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Villains: Max Zorin

There have been a lot of memorable Bond villains over the years although many of them have been played by average actors. One of the exceptions is Max Zorin, the baddie from A View to a Kill who was played by the excellent Christopher Walken. This psychotic German is a big businessman and a rogue KGB agent who branches out on his own and causes all sorts of problems for Bond.

A View to a Kill is a Roger Moore outing and although the title was borrowed from a Fleming short story the screenplay was actually entirely new. It was a pretty poor film and an aging Roger Moore was singled out for the tired performance he gave in his seventh and last appearance as Bond. It still raked in over $300 million at the worldwide box office and one of the big draws was the quality villain portrayed by Walken.

Max Zorin was supposed to be the result of Nazi experimentation during the Second World War when they injected pregnant women with steroids in an attempt to make super children. He survived and was born with incredible intelligence but psychotic tendencies. He was then whisked away by a KGB agent who trained him up and he eventually became a big businessman in the microchip industry in France. Zorin’s convoluted plot was to trigger an earthquake in the San Andreas Fault to trigger a flood which would destroy Silicon Valley.

He falls out with the KGB over his intentions and has to act alone. The head of the KGB, General Gogol rebukes him personally but Zorin is past caring. Dolph Lundgren has a cameo role as Venz, one of General Gogol’s henchmen. Zorin’s main squeeze is May Day played the frightening Grace Jones and she pulls that inevitable trick and turns on her evil boss sacrificing herself to save Bond.

Bond teams up with the granddaughter of an oil tycoon who also happens to be a geologist and the pair of them dart around destroying Zorin’s operation. Walken had his hair dyed blond for the role and he does look terrifically dangerous and evil throughout. At one point he captures Bond and makes the classic mistake of not killing him, deciding to try and frame him for a murder instead. The script really was pretty ridiculous. In the end Zorin falls to a nasty death from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco Bay.

Funnily enough Walken was not the first choice of the director and the part was offered to David Bowie and Sting before he accepted it. Bowie turned it down saying “I didn't want to spend five months watching my stunt double fall off cliffs.” There were problems later in filming as well when the production discovered that there was actually a company called the Zoran Corporation and they made microchips. They threatened to sue for defamation and the film makers were forced into a settlement which included inserting a legal disclaimer.

Zorin had a decent band of henchmen and a vast business empire but despite his supposed super intelligence his stupid scheme was easily thwarted in the end.