Film / A View to a Kill

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/view_to_a_kill_ver3.jpg
Zorin: Intuitive improvisation is the secret of genius.
Bond: Herr Doktor Mortner would be proud of his creation.

The one where Bond goes black...and never goes back.

A View to a Kill is the 14th James Bond film, starring Roger Moore in his last appearance as 007 at the age of 57, although Bond's advanced age is hardly noticeable in this outing. After a Zorin Industries computer chip is found in Siberia, Bond is sent to investigate the company at a horse race competition. Features Christopher Walken as a shamelessly over the top villain and Grace Jones as "May Day", one of the most genuinely badass (and intimidating) henchwomen of the series. Features Grace Jones jumping off the Eiffel Tower and an opening title song by Duran Duran, to date the only Bond song to make it to number 1 on the pop charts.

Also Lois Maxwell's final movie as Moneypenny.

The only thing this movie uses from the Ian Fleming short story "From a View to a Kill" are five words from the title and the Paris setting.


This film provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Oh, Lord, May Day. May Day.
  • Age Lift: One of the movie's biggest criticisms was Roger Moore was still playing Bond at age 57 (he was 45 when he was first cast as Bond in Live and Let Die).
  • And I'm the Queen of Sheba: When Bond reveals his identity to the San Francisco police captain, the officer scoffs with, "And I'm Dick Tracy, and you're still under arrest."
  • Ankle Drag: May Day grabs Stacey by her ankle when the former tries to climb out of Zorin's mine shaft. Stacey escapes via Giving Them the Strip.
  • Artistic License – Awards: At the end of the film, General Gogol arrives to present Bond with the Order of Lenin, saying that he's the first foreign recipient of the USSR's highest decoration. In actuality, the first foreign recipient was Italian communist Luigi Longo.
  • Ashes to Crashes: Stacey Sutton smashes a Priceless Ming Vase over the head of a baddie threatening Bond, before revealing it contains her grandfather's ashes. "He always loved a good fight."
    • Bond actually manages to avoid knocking it over earlier in the fight.
  • Ax-Crazy: Zorin, thanks to genetic engineering. Bonus points for him actually wielding an axe in his climactic fight with Bond.
  • An Axe to Grind: During the final fight at the top of the Golden Gate Bridge, Max Zorin famously grabs a nearby fire axe and attacks the heroes in a last attempt to kill Bond and Stacey. Bond manages to get hold of it and use it against Zorin and his blimp.
  • Badass Grandpa: Bond himself (Roger Moore was 58).
  • Bad Boss: While they're completing work on the mine, Zorin orders the early detonation of some of the explosives, which will flood the mine and kill his own people. Then Zorin and his right-hand man grab a pair of submachine guns and shoot the remainder. One of Zorin's lieutenants even protests that these men are completely loyal to him, which only serves to get himself killed as well. The kicker is May Day, Zorin's own lover realizing he left her and her two female friends to die with the rest without a thought.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: May Day.
    Bond: I see you're a woman of very few words.
    May Day: What is there to say?
  • Board to Death: "Anyone else want to drop out?"
  • California Collapse: Zorin's plan to corner the microchip market involves using explosives to flood the San Andreas Fault, destroying Silicon Valley.
  • The Cameo: Patrick Macnee as Sir Godfrey Tibbet.
  • Captain Ersatz: Achilles (pronounced "a-SHEEL") Aubergine may be a parody of Hercule Poirot. The man seems to be a bit of a Miles Gloriosus; he dies shortly after proclaiming himself "on the case." Also Sir Godfrey is possibly a retired John Steed.
  • Cat Scare: Occurs when Bond is creeping up the broad stairway of Stacey's house.
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: During a horse race between Bond and Zorin, Zorin uses remote-controlled hazards and goons to trip up Bond, and he still comes out ahead.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Zorin, Zorin, Zorin. He murders the Obstructive Bureaucrat in his pocket to frame Bond for the crime, machine guns his own men to death and blows up and floods the mine they were in kill anyone else who escapes his massacre, as well as two of his assistants and his own girlfriend. He's supposedly a KGB agent but after they helped set him up as a millionaire industrialist, he abandoned them too, and they hated him so much they gave Bond the Order of Lenin for foiling his scheme and killing him.
    • If anything, the only person he has even a semblance of loyalty or genuine affection for is Dr. Mortner and possibly also his main dragon, Scarpine.
  • Comforting Comforter: Bond covers Stacy Sutton after she fell asleep on her bed.
  • Complexity Addiction: First time, Bond is held at gunpoint, knocked out, and left in a car as it sinks into a lake. Second time, he's left in a lift in a burning building. The second one, at least, is somewhat justified by Zorin wanting to Make It Look Like an Accident.
    • The first was too, he just didn't bother explaining it. In both cases For the Evulz is probably in play- he wants Bond to drown / burn to death, rather than just shoot him. To be fair, by the end he's resorting to a fire axe.
  • Convenient Replacement Character: Anya Amasova (played by Barbara Bach) from The Spy Who Loved Me was originally to be in the film, but was replaced by Pola Ivanova (played by Fiona Fullerton.)
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Max Zorin.
  • Covers Always Lie: See that image up there? Grace Jones is just 2 1/2 inches - 6 cm - shorter than Roger Moore.note  The fact that she's wearing high heels makes it more unrealistic. The poster does convey Jones' long legs, however.
    • This is because "May Day" on that poster was actually modelled on another, somewhat more muscular (if that holds up to Willing Suspension of Disbelief) woman than Grace Jones.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Pola Ivanova's partner is shoved into a water turbine head first.
  • Curse Cut Short: Three times. Can be jarring compared to the Precision F-Strikes during the chase scene.
  • Cute but Cacophonic: Stacy Sutton.
  • Cut Phone Lines: Zorin's mooks cut Stacy Sutton's phone line before invading her house and attacking her. After James Bond fends them off, he repairs the line.
  • Danger Takes a Backseat: Two of Bond's allies meet their end in this manner.
  • Designer Babies: Max Zorin was apparently one of these, it has been noted that such experiment has resulted in amazingly bright children, who are also somewhat insane.
  • Disney Villain Death: Zorin falls from the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • The Dragon: May Day.
  • The '80s: Duran Duran doing the theme song, Grace Jones, a title sequence filled to the brim with day-glo effects and chicks with '80s Hair, the use of wailing electric guitars in the score... this is very much a film of its time.
  • Effortless Amazonian Lift: Grace Jones lifts up a KGB mook over her head.
  • EMP: The MacGuffin for the first part of the movie is a computer chip that can withstand EMP, built by Zorn Industries — Bond is investigating how one of these chips ended up in the Soviet Union.
  • Evil Genius: Max Zorin
  • Elevator Escape: Bond and Stacey have to do this after Zorin traps them inside and sets the whole place on fire.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Zorin prepares to flood the fault line, knowing full well he will be leaving his lackeys to die. One of his henchmen blasts him for this, citing the men's loyalty to him. Unfortunately for him, he becomes a victim as well. What's more, May Day is devastated at the death of her friends and the realization that Zorin left her to die is what makes her turn on him.
  • Fatal Family Photo: A posthumous version when Bond opens the locket worn by his dead predecessor. Of course the wife and child shown could just be part of the man's cover identity, but this trope is implied.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Max Zorin. He gives a knowing wink to his Femme Fatale when she's killed someone. Completely coldly guns down her associates later. Laughs when he realises he's about to die. Is played by Christopher Walken, with all the hamminess it brings.
  • Fetish: Unlike most Bond villains, Zorin seems quite turned on at the thought of May Day sleeping with 007.
    • Given her reaction to Zorin besting her in a fight and her reaction to Bond's initial attempt at lovemaking, it may be more that Zorin enjoys manipulating her into a position he likes but that she does not.
  • Fire Ax-Crazy: Zorin goes after Bond with a hatchet in the final confrontation. He also seems to be having waaay too much fun gunning down his employees in the Main Strike mine. Justified since he's may well be the result of Nazi experiments to make a super soldier Gone Horribly Right.
  • Furo Scene: James Bond and KGB agent Pola Ivanova share a bath together at an Asian bathhouse in San Francisco.
  • Gay Paree: There's a scene in the Eiffel Tower, for cripes sake.
  • Giving Them the Strip: Stacey sheds her coveralls to escape from May Day while climbing out of Zorin's mine shaft.
  • Goggles Do Something Unusual: Bond has glasses that allow him to see through polarized glass.
  • Go Out with a Smile:
    • May Day begins to laugh just before she gets blown up.
    • So does Max Zorin before he falls to his death.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The car wash brushes block the view of the Rolls Royce just as May Day gets up from the back seat and strangles Tibbett.
  • Groin Attack: Bond smacks his crotch against a building's antenna. He manages to hold on - and it doesn't stop him from having Glad-to-Be-Alive Sex with Stacy at the end of the film.
    • It's even funnier when you realize that Roger Moore spent most of his Bond tenure either dealing out crotch shots or narrowly avoiding them.
  • Head-Tiltingly Kinky: Bond and May Day's sex scene.
  • High-Heel–Face Turn: May Day. It's worth noting that it wasn't Bond's charms that won her over. He was just her posthumous instrument of revenge against Zorin.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: May Day. Probably with some Redemption Equals Death thrown in, at least in the fans' eyes.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Really, Dr. Mortner, what did you think was going to happen when you tried to blow up Bond with dynamite in a disabled blimp?
    • Also Zorin himself; obviously his disloyalty towards his own girlfriend comes at a cost, as she was all too eager to help Bond foil his plans when he left her to die along with everyone else in the mine.
  • Hot Scientist: Stacey, who's supposedly a geologist.
  • Idiot Ball: That one investor who didn't want to be involved in Zorin's criminal scheme. Seriously, you know the whole plan and you think he's going to let you live knowing about an activity you think is wrong?
    • The investor didn't know the whole plan and Zorin wasn't proposing any criminal scheme. The investor was there for exactly that reason- to invest. Zorin wanted to out-compete Silicon Valley and didn't let slip that he was planning to do so by destroying it utterly (he nearly did, but he didn't); all he was saying at that meeting was that he wanted them to invest in his company so he can do that. The problem was that he wanted them to invest an obscene amount of money ($100 million each); the fact that they thought Silicon Valley would still be there only makes the financial risk sound worse. The investor had no idea he was dealing with a murderous psychopath and acted accordingly. Alternatively, it can be assumed that Zorin expected- perhaps even wanted or engineered- the meeting to be designed so that at least one person would choose to back out and planned from he start to make an example of them.
  • In-Name-Only: Besides the Paris setting, the short story has nothing to do with the movie.
  • Indy Ploy: Zorin claims to be one: "Intuitive improvisation is the spirit of genius." Of course, given that he has two jerry cans full of gasoline with him at the time, Zorin is probably actually more of a Xanatos Speed Chess kind of guy.
  • Instant Convertible: This is one of the many mishaps that happen to Bond's Renault.
  • I'll Take That as a Compliment: Zorin's smugness always disappears whenever someone reminds him of his Designer Babies nature. However when Bond gives the page quote, he's apparently enough of a "Well Done, Son!" Guy to agree with it.
  • Kingpin in His Gym: We are treated to a scene of Zorin sparring with May Day.
  • Large Ham: Christopher Walken as a Bond villain. Need we say more?
    • The part was originally offered to David Bowie. It's really not too difficult to figure this tidbit out without even knowing about it, just by watching how Walken acts.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: "The bubbles are tickling my... Tchaikovski!"
  • Lemming Cops: The cops in the San Francisco Police Department making the unwise decision to try to chase Bond through downtown when he's driving a stolen fire engine.
  • Mad Scientist: Dr Mortner.
  • May–December Romance: Roger Moore was older than actress Tanya Roberts' mother. This was actually one of the major factors that caused him to step down from the role.
  • Mean Boss: "St. John Smythe" to his "valet" Tibbet. When Bond and Tibbet need to sneak off for a private discussion, they leave a tape recording of Smythe complaining constantly about Tibbet's work.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: A shady system of using steroids to win horse races —> destroying Silicon Valley
    • In-Universe too; as Gogol reprimands Zorin for his horse fixing, which could draw attention to the KGB's involvement in the theft of silicon chips.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: May Day stays loyal to Max until he decides he doesn't need her any more and leaves her to die with the rest of his minions who have outlived their usefulness. After that, she's out for revenge.
  • Monumental Battle: Bond fight a major minion or two at the Eiffel Tower. The final confrontation takes place over the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • Mugged for Disguise: Bond does this to one of Zorin's mooks so Stacey can have his coveralls and hardhat.
  • Nazi Grandpa: Dr. Mortner.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Christopher Walken plays Zorin with his usual accent, even though he's supposed to be the product of Nazi "experimentation." In the film, it's handwaved by saying he speaks several languages "with no accent".
    • Well he is a KGB agent. And Zorin would have left Germany after 1945 anyway.
    • The cops in San Francisco have East Coast accents.
  • Our Lawyers Advised This Trope: The unusual "Zorin is not a real company" blurb at the beginning — it seems there's at least two Real Life companies named Zoran, one of which is actually a chip maker.
  • Pre-emptive Declaration: Zorin informs a corrupt official on his payroll how he intends to fake Bond and Sutton's deaths. They murdered him and started a fire to destroy the evidence, only to die after being trapped in the elevator.
    Official: But that means...I would have to be...
    Zorin: Dead! (shoots him in heart)
  • Priceless Ming Vase: Played with. Bond and Stacey go through the familiar "don't-break-the-vase" fight scene, but after she ultimately uses it to knock out a Mook, she reveals it actually contains her grandfather's ashes.
  • Put the "Laughter" in "Slaughter": Zorin, while taking an Uzi to scads of his own men.
  • Ramp Jump: Bond driving across the Third Street drawbridge in the "opening bridge" variety. In a fire truck.
  • Random Events Plot: A View to a Kill is the quintessential cheesy Bond film, perhaps even moreso than ''Moonraker. It's as if the production team had to make a Bond film and were given a list of random elements that had to be arranged into one. Blimps! Christopher Walken as a Nazi, baby! Grace Jones as a Bond girl! A KGB subplot for some reason! Horses!
  • Reckless Gun Usage: Zorin, while delivering the page quote, taps his temple with a loaded pistol.
  • Redemption Equals Death: May Day.
  • Red Herring: The modified horses arc pretty much just exists to fill an hour.
  • Renegade Russian: Not a literal example of this trope, but in the same spirit — Zorin is a KGB agent who ditches his employers to carry out his mad scheme for world domination of the silicon chip industry.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The writers had noted the explosion in available computer technology and the public's fascination / concern with all things hi-tech so decided that their story should centre around the planned destruction of America's Silicon Valley.
  • Scary Black Man: Gender Flip. Would you want to bump into May-Day in a dark alley?
  • Scenery Porn: San Francisco is shown in all its glory (as is Paris to a lesser extent). The end credits are basically a series of shots of the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: Subverted. Stacey's shotgun ammo is rock salt, so that it stuns, not kills.
  • Shout-Out: At the Ascot derby, Moneypenny yells "Move your arse!" at her losing horse.
  • Shower of Love: Between Bond and Stacey at the end.
  • Skeleton Key Card: Parodied. Bond pulls out a credit card to unlock a window, but after flipping it over we see that it's an electronic lockpick from The Sharper Image.
  • Soft Water: Averted. Zorin dies by falling off of the Golden Gate bridge and is killed by the water.
  • Soviet Superscience: Averted. General Gogol brings a medal to the Universal Exports office for Bond in recognition for his efforts in saving Silicone Valley. M wonders why, as he thinks that the destruction of Silicone Valley would be a cause for celebration in the Soviet Union. Gogol explains that the KGB has been stealing technologies from companies there for years.
  • Spy Cam: One of Bond's gadgets is a ring containing a miniature camera. Bond uses the device at a Zorin's party to covertly take photographs of each of his guests.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Mayday, of course. (Grace Jones herself was one at the time.)
  • Stock Scream: The poor mook Thrown from the Zeppelin right before he hits the water. This scream is frequently heard in all of the Moore-era Bond films at one point or another.
  • Theme Tune: With guitar riffs!
    • More notably, the only Bond theme tune to hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
  • Theme Tune Cameo: The theme song is played by the band at the wedding Bond accidentally crashes.
  • Thrown from the Zeppelin: Trope namer, though not the most famous example.
  • Title Drop: An impossibly awkward one.
    May Day: [overlooking San Francisco bay from the zeppelin] Wow. What a view!
    Zorin: To a kill!
  • The Trickster: Roger Moore survives only by playing with Zorin's head.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Mr. Howe.
  • Trapped in a Sinking Car: Bond had to escape one of these. He is able to open the car door once the cabin is flooded with water. Bond then realizes that he cannot surface immediately because the baddies are waiting ashore, so he opens the wheel valve and inhales the out-rushing air.
  • Two-Person Pool Party: Bond and Sutton in the shower.
    • And earlier on, Bond and Pola in a hot tub.
  • Unconventional Vehicle Chase: About to be arrested by police in San Francisco, Bond steals a firetruck to escape. At one point he takes out the ladder which wrecks a lot of the environment, including taking the top off a truck with a sleeping couple inside.
    • Earlier in the movie, as Bond follows May Day from the ground as she parachutes down from the Eiffel Tower, the subcompact he commandeers is smashed, crashed, and ultimately chopped in half - yet it remains drivable to the end.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: The mine foreman just looks confused at the sight of a female truck driver in heels (despite Bond being pulled up earlier for not wearing a hard hat - proper footwear should also be a safety requirement). No-one pays attention to her form-fitting jumpsuit after they change outfits either.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Bond poses as one to infiltrate Zorin's estate, with the hilariously English pseudonym "James St. John Smythe". Unfortunately it turns out to be a Paper-Thin Disguise as Zorin has access to the KGB database.
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: Pola's bathrobe serves as the only thing she has to hide the tape.
  • We Have Reserves: After gunning down his own men, Zorin simply looks at his watch and says "Good. Right on schedule.".
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: After May Day bitterly pains over her henchmen being killed, Bond takes the time to look around at the cost in human life and states that Zorin betrayed a lot of people. One of the few times that Bond actually pauses to mourn the deaths of henchmen. Then again, most of the men who were killed weren't even henchmen. They were just working for the henchmen who were working for Zorin. All of May Day's girls were definitely henchwomen.
  • Woman Scorned: May Day. "And I thought that creep loved me!"
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: A meta-example. A few critics at the time pointed out that May Day's Heel–Face Turn conveniently allowed Bond to avoid having to fight and kill a woman (even one that physically outclassed him).
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Unlike many villains, Max and May Day actually bother to see if James drowns after being dumped in the lake. Fortunately, Bond opened a tire and used it to breathe and create the illusion that he's drowned, causing M & M to leave the scene. At least they tried.
  • You Can Never Leave: General Gogol tells Zorin that no-one leaves the KGB alive. Zorin is not impressed.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Jenny Flex and almost everyone else in the mine, under Zorin's orders. May Day is the only survivor - and boy, is she angry at Zorin.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/AViewToAKill