#24 in my Ranking of the James Bond Franchise.
This feels like no one cared and everyone was bored except Christopher Walken who just made the best of it. Moore doesn’t want to be there. Tanya Roberts looks lost. The story barely exists and goes on meandering tangents for entire acts that don’t matter. We get characters introduced and dropped like a hat. This is probably the least enjoyable Bond film up to this point, and I watched Diamonds are Forever.
The confusion starts from the beginning. We get another ski chase. It’s derivative of several Bond movies before it, but it does have some good moments around snowmobiles. However, Bond is in Siberia to find 003 and the locket that contains a microchip. Returning this to MI6, we learn that the chip is a copy of a Western design that’s built to resist EMP pulses. So, EMPs are going to be part of this somehow, right? No, never mentioned again. We do get to follow Bond to a horse race, though.
It’s there that Bond sees Max Zorin, Walken’s villain, and watches Zorin’s horse win improbably. Bond then goes to Zorin’s French manor where he takes part in a horse auction and discovers that Zorin is using microchips to…deliver steroids to horses in the middle of races, or something. Does any of this excruciating detail about horses, chips, auctions, or races matter? No, not in the least. And the movie spends about a quarter of its run time on it.
You see, Zorin’s plot doesn’t have to do with EMPs or horses or even really microchips. He’s going to drill the fault lines around Silicon Valley to flood it because he believes they build microchips there. Bond could have ended the whole misadventure by telling Zorin that Silicon Valley doesn’t manufacture microchips, so his plan to flood it to kill their production of microchips was never going to work. In San Francisco, Bond meets Stacey Sutton who is the daughter of an oil magnate but got pushed out of her leadership position of the company by Zorin who’s using her company’s wells to make his plan work…or something. It doesn’t matter. She’s the Bond girl, and her real life mother was younger than Moore.
Together, they investigate Zorin, but Bond takes a random side mission to sleep with a random female Russian agent in the area. They talk like they have history (supposedly, it was originally supposed to be Barbara Bach’s character from The Spy who Loved Me, but she wouldn’t do the movie), sleep together, and she tries to steal a tape from him that contains Zorin talking specifics of the plot. She then disappears from the movie forever. This might have worked slightly with Bach, but it doesn’t with random blonde lady. It shouldn’t have been filmed, much less included in the final cut.
Anyway, Bond and Stacey investigate one of Zorin’s sites at a mine where Zorin kills all of his employees, escapes in a balloon, and Bond gives chase with a decent action scene on top of the Golden Gate Bridge.
This movie is awful. It gets lost in unimportant details for long stretches. It feels randomly generated from an algorithm instead of assembled by a screenwriter. Moore is bored. Walken and Grace Jones make the most of their roles, what little there is of them, by being outlandish performers, but it doesn’t change the fact that Zorin is a boring villain with a stupid plan that makes no sense. This is a sad way for Bond to go out on. He would have been better to go out in clown makeup in the much better Octopussy.