Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Film Review: For Your Eyes Only


For Your Eyes Only
  • Publisher: United Artists
  • Studio Danjaq / EON Productions
  • Director: John Glen
  • Producer: Albert R. Broccoli
  • Writers: Richard Maibaum, Michael G. Wilson
  • Release: 24 June 1981 (UK), 26 June 1981 (USA)


The Girls: Melina Havelock (Carole Bouquet), daughter of murdered archeologist Sir Timothy Havelock.  Wants to kill those responsible, despite Bond's intentions to take them alive.  It's refreshing to have a Bond Girl not just in it for the fanservice, but taking matters of the plot into her own hands.  5 out of 5.  Bibi Dahl (Lynn-Holly Johnson), a figure skater bankrolled by Kristatos.  Puts the moves on Bond, despite an age gap of 30 years between the actors, but thankfully he rebuffs her affections.  Adds virtually nothing to the plot, but does showcase the villain's... villainy in her later confrontations with him.  3 out of 5.

Other Allies: Luigi Ferrara (John Morena), 007's contact in Italy.  Throat slit offscreen by Locque.  Frederick Gray (Geoffrey Keen), British Minister of Defence.  Functions as a temporary replacement for M, whose actor (Bernard Lee) died shortly after Moonraker.  On that note, we also get an appearance by not-Margaret Thatcher (Janet Brown) at the end.

Aris Kristatos (Julian Glover, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade).  An industrialist and drug smuggler who is seeking to sell the ATAC to the Soviet Union.  Pins his activities upon...

The Villain: Milos Colombo (Chaim Topol, The Fiddler On the Roof).  A rival smuggler of Kristatos's. He over-acts some of his scenes but, like Kerim Bey of From Russia With Love, it only makes him that much more fun to watch..  Whatever twist I hid behind those spoiler tags, it was truly a great one.  5 out of 5.  Not-Ernst Stavro Blofeld (John Hollis) tries to get his revenge in the pre-credits; because of the SPECTRE rights controversy (see my review on Thunderball for more information), his face is not shown and his name not given.

Other Henchmen: Emile Leopold Locque (Michael Gothard), an assassin and Bill Gates lookalike.  Kicked off a cliff by Bond.  I wish he had actual lines in the script, and that his kills weren't performed off-screen, but still, he's proof that you don't have to come out of one of Hitler's wet dreams (gah, that sounds so wrong) in order to be deadly.  5 out of 5.  Erich Kriegler (John Wyman) fits that description however, being an East German biathalon champion and the villain's liaison with the KGB.  Also thrown off a cliff by Bond.  With him being a pro sharpshooter (and that's only his cover!), you think he'd be able to hit Bond for once, although during the ski chase he does manage to shoot his gun and ski pole, two quite smaller targets.  4 out of 5.

The Gadgets: Not much to speak of.  In a rather brilliant bucking of the traditional Bond image, his car self-destructs early in the film, forcing 007 to hitch a ride in Melina's junker Citroen.  And he still manages to make a gripping chase scene out of it.  5 out of 5.

The Locations: The United Kingdom (England), Spain, Italy, Greece, and Albania.  Fun Fact: The Italian setting, Cortina d'Ampezzo, hosted the Winter Olympics in 1956.

The Theme Song: Performed by Sheena Easton ("Modern Girl").  4 out of 5.  Fun Fact: This was the first James Bond theme song to have a separate music video, directed by the legendary Steve Barron ("Billie Jean", "Take On Me").  With MTV going on the air in America only months after the film's release, it was perfect timing.  Second Fun Fact: The soundtrack was composed by Bill Conti (Rocky), and has a distinct post-disco feel, if you're into that sort of thing.

The Opening Credits: Uses a watery theme once again, and softer pastel colours to match the tone of the song.  3 out of 5.  Fun Fact: These are the only opening credits (to date) to feature the singer performing the theme song.

The Novel: The book sharing its title with the film is in fact a collection of short stories by Ian Fleming, most of which were intended as episodes of a James Bond TV series which never came to be.  Of the five stories, two were incorporated into the plot of the movie: "For Your Eyes Only" (the opening conflict with Gonzales) and "Risico" (the warehouse raid).  "The Hildebrand Rarity" inspired some elements of Licence To Kill, whilst "From a View to a Kill" and "Quantum of Solace" lent their titles (and nothing else) to two later movies.

The Plot: Our film opens with Bond at a cemetary, mourning his late wife Tracy (see On Her Majesty's Secret Service).  He gets picked up by an MI6 helicopter, but it gets remotely hi-jacked by not-Blofeld.  However, 007 regains control, scoops up the former villain, and drops him down a smokestack.  Cue opening credits.  We return to the St. Georges, a supposed fishing boat off of Albania, which is really a British spy ship with an ATAC (Automatic Targeting Attack Communicator), a device used to command the UK's submarine fleet.  A mine hits the boat, sinking it before the crew can self-destruct the ATAC.  With the British government unable to salvage the ATAC officially, they recruit Sir Timothy Havelock, an archeologist working in Greece.  After his daughter Melina comes home from her travels, he and his wife are gunned down by her supposed pilot, in actuality a Cuban hitman named Hector Gonzales.

This is where 007 comes in: he infiltrates Gonzales's villa off Madrid, only for Melina to show up and shoot him with a crossbow.  The two make their getaway in her car, and he sees her off.  The Minster of Defence is disgraced at Gonzales's unexpected liquidation, but Bond notes of a person who paid him off.  With Q's help, he identifies this man as Emile Leopold Locque, a Belgian assassin currently working in Cortina, Italy.  There, he meets up with Ferrara, an Italian agent, and Aris Kristatos, a Greek businessman, and once again, Melina.  After taking Kristatos's protege, figure skater Bibi Dahl, to the biathalon, he ends up in a ski chase against one of the supposed stars, Erich Kriegler, who is in actuality working for the KGB.  That night he meets up with Dahl again at an ice rink, and returns to find Ferarra dead.

007 reunites with Melina in Greece before visiting a casino, where Kristatos tells him about a heroin smuggler named Colombo, and he goes home with Countess Lisl von Schlaf.  In the morning she gets struck by Locque's dune buggy, and Bond is knocked out by another faction.  He wakes up on Colombo's yacht, where he convinces Bond that Kristatos was pinning his own illicit activities on Colombo.  He proves his innocence by taking 007 on a raid on Kristatos's warehouse in Albania, where he kills Locque.  Back in Greece, Bond and Melina go over her father's notes and deduce the location where the St. Georges sank.  They go down in a submarine to retrieve the ATAC, only to have it taken by Kristatos upon their return.  He has the couple dragged behind this boat, so that they may get eaten by sharks, but Bond foils their attempt.  With the ATAC gone, their trail has gone cold - until a parrot speaks the clue "ATAC to St. Cyril's".

Despite the 439-plus churches in Greece bearing the name "St. Cyril", Colombo narrows it down to a monastery on top of a humongous rock.  Bond climbs up this rock, lets his team up, and together they storm the place in search of Kristatos and the ATAC.  When they find it, Colombo kills Kristatos, just in time for General Gogol to arrive, intent on purchasing the ATAC.  Instead, Bond throws it off the cliff, shattering it into a thousand pieces, and leaves the Soviet general with the following line: "That's detente, comrade.  You don't have it, I don't have it."  That night, Bond brushes off a congratulatory phone call from Prime Minister not-Margaret Thatcher to share a moonlight swim with Melina.  You may now turn off your TV.

After subsequent movies escalating from global destruction from the sea to global destruction to space, it's refreshing that the writers avoided trying to top that, and instead focus on a more political-based thriller.  Most of the tension in this film comes from the stunts, including the underwater search for the ATAC, the rock climb up to the monastery, and others.  If this seems unfitting of Roger Moore's 007 persona, not only does it showcase how off-track it had become, but it's because the film was written for another lead actor in mind.  See, Moore was working on a per-film basis since Moonraker, so actors such as Lewis Collins and Michael Jayston were being considered to replace Moore, but that never happened.  But with Moore turning 54 years old in 1981, one wishes he did take retirement, especially with the next few films we have to sit through...  5 out of 5.

The Call: 95% (A)

IchigoRyu will return in
Octopussy

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