For Your Eyes Only (1981)

Untitled-1Boring. Unimaginative. Routine. I’m seldom this blunt, but For Your Eyes Only is probably the driest Bond movie I’ve seen so far, and I don’t need memory loss to forget it either. It has no story, no characters, no chemistry, no romance, no comedy, and its action sequences are so overblown I wish I had a detonator in my hands.

The Bond franchise has entered its darkest phase, and I’m afraid only a miracle — or a complete overhaul — can bring in some light. Where is the precision of The Spy Who Loved Me, or the exciting ridiculousness of Goldfinger and You Only Live Twice? Where has everything gone? After twelve movies, mulling over the same formula over and over and over again, I feel that even the filmmakers are getting sick and tired of making yet another pointless 007 movie. There is no more love, no more commitment.

Roger Moore has passed his prime. He is now an old man — or at least way older than Bond should be. His face is heavily creased with wrinkles, and he seems to be repeating witty one liners for sentiment’s sake, not for the inherent humour of James Bond. When he fights, he looks haggard and uninterested, like he’d rather be somewhere else, sipping tea perhaps, or wondering why his boss’ office has been invaded by two politicians who get off on ordering him around. Moore’s body is present, but his heart and mind are elsewhere. I can’t say I blame him though; he’s done many Bond movies, and I’m sure he, too, must be wondering when the younger, more attractive replacement will get called in. When the bimbotic figure skater, Bibi (Lynn-Holly Johnson), falls head over heels for him at first sight, we don’t believe her for a second. Surely she must want to kill him. Don’t all the women in Bond movies want him dead? But no, she does in fact fall for him, and the pairing is so awkward that we feel something must be amiss. She is, after all, a really annoying character, and inconsequential to the outcome of the plot.

What is the plot, though? I have no earthly idea. It’s got something to do with drug smuggling and submarine missiles, or the acquisition of a British device that controls British submarines. Or something like that. Honestly, I was too bored to even think about it. Take this scene as an example: Bond and his team of merry men want to infiltrate the villain’s mountaintop hideout, but Bond needs to scale a rock face to reach it. Why Bond? He’s the hero. Surely a lowly henchman wouldn’t fit the bill. As he climbs, one of the villain’s henchmen spots him from the top and decides to kill him. But he doesn’t just shoot him or snip his rope, oh no, he has to scale down the rock face himself and slowly unpick Bond’s safety hooks, sending Bond back a few steps. This scene is so excruciatingly mundane and so overly long that a part of me just wanted the henchman to succeed. That would have made a story.

And what of the pre-credits scene? Bond battles a remote control helicopter, and then uses it to give what I can only assume is yet another incarnation of Blofeld a sudden and fatal drop into a factory furnace chute. Oh, he’s a champion all right. He’s killed Blofeld. Again. Or has he? We will never find out, because the movie makes no reference to this scene ever again. It stands alone, makes us laugh, and then vanishes. Maybe it’s a dream, and Bond is tortured by Blofeld and helicopters in his sleep. Or maybe it is metaphorical for something. I can only imagine Bond fanboys and fangirls coming up with countless theories. All of which I doubt I’d be interested in.

This is a Bond movie that exists to be nothing more than a Bond movie. It is made with the codes and conventions that assure its place in the franchise, but it doesn’t reach for anything more. The question is: Why doesn’t it? Is James Bond such a dull character that only the same story can be told about him time and time again? Does he not deserve some fun to go with his dangerous work? Because For Your Eyes Only certainly doesn’t make his job look fun at all.

Best Moment | Nope.

Worst Moment | Oh, so many. I, for one, hated the opening credit sequence and the theme song. Come on Sheena Easton, this is a Bond movie, not a heartbreaking romantic comedy.

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