kill continued when Roger Moore rejoined the main unit at Pinewood on 1 August 1984. The crew then departed for shooting the horse-racing scenes at Royal Ascot Racecourse. The scene in which Bond and Sutton enter the mineshaft was then filmed in a waterlogged quarry near Stainesmarker and the Amberley Chalk Pits Museummarker in West Sussex.

Tanya Roberts, Roger Moore and Grace Jones in a promotional still.
On 6 October 1984, the fourth unit, headed by the special effects supervisor John Richardson, began its work on the climactic fight sequence. At first, only a few plates constructed to resemble the Golden Gate Bridge were used. Later that night, the shooting of the burning San Francisco City Hall commenced. The first actual scenes atop the bridge were filmed on 7 October 1984.

In Parismarker it was planned that two stunt men, B.J. Worth and Don Caldvedt, would help film two takes of a parachute drop off a (clearly visible) platform that extended from a top edge of the Eiffel Towermarker. However, sufficient footage was obtained from Worth's jump, so Caldvedt was told he would not be performing his own jump. Caldvedt, unhappy at not being able to perform the jump, parachuted off the tower without authorization from the City of Paris. He was subsequently sacked by the production team for jeopardizing the continuation of filming in the city.

Airship Industries managed a major marketing coup with the inclusion of their Skyship 500 series airship in the film. At the time Airship Industries were producing a fleet of ships which were recognisable over many capitals of the world offering tours, or advertising sponsorship deals. As all Bond films have included the most current technology, this included the lighter than air interest.

The ship used in the climax was a Skyship 500, then on a promotional tour of Los Angeles after its participation in the opening ceremony of the 1984 Olympic Games. At that time, it had "WELCOME" painted across the side of the hull, but the word was replaced by "ZORIN INDUSTRIES" for the film. During the 1984 season, the ship was painted green and red as a part of Fujifilm's blimp fleet; it was subsequently coloured white. In real life, inflating it would take up to 24 hours, but during the film it was shown to take two minutes.

Music

The soundtrack was composed by John Barry, and published by EMI/Capitol. The theme song, "A View to a Kill", was written by Barry and Duran Duran, and performed by the band. It has three different versions, of which the two made by Duran Duran make no reference to the James Bond theme; some of its notes are mixed, while "May Day Jumps" is the only song of the film that features the original theme. Barry's composition On Her Majesty's Secret Service was modified for use in the songs "Snow Job," "He's Dangerous," and "Golden Gate Fight" of A View to a Kill. "A View to a Kill" was second in the British charts and first in the American charts, thus becoming the peak song in the James Bond series.In 2008 the song was covered by Northern Kings

Duran Duran was chosen to do the song after bassist John Taylor (a lifelong Bond fan) approached producer Cubby Broccoli at a party, and somewhat drunkenly asked "When are you going to get someone decent to do one of your theme songs?"

During the opening sequence, a cover version of the 1965 Beach Boys song "California Girls", performed by Gidea Park (a tribute band), is used during a chase in which Bond snowboards; it has been suggested that this teaser sequence helped initiate interest in snowboarding.

Reception

A View to a Kill was the first Bond film with a premiere outside the UK, opening on 22 May 1985 at San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Artsmarker. The British premiere was held on 12 June 1985 at the Odeon Leicester Square Cinema in London. The film was first broadcast on British television on 31 January 1990. It achieved a box office collection of US $152.4 million worldwide with 50.3 million in the United States alone. On its opening weekend in the US it earned $10.6 million.

Although its box office reception was excellent, the film's critical response was overwhelmingly negative. Rotten Tomatoes currently gives A View to a Kill a 39% "Rotten" rating. This is the lowest rating for any Bond film on the website. One of the most common criticisms was that Roger Moore's age was 57 - Sean Connery declared that "Bond should be played by an actor 35, 33 years old. I’m too old. Roger’s too old, too!". Moore has also stated A View to a Kill as his least favourite film and mentioned that he was mortified to find out that he was older than his female co-star's mother. He was quoted saying "I was horrified on the last Bond I did. Whole slews of sequences where Christopher Walken was machine-gunning hundreds of people. I said 'That wasn't Bond, those weren't Bond films.' It stopped being what they were all about. You didn't dwell on the blood and the brains spewing all over the place". The film was mentioned by Brian J. Arthurs of The Beach Reporter as the worst film of the Bond series. John Puccio of DVDtown.com said, "No Bond outing is awful, but this one comes close." C. Pea of the Time Out Film Guide said, "Grace Jones is badly wasted."

Staff at IGN chose it as the fourth worst, over The Man With The Golden Gun, Die Another Day and Diamonds are Forever. In a December 2007 interview, Roger Moore remarked, "I was only about four hundred years too old for the part."

Danny Peary had mixed feelings about A View to a Kill but was generally complimentary: “Despite what reviewers automatically reported, [Moore] looks trimmer and more energetic than in some of the previous efforts…I wish Bond had a few more of his famous gadgets on hand, but his actions scenes are exciting and some of the stunt work is spectacular. Walken’s the first Bond villain who is not so much an evil person as a crazed neurotic. I find him more memorable than some of the more recent Bond foes…Unfortunately, the filmmakers – who ruined villain Jaws by making him a nice guy in Moonraker – make the mistake of switching Mayday at the end from Bond’s nemesis to his accomplice, depriving us of a slam-bang fight to the finish between the two (I suppose gentleman Bond isn’t allowed to kill women, even a monster like Mayday)…[The film] lacks the flamboyance of earlier Bond films, and has a terrible slapstick chase sequence in San Francisco, but overall it’s fast-paced, fairly enjoyable, and a worthy entry in the series.” Also among the more positive reviews was Movie Freaks 365's Kyle Bell: "Good ol' Roger gave it his best. ... Whether you can get past the absurdity of the storyline, you can't really deny that it has stunning stunt work and lots of action. It's an entertaining movie that could have been better."

Appearances in other media

A View to a Kill was adapted into two video games in 1985. The first, titled A View to a Kill, was published by Domark. It was available for the ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, Oric 1 and Oric Atmos, and MSX. The second, titled James Bond 007: A View to a Kill was a text-based video game for DOS and Apple II computers. It was developed by Angelsoft, Inc. and published by Mindscape Inc.

The film was loosely adapted into a series of four Find Your Fate adventure game books, Win, Place, or Die, Strike it Deadly, Programmed for Danger, and Barracuda Run, which were released in 1985.

May Day was a playable multiplayer character in the 1997 and 2000 video games GoldenEye 007 and The World Is Not Enough, for the Nintendo 64 and both N64 and PlayStation respectively. In the 2002 game Nightfire, May Day and Max Zorin also appears as bots. Other references include Nikolai Diavolo, a character in the 2004 game James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing, claiming Zorin to be his mentor and friend. In GoldenEye: Rogue Agent, a multiplayer level is the summit of the Golden Gate Bridge, including the Zorin blimp, which would fire on players when activated. Players are also able to climb the suspension cables (similar to the events of the film).

References

  1. CommanderBond.net Maud Adams Found in "A View To A Kill", June 2004
  2. Malins, Steve. (2005) Notorious: The Unauthorized Biography, André Deutsch/Carlton Publishing, UK (ISBN 0-233-00137-9). pp 161-162
  3. Paul Gambaccini Interview with John Taylor, 1985, Greatest DVD extras.
  4. Barnes and Hearn 1997, p 169
  5. Danny Peary, Guide for the Film Fanatic (Simon & Schuster, 1986) p.457
  6. Gamebooks.org - Find Your Date


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