Published Oct 28, 2012Being the twelfth Bond film and the fifth to feature Roger Moore, For Your Eyes Only, though financially successful at the time, marked a stale point in the franchise. With Moore visibly aging and the style deliberately shifting from the increasingly outlandish (Moonraker) to the original Cold War thriller roots, a sense of self-conscious desperation mixed with good intentions earmark this title amidst its flimsy plot and bizarre, albeit impressive, action sequences, on a Spanish hillside winding road and an Olympic biathlon course.
Though the stunts and action were impressive—aided by director John Glen's background in editing—something about the plot, which was a mishmash of the two stories "Risico" and "For Your Eyes Only" never really sizzled, despite having intriguing, darker themes focused on the nature of vengeance amidst a Cold War ethos. In part, Bond's attempts to recover the ATAC (Automatic Targeting Attack Communicator) from the Ionian Sea before the Russians get their hands on it, similarly plays on a self-referential, almost regurgitated, sensibility. Even the Bond girls—the revenge-driven Melina Havelock (Carole Bouquet), whose parents were murdered seeking the ATAC, and Bibi Dahl (Lynn-Holly Johnson), a horny, youthful figure skater—were less dynamic and original than usual. Though, Havelock's weaponry expertise and ability to look after herself was at least mildly progressive for the notoriously sexist and cavalier franchise.
Notably, self aware is the pre-credit sequence action scene, wherein a bald man with a grey Nehru jacket and a white cat (ostensibly Blofeld) is thrown into a smokestack by Bond, suggesting vitality and independence in the franchise, free from the character rights disputes with Kevin McClory, who owned the film rights to Thunderball. This peculiar, almost smug and defiant, insert is strangely juxtaposed with, and almost contrary to, the conscious decision to have Bond use his wits to survive sticky situations rather than relying on gadgets, as pointed out by the early decision to have him drive a Citroen 2CVin a car chase after his Lexus blows itself up.
While definitely not terrible in Bond terms, being better than a couple of the Brosnan entries,
For Your Eyes Only screens as part of The Bond Blitz: Bond vs. Blofield retrospective at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. Playing initially at 9:00pm on November 6th, 2012, it will return to the Lightbox in December for additional big screen viewing opportunities. (MGM)