When a British sea ship carrying a top secret encryption device sinks, M16 agent James Bond (Roger Moore, The Sea Wolves) is sent to Greece to investigate. Bond has to find the device before the Soviets get their hands on it.
Reaction & Thoughts:
“When setting out on revenge, you first dig two graves”
After out-of-this-world shenanigans, Bond “comes back to Earth.” Moonraker (1979) had been heavily criticized for its excesses and For Your Eyes Only was a conscious attempt to return the franchise to the minimalist days of Dr. No (1962) and From Russia with Love (1963); no other Bond has divided fans more.
When it first came out, I remember the big arguments regarding the pros and cons of dialing back the series. Personally, I thought For Your Eyes Only was one of the strongest films in the series and this latest re-watch confirmed my initial reaction — For Your Eyes Only is definitely one of my favorite Moore/Bond films.
There are so many things I like about For Your Eyes Only! First, there’s a nice sense of continuity. The pre-title sequence closes the final chapter on Bond’s deadliest nemesis, SPECTER’s Blofeld. We also see Bond visiting his late wife’s grave, played by Diana Rigg in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, which is a very nice, human touch.
Although there is plenty of humor, this entry, for the most part, sports a decidedly serious tone. The screenplay by Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson emphasizes Bond’s darker side. For example, Moore, who always tried to stay away from Sean Connery’s mean-spirited characterization, kills a man in cold blood, a moment of cruel revenge. You won’t see Moore act like that in any other Bond movie.
All that eye-catching, crazy-super-cool stuff from previous films is nowhere to be found here. The villains are also surprisingly “human.” There is nothing here that suggests a desire for global domination — Bond is fighting old-fashioned greed. No henchmen with weird powers. No big lairs either — Peter Lamont’s sets are great, particularly a recreation of a monastery at Pinewood Studios, but they never look overdone. Alan Hume’s (Return of the Jedi) camera work is pretty straightforward too.
The supporting cast is excellent. Carole Bouquet (That Obscure Object of Desire) is as tough as it gets. Topol (Fiddler on the Roof) plays the most interesting character in the film — a morally dubious man who saves the day. The cast also includes Lynn-Holly Johnson (Ice Castles), Julian Glover (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) and Jill Bennett (The Nanny) as a staking instructor. Fans of HBO’s Game of Thrones will enjoy seeing Charles Dance as one of the baddies.
Finally, “For Your Eyes Only” is probably my all-time favorite Bond song. It was written by Bill Conti (music) and Michael Leeson (lyrics), and sung by Sheena Easton. Conti’s music has dated a bit, but if you like the sounds of the ’80s you’ll love it. Bex, from Film Music Central, does a great job explaining the story behind the famous song.
Conclusions & Final Thoughts:
There is much to enjoy in For Your Eyes Only — the beautiful locales, the fabulous supporting cast, etc. The action sequences are excellent and yet there isn’t a single colossal action set-piece — it’s just solid fun from beginning to end. For Your Eyes Only is probably the Bond film that best balances the down-to-earth early sixties with the seventies glitz. It’s definitely worth watching. Color, 127 minutes, Rated PG.
James Bond will return