A View to a Kill
A View to a Kill (1985) is the fourteenth in the James Bond franchise, and saw Roger Moore star as the suave and sophisticated spy for the final time.
In this blog post, we take a closer look at this classic entry in the Bond franchise in all its criticisms and good points. The film was produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, and was directed by John Glen. The screenplay, written by Broccoli, Wilson, and Richard Maibaum, is entirely original, despite taking its title from a short story by Ian Fleming.
We’ll look into Roger Moore’s final performance as James Bond, looking at his advanced age and diminishing physicality that are often cited as drawbacks to his performance.
We also take a deeper look at the cast the portrayal of the Bond villain, Max Zorin, played by Christopher Walken. We analyze Walken’s performance and discuss how he stacks up against other iconic Bond villains.
We also take a closer look at the Bond girls from A View to a Kill, including Tanya Roberts as Stacey Sutton and Grace Jones as femme fatale May Day. We explore their roles in the film and how they fit into the wider Bond girl canon.
Finally, we examine some of the standout scenes in A View to a Kill, that saw Bond travel from Siberia to San Francisco to foil megalomanic Zorin’s plans to control the microchip industry.
Despite receiving mixed reviews from critics, A View to a Kill was a commercial success, and the Duran Duran theme song remains a fan favorite. Join us as we revisit this classic entry in the James Bond series.
Bond is on a mission in Siberia where he must recover a microchip and locate the body of murdered agent, 003. Soviet troops ambush him, but he manages to escape using a submarine that’s disguised as an iceberg.
After returning to England, Bond hands the microchip over to Q for analysis, who confirms it’s an exact replica of one made by Zorin Industries that can withstand the electromagnetic pulse of a nuclear explosion.
Bond heads to to Ascot Racecourse with M and the Minister of Defence to observe Max Zorin, the founder and CEO of Zorin Industries. During the race, Zorin’s horse Pegasus miraculously wins. In the paddock afterwards the horse starts violently jumping about before a woman named May Day manages to regain control of it.
Sir Godfrey Tibbett, an MI6 agent who doubles as a horse trainer, suspects that Zorin’s horse was given drugs to enhance its performance, despite having passed a pre-race drug screening.
In order to investigate further, Bond meets with Achille Aubergine, a French private detective, at the Eiffel Tower’s restaurant. Aubergine reveals that Zorin is planning to hold a horse sale later that month. However, as they’re talking May Day assassinates Aubergine before making off.
Bond chases her to the top of the tower but she manages to parachute off before he can get her. Bond then races down the tower’s elevator and takes possession of a Renault taxi to chase her through the streets of Paris.
Bond’s car is cut to pieces, before he has to jump onto a boat on the River Seine, but May Day gets away with Zorin as Bond is arrested for causing the disrutpion.
Bond and Tibbett head to Chantilly, France, where Bond assumes the guise of James St. John Smythe, a wealthy horse enthusiast, and Tibbett as his valet. At a reception, they meet Scarpine, the head of Zorin’s security, and Dr. Mortner, a horse vet who specializes in selective breeding for Zorin’s prize animals.
Bond also encounters Stacey Sutton, a beautiful American woman, but Tibbett reminds him of their mission. Bond later sees Sutton entering Zorin’s office, where she has a brief meeting before being whisked away by May Day on Zorin’s orders.
Later, Bond sneaks into Zorin’s office and discovers a check for $5m made out to Sutton. Tibbett follows Dr. Mortner to Zorin’s stables, where he sees Mortner and Pegasus disappear.
Tibbett is later found by Bond, who has discovered a secret lab beneath the stables. There, they find that Zorin has been planting microchips in his horses, which are programmed to release a steroid when triggered by a hidden radio transmitter in the jockey’s whip. They also discover a stash of the same microchips that Bond obtained in the Arctic.
As they investigate, they’re attacked by Zorin’s henchmen, but Bond gets the better of them before seeking refuge in May Day’s bed. He persuades her to join him in bed, and she does so with Zorin’s amused permission, despite them being a couple.
Later, Zorin invites Bond to his study to help him choose a stud horse. Using a hidden camera and database, Zorin discovers Bond’s true identity. He challenges Bond to a steeplechase-style race and provides him with a dangerous horse in an attempt to get rid of him.
The course is rigged with booby traps and Zorin’s henchmen, who attack 007. Bond escapes the track and boards his limousine, but Tibbett is killed by May Day, who’s now driving the car. May Day and Zorin then attempt to drown Bond in a nearby pond, but he manages to survive.
Later, Soviet General Gogol visits Zorin’s estate with several KGB agents, a meeting that reveals Zorin is still in the employ of the KGB and is admonished for his attention-grabbing business ventures and for attempting to kill Bond without authorization.
Zorin responds by saying he no longer wishes to do business with the KGB. When Gogol’s assistant insults Zorin, May Day picks him up and throws him. Gogol warns Zorin that no one leaves the KGB but the General is forced to leave when Zorin’s men draw their guns.
Zorin then heads to San Francisco, he boards an airship to unveil his sinister plan to destroy Silicon Valley, which he dubs “Main Strike,” to a group of investors. He demands $100 million from each participant and requires them to sign a contract promising half of their net income through marketing deals if they agree to join him. When one man refuses, May Day drops him out of the airship and into San Francisco Bay.
In downtown San Francisco, Bond meets with his CIA contact and learns that Zorin is a psychopath who was created through Nazi medical experimentation during World War II by Dr. Hans Glaub. Glaub had experimented on pregnant women in concentration camps with the goal of creating highly intelligent superhumans.
Bond poses as a reporter for the London Financial Times, and discovers that a prolific crab patch has disappeared near one of Zorin’s oil pumping stations. The mayor also reveals that Zorin has been testing his oil lines for leaks with seawater, which explains the disappearance of the crab stock.
Later in San Francisco, Bond and Ivanova have a romantic encounter in a hot tub house. Ivanova tries to leave with her cassette recording of Zorin, but Bond has switched the tape and when he listens to it, he discovers that Zorin’s plan will take place in a few days.
Bond reunites with Stacey, whose grandfather’s oil company was taken over by Zorin. They team up to try and steal documents about his plan from San Francisco City Hall. Zorin arrives and holds them hostage, forcing the San Francisco mayor to call the police.
Zorin then kills the mayor with Bond’s Walther PPK and sets the building on fire to frame Bond for the murder. Bond and Sutton escape the fire, but Bond is about to be arrested so he takes an SF Fire truck to get away. He’s pursued by the SF police in a high-speed chase that results in multiple police cruisers being destroyed.
The following day, Bond and Sutton sneak into Zorin’s mine near Silicon Valley and uncover his plan to detonate explosives under the lakes next to Hayward Fault and the San Andreas Fault, which would cause them to flood simultaneously and submerge Silicon Valley.
Bond then spies on an oil rig belonging to Zorin and catches KGB agent and his old flame Pola Ivanova attempting to blow it up. While recording Zorin’s announcement of his plans, Ivanova’s accomplice is thrown into a feeder pipe and shredded by a powerful directional propeller.
This catastrophe would allow Zorin to become the sole manufacturer of microchips in the world. A bomb is also present at the site, which would destroy a geological lock, preventing the two faults from moving at the same time, causing a double earthquake.
Zorin and Scarpine then flood the mines, brutally killing some of the mine workers who try to flee. The flood almost kill Bond and May Day, who now feels betrayed by Zorin. She then helps Bond get the bomb outsie of the mine and derail Zorin’s plan.
They put the bomb on a handcar and push it out of the mine along a railroad line, but the brake lever stops it. May Day then jumps on the car to hold the faulty brake lever, heroically sacrificing her own life as the bomb explodes outside, away from the lock.
Zorin can see all of what’s happening from his airship above, and stoops down to kidnap Stacey. Bond grabs hold of the front mooring rope as the airship ascends, and Zorin flies just over the top of the Golden gate Bridge in an attempt to knock Bond off. But Bond manages to tie the airship rope to the bridge, preventing it from moving.
Stacey fights back against Zorin, and in the ensuing struggle, Mortner and Scarpine are briefly incapacitated. Stacey escapes onto the bridge and teams up with Bond, but Zorin pursues them with an axe and engages in a fierce battle with Bond.
Bond gains the upper hand and sends Zorin plunging to his death off the bridge. Mortner then tries to kill Bond with some dynamite, but Bond cuts the rope, causing Mortner to drop the dynamite into the airship’s cabin. The dynamite explodes seconds later, destroying the airship and killing Mortner and Scarpine.
In the aftermath, General Gogol ironically awards Bond with the Order of Lenin, and would like to meet him personally. Q, monitoring from a special van in California, uses Snooper, his dog-surveillance camera, to locate 007, and finds him making love to Stacey in her shower.
Roger Moore as James Bond in A View to a Kill
Roger Moore delivers a commendable performance as he dons the tuxedo for the last time, despite the challenges that come with age and the film’s less-than-stellar reviews. While it’s true that the film received mixed reviews on both sides of the Atlantic, focusing largely on Moore’s seniority in the role, it’s important to remember that Roger Moore’s portrayal of Bond has always been well received, by the majority.
Roger Moore himself has admitted that A View to a Kill wasn’t his favorite Bond film, and he had reservations about his age. However, it’s essential to recognize that throughout his tenure as 007, Moore has always been thoroughly engaged in his performances, a quality you might not tie to Sean Connery.
In A View to a Kill, Moore’s Bond takes the character further away from Ian Fleming’s original source material than any other adaptation. And his performance in his final Bond film is nothing short of committed, and any perceived shortcomings of the film can’t be attributed to him.
Despite the age difference between a 57 year-old Roger Moore and his younger co-stars, his charm and charisma still shine through. It’s not Moore’s fault that the film’s plot includes Bond romancing women half his age, relying on stuntmen for action scenes, or even making a quiche (much to the dismay of some die-hard fans). Rather, it’s the filmmakers’ complacency in not casting a new lead that should be criticized.
In the end, A View to a Kill may not be the best Roger Moore Bond film, but his performance is a testament to his unwavering dedication to the role. His portrayal of Bond is consistently engaging, and it’s clear that he gave it his all until the very end.
As we look back on Roger Moore’s final outing as 007, let’s appreciate the charm and charisma he brought to the character and remember why he remains a beloved figure in the world of James Bond.
Played by American actor Christopher Walken, Max Zorin is a wealthy and ambitious man who has a passion for winning at any cost. He has a history of doping his racehorses with implanted microchips to give him an unfair advantage in horse racing.
The microchips activate a natural steroid that boosts the horse’s performance during the race, and then dissolves after a brief period in the bloodstream. Zorin and his henchman Mortner organize this program for their horses.
Despite Zorin’s longtime affiliation with the KGB, his other ventures draw unwanted attention from them. At a meeting with the KGB, General Gogol rebukes him for his actions. In response, Zorin declares that he’s no longer employed by the KGB.
Zorin forms a plan, dubbed Project Mainstrike, to destroy the heavy American competition in Silicon Valley. He plans to trigger a massive earthquake in the San Andreas Fault, causing the valley to flood.
This would effectively wipe out all microchip companies competing against Zorin, and leave him as the leading supplier of microchips with his own Zorin Microchip.
He plans to trigger a super-earthquake on both the San Andreas Fault and Hayward Fault by flooding both faults with water from San Andreas Lake and then break the geological lock that prevents both faults from moving simultaneously.
To achieve this, Zorin mines beneath the lakes and aims to detonate explosives to flood the faults. After the faults are submerged, Zorin intends to trigger the necessary explosives to break the geological lock, which prevents both faults from moving simultaneously.
Zorin’s plan is foiled by James Bond and Zorin’s lover and henchwoman May Day, who joins Bond’s side after Zorin ruthlessly kills many of his miners and almost kills her without any thought.
After the explosion is foiled, Zorin, who’s flying above in his airship with his aids Mortner and Scarpine, loops down to capture Bond’s aid Stacey Sutton. Bond manages to grab hold of a mooring rope as the airship heads for the Golden Gate Bridge. Zorin tries to kill Bond by flying him into the bridge, but Bond manages to hold on and stop the airship by mooring it to the framework.
After a fracas in the airship, Stacey manages to escape onto the bridge’s steel cable to join Bond. Zorin is close behind her as he attacks Bond with a fire axe. After a brief scuffle, Bond gets the better and causes Zorin to lose his grip, which makes him fall to his death in the San Francisco Bay below.
Played by Tanya Roberts, Stacey Sutton is the granddaughter of a successful oil tycoon who built his fortune in California. Raised in a wealthy family, Stacey has always known she will inherit her family’s business, so she majors in earth science in college to prepare for the role.
Unfortunately, Max Zorin, a billionaire with his sights set on dominating the oil industry, takes over Sutton Oil. Zorin offers Stacey a sizable check for her shares in the company, but she refuses to sell. Stacey’s legal battles with Zorin force her to sell many of the furnishings of her grandfather’s estate, Dunsmuir House, but she refuses to give up the house itself.
When James Bond crosses paths with Stacey, he discovers Zorin’s plan to pump seawater into oil wells to flood the Hayward and San Andreas faults, creating a double earthquake that will submerge Silicon Valley.
Despite initially being suspicious of Bond, Stacey joins forces with him to stop Zorin. They infiltrate one of Zorin’s mines, but Zorin succeeds in detonating explosives that cause the mine to flood. Stacey manages to escape the rising waters, but most of Zorin’s own men and women do not.
Zorin and his entourage attempt to escape by airship, taking Stacey with them. Bond manages to snag the airship on the Golden Gate Bridge and engages in a final showdown with Zorin. Stacey knocks out Zorin’s henchman and reunites with Bond after Zorin falls to his death.
In the film’s final sequence, Bond appears to be missing, but Q uses one of his remote control gadgets to find him and Stacey in the shower.
May Day is a mysterious and formidable figure, and is the bodyguard and lover of Max Zorin. Played by Grace Jones, May Day is a tall woman in her mid-thirties with exceptional strength, making her a formidable opponent for anyone who crosses her path.
May Day is in charge of Zorin’s female guard unit and is deeply loyal to her subordinates, Jenny Flex and Pan Ho. When they are killed in the line of duty, May Day is overcome with grief, suggesting that they shared a close working relationship.
We first see May Day when she accompanies Zorin to Royal Ascot, where he enters his horse, Pegasus, into the race. May Day is forced to restrain the frantic horse after it wins.
May Day then heads to a restaurant at the Eiffel Tower, where she murders private detective Achille Aubergine with a poisoned stage prop as he’s dining with James Bond.
Bond chases her as she runs up the Eiffel Tower before jumping off and parachuting across Paris, eventually escaping along the Seine in a boat driven by Zorin.
Later that month, at a thoroughbred sale organised by Zorin, May Day recognizes Bond as the man from the Eiffel Tower. 007 seduces her in a bid to evade suspicion, but his cover is blown by Zorin the following morning. May Day subsequently kills Bond’s MI6 colleague, Sir Godfrey Tibbett, and then tries to drown Bond while he’s unconscious in his car.
Believing Bond to be dead, May Day joins Zorin in enacting “Project Mainstrike” – his scheme to destroy Silicon Valley with a super-earthquake and attain dominance over the global microchip market.
She executes a hesitant investor by throwing him out of an airship into the San Francisco Bay. After discovering that Bond is alive, she kills his CIA contact, Chuck Lee, and tries to frame 007 for the murder of Zorin’s stooge, W.G. Howe, at San Francisco City Hall.
May Day accompanies Zorin to Main Strike Mine as he prepares to detonate hundreds of sacks of ANFO and destroy the “key geological lock,” causing a catastrophic geological disaster. Zorin betrays May Day and prematurely floods the mine, causing her subordinates to be killed by the floodwaters, but she only just survives.
Furious at Zorin’s betrayal, May Day helps Bond extract the lock-breaking bomb and loads it onto a railroad cart. May Day sacrifices her life to ensure that the bomb set by Zorin could not trigger the quake – she is killed in the explosion seconds after managing to push a trailer full of explosives out of the valley and into open air.
Played by Fiona Fullerton, Pola Ivanova is a former Soviet agent and an ex-lover of James Bond. Her partner Klotkoff is executed, leaving her to work alone, and she has to record an incriminating conversation between Zorin and his oil company chief, Bob Conley.
During her mission, she bumps into Bond on the beach and the two later enjoy some time together in a spa room, making up for old times. After making love Bond tries to get information from her.
Despite Bond’s attempts, Pola remains guarded and unwilling to compromise her mission. Bond promises to send her a dozen red roses but, unbeknownst to her, he switches the incriminating tape with a cassette of classical Japanese music.
Best Scene in A View to a Kill
Bond Chases May Day Through Paris
In the iconic chase scene from A View to a Kill, James Bond pursues May Day up the Eiffel Tower after she poisons a private detective who was investigating Max Zorin. As she reaches the top, May Day deploys a parachute and glides away, leaving Bond to chase her through the streets of Paris.
The ensuing car chase is one of the most thrilling in the history of the Bond franchise, as Bond borrows a taxi and gives chase through the winding streets of the city. Bond’s car loses its top and then its backend but he doesn’t give up.
Watch the scene
He smashes up half of the city in his attempt to get May Day who’s gradually descending to earth. Despite Bond’s best efforts, May Day manages to escape on a boat down the River Seine. The scene is thrilling and offers plenty of fun moments. It certainly stands out in what isn’t the best of films.
A View to a Kill – The End of an Era
A View to a Kill offers a mixed bag of elements for Bond fans to enjoy. While Roger Moore’s advanced age and decreasing physicality may have detracted from his performance, Christopher Walken’s portrayal of the villainous Max Zorin was a highlight of the film.
A film of silliness, its standout scene was noteworthy, the iconic Eiffel Tower chase made for some great fun. Despite its mixed reviews, A View to a Kill was a commercial success and has since gained a cult following among Bond fans.
Overall, A View to a Kill marks the end of an era for the James Bond franchise, with Roger Moore’s final performance as the iconic spy. Despite its flaws, the film remains a nostalgic and entertaining entry in the Bond canon.