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Review: For Your Eyes Only (1981) – Robert Baum

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       Following his out-of-this-world adventure Moonraker (1979), James Bond is back on Earth to keep the world safe from subversives yet again. Roger Moore returns for his fifth 007 outing in the twelfth cinematic mission of Ian Fleming’s fictional agent. Based on a pair of Fleming short stories (“For Your Eyes Only” and “Risico”), For Your Eyes Only marks the directorial debut of John Glen who has worked an editor and helmed second units on prior Bond films On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), and Moonraker.

     In the exciting opening sequence–as they almost always are–Bond (Moore) pays a visit to the grave of his wife. Getting back to the office is anything but routine; Bond boards a chopper and is taken for a ride, literally, as the helicopter is remote controlled by a madman. The flight might be his last but not before 007 manages to extricate himself from the unnamed fiend’s (though given he has a white cat, it’s more than likely to be Blofeld) diabolical deed which leaves him shaken and stirred.
     A British naval vessel disguised as a fishing trawler sinks in the Ionian Sea, thanks to a lethal mine. It turns out the vessel had a sophisticated device aboard her which can be used to launch missiles from British submarines. Whoever is in possession of the device, needless to say, will be able to neutralize Her Majesty’s Navy. Bond’s mission, of course, is to retrieve the device and keep it from falling into enemy hands.
     Bond’s first stop: Madrid, where he seeks a hitman who killed a pair of operatives looking to locate the sunken ship. Bond winds up being taken captive by the hitman’s associates. He does manage to escape in great part due to the lovely Melina Havelock (Carole Bouquet) whose crossbow delivers vengeful bolts into the man responsible for her parents’ demise and a few of his cronies.
     Having not gotten any info from the now-deceased killer doesn’t exactly please 007’s superiors. Thanks to gadget guru Q (Desmond Llewelyn), the MI6 operative does manage to get back on the trail, courtesy of one of his high tech toys–the only device developed by Q which the agent employs on his mission, in fact–and he heads to snowy Cortina.
     There Bond’s contact introduces him to Kristatos (Julian Glover), a charismatic Greek shipping magnate who is keeping watch on his kewpie doll cute–though probably less intelligent than one–ice skating niece Bibi Dahl (Lynn-Holly Johnson, last seen melting the heart of Robby Benson in Ice Castles). Bond manages to mix pleasure with business and explores the slopes with Bibi, though he rejects her advances. Bond manages to wind up facing assassins riding customized motorcycles through the streets and slopes of the resort town.
     Bond’s next stop is Greece, where he meets up again with the lovely Melina who has been continuing her father’s archaeological endeavors knowing nothing about the vessel her pa was seeking or its contents. Bond later heads to a casino where he again meets with Kristatos. The agent wins big at the tables (naturally) and gains a tryst with the girlfriend (Cassandra Harris) of Kristatos’ rival, a smuggler named Columbo (Topol, last seen like Moore, in space–last year’s remake of Flash Gordon to be exact).
     This was scheduled to be the follow-up to 1977s The Spy Who Loved Me, however, the success of George Lucas’ space opus Star Wars that year prompted producer Albert Broccoli to reach for the stars. For Your Eyes Only marks not only a return to Earth but also a return to the basics in a leaner, terrestrial thrill ride very much in the vein of Bond’s second cinematic undertaking, From Russia With Love. It could almost be considered something of a carbon copy. The gorgeous Bouquet makes for a great romantic partner for Moore as the fiery Greek beauty. She can more than handle her own with looks and brains to boot. Johnson is cute but annoying which she is supposed to be. Sonja Henie she isn’t.
     Without giving much else away, Topol is gruffly winsome as the Greek smuggler (arguably better or at least as good as the late Pedro Armendariz was as Kerim Bey in From Russia With Love). Glover is polished and impeccably mannered; though it’s bound to induce groans or laughs, perhaps both, to find that the Greek tycoon’s name is Ari. Obviously a tongue-in-cheek joke in a toned-down script courtesy of long-time 007 screen scribe Richard Maibaum and first time scenarist–and longtime Eon employee and Broccoli stepson, executive producer Michael Wilson. Here plot and locales are key and Bond too has a harder edge relying more on his fists and ingenuity rather than the marvels of Q branch to gain an advantage in sticky situations. The collection of exotic locales and amazing stunts make for a lively entry which Bond enthusiasts will no doubt savor. Surely Glen’s efforts are welcome given that Moore isn’t exactly getting any younger and his box office competition this time (Superman II and the Spielberg/ Lucas effort Raiders of the Lost Ark) looks pretty fierce.