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For Your Eyes Only (1981) Review

This article is a ‘flashback’ review where we look back on a movie from the past and give our take on it. We hope you enjoy this review. It will be shaken… Not stirred w/ a the dose of license to kill.

Written by: J. Johnson

Most of the action sequences in this 1981 Bond film have been recycled from earlier entries, but if the producers haven’t come up with anything startlingly new, they have managed to freshen the tone enough to give the old standards a different cast. Roger Moore has crumpled his comic-strip good looks into something approaching world-weariness, and the newfound maturity in his expression is reflected in director John Glen’s style, which goes for the measured and elegant over the flashy and excessive.

”For Your Eyes Only” is not the best of the series by a long shot – that would be a choice between ”Goldfinger” and ”Moonraker” – but it’s far from the worst. It has a structural problem in that it opens with a precredit helicopter chase – in, over, around and through London – which is so lunatic and inventive that the rest of the movie is hard-put to achieve such a fever-pitch again.

Though Mr. Moore shows no sign of tiring – his Bond retains an ageless cool that remains outside of time – the screenplay by Richard Maibaum and Michael Wilson is occasionally lazy, allowing us fleeting moments of introspection when logic raises its boring head. One of the secrets of the best of the Bonds is the manner in which we, in the audience, are made willing accomplices to illogic.

British Secret Service Agent 007 James Bond has been summoned to see Bill Tanner (James Villiers) M’s replacement. The defense minister (Geoffrey Keen) is also at the meeting. It seems a British intelligence ship has gone down and aboard is the ATAC communication device.

Now Melina Havelock (Carole Bouquet) has just been dropped off by sea plane near her parent’s yacht. The Havelock’s also work for the British Secret Service. Melina had just gotten aboard when the plane that brought her flies by and kills her parents.

Melina and Bond meet up at the home of the pilot and before Bond can talk to him Melina kills him in revenge for her parents. She and Bond get away but they will meet up later in the story. Tanner gets all over Bond for not getting to the pilot first but sends him to northern Italy where he might find out some more info on the Havelock’s murder and the ATAC.

Bond is introduced to a gentleman by the name of Kristatos (Julian Glover) a man who may have some answers to Bond’s questions. Kristatos says that the man Bond is looking for is someone by the name of Milos Colombo (Topol). Both these men have been enemies for years but at one time they fought on the same side.

It is Kristatos who was the one after the ATAC. You see the ship went down by accident originally, but the Russians wanted ATAC just as bad so they went to Kristatos to help them get what they wanted.

Roger Moore as James Bond – ‘For Your Eyes Only’ (1981) | MGM & EON Productions

Director John Glen took care of Bond for most of the 80s, arguably the agent’s weakest decade. That said, his debut showed promise in its restraint. The return of Blofeld at the beginning neatly shrugs off the megalomaniac lunacy of 1979’s “Moonraker” in favour of a straightforward cold war story. Stunt for stunt, however, it’s just as relentless as the earlier film.

Moore just looks confused. He obviously wants to do his thing then hit the bar for cocktails, but John Glen is nagging him to add a roughness to the slick exterior. Equally, it just doesn’t fit. The news is clear, there’s only so far you can push a Bond before it breaks. These films are rigid and inflexible. And when it finally does relent to partake in standard Bondian thrills, it’s like a relief.


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