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Saturday, December 24, 2005

A VIEW TO A KILL or Microchipfinger 

Roger Moore and Sean Connery both played Bond seven times. When I started writing this series, I thought Moore had made more Bond films. He was Bond, like, forever! Fifteen years passed between his first Bond film - Live and Let Die - and his last, A View to a Kill. Connery's first run of six films was made in about half the time. The films were insanely popular in the 1960s - there were two Connery Bond films released in 1964 - and they were pumping them out. For whatever reason (and I'm going to cite 1968, the Year of the Reality Check, as a factor), the films were not as popular to come out so often.

But I like the Roger Moore films anyway. I picked A View to a Kill as the film to represent Moore because I remember it as being a CRAZY movie, and I thought it would be fun. (And it was.) It is very silly, not as wonderfully dumb as Die Another Day, but it will do. But it's not fair to Moore for this movie to represent him, and I want to state that this would be a more respectful review if I had looked at Live and Let Die or The Man with the Golden Gun.

The plot: Let me see if I have this straight: Zorin (Christopher Walken, one of the few times he played someone crazier than himself) is a ruthless billionaire/technological genius who was created by Nazi eugenics techniques appropriated by the Russians. He defected to the West and amassed a fortune. Now he wants to control the world's supply of microchips (kind of like Goldfinger), so he has a plan to neutralize the microchip industry of Silican Valley, where 80 percent of the world's microchips are produced. He is going to set off a very large cache of explosives at a key point near the San Andreas fault, which will cause an earthquake and the reservoir will inundate the valley. Or something.

That is one crazy plan. Geologically, it might work. (Tanya Roberts, the heroine, sees the schematics about a minute before the bomb goes off and SHE says that it feasible. And she's a geologist.) But economically? Would it be that hard for smaller microchip producers to take up the slack? This is a stupid plan. BUT it's not fatally dumb to the integrity of the movie.

Zorin is a psychopath. You should see the scene where he uses a machine-gun to kill a bunch of mine-worker employees who know too much. Ouch! I don't think he cares that much about whether the economic part of the plan can work. He is doing it because he can, and that thrills him. The whole microchip angle is just a pretext. Yes, he is nuts, like a Bela Lugosi villain, doing evil just to do evil. In many ways, this is the most chilling Bond film.

His main henchman is May Day (Grace Jones), who is his bodyguard and lover and general trouble-shooter. She's great, and she fits in this movie so well. She has several great scenes, especially the bit where she kills an informant in a night club with a poison-tipped, metal butterfly and then flees up the Eiffel Tower with Bond in pursuit. She parachutes to safety and lands in the Seine.

There is much to enjoy in this movie. The Duran Duran song is pretty neat, and the title sequence is among the best of the series. Roger Moore does his thing, Tanya Roberts is a knockout and it's nice to see Patrick MacNee. (although I don't believe for a second that Grace Jones could take him out so easily! This is John Steed we're talking about.) The best action scene is in San Francisco where Bond and Tanya Roberts steal a fire engine and are pursued by the police through the streets of San Francisco. Almost as good as the chase in Bullitt.

It doesn't quite work as well as it could. It should be a little crazier. As it is, it has a few good scenes, but there are times when it seems to be wandering a little, and they are trying so hard to create a coherent whole that skimp on the action a little. My mind wandered at times. I would be trying to remember how or why they got from one place to another. Stuff like that. Die Another Day leaves you confused because it's so dumb. A View to a Kill leaves you confused because you dozed off for a minute or were distracted by the cat.

A minor entry in the Bond series, with much to recommend it, nonetheless.

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