Bond 25 – NO TIME TO DIE opens in April 2020. Until then, let me tide you over by revisiting all of the Bonds so far.
The pre-credits sequence is pretty decent, and the ice-bound action in Siberia contains some neat skiing stunts and photography. Bond is retrieving information from a frozen 00 agent when the bad guys attack. When Bond loses a ski he ends up using a ski from a crashed ski-mobile as a snowboard – which must have been pretty eye-opening for the mid-eighties.
So far, it seems like a retread of previous Bond ski tricks. But then they add one more ingredient. One horrific ingredient – the inclusion of the Beach Boys “California Girls“.
Bond escapes in a tiny sub “disguised” as part of the ice field and we head to the theme music.
THE THEME SONG AND TITLES
Duran Duran were part of my teenage years, and this song is fantastic. Sure, like most songs, I usually misremember the lyrics, but that doesn’t matter, I can’t belt out the chorus. Just like my four-year old son, who frequently yells “DANCE INTO THE FIRE”. The credits are also very neat with the use of strong ultraviolet make up on the models (very eighties).
Microchips are being used in espionage, and the British suspect that ultra-rich businessman Max Zorin (Christopher Walken) is behind it. Bond is sent to France, accompanied by Sir Geoffrey Tibbett (Patrick Macnee) to snoop around Zorin’s luxury stables. They discover that he is using steroids to make his horses win. Bond eventually travels to San Francisco when it becomes clear that Zorin is planning to use a LOT of explosives to trigger earthquakes, leading to the flooding of Silicon Valley – leaving him dominating the market with his technology.
The scenes in and around the Eiffel Tower look great, even though there are some oddities. Bond visits a contact in Paris, Inspector Aubergine (comedy name, anyone?) Before the contact can tell Bond much, he is killed by a fake butterfly on a fishing line (an exotic floor show gone wrong). Bond pursues the killer, who is a female clad in black.
The killer is May Day (Grace Jones) who runs up to the next level of the Eiffel Tower before parachuting off. Bond jumps on top of the descending elevator to the ground before stealing a taxi to try and apprehend May Day. Comedy taxi driver arm waving aside, the stunt sequence that follows is pretty good as Bond leaps the taxi on to then off a tour bus, before ripping the roof off under a barrier, and then hitting a car which breaks off the back end of the taxi. He fails to catch her, and we see May Day and Zorin laughing as they escape on a speedboat on the Seine. The stunt doubles are obvious and the comedy grates, but a good sequence. Pity Bond causes so much damage.
The country estate owned by Zorin is the wonderful Chantilly – some truly picturesque buildings and grounds that look great on screen. The film spends a while here, and there are some good scenes.
We meet Stacy Sutton (Tanya Roberts) who is receiving payment from Zorin. We see Tibbett and Bond discovering the strange experiments Zorin’s obviously NAZI doctor are completing to ensure their horses win.
When Bond first arrives in the estate there three double entendres in a row.
Bond: I take it you spend quite a lot of time in the saddle?
Jenny Flex: Yes I love an early morning ride
Bond: Oh, I’m an early riser myself.
Three double-entendres in a row. I call this a “sex-tendre”. Which is also a double entendre.
Which means eight entendres.
I call this an “octopussy”.
RANDOM HORSE ACTION
There is a scene, which I find reminiscent of the hunt in Moonraker, where Bond gets involved in a horse race in the estate, but Zorin has lackeys on hand with some cunning devices which increase the height of the jumps. Random action scene, which then leads to Bond trying to catch up with Tibbett in their Rolls Royce. However, Bond learns that Tibbett has been killed. May Day been murdering again.
Christopher Walken is fantastic in the role. Having an Oscar-winner in the cast is great, and Walken seems to enjoy being the slightly off kilter villain. Zorin himself is an interesting character, for we learn that he is the product of Nazi experimentation (remember the Nazi doctor?) that was encouraged by the Russians. Indeed, in a scene at the races General Gogol appears (accompanied by Dolph Lundgren) to bemoan that Zorin has now “left” the KGB.
Of course, the genetic experimentation means that Zorin is also a criminal psychopath, and it is very enjoyable to watch his reaction as his computer alerts him that his guest is James Bond 007. He later beams with delight as he mows down all of his workers in the finale with a machine gun. The final moment of brilliance is his tiny giggle just before he dies at the end.
Grace Jones is another brilliant choice. Known (or is that infamous) for some of her behaviour as a model and international recording artist, she looks and sounds amazing. Not only does she kill Aubergine and Tibbett, she also kills Bond’s friendly CIA contact. Even better is the kick-boxing scene with Zorin and the notable moment when Bond waits for her in bed and she immediately flips the situation so she is on top. The fact that she flips to Bond’s side when she realises Zorin’s betrayal is great but a shame she had to sacrifice herself. It would have been great to have seen her return.
THAT FEMALE RUSSIAN SPY FROM BOND’S PAST
No. Not Anya from The Spy Who Loved Me (Barbara Bach). Although that would have made more sense. Instead, we have Fiona Fullerton who actually does well in a scene that’s almost entirely in a hot tub with an almost sixty year old Bond.
A side note, but an interesting one for British viewers, or fans of 60s-70s TV. This Bond film casts another star from the famous spy series “The Avengers”.
Patrick Macnee played John Steed alongside Honor Blackman (Cathy Gale in the series, Pussy Galore in Goldfinger), Diana Rigg, Tracy from OHMSS was Emma Peel in the series, and OHMSS also saw Joanna Lumley who would later appear with Macnee in the 1970s “The New Avengers“.
Zorin has a business meeting with his shady financiers where he explains his Destroy Silicon Valley plot. One financier wants to leave. Zorin asks May Day to let him out. (Uh-Oh). As the man walks down stairs, May Day flicks a switch, the stairs become a slide, and the man falls out – of the airship. A nice moment as we didn’t realise where they were, but it’s identical to Goldfinger getting rid of one of his shady mates.
I like the scene where Bond and Tibbett check the rooms in Chantilly for listening devices – a little spy time that we’ve not seen for a while. I’m always amused when they play a recording of them bickering to fool the listeners into thinking they are still in the room. It’s amusing to think that the men spent some time before arriving recording their fake conversations. Bond basically did a Kananga.
Bond also takes photos of Zorin’s garden party guests using a special camera ring, and he also has some polarising glasses that help him see through windows.
San Francisco looks great. The opening glimpses of The Golden Gate Bridge are beautiful. “What a view” says May Day. “To a kill” whispers Zorin. Um, ok.
We spend a great deal of time in City Hall where Bond discovers that Stacey Sutton is working there. A bought and paid for official is helping Zorin’s shady deals and when Stacey learns this, she becomes a target.
Stacey Sutton starts like a powerful female character, but soon becomes a damsel in distress. Sure, the introduction at Chantilly painted her as cool, collected and unobtainable, but when we learn she isn’t evil, but is instead trying to fend of Zorin’s attempts to strong arm her into selling her family’s oil land, her character simply becomes superfluous and annoying. A true shame.
A fist fight in her empty mansion is all loud music and fake punch effects where Stacey yelps about a vase.
The fire in City Hall leaves Stacey trapped in a lift shaft, yelping a bit.
A superfluous and annoying fire truck chase happens too – well staged, but superfluous. Stacey yelps a bit here too as she drives.
THE MINE AND THE AIRSHIP
Zorin’s mine is a great set, created by Peter Lamont in the newly reconstructed “Albert R Broccoli 007 Stage” (as the original had been ravaged by fire). The set is impressive although looks rather grey on screen, which makes sense, but gives it a bland sheen.
It is here that we see Zorin’s betrayal, where he is willing to double cross everyone to get his way. As a cavern is full of explosives with a GIANT BOMB sitting on top is designed to flood the fault line, Bond and Stacey (yelping) are pursued by May Day. Zorin simply decides to flood the place, leaving May Day behind, and then spraying the area with the machine gun. What a villain.
Zorin, his sidekick Scarpine (Patrick Bauchau) and his Nazi doctor father figure (Willoughby Gray) escape on the airship, waiting to watch the explosion from the air.
Of course, May Day, stung by the betrayal helps Bond get the GIANT BOMB out of the cavern and onto a mine truck. May Day leaves Bond behind, riding the truck out just as it blows up spectacularly.
Zorin, plan ruined, scoops up Stacey who has been running and yelping, and Bond grabs onto a rope to keep up.
THE GOLDEN GATE
The finale is well-staged, the behind the scenes documentary reveals how the finished scene is a mixture of actual footage, stuntmen on the bridge, a full-scale replica, and miniatures.
Stuck on the top of the bridge, Zorin attacks Bond with an axe. Stacey is hanging off the bridge, yelping. Nazi doctor father figure tries to help by throwing dynamite but instead destroys the airship.
Zorin slips off the edge of the bridge, that tiny giggle a glorious touch as he realises his fate.
THE END OF AN ERA
The film performed well at the box office, making lots of money, as usual. The critics and fans liked it, but felt that the return of silly humour let it down after a relatively straight Octopussy. The story also is a little thin, and like some Bonds before it, the individual scenes and set-pieces are good, but don’t necessary work well together in the film.
Moore, already aware of his age, finally hung up his licence to kill.
Roger Moore had been a huge success as Bond, reinventing the character for the 1970’s, proving there was Bond after Connery. The films are very memorable and for many viewers he is THEIR Bond.
Moore was the Bond I saw in cinemas first: The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker and For Your Eyes Only. Who could replace him?
Well Cubby Brocolli and Michael G Wilson had their man.
It was time for Pierce Brosnan to step up.
|Produced by: EON Productions
Presented By: Albert R Broccoli
Director: John Glen
Screenplay: Richard Maibaum and Michael G Wilson
Composer: John Barry
“A View to a Kill” by Duran Duran
Production Design: Peter Lamont
Cinematography: Alan Hume
London Premiere June 1985