Wow, I’m now halfway through my 007 Marathon! Not only that, but, counting the Craig and Brosnan films I’ve already seen, the number of Bond movies I’ve watched now outnumbers those that I haven’t. That’s a pretty cool feeling!
After the wacky, outlandish adventures that were The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker, it was a bit strange seeing a more “grounded” James Bond adventure injected with a bit more reality and good o’l fashioned espionage. It’s just a shame that For Your Eyes Only doesn’t have enough momentum to make its smaller story more compelling.
The film sports what may very well be my least favorite cold-open to date. At first I was extremely excited to see Bond visit the grave of his late wife Tracy, and then nearly get assassinated by his old rival Blofeld – but the sequence quickly goes over the top in its campiness and dispels of Blofeld with very little reverence for a character who was so instrumental to the series early on. I found out after watching the film that the sequence was the result of a legal battle between some of the series’ producers, and essentially a middle finger from one side to the other. I think that makes me feel even worse about it, honestly.
As for the rest of the film, For Your Eyes Only takes a very long time to get going, and – like some of Moore’s earlier Bond outings – the famous secret agent spends a lot of time running around, accomplishing very little in the process. The film takes on a heavy “and then” narrative: Bond goes here, and then this happens, and then he goes here, and then that guy dies so he goes here, etc. It gets rather tiresome after about two hours.
Moore seemed embarrassed and bored in Moonraker, but is at the top of his game here. He doesn’t drop as many cheesy puns as he did in his earlier films, and there are very few wacky gadgets to speak of. Bond instead has to resort to his intelligence to get out of situations, which I found refreshing.
Perhaps the greatest strength of the film is its Bond Girl, Melina Havelock, played by Carole Bouquet. She’s strong in her own right, and can certainly hold her own in tough situations – especially when armed with her trusty crossbow. I found her revenge plot far more compelling than Bond’s mission.
Julian Glover does a good job in the villain role, playing a man who’s not seeking world domination but instead has his sights on a much smaller prize: a top secret defense system that can be used to turn British ships against each other. After the overblown and all too similar plots in both The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker, it was great to see a bad guy who didn’t want to wipe out all of humanity.
Despite a few strong elements, I found For Your Eyes Only a bit boring. The film sports a few big chases, but they’re neither inventive nor interesting enough to hold attention for long. Then of course there are the campy moments that I’ve come to hate from Moore’s run, like Bond’s fight with a couple hockey players or his encounters with the young figure skater, Bibi Dahl. Those moments take too much attention away from the more serious undertones of the story for my taste.
Next up: Octopussy