The film opens in Sibera, where 007 (Moore) locates 003, who is now a frozen corpsicle. Retrieving a microchip from a locket around 003's neck, Bond then eludes the KGB by inventing snowboarding while escaping to his submarine. All the tune of "California Girls," because it's Siberia, so why not. There's a random woman on the submarine for Bond to sex up all the way back to England, also because why not.
Next come the opening credits, which are, far and away, the best part of the entire film. Duran Duran performs the titular "View to a Kill" while body actors wearing neon clothing, lipstick, and body paint dance and mime under blacklight. It's fantastic, and it's a shame for two reasons: 1) even this is phoned in by some of the actors hired and 2) when it's over you still have two more hours of this movie to watch.
There's some stuff in France involving Zorin's juiced up super-horses. Believe me when I say it's really and truly irrelevant. All you need to know is that Bond meets Stacey Sutton, an heiress whose Bay Area oil interests are being wooed by Zorin. Also, May Day fucks Bond, because why not.
At a staggering 56 minutes in is the first reference to Silicon Valley and the Bay Area. At 58 minutes, Zorin's corpulent blimp is filmed crossing over the Golden Gate Bridge, as May Day marvels, "what a view." Zorin, in the very definition of hamfisted, pops over her shoulder and adds "to a kill!" WE GOT THE TITLE IN THERE, GUYS.
Clearly not having milked his prostate enough by now, Bond reconnects with Sutton and falls asleep while "guarding" her from Zorin's assassins with a shotgun at her mansion. He is woken by her various pets reacting to an earthquake, which, when looked up on the oil heiress' state-of-the-art earthquake computer (an Apple IIe), proves to be a 2.5 on the Richter scale, with an epicenter "near Zorin's oil field."
We discover that Zorin is not pumping oil out of his wells- he's pumping sea water in, in the hopes of triggering a massive earthquake that will flood Silicon Valley, because guess what, guys, it was him who stole and copied the EMP-resistant microchip, and with his competitors Biblically washed away, nothing will stand between him and unfettered wealth and/or world domination! MWA HAHAHA!
To help further the plot, Bond and Sutton head to San Francisco City Hall, where they are confronted and trapped in an elevator by Zorin and May Day. The villains set a fire and our heroes must stage a daring elevator escape as City Hall burns around them. When the SFFD engine trucks show up, Bond helpfully absconds with one of them-- no, fuck you, City Hall --and leads the police on a chase through the city. The chase culminates with the fire truck making the inconceivable leap across a drawbridge, while the cop cars, trailing behind, end up in a comically crumpled pile at the bridge's base.
Having shaken the cops, Bond and Sutton drive all night to get to Zorin's mines, where, having abandoned his sea water pumping idea, he's decided to hedge his bets by simply exploding a giant bomb on the fault line. After some fights and confrontations, May Day gets screwed over by Zorin, and in a final act of petty revenge, she rides the bomb out of the mine and explodes it in open air, foiling his plans.
Zorin and company escape in yet another blimp, heading back towards the Golden Gate bridge. James Bond is along for the ride, too, hanging on to one of the mooring ropes for dear life. Zorin steers the blimp low and towards one of the bridge's two towers in the hope of smearing James Bond onto the cables like one might smear a booger onto the underside of a desk. Bond manages to find some footing and secures the mooring rope to the bridge, somehow stopping the blimp dead in its tracks. Zorin pops out, struggles weakly with Bond at a terrifying height, they both slip a couple times, and then Zorin finally falls to his watery grave. It's not so much that Bond wins because he's the better man, but because the tread of his shoes found better purchase.
Bond gets the girl, because, as always, why not.
Just to clarify, Agent Lee's cover is working as a fishmonger at a seafood stand in the area popularly known as Fisherman's Wharf. There are several crabs on ice prominently displayed between the customers and the salesmen in this scene. And once again, the code words, which establish that the speaker has been sent on the official agenda of Her Majesty's Secret Service, are "I'm looking for some soft-shell crab." Why not station Agent Lee in a laundromat and make the code phrase "can you break a five for some quarters?" Idiots.
The spa where Bond and Pola Ivanova go to 'relax' is located on Buchanan Street in Japantown. Named Osaka Way for the first of San Francisco's sister cities, this one block stretch of Buchanan runs between Post and Sutter Streets and leads into Japantown's anchor, Peace Plaza. The movie does try to pull a fast one, however, by showing cars parked among the pedestrians on Buchanan, when in fact that block of Buchanan has been pedestrianized since at least 1976.
Because I was born in San Francisco and have been woken up a few times by seismic jostles, I naturally consider myself an earthquake expert, and scoffed loudly at Zorin's plans to induce an earthquake by flooding the fault lines. I was surprised to learn that water and flooding can indeed have an effect on seismic activity. In 2014, the U.S. Geological Survey stated that "at some locations the increase in seismicity coincides with the injection of wastewater in deep disposal wells." Actual science notwithstanding, Zorin ultimately settled on the safe side by attempting to trigger The Big One with a bomb in a mine, which is probably a more guaranteed method than flooding, the effects of which on fault lines are imprecise and varied.
View's scenes set in San Francisco City Hall are, indeed, shot at the real San Francisco City Hall, both inside and out. At a time that predated widespread, inexpensive CGI, it's impressive to consider they made it look as though the city's seat of government was soon to be reduced to a pile of rubble. By all accounts, local government was extremely gracious to the filmmakers, up to and including installing fire jets on the roof of City Hall to simulate the inferno.
Once Bond, Sutton, and their pilfered SFFD engine leave Civic Center, they also appear to depart from a plausible route. It starts sanely enough by heading northeast on Market Street, towards the Ferry Building. But suddenly the engine finds itself screaming down a hill with a postcard-perfect view of downtown. Then it's back on Market, to reappear a moment later miles away in the Potrero Hill neighborhood. The chase bounces between sensical downtown locations and far-flung thoroughfares before finally ending at the Lefty O'Doul drawbridge in Mission Bay.
After finally eluding police at the bridge, Bond and Sutton continue south towards Zorin's mines (not the oil fields, which are in Oakland, but the mines, which seem to be on the peninsula). At a later point in this setting Sutton explains that the mines are located underneath San Andreas Lake, which would mean a drive of half an hour, tops, from the drawbridge. However, as they pull up to the mine in the fire engine, Sutton is showing yawning and stretching in the daylight as though she has slept through a considerable amount of nighttime driving.
Silicon Valley is not too incredibly far from San Francisco, so it's not inconceivable that the distance could be covered quickly in a blimp (hey, I don't know, I sold my blimp two weeks after impulse buying it because I was unaware of the upkeep involved). But it does present a contained conflict that the same movie presents the distance as an overnight drive via fire rig, with a return trip of just a few short minutes by dirigible.
The blimp's journey takes us directly over downtown San Francisco. The antenna at the tip of the TransAmerica Pyramid gooses Moore, and a hilariously inept cop gawks incomprehensibly up at the blimp from the intersection of Battery and Jackson Streets, causing a fender bender.
However, Bond's final line "there's never a taxi when you need one," is as authentic San Francisco as a steaming serving of clam chowder in a bowl made of sourdough bread, eaten while standing obliviously close to a steaming pile of human feces in the street! Ever wonder why Lyft, Uber, and all those other companies originated out of here? It's because our taxis are THE WORST/NONEXISTENT.
Ugh. I mean, if you have to. Pier 39 is basically San Francisco's version of Times Square, The French Quarter, Picadilly Circus, or any other place that has a Bubba Gump Shrimp Company and its royal court of national chain shops. Notable local flavor includes a cacophonous orgy of sea lions, a Margaret Keane gallery, and Bushman, a street artist whose performance consists simply of jumping out from behind shrubbery to startle unsuspecting out-of-towners (RIP, Bushman II). I didn't take any present-day shots because it looks exactly the same today and also, because F that S.
The first intersection the truck hits after leaving City Hall is easy to pinpoint- the shot prominently features the street signs marking the intersection of First, Bush, Battery, and Market Streets.
I can't find any definitive filming location online, and I don't personally recognize the street, but one filming locations website (link below) posited that this was likely shot in the area of DeHaro & 20th Streets. After poking around myself, I think this is probably the likeliest intersection, but like I said, can't be 100% sure.
- Layers: It is goddamn cold and windy out there, trust me. It's July? Bundle up. It's 85 degrees in the shade in Golden Gate Park? Bundle up. You don't want to be the one wearing short-shorts and gooseflesh when the fog rolls in.
- Respect the Rules of Traffic: the Golden Gate is a great thing to check out when you're visiting town. It's also a great place to train if you're a local who likes long-distance running or cycling. Stay in the pedestrian lane if you're on foot; stay in the bike lane if you're on a bike. Step to the side and be aware of others around you if you want to pause to gaze admiringly at or take a picture of the view.
- Be Safe and Smart: For an intentionally-built structure that exists in the United States, the bridge is surprisingly not idiot-proof. It took years and years of deadly head-on collisions before a movable median barrier was installed this year; we still have no barriers to prevent suicidal jumpers, despite years of passionate debate; and in 1997 a small child tragically died after falling between a gap in the railing (it seems like this happened again a few years ago, but I can't find any news reports online). Be careful and... Die Another Day. (I'm sorry)
B-B-B-B-BONUS FEATURE: Style Guide!
For such a modest dress- the skirt grazes the ground, there's a scant peek of clavicle, and Jones' arms are fully enclosed- it's deeply sensual. Even as it covers her shoulders and neck, the draping cowl echoes and emphasizes Jones' curves, which are further exaggerated by the shoulder pads and billowy sleeves leading to tight cuffs. As she turns to stalk away, the broad expanse of her smooth, muscular back is suddenly and surprisingly revealed by a plunging rear neckline. A train flutters from the shoulders (a rear cowl?). The hem scatters nervously around her feet like the dress is dancing on its own as she walks. She is a stunning vision and I want her to sashay out of this movie and into a better one.
It is, ultimately, the perfect dress for cock blocking and being a HBiC, and that's exactly how May Day uses it, busting into James Bond's and Stacey Sutton's flirty little conversation to, essentially, tell Sutton to get lost.
When the phone rings, disrupting Ms. Day and Mr. Zorin's canoodling, she huffily puts on a robe-type thing that appears to be the missing link between your ordinary couch throw and the modern day Snuggie. I'm not a fan of this robe. It's the color of melted, congealed chocolate ice cream and its silhouette looks like a fashion student on speed just grabbed a blanket off their dorm room bed and sewed a bunch of random seams in it. I appreciate the over-the-top effort, but ultimately it falls flat and is least favorite of all of May Day's getups.
In addition to 90% of her clothing incorporating some type of cowl (as, naturally, the "robe" does), approximately 50% of her clothing must also be backless, as shown in the red racecourse dress, the wine-colored Alaïa gown, and now the "robe."
Authenticity: 3/10- Gave a trustafarian spanger from Wisconsin $5 to take their picture at the Haight & Ashbury signs.
Viagra score: 7/10- Deleted scenes on the DVD extras include Bond queuing up for his Pensioner's Benefits.
Overall: Don't watch this because it takes place-- well, kind of --in San Francisco. Watch it for Grace Jones, and only Grace Jones.