No map is required – you now have FilmNav.
A View To A Kill
Released: 13 June 1985 (UK)
Director: John Glen
Producer: Albert R. Broccoli, Michael G. Wilson
Starring: Roger Moore, Christopher Walken and Tanya Roberts
Screenwriters: Richard Maibaum (screenplay), Michael G. Wilson(screenplay)
Running Time: 131 min
Very little. Moore was well past his sell-by-date by the time he reached this rather poor swansong. The only two positives are Christopher Walken, who plays his usual unpredictable and unique style, fitting for a memorable Bond villain, and the superior score by John Barry, including the hit song by Duran Duran (actually one of the best in the entire series).
Plenty. This is without doubt Moore’s weakest entry in the Bond franchise. The film is exhausted, and the jokes are worn and tired, pretty much reflecting how Moore also looked at the time. By 1985 the franchise was running on empty, and was in desperate need of an overhaul.
A View to a Kill (1985) is the fourteenth spy film of the James Bond series, and the seventh and last to star Roger Moore as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. Although the title is adapted from Ian Fleming’s short story “From a View to a Kill”, the film is the fourth Bond film after The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker andOctopussy to have an entirely original screenplay. In A View to a Kill, Bond is pitted against Max Zorin, who plans to destroy California’s Silicon Valley.
The film was produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, who also wrote the screenplay with Richard Maibaum. It was the third James Bond film to be directed by John Glen, and the last to feature Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny.
Despite being a commercial success and earning a Golden Globe nomination for Best Song, A View to a Kill got a mixed reception by critics and was disliked by Roger Moore himself due to his age. Christopher Walken, however, was praised for portraying a “classic Bond villain”.
Although A View to a Kill is adapted from Ian Fleming’s short story “From a View to a Kill“, which featured in the `For Your Eyes Only ‘ compilation, the film is the third Bond film after The Spy Who Loved Me and Octopussy to have an entirely original screenplay. No characters from the original short story appear in the film. In A View to a Kill, Bond is pitted against Max Zorin, who plans to destroy California’s Silicon Valley. Some reviewers have noted parallels in the plot and villain to those of Goldfinger. In addition, the John Gardner Bond novel, Licence Renewed (1981) includes a sequence in which Bond’s mission takes him to a high-class horse race where a villain is cheating; a similar event occurs in this 1985 film. The climax of the movie is similar to that of Role of Honour.
James Bond (Roger Moore) is sent to Siberia to locate the body of his colleague 003 and to recover a microchip. Upon doing so, he is ambushed by Soviet troops but flees in a submarine built to resemble an iceberg. After Bond returns to England a week later, Q (Desmond Llewelyn) has the microchip analysed and informs M (Robert Brown), Bond and the Minister of Defence that its design is an exact match of a microchip made by British government contractor Zorin Industries, which are designed to withstand an electromagnetic pulse.
Bond and his superiors visit Ascot Racecourse to observe the company’s owner, Max Zorin (Christopher Walken). Zorin’s horse miraculously wins the race but proves hard to control afterwards. Sir Godfrey Tibbett (Patrick Macnee), a horse trainer and MI6 agent, believes Zorin’s horse was given drugs, although tests showed no signs of doping. Through Tibbett, Bond meets a French private detective Achille Aubergine (Jean Rougerie)—a pun on Hercule Poirot—to discuss how the horse won. Aubergine informs Bond that Zorin is holding an annual horse sale later in the month. However, during their dinner at the Eiffel Tower, Aubergine is assassinated by Zorin’s mysterious bodyguard, May Day (Grace Jones), who jumps out of the tower with a parachute. Bond steals a Renault taxi to chase May Day but fails to apprehend her.
Bond and Tibbett travel to Chantilly, France where they pose as James St. John Smythe, a rich dilettante, and his driver/butler. While staying at Zorin’s estate, Bond is puzzled by a sulking woman who rebuffs him and finds out that Zorin has paid her a very large cheque. At night, Bond and Tibbett break into Zorin’s secret laboratory and learn that he is implanting remote-controlled, drug-releasing microchips in his horses. Their intrusion is discovered by two of Zorin’s guards and May Day assassinates Tibbett the next day. Zorin identifies Bond thanks to a computer database, and tries to have him killed too, but 007 discreetly survives.
Recurring James Bond character General Gogol (Walter Gotell) of the Soviet Union turns up at Zorin’s estate with several other KGB agents and has a tense confrontation with him for murdering Bond without permission. It emerges that Zorin was trained and financed by the KGB, but he has now gone rogue and believes himself out of their reach.
Zorin unveils to a group of investors his plan to destroy Silicon Valley in an operation he dubs “Main Strike” in order to gain a monopoly in the microchip market. When one declines to invest, he is escorted from the room by May Day and is then revealed to be in an airship, which he is dropped from.
007 goes to San Francisco where he learns from CIA agent Chuck Lee (David Yip) that Zorin is the product of medical experimentation with steroids performed by Dr. Carl Mortner (Willoughby Gray), a Nazi who took refuge in the Soviet Union after World War II. He then investigates an oil rig owned by Zorin. While recording conversations there, he finds KGB agent Pola Ivanova (Fiona Fullerton) trying to blow up the rig, but her partner is caught and murdered by Zorin. Ivanova and Bond, who have met before, escape together and recover by having sex at a bath house. She tries to steal his recording, but upon playing it to General Gogol finds out that Bond had switched the tapes. Bond meanwhile tracks down the woman Zorin attempted to pay off earlier, State Geologist Stacey Sutton (Tanya Roberts), whose family oil company Zorin has been trying to buy. Posing as a Financial Times journalist, he rescues her from Zorin goons sent to intimidate her into accepting the pay-off, and the two team up to steal documents about Zorin’s plans from the San Francisco City Hall.
Zorin arrives, holds them hostage, and then forces a city official to call the police. He kills the official with Bond’s gun and sets the building on fire in order to frame Bond for the murder and kill him at once. Bond and Sutton escape from the fire but when the police try to arrest Bond, they escape in a fire engine.
The next day, Bond and Sutton infiltrate Zorin’s mine, discovering his plot to detonate explosives beneath the lakes along the Hayward Fault and the San Andreas Fault, which will cause them to flood. A larger bomb is also on site in the mine to destroy a “geological lock” that prevents the two faults from moving at the same time. Once destroyed, it would supposedly cause the flooded faults to shift, causing a double earthquake which would destroy Silicon Valley and everything in it. Zorin and his security chief Scarpine (Patrick Bauchau) flood the mines and mow down all of the mine workers who attempt to flee with Mini-Uzis.
Sutton escapes through an air shaft while Bond stays behind to fight May Day, but when she realises she was left to die by Zorin, May Day switches side and helps Bond remove the larger bomb. They put the device, whose timer is booby-trapped, on a handcar and push it out of the mine along a railroad line. May Day stays on the car to hold the faulty brake lever, sacrificing her own life as the bomb explodes outside, away from the lock.
Zorin, who had escaped in his airship with Scarpine and Mortner, witnesses this from the air and abducts Sutton. Bond grabs hold of the mooring rope and clings on as the airship ascends. Zorin tries to kill Bond by flying him into the Transamerica Pyramid, then the Golden Gate Bridge, but Bond manages to moor the airship to the bridge framework, stopping it from moving. Stacey attacks Zorin and in the ensuing fracas, Mortner and Scarpine are temporarily knocked out. Stacey flees onto the bridge and joins Bond, but Zorin comes after them with an axe and engages in a fierce battle with Bond. Bond gains the upper hand and sends Zorin plummeting off the bridge to his death. An enraged Mortner attempts to kill Bond with a bundle of dynamite, but Bond slashes the mooring rope, causing Mortner to drop the dynamite into the cabin. Seconds later, the dynamite explodes and destroys the airship, killing Mortner and Scarpine.
General Gogol visits Bond’s superior to award 007 the Order of Lenin, a first for a non-Soviet citizen. Gogol explains cockily to a confused M that Silicon Valley is as crucial to Soviet research as it is to the West. M explains that Bond is still missing in action but, Q, inside a special van, uses his fake-dog surveillance camera to locate 007, sharing an intimate shower session with Sutton in her California mansion.
Roger Moore as James Bond: British Secret Service agent.
Christopher Walken as Max Zorin: Main antagonist. A microchip industrialist planning to destroy the Silicon Valley in an earthquake and gain a monopoly in the market.
Tanya Roberts as Stacey Sutton: The granddaughter of an oil tycoon whose company is taken over by Zorin.
Grace Jones as May Day: Zorin’s lover and chief henchwoman. She also possesses superhuman strength.
Patrick Macnee as Sir Godfrey Tibbett: Bond’s ally who helps him enter Zorin’s villa and stable.
Patrick Bauchau as Scarpine: Zorin’s loyal associate.
David Yip as Chuck Lee, a CIA agent who assists Bond and Sutton.
Willoughby Gray as Dr. Carl Mortner: A former Nazi scientist who designs Zorin’s microchips for carrying narcotic drugs (in the German release version, he is a Polish communist).
Fiona Fullerton as Pola Ivanova; a KGB agent sent by Gogol to spy on Zorin.
Manning Redwood as Bob Conley: Max Zorin’s chief mining engineer who handles Zorin’s oil interests on the East Coast of the United States.
Alison Doody as Jenny Flex: One of May Day’s assistants who is often seen with Pan Ho.
Robert Brown as M: The head of the Secret Intelligence Service
Desmond Llewelyn as Q: An MI6 officer in charge of the research and development branch. He provides Bond with unique vehicle and gadgets for battling Zorin.
Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny: M’s secretary.
Geoffrey Keen as Fredrick Gray: The British Minister of Defence.
Walter Gotell as General Gogol: The head of the KGB.
Papillon Soo Soo as Pan Ho: One of May Day’s assistants.
Daniel Benzali as W. G. Howe: A feeble-minded geologist working at San Francisco City Hall.
Dolph Lundgren in an early, minor role as Venz, one of General Gogol’s KGB Henchmen.
Maud Adams is said to be visible as an extra in one of the Fisherman’s Wharf scenes; in the DVD documentary Inside A View to a Kill, Adams explains that she was visiting her friend Moore on location and ended up in the crowd, but admits she is unable to actually see herself in the film; In the same documentary, director John Glen confirms that Adams appears as an extra, but does not specify where she is visible. The appearance remained a mystery for years until she was identified as standing in the background during one of the Fisherman’s Wharf scenes. As a result, Adams appears in three Bond films, previously in The Man with the Golden Gun in 1974 and in Octopussy in 1983.
A View to a Kill was produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson. Wilson also co-authored the screenplay along with Richard Maibaum. At the end of Octopussy during the “James Bond Will Return” sequence, it listed the next film as “From a View to a Kill”, the name of the original short story; however, the title was later changed.
When a company with a name similar to Zorin (the Zoran Corporation) was discovered in the United States, a disclaimer was added to the start of the film affirming that Zorin was not related to any real-life company. This is the first Bond film to have a disclaimer (The Living Daylights had a disclaimer about the use of the Red Cross.)
A View to a Kill was the first major motion picture to show an Apple //c on screen (in Sutton’s bedroom).
Early publicity for A View to a Kill in 1984 included an announcement that David Bowie would play Zorin. He turned it down, saying, “I didn’t want to spend five months watching my stunt double fall off cliffs.” The role was offered to Sting and finally to Christopher Walken.
Dolph Lundgren has a brief appearance as one of General Gogol’s KGB agents. Lundgren, who was Grace Jones’s boyfriend, was visiting her on set when one day an extra was missing so the director John Glenthen asked him if he wanted to get a shot at it. Lundgren appears during the confrontation between Gogol and Zorin at the racetrack, standing several steps below Gogol. Also another action star was involved in the film in Steven Seagal who was the fight Director.
The film was shot at Pinewood Studios in London, Iceland, Switzerland, France and the United States. Several French landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, its Jules Verne Restaurant and the Château de Chantilly were filmed. The rest of the major filming was done in the Fisherman’s Wharf and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. The Lefty O’Doul Bridge was featured in the fire engine chase scene. The horse racing scenes were shot at Ascot Racecourse.
The production of A View to a Kill began on 23 June 1984 in Iceland, where the second unit filmed the pre-title sequence. On 27 June 1984, several leftover canisters of gasoline used during filming of Ridley Scott’s Legend caused the Pinewood Studios’ “007 Stage” to be burnt to the ground.
Broccoli arranged its reconstruction which was done by the end of July 1984. The soundstage was renamed “Albert R. Broccoli’s 007 Stage”. The filming of A View to a Kill continued when Roger Moore rejoined the main unit at Pinewood on 1 August 1984. The crew then departed for shooting the horse-racing scenes at Royal Ascot Racecourse. The scene in which Bond and Sutton enter the mineshaft was then filmed in a waterlogged quarry near Staines and the Amberley Chalk Pits Museum in West Sussex.
Tanya Roberts, Roger Moore and Grace Jones in a promotional still.
On 6 October 1984, the fourth unit, headed by the special effects supervisor John Richardson, began its work on the climactic fight sequence. At first, only a few plates constructed to resemble the Golden Gate Bridge were used. Later that night, the shooting of the burning San Francisco City Hall commenced. The first actual scenes atop the bridge were filmed on 7 October 1984.
In Paris it was planned that two stunt men, B.J. Worth and Don Caldvedt, would help film two takes of a parachute drop off a (clearly visible) platform that extended from a top edge of the Eiffel Tower. However, sufficient footage was obtained from Worth’s jump, so Caldvedt was told he would not be performing his own jump. Caldvedt, unhappy at not being able to perform the jump, parachuted off the tower without authorisation from the City of Paris. He was subsequently sacked by the production team for jeopardising the continuation of filming in the city.
Airship Industries managed a major marketing coup with the inclusion of their Skyship 500 series airship in the film. At the time Airship Industries were producing a fleet of ships which were recognisable over many capitals of the world offering tours, or advertising sponsorship deals. As all Bond films have included the most current technology, this included the lighter than air interest.
The ship used in the climax was a Skyship 500, then on a promotional tour of Los Angeles after its participation in the opening ceremony of the 1984 Olympic Games. At that time, it had “WELCOME” painted across the side of the hull, but the word was replaced by “ZORIN INDUSTRIES” for the film. During the 1984 season, the ship was painted green and red as a part of Fujifilm’s blimp fleet; it was subsequently coloured white. In real life, inflating it would take up to 24 hours, but during the film it was shown to take two minutes.
The soundtrack was composed by John Barry, and published by EMI/Capitol. The theme song, “A View to a Kill”, was written by Barry and Duran Duran, and performed by the band. It has three different versions, of which the two made by Duran Duran make no reference to the James Bond theme; some of its notes are mixed, while “May Day Jumps” is the only song of the film that features the original theme. Barry’s composition On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was modified for use in the songs “Snow Job,” “He’s Dangerous,” and “Golden Gate Fight” of A View to a Kill. ”A View to a Kill” was second in the British charts and first in the American charts, thus becoming the peak song in the James Bond series. In 2008 the song was covered by Northern Kings.
Duran Duran was chosen to do the song after bassist John Taylor (a lifelong Bond fan) approached producer Cubby Broccoli at a party, and somewhat drunkenly asked “When are you going to get someone decent to do one of your theme songs?”
During the opening sequence, a cover version of the 1965 Beach Boys song “California Girls”, performed by Gidea Park with Adrian Baker (a tribute band), is used during a chase in which Bond snowboards; it has been suggested that this teaser sequence helped initiate interest in snowboarding.
A View to a Kill was the first Bond film with a premiere outside the UK, opening on 22 May 1985 at San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts. The British premiere was held on 12 June 1985 at the Odeon Leicester Square Cinema in London. The film was first broadcast on British television on 31 January 1990. It achieved a box office collection of US $152.4 million worldwide with 50.3 million in the United States alone. On its opening weekend in the US it earned $10.6 million.
Although its box office reception was excellent, the film’s critical response was mixed. Rotten Tomatoes currently gives A View to a Kill a 39% “Rotten” rating. This is the lowest rating for any Bond film on the website. One of the most common criticisms was that Roger Moore’s age was 57 – and had visibly aged in the two years that had passed since Octopussy; Sean Connery declared that “Bond should be played by an actor 35, 33 years old. I’m too old. Roger’s too old, too!”. Moore has also stated A View to a Kill as his least favourite film and mentioned that he was mortified to find out that he was older than his female co-star’s mother. He was quoted saying “I was horrified on the last Bond I did. Whole slews of sequences where Christopher Walken was machine-gunning hundreds of people. I said ‘That wasn’t Bond, those weren’t Bond films.’ It stopped being what they were all about. You didn’t dwell on the blood and the brains spewing all over the place”. The film was mentioned by Brian J. Arthurs of The Beach Reporteras the worst film of the Bond series. C. Pea of the Time Out Film Guide said, “Grace Jones is badly wasted.”
Staff at IGN chose it as the fourth worst, over The Man With The Golden Gun, Die Another Day and Diamonds are Forever. In a December 2007 interview, Roger Moore remarked, “I was only about four hundred years too old for the part.”
Danny Peary had mixed feelings about A View to a Kill but was generally complimentary: “Despite what reviewers automatically reported, [Moore] looks trimmer and more energetic than in some of the previous efforts…I wish Bond had a few more of his famous gadgets on hand, but his actions scenes are exciting and some of the stunt work is spectacular. Walken’s the first Bond villain who is not so much an evil person as a crazed neurotic. I find him more memorable than some of the more recent Bond foes…Unfortunately, the filmmakers – who ruined villain Jaws by making him a nice guy in Moonraker – make the mistake of switching Mayday at the end from Bond’s nemesis to his accomplice, depriving us of a slam-bang fight to the finish between the two (I suppose gentleman Bond isn’t allowed to kill women, even a monster like Mayday)…[The film] lacks the flamboyance of earlier Bond films, and has a terrible slapstick chase sequence in San Francisco, but overall it’s fast-paced, fairly enjoyable, and a worthy entry in the series.” Also among the more positive reviews was Movie Freaks 365′s Kyle Bell: “Good ol’ Roger gave it his best. … Whether you can get past the absurdity of the storyline, you can’t really deny that it has stunning stunt work and lots of action. It’s an entertaining movie that could have been better. Although recently the movie has more positive reviews”
Appearances in other media
A View to a Kill was adapted into two video games in 1985. The first, titled A View to a Kill, was published by Domark. It was available for the ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, Oric 1 and Oric Atmos, and MSX. The second, titled James Bond 007: A View to a Kill was a text-based video game for DOS and Apple II computers. It was developed by Angelsoft, Inc. and published by Mindscape Inc.
The film was loosely adapted into a series of four Find Your Fate adventure game books, Win, Place, or Die, Strike it Deadly, Programmed for Danger, and Barracuda Run, which were released in 1985.
May Day was a playable multiplayer character in the 1997 and 2000 video games GoldenEye 007 and The World Is Not Enough, for the Nintendo 64 and both N64 and PlayStation respectively. In the 2002 gameNightfire, May Day and Max Zorin also appears as bots. Other references include Nikolai Diavolo, a character in the 2004 game James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing, claiming Zorin to be his mentor and friend. In GoldenEye: Rogue Agent, a multiplayer level is the summit of the Golden Gate Bridge, including the Zorin blimp, which would fire on players when activated. Players are also able to climb the suspension cables (similar to the events of the film).
- “A View to a Kill: A film review by Christopher Null”. Retrieved 2007-10-02.
- a b Maud Adams. Inside A View to a Kill. [VCD/DVD]. MGM Home Entertainment Inc.
- CommanderBond.net Maud Adams Found in “A View To A Kill”, June 2004
- Nicholas Pegg (2004). The Complete David Bowie. Reynolds & Hearn Ltd. p. 561.
- “Notes on A View to a Kill”. Retrieved 2007-09-07.
- “A View to a Kill filming locations”. Retrieved 2007-09-07.
- a b “June: This Month in Bond History”. Retrieved 2007-09-07.
- “This month in Bond History”. Retrieved 2007-09-08.
- “Production of A View to a Kill“. Retrieved 2007-09-07.
- “October: This Month in Bond History”. Retrieved 2007-09-07.
- a b “Movie Airship : SkyShip 500 “Zorin Industries”". The Airship Heritage Trust. Retrieved 2007-10-02.
- “A View to a Kill: Soundtrack”. Retrieved 2007-09-08.
- “A View to a Kill”. Filmtracks.com. Retrieved 2007-09-07.
- “A View to a Kill”. MI6-HQ.com. Retrieved 2007-09-07.
- Malins, Steve. (2005) Notorious: The Unauthorized Biography, André Deutsch/Carlton Publishing, UK (ISBN 0-233-00137-9). pp 161-162
- Paul Gambaccini Interview with John Taylor, 1985, Greatest DVD extras.
- “Snowboard Club UK FAQs”. Retrieved 2007-10-02.
- a b “A View to a Kill – The Premiere & Press”. mi6-hq.com. 22 May 2005. Retrieved 2007-12-21.
- “A View to a Kill: MI6 Profile”. Retrieved 2007-09-06.
- a b “A View to a Kill at Box Office Mojo”. Retrieved 2007-09-02.
- a b “A View to a Kill”. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2007-09-06.
- Barnes and Hearn 1997, p 169
- “A View to a Kill”. Timeout.com. Retrieved 2007-09-06.
- “James Bond’s Top 20″. IGN. 17 November 2006. Retrieved 2007-12-21.
- “Roger Moore admits stretching Bond stint too long”.
- Danny Peary, Guide for the Film Fanatic (Simon & Schuster, 1986) p.457
- Kyle Bell. “A View to a Kill Review”. Movie Freaks 365. Retrieved 2009-03-27.
- Gamebooks.org - Find Your Date
- Eurocom. 007: Nightfire. (2002)
- EA Games. James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing. (Electronic Arts). Game Boy Advance. (2004)
- Electronic Arts. GoldenEye: Rogue Agent. (Electronic Arts).