November 24, 2015

For Your Eyes Only

When all the Bond films were available for free on Amazon Prime in 2014, I watched nearly all of them.
I tried watching For Your Eyes Only but the pre-titles opening sequence was so awful I turned off the TV and read a book or something.
I won't describe why the first ten minutes is so bad - it just makes me depressed - but I will say the helicopter stunts are impressive. I recommend muting your TV and enjoying the stunts, then turn the sound back on in time for Sheena Easton's theme song. Except for this pre-titles sequence, and the last 5 minutes of the movie (featuring a then-famous Margaret Thatcher impersonator),
For Your Eyes Only is the best Roger Moore Bond movie after Live & Let Die.
A solid plot that makes sense, absolutely zero Bond gadgets, good Bond girls, great car chases, fun ski chases, cool allies, and memorable villains.
Bond must recover a decoding device that sunk on a British surveillance vessel before the Russians get it. Bond relies on no gadgets this time around- perhaps a course-correction after previous gadget-heavy adventures? His Lotus sports car only makes a brief appearance. There is a cool submarine, and an extended SCUBA sequence inside the sunken ship, but the fanciest gadgets Bond uses are his carabiners and lines when scaling a sheer cliff face during the gripping (pun intended) third act assault on the villain's mountaintop lair.

He's allied with Melina, the daughter of the marine archaeologist who was assassinated before he could search for the ship. She's out for revenge, and deadly accurate with a bow and arrow.
The crossbow-wielding, underwater archaeologist is competent, can defend herself, and Bond doesn't even treat her as a sexual object until the mission is over- this is progress! The bad news is she's 30 years younger than Bond- yikes!

Bond also beds Lisl, who is also smart, competent, and only 21 years younger than Bond, which is relatively appropriate?  Trivia: Lisl is played by Pierce Brosnan's first wife Cassandra Harris, who sadly passed away in 1991 after battling cancer. Brosnan first met Bond producer Cubby Broccoli while visiting the set of this film.

Lynn Holly-Johnson plays a boy-crazy aspiring Olympic skater who tries to bed Bond. I think she's supposed to be a teenager- Holly-Johnson was 22 when they filmed the movie but she acts younger "my trainer thinks I'm still a virgin!" and her voice is dubbed to make her sound like a kid. Her character is named "Bibi" - a little too close to "baby" for comfort! The good news is, that despite slipping naked into Bond's bed - a callback to From Russia With Love - Bond treats her (gently) like a kid and (gently) throws her out.

The main ally is played by Topol, the charming "European" character actor famous for Fiddler on the Roof, and the main villain is played by Julian Glover, currently appearing with a long white beard as Maester Pycelle on Game Of Thrones, but in the Eighties he landed a string a blockbuster villain roles, including Imperial General Veers in The Empire Strikes Back and a Nazi archaeologist in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. I fondly remember him as a Dr Who villain! Fun Fact: four years after For Your Eyes Only, Glover appeared on two episodes of Pierce Brosnan's TV show Remington Steele (remember, Brosnan is the husband of Glover's Bond costar Cassandra Harris).
Two great chases- one car chase (in a tiny Citroen no less!) down a narrow, winding, switchbacked hillside road through olive groves, and an extended ski chase to end all ski chases- perhaps this (and the opening to View To A Kill) is why Bond doesn't ski anymore?