Movie Review: ‘For Your Eyes Only’ (50 Years of Bond)
Cast: Roger Moore, Desmond Llewellyn, Lois Maxwell, Carole Bouquet, Julian Glover, Chaim Topol
Story: Bond is on a mission to find a lost ATAC (Automatic Target Attack Communicator) and finds himself caught between two factions without knowing who he can trust.
Review: It’s common knowledge that Moonraker influenced For Your Eyes Only, but not in the traditional sense. Director Glen didn’t so much take his cues from the previous film but set out to do the polar opposite. After sinking a record number of dollars into the sci-fi-esque project the Bond producers did not get the box office they were anticipating. After reshuffling their production team they set out to make a more traditional Bond outing with grittier action, less goofball comedy and a down-to-Earth (I didn’t think about that before I wrote it…) story.
Without the budget being spent on over-blown but underused sets and plastic laser rifles For Your Eyes Only is a much better looking film over all, featuring a range of scenic locations and some tightly shot action chases. Each of the areas that the mission takes Bond is used well and imaginatively, with everything being used to propel the story instead of being based around some loosely defined gimmick.
After a pretty generic introductory sequence in which Bond gets given a new mission to pursue the ATAC. To begin with he heads after the Cuban assassin responsible for the hit of the marine archeologists who were searching for it already. He gets beaten to the punch by the archeologist’s daughter, Melina, who puts a crossbow bolt in the assassins side. When Bond’s Lotus blows itself up to deter a thief (for some reason) they take Melina’s Citroen, leading to one of the most memorable chase scenes in the sequence. Less about gadgets and more about good film-making it’s a surprisingly thrilling even by today’s standards.
This sets a standard for the action throughout the film with ski chases and a brutal murder via dune buggy on the beach involving the (at the time) newly wed Mrs. Pierce Brosnan. The culmination of this is a nail-biting climb up a sheer cliff face to raid a monastery at the top.
Moving away from the cartoonish villains that James Bond fans were getting bored with we find Bond caught between two factions – a shipping magnate turned informant and a Greek gang leader. Whilst everything appears pretty cut and dry for the bulk of the film Bond soon finds himself having been played by who he thought was an ally and must take a different side prior to the finale. This focus on character and story is very, very welcome at this point of the series.
The same applies to Melina Havelock, who is one of the best developed female characters in the series. In the previous two movies the women Bond meet throw themselves at him out of some contractual obligation. Melina is more than capable of looking after herself in a rough situation without falling back on generic ‘tough chick’ stereotypes and, surprisingly, doesn’t need to be rescued.
With the series getting stuck in a serious rut during the Moore era of Bond this is a stand out entry. It does feel a little dry, and characters like Bibi are pointless, but it’s still a franchise saver.
Score: EIGHT outta TEN