In this fourteenth edition of Bond, the story starts off with 007 on the frozen tundra of Siberia, retrieving a microchip from the corpse of a fellow MI6 agent. With henchmen on his track, Bond embarks on a ski chase, which at point, has The Beach Boys' hit "California Girls" playing in the background, when Bond seems to be snowboarding. On a side note, that Beach Boys' segment is rather ridiculous and somewhat humorous. At any rate, MI6 examines the retrieved microchip and find out that this particular chip is similar to a British prototype, which could withstand intense electromagnetic radiation from a nuclear blast and that someone is leaking out the design details to the rival Soviets. That someone is the psychotic French industrialist and microchip maker, Max Zorin (Christopher Walken), founder of Zorin Industries. Bond is off to a Paris racetrack to keep an eye on the eccentric Zorin. Deducing that Zorin is hiding something from him and attempting to eliminate him in the process, Bond is led to Zorin's palatial estate in France and finally to San Francisco, where Zorin a la Goldfinger attempts to monopolize the microchip market by effacing Silicon Valley, which of course, builds the majority of the world's supply of microchips.
A View to a Kill has a fairly solid storyline, but its execution is nothing but dismal. The screenplay does not flow consistently. The slow or developing scenes are rather stagnant in that the tone can keep the viewer uninterested because of inconsistent dialogue. The stunts are not very credible either and the action scenes are pretty corny (i.e. 007 carrying Stacy down the fire truck ladder amidst a cheering San Francisco crowd). But the biggest flaw of the film is character development. Of course, Moore was pretty solid in his last outing, but the supporting cast is quite poor. May Day, played by Grace Jones, although portrayed as a stoic, athletic Amazon who exhibits raw energy is stiff throughout. Max Zorin is an intriguing villain, stoic yet psychotic, intelligent yet mentally unstable, gregarious one moment and stone-dead serious the next. However, all Walken ever does with his character is laugh like a goon, make some hilarious gestures and point out relatively flat remarks. Besides, I've personally thought Walken was a genetically altered brainchild to begin with anyway. Zorin is not exactly the worst villain, but one of the worst utilized, seeing how he had great potential to stand out as a great villain, instead of comic relief fodder. Dr. Carl Mortner, played by Willoughby Gray, seems to become more insane than Zorin later on in the film, in the sense he seems to have come down with Down's Syndrome. Last but not least, Bond's lady geologist sidekick, Stacy Sutton, ineptly played by Tanya Roberts of Charlie's Angels and That 70's Show fame, is an incompetent, helpless and moronic Barbie look-a-like, who annoyingly yells or utters, "James" almost every fourth word out of her mouth. Don't get me wrong, she's a hot number, but for crying out loud, who in the right mind loads a rifle full of rock salt, instead of regular ammunition!? Other than its obvious flaws, A View to a Kill is enjoyable when you don't feel the need to be critical, much like any other Bond film.
The great thing about Roger Moore's version of James Bond in this film is the tongue-in-cheek approach he takes. It's a Bond that doesn't take himself too seriously, yet still manages to wear a tux wherever possible.
There's a chase scene early on that starts in a French restaurant in the Eiffel Tower, runs up to the top of the tower, parachutes off and continues through the streets of Paris.
(I remember when this movie was first released, and Roger Moore appeared as a guest on Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show" to promote it. He had a clip from the end of this particular chase scene, when Bond was in a small French car whose top was shorn off, and the back end was knocked off by a passing vehicle - adding new importance to "front wheel drive" in what was left of the car that Bond continued to drive through the Parisian streets. At the end of the clip, Johnny was laughing very hard and it led into a big discussion of the over-the-top Bond approach to chase scenes. I remember it well.)
Bond is sent to investigate suspicious activities at the location of a beautiful European castle on a palatial and breathtaking estate that makes watching the film worthwhile. The grounds are the home of Zorin, played by the striking Christopher Walken, who ultimately proves to be the Bad Guy. (Walken? The Bad Guy? Big Surprise there!) The castle is amazing, the views are impressive, and the social activities are grand. It's here that Bond first runs into a mysterious beautiful woman, played by the dreamy Tanya Roberts, who eventually proves to be the primary love interest in the film.
Zorin's plot is eventually revealed: an artificially induced earthquake in Silicon Valley which will destroy the world's primary source of microchips, leaving Zorin's own microchip factory as the sole supplier, a major step toward world domination.
The planned destruction involves deliberate tampering with the fault lines in California. As a result, the film takes you to deep caverns and excavation sites, dirigibles high over the city, and a breathtaking fight scene on the top of the Golden Gate Bridge.
It's classic Bond in the best sense. It'll never win an Oscar, but it's a fun movie.