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Section: Reviews
For Your Eyes Only Movie Review

No one comes close to JAMES BOND 007

Title: 'For Your Eyes Only'

Released: 06/26/1981

Budget: $27,500,000

Gross (US; Worldwide): $62,340,842; $194,900,000

Producer: Albert R. Broccoli (MGM-UA)

Writer: Richard Maibaum & Michael G. Wilson

Director: John Glen

Based On: The "For Your Eyes Only," "Live & Let Die", & "Risico" stories, written by Ian Fleming.

Stars: Roger Moore as James Bond 007, Carole Bouquet (as Melina Havelock), Topol (as Milos Colombo), Julian Glover (as Aristotle Kristatos), Lynn-Holly Johnson (as Bibi), Cassandra Harris (as Lisi); Also Starring Desmond Llewelyn as Q, Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny, And Also Starring Water Gotell as General Anatol Gogol And Geoffrey Keen as Minister of Defense.

Plot: A British ship disguised as a merchant vessel is bombed, and everyone aboard dies before they have a chance to destroy their vital missile-guiding system. Bond is sent to recover it, before it falls into enemy's hands (for if it did, British submarines could be instructed to blow up their own cities). A young Greek woman, Melinda Havelock, witnesses the brutal murder of her parents, who were executing an undercover, underwater recovery mission for the ship, using a Greek artifact hunt as their front. Melinda then decides to avenge the death of her parents by murdering her parents' killers. Bond and Melinda meet at the residence of the killer, whom Melinda had previously identified to the police; the information was then given to MI6. Melinda shoots and kills him, sending Bond and her on the run. She plans to do some more killing: the man (or men) who hired Gonzoles. Bond convinces her to put aside the plans…for a while. Bond then meets up with a Aristotle Kristatos (accompanied by Tibi, his "niece," an oversexed teen Olympic ice-skating hopeful), who has some interesting information for Bond. He blames the incident as the work of Greek underworld kingpin Colombo - his onetime friend - and his "Doves." And all evidence surely points to Colombo and his "Doves." But alas, it is the other way around: Colombo informs Bond that Kristatos is the real culprit, and claims that Kristatos just set him up -- not only to get the dogs off his tail, but also so Bond could kill Colombo and his group and eliminate his competition. He says that Kristatos was a traitor during World War II, and unjustly received a British medal. A shootout between the good guys (Bond, Colombo, and his "doves") and the bad guys (Kristatos and his men) does some damage, but Kristatos gets away. He eventually gets hold of the missile-guiding system (thanks to the "help" of Bond and Melinda) and plans to sell it to the Soviets.

Commentary: 'For Your Eyes Only,' to put it bluntly, was made as an apology for 'Moonraker.' After backlash from fans that 'Moonraker' was too comical and was purely driven by special effects, the producers decided to deliver a really adult spy thriller with a good story. And that's exactly what they made, and what the people gladly received: there are hardly any special effects, only three gadgets, no over-the-top villain, and most of all, no tired and true formula. Instead of proceeding with the movie in the way most Bond movies did, 'Eyes' took a totally new approach. All this combined made 'For Your Eyes Only' the fourth best Bond movie, and by far the best written (followed by the scripts for 'From Russia With Love' and 'The World is Not Enough,' and 'Goldeneye'). Character development and human reaction are heavily stressed - more so than any other film - and the results are fantastic. Because they didn't want another 'Moonraker,' the producers and writers weren't the least bit sensitive in constructing a more serious and emotional Bond film - and they gave it all their effort. Getting Richard Maibaum back on the typerwriter was a wise choice, and selecting John Glen (who had worked as an editor on the Bond films previously) made things even better: Maibaum knew how to put in on paper, and Glen knew how to put it into action. The decision to use a Cold War plot couldn't have been better - and the way the story unfolded and progressed was so brilliant it was near perfection. Honest to God, while viewing the film, I kept saying to myself, "What a great story!" Kristatos was a great villain - because he was real. He was surely no Goldfinger, but he was ever bit as intimidating and convincing, in his own, real-world way. Colombo was, without a doubt - Bond's best sidekick. 'Russia's Kerim Bay came close, but just didn't cut it. The fact that he wasn't actually a good guy - he was a smuggler - made things even the more interesting and engaging. And his relationship with Kristatos (Kristatos betrayed him and others during World War II) was very lifelike and had great depth - and allowed for many of the script's tautest moments. (These allusions to the war were very intelligent and sophisticated additions to the film and only furthered it's more adult feel). And if you like these two, you'll like Melina Havelock even more! She was a very independent, strong-willed character, like none other we've seen before. Although she was not really played as a babe (although she definitely way pretty), it didn't matter. Unfortunately, we didn't really get a Bond girl any other place - Lisl stunk! I'm rather glad they decided not to do this, for if they had, her character wouldn't have been as effective; she just wouldn't have been the same. The female perspective of 'Spy' is taken into even greater and more rewarding depths here, and Melina's quest for revenge one of the pivotal events of the film. We came to be interested in not only Bond's mission, but hers as well. Nothing like this had even been accomplished - or even attempted - before. Now, 'Eyes' wasn't about to go "cliché" on her, with the expected and overused "I can't kill them" aspect. She did kill the murderer of her parents, and while she never got to kill Kristatos (which she wanted too even more), that was because Colombo did it. If he hadn't thrown that knife, who knows what would have happened. And this feeling left me hanging - and I liked it. While not as strong or pivotal as Melina, the character of Bibi was a very important aspect of the film. She, too, was like nothing we've ever experienced, and she was used to further Bond's maturity. Bond - like the film - was more adult, and his refusal to sleep with Bibi because she was too young was one of the greatest moments of the movie. Bond also became more human in this outing - succumbing more often to pain and harm and not always winning on the first try. One could surely say then, that this "older" Bond is the metaphor for the series "growing up." Sean Connery could have never pulled off what Moore did in this film - he just didn't have it. In fact, this is Moore's second best film in terms of his acting; he really gave this role everything he had. This is also true for virtually every actor or actress in the film - Carole Bouquet, Topol, Julian Glover - they all did outstanding jobs. No finer acting was ever executed in a Bond film - before or since. Now when I alluded to the film having a few special effects, I was not lying: there are not many. But the action sequences - the ski chase (improving on the memorable 'OHMSS' escapade), the warehouse battle, and the mountain climb, in particular - were three of the most impressive undertakings of the entire series. The movie definitely had thrills! And concerning the weaker aspects of the film, they were far from poor - and in other Bond films, they would have been the highlights! Kristatos's method of killing Bond and Melina by dragging them to death at sea was just too romantic - and just didn't fit in with Kristatos's personality or the demeanor of the film itself. The two gadgets that the film did house were not really necessary - especially Bond's watch; that was absolutely useless! The identification computer was far fetched and out of place, but it was fun! The film's opening - Bond's killing of Blofeld - was really spectacular, but it, too, just didn't feel right. And the ending with the parody of Margaret Thatcher - well, that was just odd: -) I guess the writers felt that adding a little humor to the engine and caboose of this magnificent train couldn't hurt - and it didn't at all. What made up the bulk of the locomotive - that's what counted - and boy, was it "first class!"

Verdict:
3.5/4.0

Also in the For Your Eyes Only dossier:   Gadgets | Girls | Pictures | Reviews | Villains
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