I must admit, I’m kind of getting sick of Roger Moore now. Maybe it’s the concentrated dose of 6 Moore films in as many days, but I’m getting anxious for Dalton to step up.
For Your Eyes Only (1981)
This is just a theory, but I think the Bond people knew they sold out with Moonraker. Depressingly, it’s one of the highest-grossing Bond films, but I think the dramatic tonal shift from that film to this one alludes to an unhappiness with the wacky cartoon version of 007. FYEO couldn’t be more different from Moonraker. It was actually meant to be a reboot in the vein of OHMSS, complete with a new Bond, but they struggled to get up the guts to cast anyone new and so Roger Moore picked up the slack.
A British spy ship is sunk with an ATAC machine, a device used to control the country’s Polaris missiles, going down with it. James Bond (Roger Moore) is sent to retrieve the ATAC before it falls into the wrong hands. The film goes for a much more stripped-down, gadget-free feel for Bond than previously seen. It aims to be gritty and realistic and succeeds for the most part. It’s just a shame that it’s boring. Yeah there are action bits and the like, but the pace is just too slow. I can appreciate this approach to Bonding, but the execution is piss poor.
Moore is really starting to look his age at this point which makes all the awesome physical feats like skiing like a boss or climbing a mountain that much more unbelievable. He’s still OK and he doesn’t give a bad performance, it’s just that the filmmakers have forgotten how to utilise him properly. Carol Bouquet makes an interesting Bond girl. She’s a bit wooden, but what the hell. Melina has a decent revenge angle to her that they don’t make the most of. She’s not a highly-trained agent unlike Dr. Gertie Gobbler was meant to be in Moonraker, but she’s capable and extremely deadly with a crossbow. I wanted her to at least have a revenge arc, but was denied. Julian Glover is fine as the boring Kristatos and Michael Gothard (teehee, mine is an immature laugh) is effective as the man of few words, Locque.
FYEO‘s main problem is tone. The film starts with an insanely campy and embarrassing sequence where Blofeld (unnamed as such due to wanky legal reasons) remote-controls a helicopter, leaving Bond at his mercy. It starts off nicely enough with Bond visiting Tracy’s grave, but then it just goes loony. Bond kills Blofeld by regaining control of the chopper, spearing Blofeld’s chair on the struts. Blofeld starts pleading with Bond, even offering to buy him a stainless steel delicatessen (what the actual fuck?) before Bond drops him down a chimney stack. It’s all so badly done and completely at odds with the rest of the film. The ending sequence is very odd too. It’s a “comedy” bit where Bond and Melina nip off for a midnight swim and a shag and Margaret Thatcher personally phones him to congratulate him, but ends up unwittingly speaking to a parrot. Jesus. It’s like two films have been spliced together. The film really doesn’t know what to do with Moore. This time round there’s some brutal action and a bit where Bond kills Locque in cold blood. It just doesn’t fit. In my amazing Live and Let Die review, I said that OHMSS showed us the pitfalls of not playing to the lead actor’s talents and it’s evident here. My guess is that the script was already written with a view to introduce a new Bond. When they couldn’t find anyone suitable they hurriedly added “hi-larious” bits in to appeal to Moore fans.
As usual, the stunts are the best bit. There’s a very well done and tense climbing sequence in the third act that the film fails to build on. The winter sports are fun an’ stuff too. There’s an underwater sequence which doesn’t suck where Bond and Melina face off against a guy in a huge diving suit with nasty pincers. The stand-out bit is the keel-hauling set piece which is pretty damn brutal. The bits without action are just dull. The terrible theme song and title sequence don’t help at all. Sheena Easton actually appears in the titles, warbling her shit song at the audience. The in-film music isn’t much better with Bill Conti giving the soundtrack all kinds of terrible ’80s things like wailing electric guitar versions of the Bond theme and pulling crap like this. The absence of John Barry is felt heavily.
For Your Eyes Only is a completely forgettable entry to the Bond series. I know something’s off about any film when I’m not looking forward to writing about it. Bad or good, I can’t wait to put fingers to keyboard. Here, I just couldn’t be bothered. I can see what they were trying to do and it may have suited a new Bond. Having said that, I’m not sure even the greatest actor in the world could have breathed some life into this borefest.