1985 was a fine year for Hollywood. Icons fell under the stampede for sequels while future classics were created. It’s time to look back.
In the coming weeks and months the HeyUGuys team will focus on some of best from ’85, exploring their legacy and capturing something of their enduring essence.
There’s always a certain level of excitement and expectation surrounding a new James Bond movie. Its unique status as a stalwart of the British film industry ensures its release is seen as a bona-fide cinematic event. The interest surrounding Sam Mendes’ upcoming Bond 24, Spectre, is of course, particularly strong after the colossal commercial and critical success of his previous outing, Skyfall.
Back in 1985 however, the pending arrival of the fourteenth Bond offering saw the series in a far less healthy condition.
The previous two Bond movies prior to A View To A Kill’s release, For Your Eyes Only and Octopussy, had not been especially well received and there was a definite sense that the series was getting a little stale. There was also already a fairly common assumption that Roger Moore might be too old to be playing Bond even when Octopussy was released in 1983. Yet sure enough, the 57-year-old was convinced to return for another outing as 007 two years later.
Opposite Moore would be Christopher Walken, who was brought on board to play the film’s villain, Max Zorin. Interestingly though, Walken was not first choice for the role, that accolade actually went to no other than Mr David Bowie, who (sadly for us) turned the part down.
Grace Jones would play Zorin’s henchwoman May Day and John Steed himself, Patrick Macnee, who would play Sir Godfrey Tibbett, an ally of Bond. In the director’s chair meanwhile was John Glen who had taken the helm on the series since For Your Eyes Only and went on to direct a record five Bond movies in total.
The plot saw Zorin, a microchip manufacturer, hatching a plan to eliminate his competition and claim a monopoly on the production of chips by wiping out the rest of Silicon Valley. In terms of Bond plots it was fairly uninventive and felt extremely Bond-by-numbers.
In the place of thrilling set-pieces were cringe-worthy scenes such as the misguided moment when a high speed ski chase was backed by the jaunty sounds of The Beach Boys classic, “California Girls”, to incredibly embarrassing effect. The film’s script was also extremely weak, with far too much focus placed on teeing up the next toe-curling Roger Moore quip than was really advisable.
It packs in some truly groan-inducing lines including the gem where a horse trainer states she loves having a morning ride, to which Bond raises his eyebrow to near on dangerous levels and notes, “well, I’m an early riser myself.” Austin Powers would be proud.
The film was not well received by critics upon its release and is still largely dismissed as one of the worst Bond movie to this date. The critics laid into the plot, script and Glen’s direction in general, but by far the film’s main criticisms were aimed at Moore himself.
He later admitted that he was “400 years to old” for the part, and it just wasn’t really credible any more that this 57-year-old man was making light work of fighting off various armed foes.
What was perhaps even more noticeable was that with a 28 year age gap between Moore and his love interest Tanya Roberts, his status as an irresistible sex symbol was getting a little strained. Roberts herself also faced her own fair share of criticism too. Her performance as Stacey Sutton represents a nadir of sorts for the hopeless “damsel in distress” style of Bond girl.
The modern-day concept of trying to make the Bond girl a resourceful and badass woman in her own right is nowhere to be seen here, with Robert’s performance amounting to little more than providing arm candy and shrieking for Bond’s help at any opportunity. Unsurprisingly, she was nominated for a Razzie award for worst actress for her performance.
A View to a Kill still possesses the lowest Rotten Tomatoes rating of any of the Eon produced Bond movies with just 36%. It still went on to take a healthy $152 million at the box office however and in that regard was by no means a commercial flop.
However, it did ensure the end of Roger Moore’s Bond career. Though his final few movies were undeniably below par, it does remain a shame that Moore went out on such a low note.
For their next outing, the producers took heed of their mistakes and brought in fresh blood in the form of Timothy Dalton, as well as opting to take the franchise in a noticeably more serious direction. The playful tone that was the staple of Moore-era Bonds was abandoned and attempts were made to modernise the franchise.
It’s fair to say that AVTAK has not stood up to the test of time well. It possesses none of the giddy action thrills of its predecessors, and doesn’t even feel as light-hearted and fun as other Moore efforts.
Walken deserves some credit for giving his best as an unhinged Bond baddie, and Grace Jones has undeniable presence as his ally May Day. Her shootout and skydive from the Eiffel Tower is comfortably the standout stunt of the movie. However it’s hard to find many other positives to take from the final film.
Maybe there is perhaps a small fragment of campy charm that can be derived from AVTAK. However in all honesty, it’s actually not even enjoyably silly or over the top enough to really qualify for full on “so bad its good” status. It’s really too much of a trudge to warrant such a label.
If nothing else though, it at least spurred the studio on to move away from the Moore style of Bond movie and instead opt for something darker.
Read on about other classmates from 1985…
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