Eyes Wide Shut
For Your Eyes Only is directed by John Glen and is the fifth film to star Roger Moore as Agent 007. The film combines characters and plot elements from two short stories in Ian Fleming's For Your Eyes Only collection. The film also stars Carole Bouquet, Julian Glover, Topol, and Lynn-Holly Johnson.
The best way for me to go about starting my review of For Your Eyes Only is to tell a more personal story of mine that does relate to the film and why I have a more unique perspective on it. We'll get to the actual review part of the review in good time.
My Dad was an avid James Bond fan, and he considered For Your Eyes Only to be his personal favorite. This is as good of a time for me to mention that he passed away not long ago after a year long fight with pancreatic cancer, and his undying love for James Bond is partially why I wanted to dedicate the start of the new year to something I knew he had loved throughout his life. A small part of me will always be remorseful, because I only remember seeing small bits and pieces of For Your Eyes Only some years back, and I never took the opportunity to view the whole thing from start to finish with a more critical eye while he was around. So no matter what, I will always have a personal affection for For Your Eyes Only.
Alright then, now onto the actual review part of the review. After James Bond traveled to outer space in Moonraker, the series decided to immediately come back down to Earth, cut the cheap gimmicks, and revert Bond back to a more serious, realistic hero where emphasis was placed on story and character, and Bond was forced to rely on his wits instead of gadgetry to succeed. And while this automatically meant that parts of the 007 formula like gadgetry and humor were to take a nasty hit, it also meant that some of the other, more important parts like story and character were going to get something of a beneficial overhaul. There was one catch to all of this, however: the longtime Roger Moore wasn't getting any younger, and speculation about his retirement from the role led to several new actors being considered to take over. Names like Lewis Collins, Ian Ogilvy, and Timothy Dalton (Dalton would later star in The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill) came up, but nothing came out of it. Thus, Moore agreed to play Bond once again.
The plot for For Your Eyes Only revolves around the pursuit of a transmitter system called the Automatic Targeting Attack Communicator or just ATAC for short. The transmitter is aboard the British vessel St Georges, which is sunk after being blown up by a naval mine. Bond is assigned to retrieve the transmitter before it falls into the wrong hands. In his efforts towards retrieving the transmitter, Bond finds himself up against a killer named Emile Leopold Locque (Michael Gothard) and working alongside the crossbow-wielding Melina Havelock (Carole Bouquet).
With the film having a very strong intention to create a drastic change-up from Moonraker, I went into watching it with a rather high amount of optimism, especially given the fact that my Dad loved and adored it. 128 minutes later, and I found myself slightly disappointed that I was not particularly awe-struck. By no means did I find the film to be a complete letdown. Instead, I was left slightly bewildered by how such an ambitious Bond movie could fudge some of its execution.
- The first hour of the film is as gripping and engaging as any first hour of a Bond film. We get a lengthy, but highly entertaining car chase scene, and we also get a bunch of cool scenes involving Bond evading henchmen on ski slopes. The story remains on point too, all adding up to a solid, well-constructed first half. I should point out that this is the only Bond film to date to not feature M, which was due in part to Bernard Lee, who had played M in each of the previous films, was suffering from stomach cancer and he died while filming was going on.
- Carole Bouquet, who auditioned for the role of Holly Goodhead in Moonraker but didn't get it, establishes herself as one of the better Bond girls, never being placed in a damsel in distress type situation and actually taking part in what's going on as opposed to just following Bond around everywhere. While not quite the ass-kicker that Wai Lin was in Tomorrow Never Dies, she completely avoids being trapped within "Bond sex object" territory and doesn't display something resembling a block of wood, acting wise.
- It was a wonderful first half. And then came the second half of the film. Oh, how crestfallen I was during the second half of the film. After the movie spends a great deal of time with its skiing scenes, you are almost forced to remind yourself that the end goal here is to recover a sunken transmitter. The movie doesn't do a good enough job of this, instead wanting to spend time watching a bouncy figure skater named Bibi (Lynn-Holly Johnson) fawn over Bond. Eventually we get to the whole finding the sunken transmitter thing, and it leads to a character plot twist that, in the context of the story, doesn't really do too much. And then we have a rather anticlimactic finale that features probably the laziest main villain death I've ever seen in a Bond film, and, well, let's just say that the excitement to be had in the first half of the film doesn't carry over very well.
My dislike for parts of the second half of the film is not to be confused with how much I appreciate the film for its ambitious desire to bring Bond back to his more serious roots. The way For Your Eyes Only goes about making Bond more serious again is something that deserves some praise on top of how well-executed its first half is. This is not a Bond film weighed down by absurd plot elements, over-blown action, or campy one liners. What this is is a Bond film that wants to present 007 in as realistic a fashion as imaginable, in a spirited attempt to recapture the human touch that is present at Bond's core. The effort is there, but as much as I don't want to admit it, it didn't deliver in quite the way that would've unquestionably made For Your Eyes Only one of the most luxurious jewels in the Bond film series.
Recommend? Yes, if you're a die hard Bond fan. If not, I doubt you'll get much enjoyment out of it.
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