Think of this as a guide through each of Christopher Walken's films, starting with his first and moving forward. Each review will provide analysis, factoids and opinion on the ninety-plus films in his career.
Bond films are spy vs. spy, with martinis and master-plans. Guns and gadgets. Intrigue and innuendo. Double-crosses made with double-entendres. The fatale-est of femmes. Shaken, but not stirred. Bond mots.
Mixing business with pleasure, British super-spy-style.
Now, if you’re counting the films in the Bond-series, and you do count NEVER SAY NEVER (which I do), but don’t count the ’60s Bond-satire CASINO ROYALE starring David Niven (which I don’t), then this was the 15th Bond film.
This was also Roger Moore’s seventh and last time as Bond.
Walken in Short: Our boy’s a power-mad, Nazi-engineereed, KGB-trained, horse-breeding, millionaire businessman hell-bent on … you guessed it: World Domination. In short? He’s great in this. His over-the-top crime-lord antics make for a thoroughly entertaining experience. He is a classic and evil Bond-villain. As gleefully sadistic as he is eccentric.
Movie in a Sentence: James Bond (Roger Moore) is sent to France to investigate the shady doings of horse-breeder Max Zorin (Walken) and his fierce and muscular female body-guard May Day (Grace Jones), while they wrestle, set fires, ride horses, kill entire crowds of people with an uzi, and attempt to create a super-earthquake in California that will somehow make Zorin the king of the world.
Director: John Glen
FUN FACT: John Glen is the director of each and every Bond-film made in the eighties!
Writer: Ian Fleming (story)
Michael G. Wilson & Richard Maibaum (screenplay)
Duration: 2 hours and 11 minutes
Actors Other Than Walken: Grace Jones, Tanya Roberts, Roger Moore, Patrick Bauchau
You may remember Roberts as SHEENA (sexy female Tarzan flick) and the blonde neighbor mom on TV’s That 70’s Show. Also Bauchau (who plays Scarpine, another henchman of Walken’s, and yes, he does have a scar running down his cheek), you may know him from his TV roles in CSI: NY, Numb3rs, Burn Notice, and scads of others, some film too.
MPAA Rating: ‘PG’ – The mere presence of Grace Jones in this film should be enough to move this rating up to ‘PG-13’. Protect the children!
Similar Films: Any other film with Roger Moore as Bond. Really. There are six others, and they’re all pretty similar. And that’s not a slam, it’s just the way it is.
Available to Own: On both VHS and DVD it’s pretty common.
However, this was just-just released (Oct 2012) on blu-ray as part of the Bond 50: Complete Collection (not counting NEVER SAY NEVER). Although at this time, VIEW still doesn’t have an individual release in the blu-way, of course it’s bond to happen eventually, now that it’s out there.
EDITOR’S UPDATE: The Blu-ray is now available.
FUN FACT: This is Dolph Lundgren’s first film! (He plays one of the KGB bodyguards) Word on the street is he was dating Grace Jones at the time, and just happened to be on set when they suddenly needed a Nordic giant!
In eight words: yes but not because it’s a good film.
Okay – Two points:
1) I am of the opinion that every Bond-film deserves at least ONE viewing, some more than others. Just watch them, one by one, in order. You’ll be tempted to skip some. That’s natural. It’s called the Brosnan Reflex or “having a case of the Daltries”. Fight the urge. You want to be able to say you’ve seen them all, or better yet, choose NOT to brag about it, because it’s cooler that way, and some day you can just drop a tasty bit of Bond-knowledge on some unwitting conversant from out of nowhere. Then act like they’re an idiot for not being able to parse the Blofelds. It’s a valuable education. You should know Bond’s nemesisial (villainennial?) history.
2) Both Walken and May Day are spectacular in this. Walken being great is a given, but May Day is – well, she is a funny fish. Tall and muscular, she waits by Walken’s side, emitting some kind of alien future-sexy, and perfecting her furious glare. She dresses like a Zen-Bjork or a formal-casual Star-Trekkian ambassador from the planet Gaultier. Her acting is actually so bad that it’s possible that it swings back around and is brilliant. Her quiet intensity is a fine match for Walken’s; their dynamic together is hilarious and perfect.
But Roger Moore in this? …ehhh, not so great.
Don’t get me wrong, he’s not BAD in this. He’s just missing some zazz, y’know? Moore was old when he was in this film. Or more importantly, he looked old in this. This was his seventh and last appearance as Bond, and even though he snowboards down a mountain, beds everything that blinks, and goes rough-housin’ across the top of the Golden Gate Bridge, he feels tired in the role. Like he’s trying too hard.
Not to say that the failure of this movie falls solely upon Roger’s shoulders, because it doesn’t. The real problem is that the story is weak and ridiculous to begin with, and most of the the acting (director’s fault?) looks stagey and canned. Oh, and much of the dialogue is lazy and cliched. Despite the Walken, and some other good parts, the film just ends up feeling – meh. Y’know? Meh.
To sum it up: watch it because it’s Bond, and watch it because it’s Walken (in a great role), but just know up-front that as a film it falls a little flat.
I Give This: a seven out of ten. Possibly a low-seven, but Walken keeps the car on the road. Just keep that in mind when you eventually watch this. It’s campy. It’s outrageous. It was a child of the ’80s, and it shows. But if you can turn your brain off and have fun with it, it may somehow offer more than just the Walken appeal.
Walken Content: 60% – As the main villain, he has numerous scenes, some great lines, and a memorable death.
BIO: His name is Max Zorin. He is the only surviving result of a Nazi eugenics experiment, and supposedly has super-intelligence as a result of it. He trained with the KGB, but has since broken away and amassed great wealth.
FUN FACT: Supposedly, this role was first offered to David Bowie, who declined so he could play Jareth the Goblin King in LABYRINTH. … Crazy thought: Suppose they switched!!
Here’s a fun activity you can try at home! All you have to do is IMAGINE Walken’s voice saying Bowie’s lines (“Try: “Nothing? NOTHING?! Tra la la?” or “You remind me of the babe.”) !!!
Isn’t that fun? Now, while you watch A VIEW TO A KILL, imagine David Bowie playing Walken’s part. In your finest Jareth, say: “I need. More. Pow-uhh!” or *laughs* “You amuse me, Mr. Bond.”
Walken Quote: As all great Bond-films can attest, there HAS to be a moment when the villain has captured Bond, and rather than kill him outright with that gun that’s pointed right at him, he talks a bit, then sets in motion a deadly situation to “finish” Bond off, and then leaves. Sometimes cackling to himself.
This film is not a rebel in that regard. There is that scene. And in that scene Walken drops this little nugget of wisdom:
“Intuitive improvisation is the secret of genius.“
~Walken as Max Zorin in AVTAK
Final Thought: Worth it for the Walken. Yup. He grandstands, improvises, threatens, kills indiscriminately, and laughs freely in the face of his impending demise.
I say Max Zorin is one of the great Bond-villains of all time. See for yourself.