Saturday, April 16, 2016

For Your Eyes Only

While I acknowledge that Roger Moore's finest hour as James Bond was probably THE SPY WHO LOVED ME (1977), my personal favorite is 1981's FOR YOUR EYES ONLY.   It's a lean, mostly no nonsense entry in the 007 series that hearkens back to the spare 1960s efforts with Sean Connery where gimmickry was at a minimum and while tongue was firmly in cheek, they were never too cheeky.  Moore's take often got a little too cute.  Too many tired wisecracks.  The screenplays also went far astray from Ian Fleming's vision, particularly when Bond went to outer space in MOONRAKER, which was rushed into production after the runaway success of STAR WARS.  In OCTOPUSSY, 007 was reduced to wearing a clown outfit.

FOR YOUR EYES ONLY does have the requisite gags with gadgetry and the occasional silly scene (note when 007 goes solo against a hockey team) but is otherwise a fairly serious adventure minus flamboyant villains and plots to rule the world. A real back to basics picture.  Some criticized this film for its admittedly bland villain, Kristakos (Julian Glover), who merely seeks to get rich by selling a British military tracking device to the KGB.  Some critics feel that a James Bond film is only as good as its villain, an idea that defies understanding.  And after the two previous Bonds, with their cartoonish performances, love interests with silly names (admittedly a Fleming trademark), and outrageous sets, FOR YOUR EYES ONLY was refreshing in its simplicity.

But the movie most certainly does not skimp on stunt work.  The second unit was mightily busy on this one.  We have the usual underwater scenes and car chases, as well as some wildly exciting and imaginative ski chases that additionally involve motorcycles and bobsleds and are among the best action set pieces in the series.  These scenes are so involving you pretty much forget everything else about the movie, and even where you are.

Also as usual, FOR YOUR EYES ONLY globe trots at will, this time among The Bahamas, Italy, and Greece, the home of heroine Melina (Carole Bouquet, ravishingly beautiful but dull), whose parents are gunned down in front of her.  More colorful are Lynn-Holly Johnson as Bibi, a young figure skater who brazenly tries to seduce the superagent, and Topol as pistachio munching Milos Columbo, a former accomplice of Kristakos who assists Bond on the case.  Desmond Llewelyn returns as Q, but we no longer had Bernard Lee as M, and he was missed.

Moore is quite comfortable and natural as 007 and continues his winking humour but does not pour it on too thick this time.  He even gets rougher than usual in this film.  While his other forays into the secret agent's world were more colorful and outlandish,  I still prefer this one.

No comments: