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Reviews > From A to Bond: For Your Eyes Only
tederick | 16 Oct 2012 | 784 Views | 1 Likes | 0 Dislikes
From A to Bond: For Your Eyes Only
Which one is this? The unremarkable one.
Who’s who in this one? Moore (Bond); Llewellyn (Q); Maxwell (Moneypenny).
Where did you first encounter this one? When the series started being released on DVD, in the early 2000s.
Who’s the bad guy, and what does he want? Julian Glover (The Empire Strikes Back / Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade / Game of Thrones) as Kristatos, a wealthy Greek smuggler trying to steal a sunken ATAC computer for the KGB.
Who are the Bond girls? The gorgeous Carole Bouquet as Greek twentysomething Melina Havelock; Lynn-Holly Johnson as teenaged snow bunny Bibi Dahl; and Cassandra Harris as the death-bait, Lisl, the only Bond girl in this entry who doesn’t look young enough to be Roger Moore’s daughter’s way-younger friend.
Opening number? Another departure for the series, as Sheena Easton sings the awful title cue on-camera, while the usual Maurice Binder graphic montage plays behind her – this one featuring a water theme.
What’s memorable about this one? Nothing.
What did you rate it out of ten, from memory? 7, a refreshing return to tighter form after Moonraker.
What do you rate it now, having seen it again? Oh, I was way off. This is a 3 at best. Insultingly cheesy and generic.
I take it as a given that every James Bond movie is difficult to produce, each presenting its own set of unique challenges to a team that has captured more distinct locations and complex set pieces than any other franchise in history. For Your Eyes Only is the first among the series, however, where none of that effort seems to have made it onto the screen. After four wild temporal jumps I’ve finally landed in the Roger Moore era with the 1981 film, but Eyes is a movie so indistinct that I had trouble filling out the form above.
I grew up with Roger Moore, i.e. he was the Bond-in-residence when I was becoming a Bond fan, so I retain a sort of stalwart faithfulness to the third 007. Moore toplined more Bond pictures than any of the others, too, and I therefore have a large proportion of smirky-Bond ahead of me as I continue to wend my way down the alphabet – but Eyes is a poor kickoff. Regardless of whatever laziness one can immediately sense in Moore’s performance – and it’s there – this is also a film that is instantly, and unshakeably, creepy in the casting of the Bond girls. Moore, who was 54 when Eyes was filmed, has all the consequent aging in his face that one might expect, yet gets paired against Bouquet (as grave, awkward Melina) and, more disturbing yet, Johnson as Bibi. Bouquet, at least, is permitted to be demurely asexual for most of the movie (her end-of-film bedding comes as a bit of a surprise, given how uninterested in groininess she’s been till then). Johnson, on the other hand, behaves (almost certainly by contemporary design) like something out of a Penthouse letter – the teenaged Olympic hopeful whose sponsor insists she’s an innocent virgin, but who can’t wait to get out of her bath towel and into Bond’s bed after snagging a shower in the good commander’s ski chalet. Poor old Moneypenny, meanwhile, is showing her age just as vividly as Roger, and even has a trick makeup case in her filing cabinet to try to sand away the lines, but it’s no good. For 25 years, Moneypenny kept aging, while the Bond girls aged in reverse.
(To be fair, Bond never sleeps with Bibi, nor even wants to. It is a strangely restrained turn from the secret agent, who does not generally seem the sort to let silly old statutory laws get in his way.)
Ah, but Bouquet. Off a photo alone when I was eleven or twelve, I was convinced she was the most beautiful woman in the history of the franchise. Those terrifyingly clear green eyes are a work of cinematic alchemy that haunts me to this day. When I finally caught up with For Your Eyes Only as an adult I found little to disagree with my pubescent opinion on Bouquet’s beguiling looks, which makes it all the more disappointing that as crossbow-wielding revenge chick Melina, the actress is largely inept. The dialogue in Eyes trends from facile to outright stupid, helping no one, but few are more poorly served in the film than Carole Bouquet.
In its way, For Your Eyes Only is a reboot too, rebounding the series after the lunatic excess of Moonraker. There are no vast Ken Adam sets, no cavernous halls in Kristatos’ mountain lair, no gadgets bailing Bond’s ass out of trouble, except for his car, whose pesky (and needlessly aggressive!) anti-theft mechanism causes it to explode in the first reel. There is exactly one moment in Eyes that always sticks with me, as it suggests a harder, colder Bond performance: when Bond kicks a heavy’s car off a cliff with a startlingly badass flicker of genuine hatred from normally sanguine Moore. But on review, this moment is alone in a wasteland.
Glover makes for an incredibly unmenacing villain, giving a performance here that would make his milquetoast Donovan in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade look like the very model of onscreen terror. The majority of the set pieces in the film are precious and jokey, such as when Bond visits the ski slope in northern Italy where they, apparently, use sports to kill you. Only in a James Bond film of this era can 007 find himself competing in (and winning) various Olympic events – the luge, the ski jump, the biathlon - while in the process of escaping from motorbike-riding goons.
Things pick up marginally in the third act: first when Bond and Melina are keel-hauled by Kristatos in a nicely visual sequence; and much more so when Bond and his team assault Kristatos’ mountain lair, a monastery perched on a finger of rock in the Greek countryside. This leads to Eyes’ only real showstopping sequence, where Bond mountain-climbs up the convex curve of rock, gets pitched off the side by a villain, and ends up dangling in space like a spider while the baddies do their utmost to finish him off. There is absolutely no point in For Your Eyes Only where the stunt-doubleness of Roger Moore’s action sequences are even slightly in doubt, but whoever was climbing the rock for queen and country earned his money that day.
From A to Bond counts down the Bond movies, in alphabetical order, every day of the week leading up to the release of Skyfall. If you live in Toronto, For Your Eyes Only is playing at the TIFF Bell Lightbox on October 27, November 6, and December 27. If not, the entire series is available on blu-ray.