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Okay, Viewed and Killed.

April 19, 2003

Tanya Roberts (who played Stacy Sutton in the 1985 James Bond film, A View To A Kill) is not the most wooden actress ever.

That said, it really wan’t a particularly inspiring role, and definitely goes down as one of the more confusing ones; one minute mincing and screeching, the next minute pitting herself against numerous trained killers using little or no fighting skill whatsoever. Still, not a poor character. Just a poor set up.

Roger looked like a corpse on parade. His stern moments actually look more grave (bad pun) because of this, but the light-hearted schtick comedy and the leering and mugging really look… well.. sinister, actually.

Patrick MacNee looked pretty good up there with him, and his dying did add some credence to the notion that May Day was a deadly and effective assassin. Still, shame, really. The scenes with James and Sir Geoffrey were great fun, and were shot incredibly well, I might add.

Grace Jones herself added a lot of nice touches to her rather two-dimensional mad assassin, but they were largely marred by some of her more over-the-top flourishes. It honestly felt like she was trying to one up her partner-in-crime…

…Christopher Walken. At times funny, sinister, ugly, clever and powerful, but somehow, through the whole story, he’s not quite there.

The Bond Franchise has this reputation for larger-than life theatrics that sometimes gets it in the ass on the credibility scale, and rather undeservedly so, I have come to realize by actually watching the damned things myself.

But really, when a strong actor like Walken, adding weight and panache with deft strokes, still somehow comes off barely more credible than Richard Moll dressed as a cyclopean road warrior in the post-apocalyptic future, there is a problem with the direction of the movie.

About the direction: I noticed some really fine camera shots and lighting and other good stuff like that which made me really happy. It occurs to me that my cinematic sensibilities are heavily affected by my high-level intake of movies back in the 80s when my family first got hooked on pay television. Great pan shots and strong noir shadow scenes, good pyrotechnic shots, one of the more moving choreographed ‘battle’ segments (when Zorin’s men were being detroyed by Zorin and his singular male assistant, Scarpine), and even most of the chase scenes, though ridiculously instigated (turned a fire hose on the police? Credentials not good enough any more? And how did she NOT notice a great bloody blimp coming up behind her. They’re not THAT quiet!), were more fun to watch than the ones I watched in DAF. And the film processing and colour was much more enjoyable.

But beyond that, everything else felt tacked on. And the story itself has some really nice ideas, but somehow ended up feeling… rather groundless. It’s not as ridiculous as building an invisible space station that only gets revealed in the last fifteen minutes of the film (and for good reason, since it looked dreadful), but it just didn’t feel real. Too much ham acting. Too many obvious stunt double cuts. Too many bad wigs. Actually, the only one who had really nice (though VERY 80s) hair was Tanya, although Roger’s hair was looking rather well-coifed. Points to his hair-dresser.

And of course, the theme song still rocks. Duran² at their height.

But overall, it was a let down. It had so many good things in it that ended up being marred by some muggy and rather unconvincing performances, which, for me, sank rather than elevated the sense of dire consequences. It was topical, well-shot and incredibly well-received for that period in the canon. But it was one movie more than Moore should ever have attempted. I’m so glad he finally opted out at this point. He really could have left it one or two movies earlier and done everyone a favour.

But it’s not as weak as DAF. And thankfully, no Shirley Bassey, either.

One last point; that pre-title sequence, with Bond in Siberia retrieving the stolen mocrochip from the frozen corpse of 003 was, in my mind, Roger Moore’s best. Sadly, this is mostly because he was heavily stunt doubled by that snow-boarding dude, but still, it’s the sharpest intro of his bunch, and especially of Roger’s later movies, which were great movies with lousy Pre-Title Sequences.

It was marred by only one thing; the faux-Beach Boys music added in as he skis down the steep hillside on a runner board broken off the front of a snow-mobile, as a forerunner to the snowboarding craze (the stunt man who did the scene was one of the pioneers of snowboarding). I instinctively reach for the volume knob every time I watch this scene, because the music is great before and after that segment, but it only gets past my radar if I crank it down as the poorly-covered Beach Boys music is piped in. Still, if you time it right and just keep repeating that OHMSS reprise theme in your head, it looks great.

L o L,
Licenced To Bore

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