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Villain Overview

Intuitive improvisation is the secret of genius.
~ Max Zorin to James Bond.
So, does anybody else want to drop out?
~ Max Zorin after killing an employee by sending them down an airship.

Maximillian "Max" Zorin is the main antagonist in the 1985 James Bond film A View to a Kill. He is a nefarious industrialist who is leading a powerful governmental contractor company called Zorin Industries.

He was portrayed by Christopher Walken, who also played Bradford Whitewood Sr. in At Close Range, Frank White in King of New York, Max Shreck in Batman Returns, Vincenzo Coccotti in True Romance, Gabriel in The Prophecy series, Mr. Smith in Nick of Time, Colonel Cutter in Antz, the Headless Horseman in Sleepy Hollow, Reed Thimple in The Country Bears, Salvatore Maggio in Kangaroo Jack, Cornelius Hatcher in The Rundown and King Louie in the 2016 The Jungle Book live-action remake.

Personality

Zorin is a pitiless individual who displays a near-total lack of loyalty to his own men, as shown when he oversaw the execution of a Soviet spy who attempted to sabotage his oil well operations and when he personally massacred hundreds of his own mine workers to ensure the success of his own plans. Despite his long-standing and intimate relationship with his right-hand woman May Day, he willingly sacrifices her for the sake of his plans, although this betrayal would backfire horribly on him later on. However, he does seem to love his adoptive father Glaub, as shown when he put his hand around Glaub's neck in a genuine moment when they board their airship to finalize their plan to destroy Silicon Valley.

History

Background

Max Zorin was born in Dresden around the end of the Second World War, after which Dresden became part of East Germany. He later moved to France and became a leading French businessman, operating on the microchip market. However, it is revealed later in the movie that he was the product of Nazi medical experimentation during World War II, in which pregnant women were injected with massive quantities of steroids in an attempt to create "super-children." Most of the pregnancies failed, while the few surviving babies grew to become extraordinarily intelligent—but also psychopathic.

After the war, Hans Glaub (now going by the name Carl Mortner), the German scientist who conducted the experiments, was spirited away by the Soviet Union, where he continued his experiments with steroids for Soviet athletes. It is strongly implied that the young Zorin was raised by Glaub and was trained by and long-affiliated with the KGB. Among other activities, Glaub organizes a doping program for Zorin's thoroughbred race horses, allowing Zorin to win horse races with ease by activating illegal horse steroids by means of implanted microchips; since the drugs are 'administered' during the race, they do not show up on blood tests taken beforehand, since the dose is dissolved into the system within a minute before tests can be taken afterwards.

Despite Zorin's longtime KGB affiliation, his outside activities draw attention that the KGB sees as unwelcome, and evidenced during a meeting between Zorin and KGB head General Gogol, who rebukes him for his activities and his attempt to murder James Bond. Zorin responds by severing his ties to the KGB.

A View to A Kill

Zorin forms a plan dubbed Project Mainstrike to destroy his only competition in Silicon Valley by triggering a massive earthquake in the San Andreas Fault at high tide, causing the valley to flood. Such a disaster would effectively wipe out all computer companies competing against Zorin in the world microchip market and leave him as the leading supplier of microchips, as well as slaughtering millions residing in the valley. His plan was to use his vast resources to set off a super-earthquake in both the San Andreas Fault and Hayward Fault by flooding them both with water from San Andreas Lake and then breaking the geological lock that forbade both faults from moving simultaneously. To accomplish this, Zorin mined underneath the lakes and planned to blast through the lake beds in order to flood the fault, further exacerbating it by pumping water into them via a vast system of oil wells. Once the floodwaters came in, he would set off the explosives necessary to break the lock.

During the final phase of his plans, Zorin and his right-hand man Scarpine betray their men by flooding the mines and shooting them down. Taking refuge on a flying airship with Scarpine and Glaub, Zorin awaits for the destruction of Silicon Valley, believing that he has won. However, his plan is foiled by Bond and Zorin's former henchman May Day, who joins Bond's side following Zorin's betrayal since he has drowned her friends Jenny Flex and Pan Ho (as well as Bob Conley) during the flooding. May Day sacrifices her life to push the bomb out of the valley and into open air, to ensure that it won't trigger the quake, much to the shock of Zorin.

Bond and his partner Stacey Sutton both witnessed the explosion, which infuriated Zorin and made him even more determined to gain revenge on Bond. When leaving the valley in his airship with Scarpine and Glaub, he captures Stacey and makes away with her, only for Bond to grab hold of a mooring rope as the airship heads for the Golden Gate Bridge. Zorin attempts to kill Bond by flying him into the framework of the bridge, but Bond manages to hold on and bring the airship to a halt by mooring it to the framework. Stacey attacks Zorin and as Scarpine and Glaub try to stop her, the airship crashes into the side of the bridge, knocking Glaub unconscious. Zorin sends Scarpine to kill Bond, but Stacey smashes him round the back of the head with a fire extinguisher, knocking him out too. Stacey then escapes onto the bridge's support cable to join Bond, but is closely followed by Zorin, who viciously attacks Bond with a fire axe. After a brief fight, Bond causes Zorin to lose his balance, and he falls a long way to his death into the bay below.

Witnessing this, a recuperating Glaub attempts to avenge Zorin's death by throwing a lit dynamite at Bond, but the latter cuts the rope with the ax, sending the airship free from the bridge and causing the dynamite to blow up the airship, killing both Glaub and Scarpine and sending what's left of the airship to join the deceased Zorin into the bay.

Trivia

  • The role of Max Zorin was initially offered to singer/actor David Bowie (who later portrayed villains Jareth and Maltazard), who turned down the role, saying that he didn't want to 'spend five months watching [his] stunt double fall off cliffs'. The role had also been offered to British singer Sting before Walken accepted the part.
  • In reality, the companies based in Silicon Valley produce electronics that require microchips to operate, with most microchips being manufactured in factories oversees. As brought up by film critic Roger Ebert, if Zorin's plan had succeeded, he would have been murdering his own customers rather than his competitors.

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