For Your Eyes Only review - by Jake
"He had no head for heights."
For Your Eyes Only is the twelfth film in the James Bond series and was
released in 1981. After the fantastical and lavish 'Moonraker', the
series was brought back down to earth with this film which includes
characters from the Ian Fleming short stories 'Four Your Eyes Only' and
'Risico' and eschews the space-age gadgetry of previous Roger Moore
entries. The plot of the film revolves around the sinking of the spy
ship St Georges, which was equipped with an ATAC missile communication
device. James Bond is sent on the trail of this device and teams up
with Melina Havelock (Carole Bouquet), out for revenge after witnessing
the murder of her Marine archaeologist father Sir Timothy Havelock on
his yacht. Sir Timothy, a Secret Service operative, was also after the
ATAC before his death and Bond soon has his hands full restraining the
crossbow wielding Melina from her revenge mission and trying to work
out if Columbo (Topol) or Kristatos (Julian Glover) is the real enemy...
For Your Eyes only saw the promotion of second-unit director and editor
John Glen to full-fledged director and the underrated Glen makes his
presence felt with some excellent action sequences. The pre-credit
sequence is a bit daft but good fun and begins with Bond placing some
flowers on the grave of his late wife Teresa "Tracy" Bond. It's a nice
moment and was originally conceived for a new James Bond actor. Roger
Moore had made it fairly clear he didn't want to return to the role and
this scene was intended to be a continuity moment for a new 007. When
Moore had a last minute change of heart (as he usually did!) it was
left in the film and actually works very well, giving Moore's Bond a
resigned, slightly weary moment of reflection.
A helicopter is then sent for Bond but, flying over Westminster, the
helicopter is placed on remote control by a man in a wheelchair who
looks an awful lot like Blofeld (although not identified as such).
Eon's ability to use Blofeld had been compromised by the tangled legal
web spun by Kevin McClory so this PTS is a bit on the cheeky side. Bond
has to regain control of the helicopter by clambering outside it in a
very entertaining sequence that features some excellent model work by
the great Derek Meddings. Maurice Binder's usual nicely done title
sequence is quite unusual here in that it features Sheena Easton
onscreen within the titles singing the theme song, which is pleasant
enough as Bond songs go.
The film opens with the sinking of the St Georges, which has been
disguised as a fishing trawler. It's a very effective sequence with
good work again by Derek Meddings. There are some good set-pieces in
For Your Eyes Only on the whole including a ski-chase that involves
motorbikes and a bobsleigh run, an assault on an Albanian dockside and
a mountain climbing sequence which leads to the climax on a remote
monastery. My one gripe with these sequences is that some of them
perhaps go on for too long. For Your Eyes Only is definitely a film
that could have lost ten or fifteen minutes here or there.
The mountain climbing sequence, for example, while well-staged, and
intentionally back to basics after the outrageous mayhem of Roger
Moore's previous two films, does go on a bit. I know Bond isn't going
to fall off and die so there is only so much tension to be generated.
There is also an underwater submersible scene that slows the film down
in my opinion and drags somewhat. With the possible exception of the
ski-chase, perhaps the best action sequence in For Your Eyes Only
involves Bond and Melina in a country car chase ("I love a drive in the
country. Don't you...?") in a battered Renault. We do also get to see
Roger Moore driving a Lotus again which, let's be honest, is always fun.
The casting in For Your Eyes Only is reasonably good on the whole.
Julian Glover is fine as kristatos and displays different facets to his
character in order to achieve his ends. Carole Bouquet is one of the
most striking Bond girls but not the greatest actress in the world. Her
chemistry with Roger Moore in the film is almost like a father and
daughter team with the disparity in their ages but they do work nicely
together at times. The oft-maligned Moore has an excellent snowy scene
on a horse-drawn sledge where he tries to persuade Melina to calm down
and be more rational. The pair are also good in the keelhauling
sequence, taken from the Live And Let Die novel. It's one of the
highlights of For Your Eyes Only with Bond and Melina battling coral
and sharks as they are dragged along underwater.
Elsewhere, Topol is fine as Columbo and brings his customary enthusiasm
to the film. Lynn-Holly Johnson as Bibi Dahl, a young skater financed
by the villain of the film, is perhaps though one addition too many to
the cast. It was probably a wise move to have Roger rebuff her advances
and offer to buy her an ice-cream instead! Series regulars Desmond
Llewelyn, Lois Maxwell and Walter Gotell are back again and Q has a
funny scene where he poses as a Priest in a Confessional Booth to meet
Bond. John Wyman as Erich Kriegler makes a decent and very physical
henchman and Michael Gothard is suitably creepy as Emile Leopold Loque.
Roger Moore is fine in the film and has his most cold-blooded moment as
007 when he kicks a car over a cliff. For Your Eyes Only gives him his
usual quota of one-liners and chases but he does get some quieter, more
introspective/restrained moments in the film for a change and plays
them very well.
Apart from some the action sequences going on for too long and some
draggy moments, the biggest problem the film has is Bill Conti's disco
score which was probably dated about a week after its completion. Some
of the action cues are very good but overall it's an eccentric and
somewhat jarring score that detracts from what is supposed to be the
'down to earth' Roger Moore film. It's a great shame that John Barry
skipped this one because I think he would, as usual, have lifted the
film up a few notches and married the score to the images onscreen in a
more Bondian and timeless fashion.
Overall, For Your Eyes Only is an interesting addition to the series if
not vintage Bond. While it has some excellent moments, it lacks the wow
factor and big ending of some other entries and some of the comedy
(Janet Brown as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher!), as well as the
score, have dated the film a tad more than some other Bonds.
It does have some very good action sequences though and makes very good
use of the locations, which include the Ionian Sea, Corfu, Madrid and
For Your Eyes Only is not perfect but it's good fun nonetheless.