For Your Eyes Only (1981)
Dir: John Glen
This movie is atrocious. To be honest, it’s so fucking bad I had trouble viewing it and writing this review. In fact, I watched the next two movies just to psyche myself up for writing this, and I still almost submitted this review containing only the words, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.” Unlike The Man with The Golden Gun, this movie doesn’t just suffer from a bad plot, it suffers from bad vision—atrocious vision, in fact—and it doesn’t even have a midget to make things go down any easier.
Let’s start at the very beginning, the very first scene. Bond is visiting his deceased wife at a cemetery. It’s sad, it’s stupid, and it’s only there because the writers/producers were unsure if Roger Moore could be enlisted to reprise his role as Bond and as such needed a scene to possibly introduce a new actor as Bond. Moore eventually capitulated, returning geriatric as ever—meaning that this scene has even less significance and seems even more tasteless. While Bond is at the cemetery, the office calls the priest and tells him to inform Bond that they are sending a chopper for him. Bond hops in the chopper, seemingly off to another highly important mission. Unfortunately, an unnamed, uncredited, bald wheelchair-bound cat-stroking villain shocks the pilot to death, and takes remote control of the helicopter with the intent of killing Bond. Clearly Bond isn’t going to die before the credits, so he pulls some pretty sweet maneuvers and eventually dispatches this villain. This “not-Blofeld” is here because the producers had just finished another extensive round of litigation with our old real life villain, Kevin McClory, and Albert R. Broccoli wanted to symbolize his success of finally being rid of both villains. Sadly this might be the most satisfying moment in the movie, as the rest just drags.
The title credits feature a forgettable 1980’s anthem by Sheena Easton, which is only of note because Easton appears in the title sequence herself and is the first Bond songstress to do so. The song was actually quite successful and every Bond song since has had a tied in music video as a result of the song’s success. But not even a great song can justify the tripe that is the rest of the film.
After the titles we are transported to an unknown locale in the Mediterranean where a covert British spy ship is quickly sunk by sea mine. The boat carries a transmitter to control the nuclear missiles on the British fleet of Polaris submarines. Clearly the MI6 needs this item back, so they contract fellow Britons the Havelocks to retrieve said item. The Havelocks are murdered on their research vessel right in front of their daughter Melina, played by the very passionate Carole Bouquet (who coincidentally is named Melina, the Greek word for Honey, in an Homage to Dr. No’s classic Bond Beauty Honey Ryder—another tragedy because Bouquet cannot compare to Ursula Andress). Bond is called in to find and interrogate the murder suspect, who is now relaxing at his villa, waiting to be paid by the villains who ordered the hit. Bond witnesses the payoff, and then is captured. Personally, I would have cut this whole divergence from the film as it really adds nothing but to introduce the silent henchman—then again I would have cut about ¾ of this film, or just made a completely different movie. Melina shoots the assassin with a crossbow, in a scene which I feel only adds to the anemic aged-ness of Roger Moore, as James Bond shouldn’t really need random revenge seeking women to help or save him. Bond and Melina escape, but Bond’s Lotus explodes after two low-level henchmen try to break into it (in a scene which was supposed to symbolize that this new Bond film would rely less heavily on gadgets, which was a huge error in the entire direction of the film because Bond’s super gadgets are a big part of the reason to view any Bond film). In truth the scene just makes Bond’s gear look craptacular, so Bond has to escape by driving the girl’s Citron, which again is shameful for the world’s best secret agent to be driving such a tin can.
Next Bond travels to Italy, to a winter Olympic compound (added to the film to capitalize on the popularity of the recent winter Olympics in Lake Placid). Here in Italy, Bond again meets up with Melina and has a few assorted adventures dealing with henchmen of all sorts and eventually has a social meeting with the film’s real villain, who is at the time posing as an ally to Bond. The villain here is played actually quite wonderfully by the delightful Julian Glover. Glover’s performance is quality Bond Villain evil, but my major complaint is that he does a much better job playing a nefarious double agent villain almost a decade later in Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade (coincidentally one of his co-stars in that film is former Bond Sean Connery). The whole Italian part of this film also adds nothing to the plot, as even though Bond and MI6 know almost exactly where the nuke transmitter is located (off the coast of Greece) for some reason Bond needs to wander around this ski resort town and have silly-ass adventures. I will note that two of Bond’s escapades in this part of the film contain very commendable women. First off while visiting the ski resort town, Bond dispatches several henchmen, including one whom he throws through the window of a flower shop. While the henchmen and the fight scene aren’t very memorable or classic, the girl in the flower shop is very notable for how she got the role. Robbin Young was actually the winner of Playboy Magazine’s, “Be a Bond Girl Contest,” and besides being rather pretty, launched her modeling career and was featured in a Playboy spread. The other notable woman is The Countess Lisl von Schlaf, played prettily, but again not memorably by the beautiful actress Cassandra Harris. While Harris’ performance isn’t spectacularly wonderful, what she did while off camera is the notable part, as she introduced her current husband (some little known actor fellow, Pierce Brosnan) to Broccoli, and clearly this would have some very long lasting implications for the franchise.
Eventually Bond decides that actually getting in a mini-sub and recovering the artifact that the whole film revolves around will be a good plan. He goes to Greece, recovers the device, gets roughed up by some henchmen in an underwater battle, loses the device, fights some more henchmen, and eventually recovers and destroys the device. Now this seems like a great end to a Bond film as Bond vanquishes all the villains and does save the day, but again this falls short, as this sequence occupies approximately thirty minutes of the two hour plus film. I’m sorry but had I been alive in 1981 and gone to see this film, where only the last half hour of the movie had anything to do with the plot, I probably would have smashed my face into the wall of the building upset about the other 90 minutes of my life I had sacrificed to this complete drivel.
I really wanted to write some sort of redeeming conclusion here, but I’ve got nothing for you, dear reader. What I can say, is that if you have a choice of watching any of the Bond films, this one would easily be at the bottom of my list.