Welcome to the 1980s James Bond! It's also a pleasure to see you bring in the new decade with a fairly solid film too. That's the biggest surprise of all I suppose. After the shit storm and stupidity of "Moonraker" its a surprise that this film turned out so well. It still is flawed in many ways, of which I will get to in a moment, but its darker and more serious tone does wonders even for the smarmy Roger Moore. Perhaps one of the best of this Bond's era and definitely one of my favorites to watch.
PLOT: More spy intelligence technology seems to be on the verge of going missing in "For Your Eyes Only". After a spy ship sinks and a missile tracking system for the Brits has the possibility of going into enemies' hands, its up to James Bond to find it, find out who wants it, and destroy it. His new adventure takes him to all sorts of places following all sorts of vicious henchmen and chase after chase occurs.
STORYLINE 4/5: The strength of this film truly lies with its premise. Its more serious. Its more like how a spy film should work (rather than the action packed previous two) and there seems to even be more of an emphasis on characters. But this film also tends to try to cater to those Moore fans by adding in some padded sequences of action. The hockey rink fight is out of left field and really adds nothing and many sequences of this nature feel that way. It would have been perfect had the film focused more on the intrigue of having the two men whom may both be the villain and the revenge focus of our leading lady Melina. It tries to balance the two sides of Bond and sometimes falters at it getting a bit too goofy for its own good. Its almost as if the film makers thought the story might be too smart for audiences and watered it down a bit to make it slightly more consumable. Which is a shame really.
BOND 3/5: Roger Moore had trouble deciding if he wanted to return and at times it can be obvious in his portrayal of Bond. He is, at this point starting to finally show his age (the running sequences are a bit painful to watch) with his action scenes but his dark streak that occasionally breaks is nice to see from the usually charming but cheesy Moore. For example the scene where he kicks the car off the cliff is a rather shocking but needed moment in this film. Bond as a character works nicely in the plot though even if Moore doesn't always seem to give it his all.
VILLAIN 2/5: One of the problems of having a more complicated spy oriented story is that the villain is pretty much in seclusion throughout the film. Its a nice tactic (and a smart one too for its darker more serious tone) to have the audience trying to figure it out along with Bond. Its really too bad that when we do find out whom it is, that he is rather lackluster. More of a smart bad guy than a truly dangerous one, he comes off as rather harmless except for his odd amount of disposable henchmen. In fact, his two main henches (octagon glasses man, Locque and German sharp shot Kriegler) try to help round out the dangerous side of this villain but really just can't cut it right in the end.
BOND GIRL 3.5/5: Melina is a pretty bad ass Bond girl. After the debacle that was the girl in "Moonraker", her name escapes me and I care not to even try to remember her honestly, its nice to have a strong character that actually has character motivation. The issues that come about with her happen to be mostly from the story as they overlook her revenge tactics and throw her revenge motives as subplot rather than bringing it to the forefront to give her chemistry with Bond. Melina is still one of my favorite Bond girls to this day though and I wish they just had deepened her character like they should have.
"For Your Eyes Only" stands as a Bond in transition in many ways. Although it balances the serious and cheesy most of the time, it falters too much for its own good. Had the film stuck it serious and straight forward focusing on the story and giving the characters more oomph it would have been on the best Bond films out there. It still works quite well and retains its charm to this day though and remains one of the better Moore films in the series.
BONUS RANT: I get a damn kick out of how many times the character Melina is directed to stare into the camera with melodrama. Its sad since she should have had more depth to her instead of being pseudo silly. She has a great glaring look and I'm sure that's what they wanted, they just executed it poorly in the end.
Written By Matt Reifschneider