Bonding with Bond, Day 13: For Your Eyes Only

One intrepid RT editor is watching all of the James Bond films in order.

by | November 2, 2008 | Comments

After several Bond films establishing the Roger Moore brand of 007, he takes a turn for the (more) serious with For Your Eyes Only. It was both good and bad for me, in different ways.


For Your Eyes Only (1981) 72%

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For Your Eyes Only was the first Bond film in a while that didn’t offer me a whole lot to poke fun at, which is sort of a double-edged sword for me. On the one hand, it can be said that For Your Eyes Only was a more solid film, with a tighter story and relatively brisk pacing, which makes for an enjoyable overall experience. On the other hand, it’s been great fun to spot the quirky elements of these movies and point them out, and it’s almost less entertaining when there’s nothing like that for me to write about.

Let me start by saying that I thought I was in for more of the same kind of silliness I saw in Moonraker when the opening scene for For Your Eyes Only played out. As Bond takes what he believes to be a company chopper to meet M, we discover that it’s actually a setup masterminded by none other than Ernst Stavro Blofeld, whose whereabouts I rightfully had been curious about after his mysterious off-screen “death” in Diamonds Are Forever. We don’t get to see Blofeld’s face here, nor do we hear his name explicitly uttered, but we know it’s him, since he’s got his cat, his distinct attire, and his bald head (he must have decided the full head of hair didn’t suit him after all).

When Bond drops Blofeld off the helicopter and down a massive smokestack, I had two thoughts: 1) Is he really dead, or is this simply a reintroduction of his character?; and 2) If he’s really dead, that was the lamest way to end an unfinished storyline that I’ve ever seen. Of course Blofeld and SPECTRE don’t make another appearance in the movie, so I’m led to believe I was supposed to take that scene to be the end of the Blofeld era. Just Bond tying up loose ends, as it were. That, I must admit, was a rather disappointing end for a nemesis that previously had played such a huge part in the Bond universe.

We are then, of course, introduced to the central intrigue of For Your Eyes Only: the recovery of a crucial missile control device aboard a sunken British spy vessel that fell victim to an unfortunate accident at sea. The usual cast of characters is introduced, including the potential villain, his henchmen, and the women Bond will inevitably seduce and discard. Except, the latter doesn’t really happen en masse, as has been the trend. While Bond does bed one of his adversary’s mistresses (thereby turning her to his side and eventually leading to her death, of course), there are two prominent female characters who Bond, surprisingly, treats with a modicum of respect.

The first is Bibi Dahl, played by Lynn-Holly Johnson, who is an aspiring figure skater. She, like many other Bond women, throws herself at 007, breaking into his hotel room and lying naked in his bed, but for whatever reason, he decides that she’s not bone-worthy. What is it about her, precisely, that keeps him from wrapping her up in his libido? She does act somewhat childish, but it’s not entirely clear how old she’s actually supposed to be, and she’s certainly not less attractive than many of Bond’s other women. I thought it was interesting that the good people behind the Bond films chose to include a girl who Bond was unwilling to take advantage of. Lecherous man-whore that he is, even Bond has his limits, it seems.

The main Bond girl of the movie, however, is Melina Havelock (Carole Bouquet), who has an agenda of her own against the main villain. While Bond works alongside her for much of the movie, he is surprisingly light on the sweet nothings and seductive advances. I thought this worked to move the plot along more efficiently, and in some ways it also made their eventual coupling more believable. Oh yes, that’s right, they do end up together, but only at the very end… at sea… again.

The one other thing I’ll say about For Your Eyes Only is that I was pleasantly surprised by the twist (Kristatos is the real villain). In any other film, I would have seen it coming a mile away, but because I had become so accustomed to the straightforward story lines in these Bond films, I wasn’t expecting anything even remotely out of the ordinary. This, and a few very exciting action setpieces, helped me to enjoy the movie, though it was certainly different in tone than Moore’s previous outings. I thought it was a great addition to the canon, and some of you were right; I could have easily seen Sean Connery in the role.

 

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Favorite line: “Everyone knows it builds muscle tone.” — spoken by Bibi Dahl as she lies naked in Bond’s bed, hoping to convince him to join her. I’ve tried that line, and it doesn’t work.

Favorite moment: For once, it’s not a silly one – I really enjoyed the ski chase. At first, I thought, “Great, not another one of these.” But the scene got progressively better, culminating in a thrilling pursuit down a bobsled run. Really impressive stunt and camera work.


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