A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 551 – James Bond: A View to a Kill

placeholderJames Bond: A View to a Kill – September 2nd, 2011

After we watched the two newest James Bond movies we decided we might as well get a couple of others. One Connery for the early stuff, one Moore for the later stuff, and that would do us just fine. Andy picked out what to buy, since I had no real preferences whatsoever. He bought this and Goldfinger. Now, I’ll get to Goldfinger eventually when we watch it, but we decided to do this first. And looking at the cast? I can totally see why Andy picked it. This is a cast that immediately sent me into paroxysms of joy. Who gives a crap about the plot? This movie has the stunning combination of Christopher Walken, Grace Jones and Patrick Macnee. It’s like it was tailor made to put a smile on my face.

Granted, the plot is ridiculous and there’s a lot of shooting and exploding and whatnot. And Walken and Jones are the villains and Macnee is doomed (what with being an associate of Bond, whom I still say is a Typhoid Mary), but it doesn’t matter. Not to me anyhow. It filled me with glee to see these people on the screen together. I don’t give a damn if they got along or not (apparently Moore and Jones barely spoke off screen). I just can’t help but be happy that they were there. And I genuinely can’t decide whether I’m disappointed or not that Walken was given the part of the villain because they couldn’t get David Bowie. Because I love Walken, but I love Bowie too. Like I said: Tailor made for my interests.

But enough about my obsession over the cast. For now. Let’s talk plot. It’s overblown and ridiculous, as one might expect. I wasn’t really surprised by that much. I mean, it’s James Bond, and I started out watching the newest one, in which a secret cartel is planning on hijacking an entire country’s water supply and then causing a drought. Overblown and ridiculous is not a problem here. And I’ve seen plenty of parodies and rip-offs. Movies that rely on the tropes and traditions the Bond series has put in place. I expect there to be super villains. I expect there to be big grand plans to ruin economies and steal trillions and poison cities and hold things for ransoms. The plot of this one involves villain Max Zorin planning on destroying Silicon Valley to get a monopoly on the manufacture of microchips. It is so beautifully 80s, I can barely stand it.

Zorin himself is a wonderfully over the top villain and I hope Christopher Walken had fun playing him. He’s a product of a former Nazi scientist’s medical experiments in the Soviet Union, a genius and a psychopath who was trained by the KGB. And now he has a palatial estate and races doped up horses and entertains wealthy guests and flies private jets and so on and so forth. That’s just the sort of guy he is. He’s a villain. There’s no mistaking it. And he has a sidekick, the sinister and oft-hooded May Day, played by Grace Jones. And okay, I’m going to digress again into cast talk, but I do so love seeing Walken and Jones as villains together. It’s a marvelous thing.

So, Bond looks into a dodgy horse race, gets himself invited to Zorin’s estate for a horse auction, snoops around, gets his pal Tibbett to snoop around, gets Tibbett killed, finds how Zorin is getting his less-than-perfect horse to win races, and then he goes to California. I do mourn the loss of Tibbett, who was played by Patrick Macnee. He’s actually Sir Godfrey Tibbett, and I sort of envision him as John Steed’s slightly less badass cousin. He poses as Bond’s driver and valet while they’re at Zorin’s and does a bunch of investigating for him (being less visible because he’s posing as a servant, not a gajillionaire) and he does quite well, really. He doesn’t get killed because he’s bumbling or anything. We’re not talking Upper Class Twit territory here. We’re talking about a guy who helped Bond out and when Bond said “Take the car into town” he did so, with May Day hiding in the back seat. Alas, poor Tibbett.

As super spy action movies go, overall this one is pretty standard, I suppose. Apparently Moore was of the opinion that there was too much shooting and exploding and whatnot, and I can see his point if he was more on the side of the spy stuff than the action stuff. At the same time, having seen some far more explosive action movies in my time, I can’t say I would have noted it otherwise. Maybe it’s an earlier Bond thing? I don’t know. I’m not really looking to go out and buy the entire Bond collection to find out and let’s face it: Quantum of Solace definitely did the explosion thing to a greater degree. Really, what I thought when I watched this movie was that it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. It was a very period sort of action flick, but it didn’t stand out to me for anything other than the cast.

What did occur to me later on was the notion that Bond seems to be an interesting sort of display of the concerns of the time period. Bond’s been around for a good long while now, going through several decades. And by its nature as a spy franchise, depending on pitting its hero against international criminals whose actions would involve MI5, it will involve geopolitical issues. It’s not really all that surprising, therefore, if a plot here or there actually manages to reflect a true concern. They can’t all be gold-obsessed psychos bent on destroying Fort Knox. So even though this felt like an utterly ridiculous movie in many places, and the sheer volume of puns didn’t help there (though I admit they amuse me) it also feels like a reflection of its time. Which was the 80s. That plus the cast (and the theme song – I love Duran Duran) let me enjoy this movie, probably far more than most Bond aficionados do.

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September 2, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , ,

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