For Your Eyes OnlyReviewed By MP Bartley
Posted 07/27/04 01:53:49
Ask any casual film punter about 'For Your Eyes Only' and the response will probably be "Er, which one was that?" "The one in Greece" "Right. With George Lazen-what's his face?" "No, with Roger Moore" "Er, pass?". A great shame that 'For Your Eyes Only' has slipped from everyone's memory as it's one of the best and Roger Moore's finest two hours as Bond.After a dizzying bout of helicopter flying and apparently finishing Blofeld off, we have the drippy Sheena Easton ballad (notable only for the fact we see her singing it during the credit sequence).
After the excesses of 'Moonraker' we have a much more down to Earth plot. A submarine command unit, the ATAC device has been sunk off the coast of Greece and a pair of divers assigned to find it have been murdered. Bond is sent to find the murderer and recover the device before it can be sold to the Russians and put Britain's entire submarine force into their hands. This teams Bond up with the divers orphaned daughter Melinda (Carole Boquet) and into a conflict between two men, Kristatos (Julian Glover) and Columbo (Topol).
The reason that people tend to forget 'For Your Eyes Only' is because it isn't a Roger Moore film at all really. In terms of mood, tone and plotting it's like an early Sean Connery or as a sequel to 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service'. This tone is set right from the start as it opens with Bond visiting his wife's grave for the first and only time in he series. And throughout there's a theme of personal vengeance, mainly from Melinda trying to kill her parents murderers. However this is done with intelligence and the killings aren't just tossed off with a quip and a smile. This is the first Bond film in an age, that's genuinely tough and gritty.
This is best represented in Moore's best performance as Bond. Gone are the quips and smugness that ruined his performance in 'Moonraker', and instead we have a toughness, edge and depth that was Connery's trademark. Just watch the scene where he disposes of an assassin by quietly reminding him of who he's killed before his face twists and he boots him off a cliff. It's a remarkable scene and Moore's single-best moment as Bond. The treatment of women has also noticeably improved. He doesn't want to bed Melinda instantly and is far more concerned with getting her out of danger. He also turns a girl down at one point because - gasp! - he's too old for her.
The plot's intelligent too, actually going back to proper spying and intrigue instead of being gadget-laden (hardly any gadgets and Bond doesn't even know who the villain is for the first hour).
But if all this sounds boring, then you should also bear in mind that this contains some of the finest action sequences seen in a Bond. John Glen shows all his experience of working on previous Bonds, as he shows a steady hand and great eye for a action that's thrilling, but never silly or out of tone. A car chase with Bond and Melinda in a VW Beatle stands out for the sheer fact that the car's about to drop to pieces any minute. And action such as a ski/tobogan chase and a vertigo-inducing assault on a monastery, are comparable with anything seen before or since.
Boquet stands out as a Bond girl that's genuinely beautiful, and not just sexy, with real brains and purpose to her exceptionally-written character. There's a sad lack of M here after Bernard Lee's death (two faceless Defence ministers step in) but we get far more of Q instead. Glover and Topol go for understated and over-the-top for their roles to make them effective, if unmemorable. Although the villian does display a great sadistic edge by keel-hauling Bond and Melinda. Michael Gothard as the ruthless hitman Locque gives the film a cold core of villainy the main villain perhaps lacks, saying a lot with no dialogue at all.
All in all, the characters display the virtue of great writing over cartoonish writing.If you're one of the many that's also forgotten 'For Your Eyes Only' you should really do yourself a favour and re-discover it, if for nothing else to put it in its rightful place as one of the best Bonds ever. After all it's the best Sean Connery Bond that Sean Connnery never made.
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