25 Years ago, on 24 June 1981 in the UK and 26 June in the US, the twelfth James Bond film, For Your Eyes Only was released. With the tagline, ‘No One Comes Close To James Bond 007’ and a cast filled with such actors as Carole Bouquet, Julian Glover, and Topol, the film proved to be major success, grossing over $190 million. CBn looks back at some of the reviews of this Bond film. The good, and the bad…
‘…the real standout is Bond’s steeled attitude: his mind clearly renewing his “license to kill,” giving us Roger Moore at his most vengeful..’
Christopher Null, FilmCritic.com
‘More of the outlandish silliness of a few other Bond issues is mercifully absent, replaced by a greater emphasis on believable thrills.’
John J. Puccio, DVDTown.com
‘For Your Eyes Only’ by: James Berardinelli
‘With For Your Eyes Only, Roger Moore’s fifth appearance as Bond and the twelfth entry in the long-running series, 007 enters the 1980s with a return to the “glory days” of the ’60s. Realizing it would be tough to top the technical glitz of Moonraker, the film makers wisely chose not to try, opting instead for a retro-Bond adventure that takes the intrepid superspy back into familiar territory: KGB involvement in a plan that centers on classified British secrets.
But that’s not the only aspect of For Your Eyes Only that looks more to Bond’s past than his future. Blofeld, the constant nemesis during the Connery years, makes a brief return appearance, and the film opens with 007 visiting the grave of his dead wife, Tracy. Regarding familiar faces, M isn’t in this movie (Bernard Lee having died just prior to the start of filming), but Q (Desmond Llewelyn) and Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell) are. Also, KGB general Gogel (Walter Gotell), who first came on board during The Spy Who Loved Me, has a small part. (Gogel was in every film from Spy through The Living Daylights.)
Bond’s mission this time, “for [his] eyes only”, is to locate and, if possible, recover Great Britain’s ATAC equipment — a ship-based weapons system that allows the user to take control of the country’s nuclear submarines, ordering them to attack any target. ATAC was on board a freighter that sank in the Ionian Sea, and Bond has at least one major rival, a sly villain named Kristatos (Julian Glover), who’s after it as well. Joining 007 on his quest is Melina (French actress Carole Bouquet), the daughter of a scientist killed by Kristatos, who has vowed revenge against her father’s murderers. Also along for the ride is the good-natured smuggler Columbo (Topol), who Kristatos set up as a fall guy.
Locations in For Your Eyes Only vary across Europe. On a per-minute basis, there are more stunts and chases in this film than in any previous 007 adventure, and some are quite spectacular. There’s a car chase, a shoot-and-dodge race down icy slopes and through a bobsled run, a tense mountain-scaling sequence, and nearly as much underwater action as in Thunderball. For Your Eyes Only has its share of breathtaking moments. As for the music — suffice it to say that John Barry is missed.
Alas, Julian Glover’s Kristatos won’t be remembered as one of the great 007 bad guys. While the actor’s ability is beyond question, it’s usually not talent that makes for a memorable Bond villain, and Glover just isn’t over-the-top or nasty enough. (One wonders if the film makers might have done better keeping Blofeld around for more than the pre-credits sequence.) Locque (Michael Gothard), Kristatos’ henchman, is as dull as his master — he looks evil, but in the wake of Jaws, comes across as rather pathetic.
Like Diana Rigg in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Carole Bouquet is one of the few Bond girls who can actually act (although she doesn’t get much chance to show it). Lynn-Holly Johnson plays a young skater who’s infatuated with 007, but this particular subplot, played for comedy, never works, and is occasionally painful to endure. Fortunately, it doesn’t eat up much screen time.
In the final analysis, For Your Eyes Only is a solid adventure, although it could have been better. There’s enough action to hold those with even a short attention span, and Roger Moore’s deft charm hasn’t yet begun to wear thin (that starts with the next film, Octopussy). By the end of the ’80s, Bond would be viewed as something of a relic, but at least the decade opened with an enjoyable outing.’
‘In the de rigueur chase sequence, the movie asks the question: Are two fast motorbikes with on-board machine guns more than a match for Bond as he escapes with just a pair of skis? If you don’t know the answer, this has to be your first Bond movie.’
Steve Rhodes, Internet Reviews
‘One of Moore’s best turns as 007.’
Scott Weinberg, EFilmCritic
‘For Your Eyes Only’ by: Roger Ebert
‘For Your Eyes Only is a competent James Bond thriller, well-crafted, a respectable product from the 007 production line. But it’s no more than that. It doesn’t have the special sly humor of the Sean Connery Bonds, of course, but also doesn’t have the visual splendor of such Roger Moore Bonds as The Spy Who Loved Me, or special effects to equal Moonraker. And in this era of jolting, inspired visual effects from George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, it’s just not quite in the same league. That will no doubt come as a shock to Producer Albert (Cubby) Broccoli, who has made the James Bond series his life’s work.
Broccoli and his late partner, Harry Saltzman, all but invented the genre that Hollywood calls “event films” or “special effects films.” The ingredients, which Bond popularized and others imitated, always included supervillains, sensational stunts, sex, absurd plots to destroy or rule the world, and, of course, a hero. The 007 epics held the patent on that formula in the late ’60s and early ’70s, but they are growing dated. For Your Eyes Only doesn’t have any surprises. We’ve seen all the big scenes before, and when the villains turn out to be headquartered in an impregnable mountaintop fortress, we yawn. After Where Eagles Dare and The Guns Of Navarone and the hollow Japanese volcano that Bond himself once infiltrated, let’s face it: When you’ve seen one impregnable mountaintop fortress, you’ve seen ’em all.
The movie opens with James Bond trapped inside a remote-controlled helicopter being guided by a bald sadist in a wheelchair. After Bond triumphs, the incident is never referred to again. This movie involves the loss of the secret British code controlling submarine-based missiles. The Russians would like to have it. Bond’s mission: Retrieve the control console from a ship sunk in the Aegean. The movie breaks down into a series of set pieces. Bond and his latest Bondgirl (long-haired, undemonstrative Carole Bouquet) dive in a mini-sub, engage in a complicated chase through the back roads of Greece, crawl through the sunken wreck in wet suits, are nearly drowned and blown up, etc. For variety, Bond and Bouquet are dragged behind a powerboat as shark bait, and then Bond scales the fortress mountain. A fortress guard spots Bond dangling from a rope thousands of feet in the air. What does he do? Does he just cut the rope? No, sir, the guard descends part way to tantalize Bond by letting him drop a little at a time. The rest is predictable.
In a movie of respectable craftsmanship and moderate pleasures, there’s one obvious disappointment. The relationship between Roger Moore and Carole Bouquet is never worked out in an interesting way. Since the days when he was played by Sean Connery, agent 007 has always had a dry, quiet, humorous way with women. Roger Moore has risen to the same challenge, notably opposite Barbara Bach in The Spy Who Loved Me. But Moore and Bouquet have no real chemistry in For Your Eyes Only. There’s none of that kidding byplay. It’s too routine. The whole movie is too routine.’
‘Formula, fun Roger Moore Bond.’
Steve Crum, Video-ReviewMaster.com
‘The Bond series’ most superb action assembly, plus a terrific performance from Roger Moore’
Jeffrey Westhoff, Northwest Herald