Is AVTAK one of the Greatest Bond Films ever?



  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 3,394MI6 Agent
    edited December 2021

    shady tree said:

    Apologies for reviving an old thread but I finally got round, this week, to ordering and reading a copy of Andrew McNess's book 'A Close Look At "A View To A Kill"' (the 2015 revised/ expanded edition). It's one of the best, most perceptive books about the cinematic Bond that I've read. Although not entirely convincing when defending the film's jarring juxtapositions of tone, McNess sustains a favourable appreciation of AVTAK which is full of detailed observation and reflection. Highly recommended!


    McNess focuses on the dynamics between Bond and Zorin, Bond and May Day, Zorin and May Day, Bond and Stacey, Zorin and the KGB and Zorin and the workforce of miners, to make a case that the film reworks familiar tropes and conventions in subtley disturbing ways, tonally if not structurally distinct from GF. In particular, McNess explores how the chivalrous but occasionally angered Bond of AVTAK is an interesting swan song for Roger Moore - so much more than the one-dimensional quipster of popular repute, and ageing during a time in the franchise when Bond was supposed to be 'ageless'. With fading gallantry, the domesticated Bond who serves up quiche to Stacey and tenderly tucks her into bed is the same Bond whose dark retort to Christopher Walken's chuckling psychopath is pointedly unamused: "Brilliant. I'm almost speechless with admiration." (One might even say that, tonally, some of this foreshadows aspects of Daniel Craig's swan song, and moments of interaction in NTTD).

    that sounds interesting @Shady Tree can you give us any more detailed examples? nice to see a lesser loved BondFilm get its share of analysis

    one major reworking of Bond trope I can see is Bond waiting for MayDay in her bed: one of the most iconic of all Bond images is Tatiana waiting for Bond in his bed in From Russia with Love. That's supposed to be the scene they used to screentest BondGirls for decades, so its significant, and they just did a subversive variant of it two films earlier when Bond kicked Bibi out of his bed. In that film he's outgrown the I-found-a-girl-in-my-bed fantasy, now he's assuming the cliched female role in the same fantasy!

    the brief dialog that sets up the firetruck chase ("I'm a British agent, my name's James Bond!" "oh yeh well I'm Dick Tracy") is like a reprise of the dialog with Sherriff Pepper from Moore's very first film, while also getting a bit meta. He's just admitted two of the names he's been using in the story so far are fakes, and the new (real) name he gives is perceived as some sort of a joke, like the name of a well known comic strip character. Does that mean the cop been watching James Bond films within his fictional universe?

  • Shady TreeShady Tree London, UKPosts: 2,703MI6 Agent
    edited January 1

    @caractacus potts I'm reluctant to share more gems from McNess's book in case anyone is interested in getting a copy. But yes, the interesting examples you give do exemplify the sorts of discussion McNess invites. He nevertheless steers away from that whole 'metaverse' debate which can so easily bog down commentary, focussing instead on what's on the screen, zooming in on moments and adding some points of wider context (about 80s action films, John Glen's Bond pictures and subsequent Bond movies). Suffice to say he makes a good case that Zorin and May Day are among the series' most fascinating villains and henchmen/ women respectively; explores Moore's Bond persona at length and finds a quality in the Wilson/ Maibaum writing collaboration on this film which is often overlooked. While scholarly, McNess's book is refreshingly written in an accessible style for film/ Bond fans - not positioning itself as one of those academic studies too often blighted by obtuse terminology or impositions of theory.

    Happy New Year btw 🙂

    Critics and material I don't need. I haven't changed my act in 50 years.
  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 19,992MI6 Agent

    AVTAK is full of faults, but in spite of them I find the movie strangely enjoyable.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 2,072MI6 Agent

    I've read this thread carefully this morning. My answer to the OP's question will still be: NO

  • IcePakIcePak Perth, Western AustraliaPosts: 165MI6 Agent

    I've always been overly fond of AVTAK because of Barry's excellent score, the microchip storyline, the great line up of villains and the actors' performances, and most of the set pieces. The film is hardly the best in the series, but its far from the worst either. Definitely more of a middling film from my perspective when comparing it to other films in the series, with some flaws but also some excellent elements too, like most of the films in the series. I encourage those who claim to dislike it to go back and rewatch it. Then tell me it's not at least enjoyable.

    1. CR 2. OHMSS 3. SF 4. TLD 5. GE 6. FRwL 7. TSWLM
    8. TMwtGG 9. GF 10. FYEO 11. OP 12. LtK 13. TND 14. AVtak
    15. DN 16. NTtD 17. MR 18. LALD 19. SP 20. TWiNE 21. YOLT
    22. TB 23. QoS 24. DAD 25. DaF
  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,722MI6 Agent

    I saw it first at a sell-out audience in Odeon Leicester Square, they loved it. Of course I saw it a second time at my local fleapit in Ewell on the Kingston Road, not many people there and it fell flat, esp the Beach Boys joke. At that point it always helped to see a movie like that with a packed crowd, movies like Octopussy and The Living Daylights fell relatively flat because I saw them on the afternoon, that said it would have been within the first week so it's surprising it wasn't packed out even then, because nowadays they would be.

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 2,072MI6 Agent

    Oh, I remember that cinema on the bypass. We used to get half-cut in the Organ Inn and walk up the road. You had to be half-cut to feel at home in that cinema.

  • CoolHandBondCoolHandBond Mactan IslandPosts: 4,767MI6 Agent

    The answer is no, but there are a lot of good things in there. The PTS is brilliant up to the unfortunate use of the Beach Boys song, which ruins the whole thing. Patrick Macnee is superb and the interplay with Roger is a joy. Fiona Fullerton is underused, it would have been wonderful if she could have replaced Tanya Roberts as Stacey. But, ultimately, this is the worst of the Moore reign, the obvious stunt doubles, Grace Jones, that warehouse fight and Roger patently being too old, is too much too elevate it past mediocre. It’s better than most of the Brosnan output, and QOS, though.

    Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
  • heartbroken_mr_draxheartbroken_mr_drax New Zealand Posts: 2,050MI6 Agent

    For me AVTAK is the 1980s Bond film and I think that gives the film a heap of its enjoyment value because ya know...80s pop culture was awesome. It's certainly not great, but I just can't help but love the movie and rank it highly because of that.

    The Blu-ray version also gives the film a big lift in terms of it's colour and brightness. In particular my wife comments on how beautiful all the female actors' clothing and makeup is without coming across as being stuck in the 1980s (unlike Binder's title design).

    1. TWINE 2. FYEO 3. MR 4. TLD 5. TSWLM 6. OHMSS 7. DN 8. OP 9. AVTAK 10. TMWTGG 11. QoS 12. GE 13. CR 14. TB 15. FRWL 16. TND 17. LTK 18. GF 19. SF 20. LaLD 21. YOLT 22. NTTD 23. DAD 24. DAF. 25. SP

    "Better make that two."
  • bainesy1usbainesy1us Posts: 38MI6 Agent

    Dunno what it is but Grace Jones is very alluring and gorgeous. Other than that i enjoy the story and there's some strong performances but Roger Moore not being in any "stunts" is visual obvious and somewhat spoils the film for me.

  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 4,775MI6 Agent

    This is my kind of thread! 😁 I love AVTAK and always will, despite its faults (a couple of dodgy action scenes which don't really take off) and embrace the slightly creaky jokes because it's the Bond film I'd probably live in if I could! It's all so sunny and nicely 80s, it has an oddly comforting air about it.

    Despite that, it actually manages to make a very silly plot actually seem very serious and deadly, mostly because of Barry's lovely score, but also I think Roger really sells it. It's the one film where he seems to actually hate the villain, and doesn't bother to hide his distain behind a wall of charm as he does with people like Scaramanga.

    Basically I can rewatch this one until the end of time; I even defend the Beach Boys gag!

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