Time: 127 Minutes
Roger Moore as James Bond
Carole Bouquet as Melina Havelock
Topol as Milos Columbo
Lynn-Holly Johnson as Bibi Dahl
Julian Glover as Aristotle Kristatos
Director: John Glen
After a British information-gathering vessel gets sunk into the sea, Agent 007 (James Bond) is given the responsibility of locating the lost encryption device and thwarting it from entering inimical hands.
The later era Roger Moore movies are probably the James Bond films that I remembered the least. After Bond reached its peak silliness with Moonraker, I was wondering what they were going to do next with the follow up film, For Your Eyes Only. I actually liked it quite a lot, and its one of my favourite Moore-era Bond films.
For Your Eyes Only is actually recognised as the most serious of the Roger Moore Bond movies. After the over the top nature of Moonraker, Bond goes back to basics with the next film. Even the gadgetry is reduced, making Bond feel more vulnerable and the story comparatively grounded. The campiness is definitely downplayed, it still has the humour, one-liners and double entendres that you would expect from the Moore Bond films. It also has a fair amount of absurdity, including a moment where Bond faces off against hockey goons. Plotwise, For Your Eyes Only is an occasionally complicated but otherwise straightforward cold war era spy thriller about Bond having to find a sunken ship. The mission isn’t constantly riveting from beginning to end, and it does have some convoluted twists and turns which can halt the pacing a little. However, it is consistently strong in the second half, and on the whole I liked the story. I particularly admire that this is a Bond film where you really have to pay attention to what’s happening. In terms of other issues, the ones that stand out in my mind are strangely the first and last scenes of the film. The opening is a very random scene where Bond encounters a bald man in a wheelchair with a white cat who isn’t officially called Blofeld but is definitely meant to be Blofeld. Its absurdly silly and funny particularly with the dialogue but unless you understand the reason why this scene was included in the movie, it won’t make sense at all. As for the final scene, it involves a talking parrot, yet the most bizarre choice was a cameo by one Margaret Thatcher, which I think it really could’ve done without.
Roger Moore is reliably great as James Bond once again, even if he’s starting to really look his age. It is a strong contender for his best appearance as the character. Bond in this movie was surprisingly ruthless, and while The Man with the Golden Gun had those moments, For Your Eyes Only really showed that Moore could pull it off (even if he’s not such a fan of that interpretation of the character). Carole Bouquet is the main Bond girl named Melina Havelock, and I liked her. She has her own motivation that happens to cross over into Bond’s mission as she’s on a quest for revenge after her parents are killed. Age difference aside, the chemistry between Moore and Bouquet is believable, and the romance itself is naturally developed and less forced than some of the other Bond romances. One of the stand out actors in this movie was Topol as a Bond ally named Milos Columbo, who is entertaining and great in all of his scenes. On the flip side you have Lynn-Holly Johnson who’s a young ice skater named Bibi Conti. She was a bit irritating but it is made worse when she is really into Bond and comes onto him a couple times despite looking way too young. Thankfully the 54 year old Roger Moore doesn’t actually bed her in the movie, but she’s nonetheless a bizarre and pointless addition to the film. Julian Glover is essentially the villain as a Greek businessman named Aristotle Kristatos. I like him as an actor and he’s certainly done well at villainous roles many times. However he’s a rather unremarkable villain even though I appreciate him being a more grounded character, especially after the last two movies having villains who were plotting to destroy humanity and create their own society. Overall he was an okay villain but not that memorable.
John Glen, who was the editor on some of the previous Bond movies, is the director here. He’s done a really good job, and it’s solid on a technical level. It’s a very well shot movie, For Your Eyes Only is a globetrotting Bond film and it makes great use of the locations. The action is particularly where the film shines. There’s a diverse range of action with a fun car chase in the countryside, a chase on skis involving motorcycles and bobsleds, and more. The highlight was a very tense scene in which Bond is rock climbing on a cliff that’s still impressive to this day. The only scene which didn’t work for me was an extensive underwater scene, its just slow and dull to watch. I liked the soundtrack of the movie, from the score from Bill Conti to the title song from Sheena Easton.
I wouldn’t say that For Your Eyes Only is one of the best James Bond movies, on the franchise on the whole it’s a middling entry. However I liked it a lot overall, from the very strong action, to the more serious and grounded approach and story. It is probably my favourite movie of the Roger Moore era after The Spy Who Loved Me. A rather underrated film that’s worth another look.