For Your Eyes Only (1981) / Action-Thriller
MPAA Rated: PG for violence, sensuality and some language (would be PG-13 today)
Running Time: 127 min.
Cast: Roger Moore, Carole Bouquet, Julian Glover, Topol, Lynn-Holly Hohnson, Cassandra Harris, Jill Bennett, Michael Gothard
Small role: Charles Dance, Sheena Easton
Director: John Glen
Screenplay: Richard Maibaum, Michael G. Wilson
Reviww published January 8, 2016
Roger Moore (The Cannonball Run, The Spy Who Loved Me) stars in his fifth turn (of seven) as British super-agent James Bond, in a respectable but not-altogether-exciting adventure. 007 is called in to investigate a shipwreck that contains an ATAC (Automatic Targeting Attack Communicator), which allows for the control of British naval missiles on their nuclear submarines, that could prove a global catastrophe if it were to end up in enemy hands. Assisting him is the vengeful Melina (Bouquet, Wasabi), who is out for the man who killed her parents when they tried to rescue the ATAC. However, that man is merely an assassin hired by a shadowy Greek businessman who is in cahoots with the Soviet Union to obtain the hi-tech device.
For Your Eyes Only is scripted by Richard Maibaum (The Man with the Golden Gun, Diamonds Are Forever) and Michael G. Wilson (Octopussy, A View to a Kill), almost not at all based on a couple of entries in a book of short stories from Ian Fleming, published under the same title. They decide, after a schlocky and wholly absurd remote-control helicopter sequence meant to retire the Blofeld character (never named or fully shown, due to legal reasons) in the re-credits intro, to dial back the rampant tongue-in-cheek humor and emphasis on gadgets that tainted Moonraker for James Bond fans, despite its box office success. It's a mixed bag, as the film feels less memorable than other entries, but it does work somewhat as a way to right the ship before the franchise became a further mockery of itself.
John Glen (The Living Daylights, Licence to Kill), second unit director for three prior Bond flicks, takes the reins of the series for the first of his five efforts. What Glen lacks in sizzle and flash he makes up for with some truly impressive stunts and action/chase sequences. One features a lengthy one on skis that culminates in Bond slaloming through a bobsled track with a motorcycle in hot pursuit (sadly, one of the film's stuntmen died making this sequence), which is quite amazing in execution. Glen eschews mammoth and elaborate soundstage sets for more natural environs and locale work, which makes it one of the more picturesque entries of the Moore era, especially as Moore is willing to actually do some of the more physical requirements of the role, including some mock scuba diving and rock climbing.
While it goes down as one of Moore's better efforts in the part, the film features some weaker supporting performances, most notably in the main Bond girl, Melina, as played by French actress Carole Bouquet, whose voice was dubbed for the English release. She is beautiful enough for the part, and she's not there merely for Bond to have a love scene, but the role calls for her to witness her parents killed before her, and for her to have an emotional response to exacting revenge, but Bouquet falls short whenever the scene needs a compelling moment to get us on her side. Interestingly, as Bond girls go, he only beds Lisl, played by Cassandra Harris (who was recently married to future Bond portrayer Pierce Brosnan), while he doesn't dilly-dally much with Melina until the very end, and stays far away from nympho skating champ Bibi (Johnson, The Watcher in the Woods), probably because she's jailbait. Topol (Flash Gordon) is fun to watch playing the crafty smuggler Milos Columbo, and certainly a good deal more charismatic than the forgettable characters of Kristatos (Glover, The Empire Strikes Back) and henchman Emile Locque (Gothard, Lifeforce), but at least they avoid being as cartoonish as most of the recent entries.
The biggest knock against For Your Eyes Only is that it contains far too many prolonged lulls that will have all but the most diligent of viewers zoning out whenever talking heads appear on the screen, which is relatively often for the series. The lush compositions of John Barry are also sorely missed, making way for the disco/funk-based styles of Bill Conti (Rocky, Rocky II), and the film suffers as a result. While a step up from the watchable disaster that was Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only goes down as a serviceable but often boring Bond effort, remembered more for its Oscar-nominated Sheena Easton title theme song than for anything that happens within the film itself. For staunch Bond fans' eyes only.
©2016 Vince Leo