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Not terrible, just rather dull
on 12 December 2007
Roger Moore and Lois Maxwell's last Bond film, A View to a Kill, was the commercial lowpoint of Moore's Bond tenure (only Licence To Kill would sell fewer tickets), but it's not the worst of his films even if it is probably the dullest. Almost entirely gadget-free, there's a pleasing return to a self-reliant Bond - trapped in a sunken car, in an oil pipeline or in a burning lift, he uses his wits and what is immediately to hand to extricate himself, which at least puts him, not the toys, firmly at the centre of the action. Although, like so much of the film, a bit on the lacklustre side, the horse-doping subplot is also a nice change of pace that feels more like genuine Fleming than EON, and Patrick MacNee makes a good foil for Moore as one of Bond's many ill-fated sidekicks.
Unfortunately some of the action scenes seem to lose energy rather than gain momentum, the Parisian car chase in particular despite some impressive stuntwork from Remy Julienne, while others - especially the firetruck chase - suffer from lousy back-projection even by Bond film standards. The opening pre-title sequence is nearly very good but shoots itself in the foot with dull scoring, a horrible overlong jokey burst of the Beach Boys on the soundtrack and a terrible joke submarine feeling like an unwelcome sharp elbow in the ribs from a very loud and very unfunny warmup comedian who keeps on asking you if you got the joke because you haven't laughed. It's not the film's only cringeworthy moment - as if Bond making quiche for Tanya Roberts wasn't bad enough (forget Denise Richards, Roberts has to be the worst Bond girl ever), the poor old boy is practically raped by Grace Jones!
Then there are the villains. Christopher Walken, a man who can turn battle-hardened Marines to quivering masses of jelly just by looking in their general direction, makes a surprisingly weak and unmenacing psychopathic mastermind (whodda thunk it?) and his Nazi war criminal mentor who looks like a cross between British astronomer Patrick Moore and eccentric Tory MP Boris Johnson cuts a particularly laughable figure fighting with a past-his-prime but still game Roger Moore on the Golden Gate Bridge. That the villain's big scheme is a melting pot rehash of Superman's engineered earthquake, Gold's mine flood and Goldfinger's monopolising the market scam doesn't help the feeling of the series just going through the motions, and while John Glen's direction shows some improvement, he's still horribly lazy with any scene that doesn't take his fancy. Throughout there's a feeling that this is a film that's been made by too many people who've just been doing the job too long and are starting to think about the size of their pension funds: it seems to have been made more out of habit than genuine desire. In many ways the worst that can be said of it is that it's rather dull, while the best that can be said is that there are worse Bond films.
The gem among the new extras on the two-disc Ultimate Edition is Roger Moore's audio commentary - just as well, since there's not a huge amount of additional material otherwise: 4 additional deleted scenes, expanded multi-angle scenes, some outtakes of the firetruck chase and test footage of the butterfly act, with all the extras from the original release carried over.