A View to a Kill is a 1985 spy film and the fourteenth in the James Bond series produced by Eon Productions, and both the seventh and the last to star Roger Moore as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. Although the title is adapted from Ian Fleming's 1960 short story "From a View to a Kill", the film has 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 receiving mostly mixed reviews from critics, who frequently took umbrage with the effects of Moore's advanced age on his performance, it was a commercial success, with the Duran Duran theme song "A View to a Kill" performing well in the charts, becoming the only theme song to reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and earning a Golden Globe nomination for Best Song. It also marked Swedish actor Dolph Lundgren's film debut.
MI6 agent James Bond is sent to Siberia to locate the body of 003 and recover a Soviet microchip. Q analyses the microchip, establishing it to be a copy of one designed to withstand an electromagnetic pulse, made by government contractor Zorin Industries.
Bond visits Ascot Racecourse to observe the company's owner, Max Zorin. Zorin's horse wins a race but proves hard to control. Sir Godfrey Tibbett, a racehorse trainer and MI6 agent, believes Zorin's horse was drugged, although tests proved negative. Through Tibbett, Bond meets with French private detective Achille Aubergine who informs Bond that Zorin is holding a horse sale later in the month. During their dinner at the Eiffel Tower, Aubergine is assassinated by Zorin's bodyguard May Day, who subsequently escapes, despite being chased by Bond.
Bond and Tibbett travel to Zorin's estate for the horse sale. Bond is puzzled by a woman who rebuffs him; he discovers that Zorin has written her a cheque for $5 million. At night, Bond and Tibbett break into Zorin's laboratory where he is implanting adrenaline-releasing devices in his horses. Zorin identifies Bond as an agent, has May Day assassinate Tibbett, and attempts to have Bond killed.
General Gogol of the KGB confronts Zorin for killing Bond without permission revealing that Zorin was initially trained and financed by the KGB, but has now gone rogue. Later, Zorin unveils to a group of investors his plan to destroy Silicon Valley which will give him—and the potential investors—a monopoly over microchip manufacture.
Bond goes to San Francisco where he learns from CIA agent Chuck Lee that Zorin could be the product of medical experimentation with steroids performed by a Nazi scientist, now Zorin's physician Dr. Carl Mortner. He then investigates a nearby oil rig owned by Zorin and while there finds KGB agent Pola Ivanova recording conversations and her partner placing explosives on the rig. Ivanova's partner is caught and killed, but Ivanova and Bond escape. Later Ivanova takes the recording, but finds that Bond had switched tapes, leaving her with a recording of Japanese music. Bond tracks down the woman Zorin attempted to pay off, State Geologist Stacey Sutton, and discovers that Zorin is trying to buy her family oil business.
The two travel to San Francisco City Hall to check Zorin's submitted plans. However, Zorin is alerted to their presence and arrives, killing the Chief Geologist with Bond's pistol and setting fire to the building to both frame Bond for the murder and kill him at the same time. Bond and Sutton escape from the fire, but when the police try to arrest Bond, he and Sutton escape in a fire engine.
Bond and Sutton infiltrate Zorin's mine, discovering his plot to detonate explosives beneath the lakes along the Hayward and San Andreas faults, which will cause them to flood, causing Silicon Valley and everything within to be submerged underwater forever. A larger bomb is also in the mine to destroy a "geological lock" that prevents the two faults from moving at the same time. Once in place, Zorin and his security chief Scarpine flood the mines and kill the mine workers. Sutton escapes while Bond fights May Day; when she realises Zorin abandoned her, she helps Bond remove the larger bomb, putting the device onto a handcar and pushing it out of the mine, where it explodes, killing her.
Escaping in his airship with Scarpine and Mortner, Zorin abducts Sutton as Bond grabs hold of the airship's mooring rope. Zorin tries to knock Bond off the rope, but he manages to moor the airship to the framework of the Golden Gate Bridge. Sutton attacks Zorin and in the fracas, Mortner and Scarpine are temporarily knocked out. Sutton flees and joins Bond out on the bridge, but Zorin follows them out with an axe. The ensuing fight between Zorin and Bond culminates with Zorin falling to his death. An enraged Mortner attacks Bond using lit sticks of dynamite, but Bond cuts the airship free, causing Mortner to drop the dynamite in the cabin, blowing up the airship and killing himself and Scarpine. General Gogol awards Bond the Order of Lenin for foiling Zorin's scheme.
- Roger Moore as James Bond, MI6 agent 007.
- Christopher Walken as Max Zorin: a psychopathic industrialist, the product of a Nazi genetic experiment, who plans to destroy the Silicon Valley to gain a monopoly in the microchip 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 seemingly possesses superhuman strength.
- Patrick Macnee as Sir Godfrey Tibbett: Bond's ally, a horse trainer who helps him infiltrate Zorin's chateau and stables.
- Patrick Bauchau as Scarpine: Zorin's murderous loyal associate.
- David Yip as Chuck Lee: a CIA agent who assists Bond and Sutton in San Francisco.
- Willoughby Gray as Dr. Carl Mortner: formerly Hans Glaub, a Nazi scientist and father figure to Zorin (in the German release version, he is a Polish communist).
Fiona Fullerton as Pola Ivanova; a KGB agent known to Bond, sent by Gogol to spy on Zorin.
- Manning Redwood as Bob Conley: Zorin's chief mining engineer who handles his oil interests on the East Bay.
- 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 MI6.
- Desmond Llewelyn as Q: An MI6 officer in charge of the research and development branch. He supplies 007 with his equipment for his mission.
- Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny: M's secretary (Maxwell's 14th and final appearance in the role).
- 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 city official working at San Francisco City Hall.
- Mary Stavin as Kimberley Jones: British agent who assists Bond in the pre-credit sequence.
- Bogdan Kominowski as Klotkoff: one of General Gogol's KGB agents who is killed while infiltrating Zorin's oil rig.
- Dolph Lundgren in an early, minor role as Venz, one of General Gogol's KGB agents.
- Jean Rougerie as French private detective Achille Aubergine.
Maud Adams makes an uncredited cameo appearance as an extra in one of the Fisherman's Wharf scenes, making her third Bond film appearance.
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, the "James Bond Will Return" sequence listed the next film as "From a View to a Kill", the name of the original short story, but later the title was 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).
Early publicity for the film in 1984 included an announcement that David Bowie would play Zorin. He initially accepted the role but later decided against it, saying "I didn't want to spend five months watching my stunt double fall off cliffs." The role was then offered to Sting, who turned it down, and finally to Christopher Walken.
The original script had Barbara Bach reprising her role as Major Anya Amasova from 1977's The Spy Who Loved Me. However, Bach declined the role, and so an entirely new character - Pola Ivanova - was created, played by Fiona Fullerton.
Dolph Lundgren has a brief appearance as one of General Gogol's KGB agents. Lundgren, who was dating Grace Jones at the time, was visiting her on set when one day an extra was missing, so the director John Glen then asked him if he wanted to attempt the role. Lundgren appears during the confrontation between Gogol and Zorin at the racetrack, standing several steps below Gogol.
The film was shot at Pinewood Studios in London, Iceland, Switzerland, France and the United States with the budget initially being $35 million. 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 at Fisherman's Wharf, Dunsmuir House, San Francisco City Hall 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.
Production of the film began on 23 June 1984 in Iceland, where the second unit filmed the pre-title sequence. On 27 June 1984, several leftover canisters of petrol used during filming of Ridley Scott's Legend caused Pinewood Studios' 007 Stage to burn to the ground. The stage was rebuilt, and reopened in January 1985 (renamed as Albert R. Broccoli's 007 Stage) for filming of A View to a Kill. Work had continued on other stages at Pinewood when Roger Moore rejoined the main unit there 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-upon-Thames and the Amberley Chalk Pits Museum in West Sussex.
On 6 October 1984, the fourth unit, headed by 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, 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 parachutists, B.J. Worth and Don Caldvedt, would undertake two jumps from 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 descent. 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 its Skyship 500 series blimp in the film. At the time Airship Industries was producing a fleet of blimps 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 blimp seen in the climax was 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 gasbag, but was replaced by "Zorin Industries" for the film. During the summer of 1984, the blimp was used to advertise Fujifilm. In real life, inflating the airship would take up to 24 hours, but during the film it was shown to take two minutes. Despite filming going over schedule by two weeks, the production was completed $5 million under budget at $30 million according to John Glen.
Main article: A View to a Kill (soundtrack) 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. "May Day Jumps" is the only track that uses the "James Bond Theme". Barry's composition from 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" reached number two on the UK Singles Chart and number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States, thus becoming the peak song in the James Bond series. The 2015 track Writing's on the Wall later out performed the song in the UK by reaching number one.
Duran Duran was chosen to do the song after bassist John Taylor, a lifelong Bond fan, approached producer Albert 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 tribute band Gidea Park with Adrian Baker, is used during a chase in which Bond snowboards; it has been suggested that this sequence helped initiate interest in snowboarding.
Release and reception
This 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. It achieved a box office gross of US$152.4 million worldwide with $50.3 million from the United States and Canada. On its opening weekend in the US and Canada it grossed $13.3 million from 1,583 theaters over the four-day Memorial Day weekend, the biggest opening for a Bond film ever at the time, but not enough to beat Rambo: First Blood Part II which was number one for the weekend with a gross of $25.2 million from 2,074 theaters. Although its box office reception was excellent, the film's critical response was mostly mixed. Rotten Tomatoes currently gives A View to a Kill a 37% approval rating from 59 reviews, which is the lowest rating for the Eon-produced Bond films on the website. The film was first broadcast on British television on 31 January 1990.
One of the most common criticisms was that Roger Moore was 57 at the time of filming – and had visibly aged in the two years that had passed since Octopussy. The Washington Post's critic said "Moore isn't just long in the tooth—he's got tusks, and what looks like an eye job has given him the pie-eyed blankness of a zombie. He's not believable anymore in the action sequences, even less so in the romantic scenes—it's like watching women fall all over Gabby Hayes." Sean Connery declared that "Bond should be played by an actor 35, 33 years old. I'm too old. Roger's too old, too!" In a December 2007 interview, Roger Moore remarked, "I was only about four hundred years too old for the part."
Moore also said that, at the time, A View to a Kill was his least favourite Bond film, and mentioned that he was mortified to find out that he was older than his female co-star's mother. He was quoted as 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".
Pauline Kael of The New Yorker said "The James Bond series has had its bummers, but nothing before in the class of A View to a Kill. You go to a Bond picture expecting some style or, at least, some flash, some lift; you don't expect the dumb police-car crashes you get here. You do see some ingenious daredevil feats, but they're crowded together and, the way they're set up, they don't give you the irresponsible, giddy tingle you're hoping for." Kael also singled out the dispirited direction and the hopeless script. "Director John Glen stages the slaughter scenes so apathetically that the picture itself seems dissociated. (I don't think I've ever seen another movie in which race horses were mistreated and the director failed to work up any indignation. If Glen has any emotions about what he puts on the screen, he keeps them to himself.)"
Lawrence O'Toole of Maclean's believed it was one of the series' best entries. "Of all the modern formulas in the movie industry, the James Bond series is among the most pleasurable and durable. Lavish with their budgets, the producers also bring a great deal of craft, wit and a sense of fun to the films. Agent 007 is like an old friend who an audience meets for drinks every two years or so; he regales them with tall tales, winking all the time. The 14th and newest Bond epic, A View to a Kill, is an especially satisfying encounter. Opening with a breathtaking ski chase in Siberia, A View to a Kill is the fastest Bond picture yet. Its pace has the precision of a Swiss watch and the momentum of a greyhound on the track. There is a spectacular chase up and down the Eiffel Tower and through Paris streets, which Bond finishes in a severed car on just two wheels. But none of the action prepares the viewer for the heart-stopping climax with Zorin's dirigible tangled in the cables on top of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge." And although O'Toole believed that Moore was showing his age in the role, "there are plenty of tunes left in his violin. James Bond is still a virtuoso, with a licence to thrill."
Brian J. Arthurs of The Beach Reporter said it was the worst film of the Bond series. Chris Peachment of the Time Out Film Guide said "Grace Jones is badly wasted." Norman Wilner of MSN chose it as the worst Bond film, while IGN picked it as the fourth worst, and Entertainment Weekly as the fifth-worst.
Bond historian John Brosnan believed A View to a Kill was Moore's best Bond entry. He said Moore looked in better shape than the previous Bond film, Octopussy. Brosnan, an airship enthusiast, especially admired the dirigible finale.
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 action 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 May Day 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 May Day) ... [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." Walken was also praised by online critic Christopher Null for portraying a "classic Bond villain".
Roberts was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award as Worst Actress, but she lost the trophy to Linda Blair, who appeared in Night Patrol, Savage Island and Savage Streets.
Appearances in other media
This film 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 007: The World Is Not Enough for the Nintendo 64. In the 2002 game Nightfire, 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).