Rewatching the James Bond films chronologically. The fans love to grouse about the cheesiness and camp of Moonraker and Octopussy, but in between those two in 1981, we got For Your Eyes Only, a movie that, it seems, the fans never talk about. Well, I’m going to talk about it… right now!
Blond blurb: In the opening credits sequence, Bond is confronted by Blofeld, and then finally kills him. From there, Bond is investigating a sunken submarine, which puts him in the path of the beautiful-but-deadly Melina Havelock, who seeks revenge for her parents’ murder.
Bond background: We begin with Bond visiting his wife’s grave. This would be the wife who died in Her Majesty’s Secret Service. He’s then attacked by Blofeld. Blofeld has more or less been a different character in each appearance, and in this one, he’s the Joker, making lame puns as he confronts Bond. It’s awfully anticlimactic considering everything these two have been through in past movies.
Bond baddies: The one is interesting in that it doesn’t tell us who the villain is at the start. We see the whole thing through Bond’s point of view, as he uncovers clues and follows leads. The trail eventually leads to the seemingly-nice Kristatos, who is into drug-smuggling and then submarine-stealing. His henchman is the silent killer Loque, who’s not quite as memorable as some of the other silent killers Bond has fought.
Bond babes: Melina is an interesting character. She’s tough and she’s driven by revenge, but she’s also enjoying her adventures, even laughing at Bond’s (Moore’s) awful puns. She’s great, basically. Too bad that Bond also kinda/sorta romances Bibi, a figure skater whose power-rich uncle is involved in the case. It’s the first of several “she’s too young for him” dalliances in the Moore era, but at least this time they call some attention to it.
Bond best brains: There’s another comedic tour through Q’s wacky workshop, with one of my favorites — the killer umbrella. But, really, it’s the hokey “indentigraph” that steals the show. It creates a simplistic police sketch of the villain, which the computer is then able to recognize. Q invented Google image search!
Bond bash-ups: There’s some great helicopter stunts in the opening, followed by a fun car chase in the Greek countryside, and then lots of skiing! Instead of remote mountainside, this ski chase is at a resort, so Bond and the bad guys weave their way in and out of the tourists, which adds a lot of fun gags to the scene. Then there’s a cool gunfight that leads to a real “license to kill” moment, and some awesome undersea diving action in and around the sunken sub. It all ends with an assault on Kristatos’s hilltop hideaway, with mountain climbing and gun blasting.
Bond baggage: Sure enough, the Winter Olympics had been a year before this movie, so Bond makes with the winter sports again. Also, Melina immediately reminded me of Marvel Comics’ Elektra, because they’re both kickass Greek women caught up in international intrigue. Milena even compares herself to the mythological Elektra at one point. Turns out Marvel’s Elektra debuted in 1981, same year as this movie. So who ripped off who?
Bond babble: I’m torn about this one. It’s a slower-paced, more grounded film than others in this series, and that’s clearly by design, but I wonder if it’s at expense of some of the fun. I like a lot of the action and some of the performances, but the plot meanders and there was a lot that didn’t work for me — like why is Bibi even in this movie at all? So… I enjoyed For Your Eyes Only, but it won’t be on any “best of” list I might make. If others feel the same way, maybe that’s why the fans never talk about it.
Next week: Octo-WHAT?!?
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