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A View to a Kill(1985)
When James Bond (Agent 007) is sent to investigate a security leak at the high-tech Zorin Industries, he discovers a hotbed of murder and deception. The company's mysterious owner, Max Zorin has devised a plan to corner the world's microchip market--even if he has to kill millions to do it. But before Bond can stop Zorin, he must confront the madman's beautiful and deadly companion May Day. With help from the gorgeous Stacey, Bond launches an all-out assault on Zorin's deadly scheme, which leads to a treacherous duel against May Day on the upper spans of the Golden Gate Bridge.
For more about A View to a Kill and the A View to a Kill Blu-ray release, see A View to a Kill Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on October 22, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Starring: Roger Moore, Christopher Walken, Tanya Roberts, Grace Jones, Patrick Macnee, Patrick Bauchau
Director: John Glen
» See full cast & crew
A View to a Kill Blu-ray Review
An aging Moore, a flagging franchise.
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, October 22, 2012
The gadgets. The guns. The girls. The exotic locales and sexy cars. The white-knuckle action sequences. The suave flirting and cheeky double entendres. He's been played by six actors—Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig—but there's only one Bond, James Bond. Every man wants to be him, and every woman wants to be with him. (Some men too, I'm sure.) He's the epitome of super-spy cool, and for fifty years now—fifty years!—he's been an indelible part of our pop-culture consciousness. In terms of universal recognition, Bond is right up there with Mickey Mouse and Darth Vader and Superman. Everyone knows his name, knows he likes his martinis "shaken, not stirred," and knows his favorite pistol is the compact Walther PPK. You're probably even humming or whistling the iconic 007 theme song to yourself right now, and if you aren't, I guarantee it'll worm its way into your brain sometime in the next five minutes. Instantly, more like. Admit it, it's playing on a loop in your head right now. Bond isn't just a franchise, it's a revered institution. Yes, there have been a few duds along the way, but over the span of twenty-two films—soon to be twenty-three, with the upcoming Skyfall—the series has defined the international espionage sub- genre, all the while reflecting the cultural and political changes of its times. Sure, in one sense, these are just action movies—popcorn entertainments—but for their fans, these films are the height of cinematic escapism.
They can't all be winners, though. In 1985, Roger Moore was pushing 57-years-old, and his seventh—and final—turn as 007, A View to a Kill, gives us the closest we'll probably ever come to a geriatric, AARP card-carrying Bond. "I was only about four hundred years too old for the part," Moore himself later admitted in an interview, agreeing with the critical consensus that his long-in-the-tooth secret agent should've probably retired after Octopussy. Moore has also gone on record saying A View to a Kill is his least favorite Bond picture, and that's a sentiment shared by many, myself included. It's the one thing any 007 adventure shouldn't be—boring—shambling along, uninspired, through a low-energy story about microchips and horse racing and WWII German medical experiments.
If that sounds potentially interesting, I assure you that it isn't. Let's face it; Bond films, by and large, are very formulaic by nature—007 tracks down a MacGuffin, has a few romantic entanglements, saves the world as we know it—but most of them are executed with such stylish precision and action movie excitement that the plot barely registers. In a good way. Here, however, nothing registers whatsoever, and that's all you can think about as a viewer: Why, exactly, am I not being entertained? Much of the blame should go to Michael G. Wilson and Richard Maibaum's bland screenplay, an original creation that isn't based on any of Ian Fleming's stories. In and of itself, that isn't a problem—several strong 007 films have been made independent of Fleming's work—but there are long stretches where A View to a Kill doesn't even feel like it's part of the Bond universe, like this Bond just happened to wander senilely into the world of a sub-par Ian Fleming ripoff picture.
You know you're in for a cringe-worthy experience when the film opens with Bond escaping Siberia on a makeshift snowboard, in a sequence campily set to a cover of The Beach Boys' "California Girls." (Some have claimed this scene is partially responsible for helping to popularize the nascent sport of snowboarding, although I'm sure modern boarders will look at it, face palm, and slowly shake their heads.) 007's mission was to recover a special microchip another agent died to retrieve, and it's discovered that this electromagnetic pulse-resistant slab of silicone was produced by Zorin Industries, a tech corporation owned by the yellow-haired psychopath Max Zorin, played by a characteristically zany Christopher Walken. Zorin's diabolical scheme is to flood Silicon Valley by triggering an earthquake—which everyone will assume was a strictly natural disaster—ensuring he has a monopoly on the production of microchips. Of course, no Bond villain is complete without a henchman, or in this case, a mannish Grace Jones as the henchwoman assassin May Day. Walken and Jones have a wacko onscreen relationship—they really are memorable baddies—but unfortunately, they're pretty much all the film has going for it.
The first half is a total snooze, with Bond tracking May Day through Paris and investigating Zorin's horse breeding operation, which is run by Dr. Carl Mortner (Willoughby Gray), a stereotypically crazed erstwhile Nazi scientist. The pace does pick up somewhat in the last half, but it's all empty action, as Bond escapes from one of Zorin's oil rigs, absconds with a fire engine, and ventures deep inside a mine to spoil the maniac's plans. Along the way, he encounters two of the dullest Bond girls in franchise history, taking a bubble bath with KGB agent Pola Ivanova (Fiona Fullerton), and getting some help from former Charlie's Angels actress Tanya Roberts as Stacey Sutton, the heir to an oil company taken over by Zorin. The film plods its way to a rather spectacular climax—featuring a blimp, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Christopher Walken wielding a fire ax—but it's not nearly enough to make up for the tedium of the previous proceedings.
A View to a Kill Blu-ray, Video Quality
A View to a Kill may be one of the worst Bond movies, but the talented folks at Lowry Digital haven't withheld any of their powers here, delivering an impressive 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer of their recent restoration. The result is a picture that easily outclasses prior standard definition editions in every category. Clarity is greatly improved, with finer detail visible in every frame and closeups that reveal skin textures, clothing fabrics, and the minute accents of the film's props. The color palette is less stylized and creamy—for a lack of a better word—from the Bond films of the '60s and '70s, but the more realistic look suits the times and is reproduced perfectly here, with sufficiently dense hues, deep blacks, and good contrast. Most importantly, Lowry hasn't tampered with the film's 35mm grain structure; there's no overt digital noise reduction here, and no edge enhancement or other unnecessary tweaks to the picture. Everything looks natural and true to source, and the print is spotless, with no age-related specks, scratches, or brightness fluctuations. The encode is solid too, unhindered by compression issues. Another great Bond reissue on Blu-ray.
A View to a Kill Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Like the other Bond films, A View to A Kill's original stereo sound mix has been effectively reworked into a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track, keeping the same effects but adding an appreciable sense of immersion for those with multi-channel home theater setups. Most of the action still emerges from the front speakers, but the rears do pipe up frequently to deliver ambience and directional precision. Racetrack chatter. Potent gunshots. Whirring helicopter blades. Massive explosions. Zipping cars. The 5.1 presentation really befits John Barry's score—which adds 1980s percussive synth sounds to the usual Bond orchestration—and the title song by Duran Duran. Over it all, dialogue is always clear, well-balanced, and easy to understand. The disc includes the original mix via a Dolby Digital 2.0 track, along with numerous dub and subtitle options for those who might need or want them.
A View to a Kill Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
MI6 Commentary: Featuring director John Glen and members of the cast and crew.
Declassified: MI6 Vault
A View to a Kill Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
A View to a Kill unfortunately gets my vote for most boring Bond film. Moonraker may be worse overall, but at least the over- the-top elements of that film keep it moderately entertaining. A View to a Kill has an aging Bond, a sagging first half, and a series of bland characters and ho-hum action set pieces. The lone saving grace here—and it isn't much of one—is the presence of the always kooky Christopher Walken, who would've made a killer Bond villain if he'd been injected into a better film. If you're a fan despite the movie's faults—or if you're simply a Bond completist—rest assured that A View to a Kill at least looks and sounds great on Blu-ray and makes for a decent standalone release if you're not interested in the comprehensive Bond 50 box set. Do note that A View to a Kill is currently a timed Target exclusive.
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