From A View to a Kill was one of five short stories Ian Fleming included in the book For Your Eyes Only, which was Fleming’s eighth James Bond publication. A View to a Kill was the fourteenth Bond film. There is not a lot to say here; both are entirely different.
Fleming’s story involves Bond’s investigation into the murder of a Royal Corps motorcycle dispatch rider whose briefcase, containing sensitive British intelligence, is stolen. Bond learns that a group of gypsies had lived in a wooded area near where the currier was shot to death and stakes out the area. He discovers that a small cell of Soviet spies is hiding in the woods in an underground bunker and plans to murder another Royal Corps currier and thereby obtain more British state secrets. Bond disrupts their plan by posing as a currier and taking out the entire group with help from the story’s love-interest, Mary Ann Russell, another MI6 agent who seems to have immediately fallen for Bond and, in the final sequence, saves his life.
That’s about all that really need be said about Fleming’s original work; it is, essentially, a one-act play. Of interest, however, are a few personal things the reader learns about Bond’s history and habits. For example, although he lost his virginity there, Bond has hated Paris since World War II. But when he finds himself in Paris, he stays at the Terminus Nord Hotel and drinks at Harry’s Bar. These snapshots clearly reflect Fleming’s own experience as a British navel intelligence officer during the War and his subsequent world travels. Such personal and local insights are a continuing highlight of Fleming’s novels and stories. The story concludes with a bit of foreshadowing of 007’s lighter side, to come in future work: After Mary Ann saves his life, Bond leads her away by the arm, remarking that he’d like to show her “a bird’s nest.” All in all not unlike the triumphant closing sequences found in many of the films.
The film features a mostly cheesy opening sequence in which 007 retrieves a microchip from 003’s dead body in Russia. It turns out that the microchip is a copy of a chip being developed by the British; but, the chip recovered from 003 continues to work even after being subjected to a radioactive blast.
The man behind the counterfeit chip is Max Zorin, the film’s primary villain. Zorin’s master plan is to monopolize the microchip industry by bombing a mine in California and flooding all of Silicon Valley. Bond, naturally, prevents this all from happening.
A View to a Kill was Roger Moore’s last turn as 007. This was a good thing, as by this point his age and slapstick/tongue in cheek style significantly undermined his credibility as the supposedly ruthless MI6 agent. (To be fair, of course, the comedic elements can also be blamed on the screenwriter and director.) The film boasts car chases, gadgets, and cheesy quips aplenty.
As mentioned earlier, there is little at all to compare and contrast the film with between Fleming’s original story. Essentially, the only semi-nexus is that both formats take place in France, albeit the film’s screenplay has 007 traveling about from Siberia to France to San Francisco and other locales.
While the film’s plot is mostly decent overall, the real highlights are Zorin, memorably played by Christopher Walken, and Mayday, Zorin’s loyal (well, until almost the end), sidekick, played by Grace Jones. Walken plays Zorin, a KGB/SPECTRE associate with platinum blond dyed hair, as an aloof and sadistic megalomaniac who grins mischievously as he machine- guns members of his own staff to death.
Mayday is equally ruthless, until she realizes that Zorin has double-crossed her. She ultimately plays a critical role in subverting Zorin’s evil plan and sacrifices her own life to so ensure the success of 007’s mission.
The best part of the film, in my view, is Duran Duran‘s theme song.
Next: For Your Eyes Only