Ricky Church continues his countdown to Spectre with a review of For Your Eyes Only…
After his adventure into space, James Bond comes back to Earth in a much more grounded and closer to reality mission in For Your Eyes Only. This film takes Bond back to the basics as he fights without the assistance of over-the-top gadgets and a renewed focus on his deadly skills in the trade. His mission is to track down a sunken British ship before anyone gets a hold of its secret defense system, one which could potentially turn British ships against each other.
While not based on any of the original novels in particular, For Your Eyes Only is a combination of two of Ian Fleming’s short Bond stories ‘Risico’ and ‘For Your Eyes Only’. Combining the plots works very well in creating a Cold War espionage tale. Parts of the film are slow, but intentionally so to build-up the plot, tension and characters. When it does move fast its very exciting; one of the best sequences of the film is Bond’s car chase in a Citreon 2CV as opposed to the Lotus that has been used since The Spy Who Loved Me. The climax is also exciting as, unlike Spy and Moonraker, it doesn’t involve two large forces attacking each other, but Bond attacking the villain’s lair (which is simply a disused monastery) with a select few.
Roger Moore perhaps gives his best performance as Bond in this film. Not only was the plot more grounded, but so was the character. Moore is much more serious in For Your Eyes Only, not nearly quipping as much and bringing out some of Bond’s darker characteristics. His loyalty to his allies is shown alongside his ruthlessness to his enemies as he coldly takes revenge on a man who killed his friend. Since the film doesn’t really have any gadgets, a lot of emphasis is placed on Bond’s wit to stay alive. For instance, his solution to the problem he faces during the climax is a unique and unorthodox one, but one only Bond could come up with.
Carole Bouquet stars as the main Bond girl, Melina Havelock, daughter of a British archeologist murdered by the film’s villain. She’s out for revenge and teams up with Bond to bring him down. Bouquet is quite good in the role and is one of the strongest women Bond has been paired with. Throughout the film she remains mostly independent of Bond and does not need his help to rescue herself, especially when she has her crossbow in her hands. She is definitely one of the stronger aspects of this film and has a clear arc of her own.
Julian Glover, known for his roles as Donovan in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Grand Maester Pycelle in Game of Thrones and General Veers in Empire Strikes Back, plays the villain Kristatos. Unlike the last couple of Bond’s adversaries, Kristatos isn’t interested in world domination, but simply being paid by the Russians for stealing the defense system. It’s a nice change of pace and an interesting one as Kristatos pits many people against each other. Glover, who was actually sought for the role of James Bond before Moore claimed it, proves to be a good villain, though his fake Greek accent is a bit shaky at times.
While For You Eyes Only is a much stronger Bond film due to how grounded it is, there are a few moments of camp that takes the viewer out of it. A couple scenes in particular are some moments during the ski chase that come off cheesy and an ill-fated assassination attempt on Bond made by hockey players in full uniform. The character Bibi Dahl, a young figure skater who has the hots for Bond and meant to be comic relief, is also one of the film’s weaker aspects as she doesn’t quite fit with the serious tone the film tries to go for. Another factor that is unintentionally cheesy now is the music; being the first Bond film of the 80s, it wastes no time transitioning to the terrible music heard in many 80s films.
Despite these few campy elements, For Your Eyes Only is a welcome return to Bond’s classic roots. The film’s emphasis on Bond’s darker characteristics and its serious, down to Earth (quite literally after Moonraker) story helps elevate this entry in Moore’s series of 007 adventures.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★