Wednesday, January 11, 2012
FOR YOUR EYES ONLY
(June 1981, U.S.)
During my time as a film fan, I've come to classify James Bond films under three rather distinct personal categories. The first would be the "I love this Bond movie!" (GOLDFINGER, THUNDERBALL, MOONRAKER). The second would be the "It's not the best, but I still enjoy it (THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN, OCTOPUSSY) and finally the third would be the "Man, this movie sucks!" (THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH, DIE ANOTHER DAY). So that in mind, I'd put the twelfth James Bond film FOR YOUR EYES ONLY in the second category. At least Roger Moore remains.
After going pretty much "jumping the shark" with MOONRAKER (1979) in the last installment, there was almost no choice but for the Bond franchise to start over and get back to the basics of reality. New director (John Glen), new musical composer (Bill Conti), new actor in a vague substitute role of "M" (because actor Bernard Lee was dead now) and no real high-tech gadgetry or weaponry that we'd seen twice now under Lewis Gilbert's direction. We also got to see Sheena Easton sing her popular title song during the opening credits; something that had never been done before. In short, FOR YOUR EYES ONLY was another James Bond "re-boot". I'm also of the opinion that the marketing department for this film knew exactly what it was doing when it pulled audiences into the movie theaters with perhaps the promise of strong sexual tones by designing a movie poster that featured a woman's fine, long legs and great ass! Hell, I was just fourteen years old in 1981 and the only real reason I wanted to see this film was because of that great poster (look at it!). MAD Magazine even titled its spoof on this film "FOR HER THIGHS ONLY". I'm not kidding! Look it up!
Interestingly, the film begins by finally putting the cap on an old issue in the franchise and that's James Bond's arch enemy, Ernst Stavro Blofeld; last seen in DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER (1971) but still not defeated. Though the man in the wheelchair is never officially identified as Blofeld, it seems pretty obvious to any real James Bond fan. The opening is exciting to watch and amusing to see how Blofeld finally meets his end. The rest of the film's plotline, in which Bond must stop a well-connected Greek businessman and intelligence informant from obtaining the Automatic Targeting Attack Communicator (ATAC), the system used by the Ministry of Defence to communicate with and co-ordinate the Royal Navy's fleet of Polaris submarines, is average storytellin, at best. If the bad guy gets hold of that thing, then the Royal's Navy's submarines could be ordered to destroy each other. Honestly, I think this premise (or something very close) has been done more than once in the Bond franchise and the story here is very formulaic; the typical beautiful Bond girl, the threat against the world, the frighteningly evil man in the spirit of "Oddjob" or "Jaws" and the resolution in the end that saves the day. In most cases the formula always works enough to keep you interest. However, FOR YOUR EYES ONLY sufferes greatly from a very unexciting, anti-climactic ending when the villian is only quietly defeated with a knife in his back. Even the mountain climbing sequence lacks it full potential due to the absense of music. I'm sure the film makers thought they were creating a sense of true tension with that move, but it just didn't work for me without the music.
But I can say there are enough exciting action sequences and good enough acting here (plus a GREAT movie poster!) to put FOR YOUR EYES ONLY in the second category I mentioned above, which in my opinion, is more than sufficient to put this James Bond film in my film collection.
The WORST line in the history of the James Bond franchise:
Blofeld: "Mr Bond! We can do a deal! I'll buy you a delicatessen! In stainless steel!"