CAST: Roger Moore, Carole Bouquet, Chaim Topol, Julian Glover, Lynn-Holly Johnson, Michael Gothard, Cassandra Harris, John Wyman, Desmond Llewelyn, Jill Bennett, Jack Hedley, Lois Maxwell, Geoffrey Keen, James Villiers, John Moreno, Walter Gotell, Toby Robins, Jack Klaff, Stefan Kalipha, Charles Dance, Eva Reuber-Staier, Janet Brown, John Wells, John Hollis, Bob Simmons, Paul Brooke
RUNNING TIME: 127 mins
BASICALLY…: James Bond (Moore) must find a missing British vessel equipped with a weapons encryption device before it can fall into the wrong hands…
NOW FOR THE REVIEW…
With No Time To Die being pushed back all the way to November, the world needs its fix of Ian Fleming’s ace secret agent to tide them over until then. That’s why, every week until it finally comes out, we’re going to be taking a look at each previous movie in the series to see if, and how, they hold up today.
This week, the series is brought back down to Earth after the space-dwelling events of Moonraker for a more sobering thriller in the form of For Your Eyes Only. In a sense, it’s understandable why the producers wanted something closer to reality after the previous film was met with a mixed reception, but the enjoyability that came with the absolute insanity of Moonraker is sorely missed in a film that’s not necessarily bad, but isn’t nearly as fun as some of the others.
The catalyst that drives this particular plot is an ATAC weapons encryption device which is onboard a British sea vessel that is currently lying at the bottom of the ocean in an unknown location. James Bond (Roger Moore), naturally, is called upon to locate the device before it can be claimed by enemy forces, and in doing so he wonders into a feud between rival Greek businessmen, as well as crossing paths with a young woman named Melina Havelock (Carole Bouquet) who seeks vengeance for the death of her parents.
To be honest, the plot of this one is flimsy enough to a point where you sometimes forget there’s an encryption device at the centre of it, because it’s mainly just an excuse for routine Bond tropes to occur in an orderly and mostly straight-faced manner. Much of the comedy is dialled back down here – probably because some people thought a double-taking pigeon was a step too far – and the action and suspense is treated a lot more seriously, which does make the film seem like more of an apology to those who were really unsatisfied with Moonraker’s far campier tone, but at the same time doesn’t do a whole lot that’s new with the series that we haven’t seen so far. Say what you will about Moonraker, but at least it tried something new; For Your Eyes Only leans far more into familiar territory which at this point is beginning to feel a little tired, even for Bond, and it doesn’t set itself apart enough from entries which utilise the usual clichés in ways that are more fun and entertaining than this one.
Instead, a lot of things about this film don’t ever seem to transcend beyond just being “okay”. The action is okay; the characters are okay; the villains are okay; even Sheena Easton’s title song (which marks the first and so far only time a singer has appeared in the opening credits to perform the theme tune, something which honestly takes a little while to get used to) is nothing more than a simply fine tune. From a technical aspect, they are impressive; a sequence set underwater gets intense, as does a cliff-climbing scene that pre-dates anything that the Mission: Impossible series would later do, but again there is nothing quite as awe-inspiring as some of the action set-pieces in any Bond film that has come before. The same can be said about the film’s villains and token Bond girls; both Julian Glover and Carole Bouquet hold their own against Roger Moore more than Michael Lonsdale and Lois Chiles respectively did in the previous film, but you’re also reminded how many other villains and Bond girls up to this point have left far more of an impact than these two probably will. It’s not that they’re awful characters by any means, but comparatively speaking there’s just not that much to them.
While it’s by no means my favourite Bond film, it’s probably not among my least favourite either. I’ve seen Bond films so far which I felt were a lot more lacking and had much more annoying elements to them, whereas this one is just more middle-of-the-road and not as fun as some of the better ones. I really wish that I had a lot more to say about this film, but honestly there really isn’t much else that doesn’t involve me repeating myself about just how “okay” it is.
SO, TO SUM UP…
For Your Eyes Only is much more grounded compared to the previous entry, but its self-seriousness and reliance on familiar tropes doesn’t make it nearly half as fun to watch.