Those who know my feelings about this movie are in for a surprise.
A VIEW TO A KILL Bond: Roger Moore - 1 tusk Honestly, I'm surprised I'm doing this, but I'm giving Moore a tusk on this, his final installment in the franchise. I'll admit that he grew on me. Despite his age, he turns in a performance that is more exciting than the one he turned in in Octopussy. Still it's far from what I like to see in Bond and far from his best.
Girl: Tanya Roberts as Stacey Sutton - 0 tusks She is a completely unnecessary character. And she's a screamer. I can't stand screamers (see Kate Capshaw in Temple of Doom). I don't blame Tanya Roberts though, even though all she wants to do now is sell me some timeshare in Vegas. She could have played a stronger character. She was in Beastmaster and was one of the Charlie's Angels.
Gadgets: A few - 2 tusks A couple of minor gadgets--ring camera and glare-eliminating glasses. Nothing extravagant or over the top, so I give it two. There was a deleted scene where Bond had been arrested by French police and he was getting out of jail and retrieving his belongings which featured a ton more. Kind of a funny scene, but I'm glad it was cut.
Opening Theme: "A View to a Kill" performed by Duran Duran - 1 tusk A song better than the movie deserves. The opening themes finally get away from the lite rock sound of the last few. Also, I really dug the score in this one. I loved the way it evoked a bit of the "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" sound especially during the pre-title sequence (until it was ruined...more later). The skiing and that music really go together thanks to OHMSS.
Villain: Christopher Walken as Max Zorin - 2 tusks The poster reads "Has James Bond Finally Met His Match?" I'd argue that Auric Goldfinger, the Telly Savalas Blofeld and Christopher Lee's Scaramanga all were worthy opponents for Bond where he'd met his match before. However, while he doesn't head straight to the top, Christopher Walken adds his name to the list of all-time great Bond villains. It's a shame that he was probably wasted in this movie. I would much rather have seen him go up against Piece Brosnan at some point. And since we never see a body, I suppose he could have returned. Too late now I suppose unless McClory tries to do something with him.
Henchman: Grace Jones as May Day - 1 tusk You know, she wasn't so bad. I didn't really like her turn at the end. It's not that I doubt she's willing to die to prevent Zorin's plan from happening, but it just seemed a little sudden. I could have done without the scene where Bond was waiting for her in her room though.
Pre-title opening sequence - 0 tusks I would have given this 1 tusk if not for the inclusion of "California Girls" in the opening.
Story: Wow. I owe this movie a big apology. Headed into this year-long rewatching of the Bond movies, I have long-dreaded the day I'd have to watch this movie again. It's probably been about 12 years since I've seen it and my recollection of it was abysmal. But as I headed into rewatching it, I found the movie not living up to the memory of how bad this was. That doesn't mean I like it, but I must admit my surprise to find that it isn't as bad as I had given it credit for being.
Ultimately, this is a weak retread of the Goldfinger plot. Instead of gold, it's microchips. Some of the large pieces don't seem to fit together. There's a horse plot, a Russian plot, and a "destroy Silicon Valley" plot and somehow they're all supposed to fit together. Not really sure how. And somehow Tanya Roberts is a part of it, but her role isn't very clear either. The whole plot seems more like an extra-long episode of the G.I. Joe cartoon.
Story/plot issues aside, it wouldn't have taken much to make this an even more palatable movie. Here are some suggestions:
1. Drop the "California Girls" gag from the opening sequence. Twenty-three years later, the joke is completely lost and all it does is disrupt a scene that was almost working. And, if there had to be a Beach Boys song, something life "Surfin' Safari" would have made much more sense in the context of the scene.
2. More Patrick Macnee. When Bond and John Steed were working together, we were getting a bit of a buddy spy flick. When Macnee's character was killed off, he was replaced in the story by Tanya Roberts. Yeah, she might be easier to look at, but the screen presence was gone.
3. The dialog needed some work, especially in the real clumsily written scene where Max Zorin presents his plan to the cartel. That entire scene works better with the mute button on. Or some of the clumsy writing when May Day can't remember where she had seen Bond before. Like one day earlier when she was running for her life from him. Yeah, that's a minor detail I can see forgetting.
4. Less screaming from Tanya Roberts. Actually, less Tanya Roberts. The helpless Bond girl isn't cool and never was. And going back to point two, she could have been dropped entirely in favor of more from Macnee and I would have been very happy.
5. They could have toned down the "Richard Lesterisms" throughout, but especially in the firetruck chase scene. Too many bystanders having wacky things done to them. And Bond flying around on that ladder doesn't seem right either.
At one point in the movie, Bond meets up with a Russian agent that he's met before. At first I thought it would have been awesome for it to have been Anya Amasova from The Spy Who Loved Me. But, by the end of the scene, I figured it was better the way it was. Still, it would have been cool to come up with a way to incorporate some faces from the past to say farewell to Roger Moore.
So, with that, I'll say farewell to Roger Moore and take a brief Bond break before heading into the Dalton and Brosnan eras of Bond.