Directed by John Glen
Insane industrialist and Soviet plant Max Zorin (Christopher Walken) plans to flood Silicon Valley to create a microchip monopoly and James Bond (Roger Moore) must stop him.
Christopher Walken is among my favorite actors and he plays a really great James Bond villain here in Max Zorin. I dare say a near classic villain in the series. He goes all in with his usual style and it works so well. This was when he was at his height as a dramatic actor. He is no slouch now, but his style was still considered unique and I dare say parts that he got were less tailored to him which allowed Walken to bring something unique out of material. Here he is in full Christopher Walken mode. Kind of bug-eyed with that William Shatner style line delivery and a hint of crazy and menace in every word he delivers.
Destroying Silicon Valley is a pretty audacious plot for a super villain even in the 80s. And Christopher Walken pulls off the villain of Zorin so well. Because of his performance here the character of Zorin probably ranks in my top five Bond villains. He is menacingly crazy without being campy. He is cold and calculating and very intimidating. And making Zorin a product of the experimentation of Nazi scientist Dr. Carl Mortner (Willoughby Gray) was just awesome. Great reference to things that actually happened after WWII.
May Day is a great henchwoman. Grace Jones has an unusual look and that helps her to stand out among the plethora of Bond women. That coupled with the crazy look that she always gives makes her memorable in this role. She is athletic and fierce looking. You did not want to screw with May Day at all. Fun fact: Jones’s then boyfriend Dolph Lundgren makes a brief appearance as a lacky for General Gogol (Walter Gotell) when he tries to reign in his wayward agent Zorin.
Patrick Macnee plays Sir Godfrey Tibbett who has to pose as Bond’s manservant during the portion of the film occurring at Zorin’s lavish estate. Their interactions are hilarious while undercover. It is funny without being needlessly funny. Needlessly funny will be something I will touch on a little later here.
I have a soft spot for Roger Moore as James Bond. He was the first one I ever saw. I have enjoyed each of his Bond films even when I had issues with the movie itself. I always thought he was good in all of them but even he admitted at this point he was getting too old to play the character and I agree. It looks as if Zorin hired people from the local retirement home to be his tough guys. And whatever work Moore had done around his eyes prior to filming gives him a near permanent surprised look.
And while part of what the James Bond character does is sleep or flirt with every woman he can find it becomes kind of creepy when it is done with the character of Stacey Sutton (Tonya Roberts). Roberts was definitely a stunner of the era, but they should’ve cast an older actress. It just looked a little creepy. He came off a bit as a lecherous old man rather than a charming rogue.
The chases in the movie were good but they contained too much comedy in them. This is the needlessly funny I am talking about. The vehicle at the Eiffel tower and the fire engine chase had a few too many jokes. I like the humor of the Moore Era, but I personally think they should not have had so much in this film. The major issue was not the fire engine but the ending at the bridge. One or two cars getting damaged is okay, but it looked like they lost every police car in the department. And the issue was not chasing May Day through Paris as she glided along but chasing her in a comically damaged vehicle. Both strained credibility even though this is a superspy film.
And how can we talk about chases or action scenes in this movie without mentioning the opening sequence where James Bond snowboards to the music of the Beach Boys. The scene itself is not bad. It fits in with everything else James Bond has done in the movies up to that point, but they used a Beach Boys song. Why would you think that was a good idea in this movie? That was very poor judgment. It made a solid start to a film ridiculous.
This film gets some smack talk about it, but it does not deserve it at all. It does deserve some. That I will not deny but not all of it. It is a good entry in the Bond film series. I think A View to a Kill would have been better received if it had come along when Roger Moore was a bit younger. I think his age contributes to much of the dislike which is unfortunate.
It has its flaws, but the story is great. Roger Moore is on point. The plot that the villain wants to carry out is amazing. This movie is a great entry in the James Bond franchise. Give it the love it deserves and watch it.