With some of the best reviews of the whole James Bond series (not to mention it’s massive commercial success), Skyfall has brought the British super-spy back in a big way. But no matter how good his latest adventure may be, nothing will take the place of the Bond movie that holds the most special place in my heart…1985’s A View to a Kill.
Now, why oh why would I have such fond feelings for what many consider to be the worst Bond movie ever (well, if you discount Die Another Day)? Here’s what critic Pauline Kael had to say about the film in her New Yorker review: “The James Bond series has had its bummers, but nothing before in the class of A View to a Kill. You go to a Bond picture expecting some style or, at least, some flash, some lift; you don’t expect the dumb police-car crashes you get here. You do see some ingenious daredevil feats, but they’re crowded together and, the way they’re set up, they don’t give you the irresponsible, giddy tingle you’re hoping for.”
Among other alleged sins, A View to a Kill boasts the following for which it received harsh criticism: an opening “snowboarding” sequence partially scored to the Beach Boy’s “California Girls” which was a poor man’s version of The Spy Who Loved Me opening, A 57-year-old Roger Moore showing every bit of his age (leading lady Tanya Robert’s mother was younger than Moore), former Charlie’s Angels Roberts herself playing California’s top geologist (yes, not as bad as Denise Richards playing a nuclear physicist but damn close), Grace Jones playing it straight and the ever-increase malaise of over-the-top silliness the series descended into during the Roger Moore era.
To which I can only say…hogwash!
How can a film be anything but awesome when it features no less than the great Christopher Walken in full psycho mode chewing the scenery as the main baddie bent on destroying the Silicon Valley by creating a major man-made earthquake? Just look at how evil he is. This guy would eat Javier Bardem for breakfast (and I’m not saying Bardem is a thief, but compare his Bond performance to Walken’s and tell me you don’t feel some deja vu):
And that glorious theme song performed by Duran Duran? Forget that it’s the only Bond theme to reach the #1 position on the Billboard charts, but if there’s a better Bond-related music video, well, I have not come across it. Let’s see Adele chasing after a Grace Jones parachuting off the Eiffel Tower while pretending to shoot supermodels:
Let’s also not forget that a chunk of the film takes place in San Francisco—one of the world’s great cities, but also a location that I was familiar with. Usually the Bond movies featured exotic locales I had never visited, but San Francisco was close to home—and it made Bond feel more real and tangible.
As for the series’ increasing “silliness” under Roger Moore’s watch? This is James Bond, that’s part of the fun. And you can’t tell me that climax atop the Golden Gate Bridge is any short of awesome!
But at the end of the day, what makes this film special was that it was my first time—my first Bond in the theaters. And with a dude like Bond who can leave you shaken and stirred, the first time is bound to be memorable.