For Your Eyes Only (1981)
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OK Bond movie - second half of the movie is indeed great with it being an actual spy movie. Just ignore any sections with Lynn-Holly Johnson -- she can't act.
After Moonraker went way too far off-genre and into camp comedy, new director John Glen repositions the franchise by getting away from the 70s' excesses. Roger Moore's Bond is far less dependent on gadgets in this one, and consequently more resourceful and skillful. Instead of a hybrid with some other genre (the 70s really tried to cash in on other formulas, showing little faith in Bond's own), we get a real spy-adventure film, with nice locations, big stunts and chases, and a relatively light summer movie tone. The use of every Olympic winter sport in one particular sequence is a sure sign that the film hasn't let go of all its comedy (as is the teaser, which incidentally, is the first Bond I ever saw before my mom sent us to bed). Roger Moore is getting older, so a more vulnerable Bond works well, though some might lament his loss of libido. This sweatery Bond refuses a lot of female attention, possibly because Moore wasn't keen on bedding girls too far from his own age. The Bond girl is really the Huntress, isn't she? A crossbow-toting beauty who wants revenge for her parents' death? Yeah, Huntress. Really, my only complaint is a mild one - the 80s music which dates the film more than anything else.
With Roger Moore's fifth appearance as James Bond, For Your Eyes Only is a really nice return to earth after the events of Moonraker. No one can deny that Moonraker is the silliest of all Bond films although I still think it's fun to a certain extent. For Your Eyes Only cuts down on the gadgets to have James rely on his wits to get through tough spots. Director John Glen still does however retain a measured amount of humour from time to time that never goes overboard.
I have to say that one thing that was sorely missing in For Your Eyes Only was Bernard Lee as M. Sadly he died of stomach cancer during the filming of FYEO. He even tried to film some scenes despite the pain he was in. His sternness and no-nonsense demure always contrasted nicely with James' laxness. In his absence, his role is substituted by but not replaced by two men while Q takes on more responsibility.
James is thrust into the underbelly of Greece trying to locate the ATAC, which is a system that coordinates Britain's nuclear submarines. The ship which secretly carried the ATAC has been sunk and lost at sea. The race to locate the system between Britain and its enemies begins, resulting in some dead allies. James teams up with revenge-seeking Melina Havelock to recover the device before anyone else can.
The pre-title sequence of For Your Eyes Only seems to be pretty divisive but overall I'm a fan of it. It makes some references to Bonds of old and the featured stunt is actually pretty glorious. James Bond ends up hanging onto a moving helicopter flying very erratically. The scene maybe goes on for a couple minutes too long but it's old-fashioned Bond fun.
The rest of the stunts in For Your Eyes Only are equally glorious. There's another ski chase which is always exciting because ski chases in 007 films are always awesome. There's a ridiculous Citroen 2CV chase and a nail-biting rock climbing stunt as well. Ever since Thunderball, I've always loved underwater sequences in Bond films and with FYEO there's another one. I guess John Glen just takes the best elements of what makes a Bond film great and puts them all together.
Roger Moore is a little restrained this time around but seems to be playing the role with a quiet, knowing wink. It's hard to say this because as you go through his films, Moore's version of Bond really grows on you, but his age is starting to show in FYEO. That's not to say he can't pull James Bond off, but playing alongside younger women makes him look goofy when that isn't the intention.
For Your Eyes Only isn't revolutionary in its approach. Glen's first kick at directing James Bond is safe but he hits the right notes. It's a true return to the roots of Bond films. Bill Conti's score at times seems to get in the way but is overall a nice change of pace. I also love the title song with Sheena Easton who gets the special honour of being the first singer to have their face appear in the famous 007 opening titles. FYOE gets Bond right, point finale.
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