For Your Eyes Only (1981)

<strong class="MovieTitle">For Your Eyes Only</strong> (1981)

(Second or third viewing, On Blu-ray, October 2018) I saw For Your Eyes Only in theatres when it came out! This definitely deserves an exclamation point given how, as a kid, I never went to the movies. My parents weren’t rich enough to take us out regularly, the nearest theatre was more than twenty kilometres away (in fact, more like thirty at the time—closer ones were built some time later) and since we only spoke French in an Anglophone province, going to the movies would have been an exercise in frustration for everyone. We did watch a lot of movies on TV, though, and if I recall correctly, we happened to be visiting relatives in the greater Montréal region when everybody (including a six-year-old boy) agreed to go to the theatre to watch the latest James Bond film. In French. I distinctly recall the scary underwater sequence from the theatre—I suspect that most of the rest of my childhood memories came from watching endless reruns of the film on Radio Canada TV. Now that I’m going through the entire Bond series in order, For Your Eyes Only does take on a very different feel. Coming down from the giddy silliness of Moonraker, it’s a film that goes back to the roots of the Bond character with far more restrained stakes, clearly echoing both From Russia With Love and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service to produce the best of the Roger Moore movies. Bond calms down with the indiscriminate sleeping around: the main female character (played quite well by Carole Bouquet) is strong enough to create some real tension between the two, the secondary Bond girl has her own agenda, and there are some laughs in seeing Bond fend off the advances of an overly pushy teenager. There are other highlights beyond the more grounded approach: Plot-wise, there’s a nice twist midway through, and the film’s standout action sequences involves an underpowered Citroen 2CV. After the space adventure of the previous film, taking up a Cold War-themed thriller mostly set in Greece is a welcome change of pace. But here’s the thing: For all of the talk about a more down-to-earth Bond, For Your Eyes Only doesn’t skimp on the action sequence – there’s a new one every few minutes, and they take us from the mountains to the Mediterranean and then back up again. There’s also some variety to the action in between impressive helicopter stunts, a winding road car chase, downhill ski thrills, underwater action and tense mountain-climbing. It all wraps up in a highly satisfying Bond film that manages to find difficult balance (well, other than the pre-credit sequence) between Roger Moore’s debonair charm, Bond’s tougher roots, competent plotting and hair-raising tension. There was a lot of behind-the-scenes drama in the making of For Your Eyes Only (Moore being unsure if he’d take the role again, and numerous crew changes) but the result ranks as an upper-tier Bond movie.

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