Investigations into a horse-racing scandal leads Bond to Max Zorin, a French industrialist and ex-KGB agent who has plans to destroy Silicon Valley.
Microchip technology was a big talking point in the mid-1980s so, once again, it’s an interesting take using a contemporary issue.
It’s real action-a-go-go in this one. The pre-credits sequence features another frantic ski chase (even if the brief snippet of ‘California Girls’ by the Beach Boys as Bond snowboarding down the hill was unnecessary) and an ingenious boat shaped like an iceberg. After only twenty minutes in, there is the breathless chase up the Eiffel Tower, May Day’s skydive off and the subsequent car chase. The steeplechase scene, with the moving jumps, is also brilliantly done. Bond’s escape from the sunken car is similarly excellent as is the fire engine chase through San Francisco and the finale atop the Golden Gate Bridge.
Christopher Walken is inspired casting as Zorin. Already an Oscar winner by this point, he brings his trademark intensity to the role which is refreshing after a run of lacklustre villains (Kristatos and Kamal Khan). His encounters with Roger Moore really spark and he’s a fitting adversary for Moore’s last hurrah. His off-hand quip after disposing of a business rival from his airship- ‘So would anyone else like to drop out?’- is delivered perfectly. Grace Jones is a perfect match for Walken; they’re both as crazy as each other. Her May Day is also full of intensity; she is Zorin’s confidante, lover and pet assassin, dispatching people unquestioningly. Zorin turns on her at the end, leaving her to die in the flooded mine and she sacrifices herself to save the day. A traditional trope but done well.
It’s a shame that Tanya Roberts doesn’t have the same spark in her performance. That said, the character of Stacey Sutton is thinly written, much more of a damsel-in-distress type of Bond girl. There’s also, perhaps more crucially, very little chemistry between Roberts and Moore. He seems to be constantly chiding her or telling her what to do, acting more like a father or a boss than a romantic interest, which becomes quickly intolerable for the audience.
The DVD release is rated 12 (a rating that didn’t exist when the first was first released; it was either a PG or a 15); it is easy to see why the film has been re-rated from PG. There’s a particularly graphic moment with someone being sucked into a propeller and when Zorin blithely but mercilessly guns down the workers in his mine.
All in all, this is a very fitting swansong for Roger Moore, even though he himself does not rate this film highly (due to the excessive violence amongst other things). It redeems the godawful mess that was Octopussy and provides a decent coda to his twelve-year tenure as 007.
Rating: 4 out of 5