“For Your Eyes Only”
Bond: Roger Moore
Classic, Cheese, or Crap?: CRAP
“For Your Eyes Only” is one of my least favorite Bond films of all time. I recognize that the public views it far more fondly than I, but I can’t get past the fact it commits the cardinal sin for Bond movies.
Look, I can put up with a lot from the Bond franchise. Implausibility, silliness, camp, actresses who are hired for key roles and given large parts based on their looks alone… I could go on. There’s a lot that I choose to simply gloss over in a lot of these movies, and focus instead on their enjoyable aspects. But if the movie is boring? Then I do not forgive.
As with a lot of things in this franchise, I understand why the producers did what they did. I don’t always agree with it, but I usually understand it. In this particular case, the last two Bond movies released prior to this were “The Spy Who Loved Me” and “Moonraker”, still to this day two of the most outlandish movies in the entire series. Its immediate predecessor, “Moonraker”, was a huge box-office success. It’s actually one of the most successful Bond films of all time. However, it was destroyed critically, and was already getting tagged derisively as “Bond in space”.
Thus “For Your Eyes Only” was grounded. Intentionally. They made sure there were no (or at least few) cheesy gags, they removed the ridiculous and far fetched elements (except for Bibi Dahl throwing herself at Roger Moore), and made the film as an entry into the “serious Bond” category.
The problem is, Roger Moore (to me) can’t carry a film like that. He’s not… appealing enough when he’s playing it straight. His strongest moments as Bond were when the films were tongue in cheek, he had a knack for that. Camp was his strongsuit, I still believe to this day that’s one of the reasons why the franchise veered in that direction during his reign. The producers, directors and hell, Moore himself were all trying to play to his strengths.
So by removing the camp, and the gadgets and the cartoonish characters, you’re not really left with much. Moore was in his 50s by this point, which helped to make the movie seem as if it were 50 as well. In terms of the WILD action in this film, Bond has a car chase (in a VW Bug, how awesome), a ski scene, a fight on a hockey rink, he gets dragged underwater behind a speedboat, and he joins in a raid on a warehouse. The high point of the film, literally and figuratively, is a rock climbing sequence at the end of the movie. When Bond going rock climbing is your most exciting sequence, you know you’re in trouble.
All of the sequences have a degree of realism to them, but that doesn’t necessarily lend to quality. If you’re going to ground the action in realism, but make them exciting, that’s fine. That’s the best, actually. But if the realism winds up equating to “plain”, you have a problem.
Carole Bouquet is one of my least favorite Bond girls of all time. She’s not a good enough actress to be a good actress, not bad enough to be a bad actress, and I don’t find her attractive, which is usually the minimum requirement for Bond girls who don’t bring anything else to the table. The plot was essentially one long Macguffin chase (a stolen code machine for British nuclear submarines). The villains aren’t notable in any way.
Probably the most notable elements of this sominex of a movie are the Pre-Title sequence and the theme song, which means the best parts of the flick are over in the first five minutes. The theme song never hit number one, but it was a top five single, and is memorable to this day. The pre-title sequence revolved around the producers settling all the family business. A lawsuit by Thunderball screenplay co-writer Kevin McClory precluded EON from using Blofeld or SPECTRE again, so the movie had Bond kiss his wife’s grave (she was killed by Blofeld), and then drop a bald man in a wheelchair (unnamed, but undeniably supposed to be Blofeld) down a smoke stack after a remote control helicopter fight scene. It’s not a GOOD sequence, just a notable one.