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.
Taking a respite from the British Secret Service, Roger Moore commands his own counter-terrorist operatives. Sporting a beard, a fondness for felines, and extremely lacking in tact, Moore isn’t 007 but an eccentric, unorthodox man-of-action in a tongue-in-cheek Bondian thriller. Moore is Rufus Excalibur ffolkes, an adaptation of Jack Davies’ Esther, Ruth, and Jennifer. Veteran director Andrew V. McLaglen, who recently worked with Moore on another action thriller, The Wild Geese (1978), is at the helm.
As the film opens ffolkes is putting his men through their paces on a training exercise. He runs them through a gauntlet insisting upon clockwork precision. He’s tough on his men but has a soft spot for cats as quite a number of them dwell in the castle where ffolkes and his fusiliers reside.
In Norway, the supply ship Esther takes on a team of reporters. Upon heading out to sea, the newsmen turn out to be terrorists. As the madman Kramer, Anthony Perkins leads the subversives. He demands a virtual king’s ransom; and if his demands are not met, Esther, the refinery Ruth, and the drilling platform named Jennifer will wind up making an unplanned voyage to the bottom of the North Sea. Kramer issues his demands to Robert King (former small screen submariner David Hedison), operations manager of Jennifer. Needless to say, King isn’t keen on finding that he might be seeing Davy Jones’s locker.
The demands are forwarded to 10 Downing Street where the prime minister refuses to pay the ransom, as the British government is the prime shareholder in the petrol operation. British officials get a look at ffolkes’ men in action and it’s suggested he might be the ideal man for the job. Admiral Brinsden (a wonderfully cast James Mason) meets the colorful ffolkes and despite finding him to be a bit of an odd man, believes he might just have what it takes to save the day.
Director McLaglen delightfully skewers 1970s disaster thrillers balancing camp and suspense. Perkins doesn’t get to do much but appear menacing which has served him well over the years; one might guess that Bruce Dern was elsewhere when the film needed a madman. The presence of Moore, Hedison, and George Baker might give the impression of the Bond films as the premise seems reminiscent of the early 007 adventures when Connery essayed the role of the Ian Fleming created spy. Moore’s performance at times seems more like a parody of Connery’s efforts than his own.
Having appeared with Richard Burton and Richard Harris in McLaglen’s The Wild Geese, Moore working with acting notable Mason makes for some solid company he has been fortunate to appear with as of late. Some might dismiss ffolkes as a Bondian efforts that falls short. Despite a score that is so unimpressive it almost sounds like a rejected score for a telefilm, that doesn’t detract from an otherwise enjoyable time killer. While no one does things better than Bond, ffolkes is worth a look.
Roger Moore exchanges his services as an agent for her majesty for a psychiatric practice in the Windy City. As Dr. Judd Stevens, Moore is losing his patients in an adaptation of Sidney Sheldon’s The Naked Face, written for the screen and directed by Bryan Forbes (International Velvet, The Stepford Wives), is a decent mystery-thriller from Cannon Films.
Following the murder of a patient who happened to be clad in Stevens’ windbreaker, the doctor is met by two policemen. It’s something of a reunion as one of them, Lt. McGreavy (Rod Steiger) was the victim of a killer who the doctor testified on behalf of. The killer was spared from a death sentence thanks to Stevens and McGreavy doesn’t let him forget it. Detective Angeli (Elliot Gould), McGreavy’s partner, is a bit more even tempered than him. Shaken by the news of the death, Stevens is stirred by McGreavy’s treating him as his mortal foe.
Stevens later meets with his brother-in-law Dr. Hadley (David Hedison, who previously appeared with Moore in Live and Let Die and ffolkes) to talk about his meeting with the police. Stevens returns home to find the police snooping around which pains him. Stevens is even more horrified to find his office ransacked and his secretary murdered. The police are nowhere near to finding the killer and Stevens is later nearly retired permanently when he has a close call with a maniacal motorcyclist.
Thanks to Hadley, Stevens has a new–albeit temporary–place to practice. The killer is still at large with the doctor having few options. The police are all but forcing Stevens to turn over his patients’ files to them though he has no interest in doing so.
Moore offers a credible performance which all but makes one forget about 007, more so than his recent non-Bond roles. Steiger, too, is impressive as the embittered McGreavy proving that he is still something of a formidable presence in a role which like most of his recent efforts offers little more than a paycheck, sadly.
As for the likes of the supporting players like Hedison and Anne Archer, their roles seem whittled down by the editing. Still, given that the producers Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus primarily offer up movies with martial artisans and breakdancers, The Naked Face is a welcome change of pace and is worth a look.
Roger Moore renews his license to kill in his seventh and last–it is about time he did so–mission for British Intelligence. A View to a Kill is the latest cinematic adventure of Ian Fleming’s agent 007, better known as Bond, James Bond. Moore certainly has no need to consider a return to the role as he is simply too old to be believable engaging in antics so outrageous here they virtually dwarf the hyperbolic opus Moonraker (1979). However, Moore’s fourth outing was far more fun than this disappointment directed by John Glen.
Bond goes up against a mysterious tycoon named Max Zorin (Christopher Walken, the first time an Oscar winner has played a Bond adversary), an equine enthusiast who plans to monopolize the microchip market. Does anyone think this sounds a bit familiar? It is a virtual repackaging of Goldfinger if you ask just about any Bond aficionado. Zorin’s mistress is an Amazon named May Day (the very flamboyant pop music diva Grace Jones).
Of course, Bond finds a lady in the form of a pretty bland–sorry, blonde–geologist named Stacy Sutton (Tanya Roberts, formerly the last member of “Charlie’s Angels”). Sutton has had a long feud with Zorin and has refused the megalomaniac’s multimillion-dollar offer to shut her mouth. However, she does fall for the charm of a certain British agent. It is not John Steed, though that might not be bad guess as Patrick Macnee of “The Avengers” plays one of Bond’s allies who meets a premature demise. Macnee is amusing for his brief time onscreen. He joins fellow “Avengers” alumni Diana Rigg (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service) and Honor Blackman (Goldfinger) who have appeared in Bond films.
With regard to Bond’s female co-star, Roberts is nice to look at but she is not a great beauty nor does she make for a believable geologist. She is rather dull and all she seems to do is wait for Bond to come to her rescue, And this Bond looks like could do with some rescuing himself as it obviously takes a bit longer for Moore to escape peril this time. No doubt the producers were enchanted by the sight of Roberts clad in but an animal pelt in last summer’s Sheena: Queen of the Jungle, which apparently reused her costume from 1982s The Beastmaster.
As Zorin’s mistress and assassin, Jones is too outrageous and seems to be doing little more than a reprise of her role as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s she-warrior ally in last summer’s Conan the Destroyer. While certainly not lacking in presence, Jones is a bit masculine–even more so than Moore frighteningly. Jones is so aggressive she makes Lucianna Paluzzi in Thunderball (1965) look like a schoolgirl.
As for Bond’s adversary, Walken’s portrayal is underplayed at times and appears campy in others. Walken is a good actor but he is so often upstaged by Moore which isn’t exactly a chore for the Englishman. On the plus side, Walken does make for an adequate adversary.
The casting of Walken, Jones, and Roberts is a stunt that crashes and burns (though not like the villain’s airship) but not so impressive as the par for the course action sequences devised by stuntmeisters Remy Julienne, Martin Grace, and the death-defying daredevils.
British synth pop quintet Duran Duran’s title tune is rather silly. No doubt producer Albert Broccoli and first-time producer, co-writer (and stepson) Michael Wilson, were hoping to have a song to reach out to the younger folk. As the likes of Shirley Bassey, Matt Munro, and Nancy Sinatra would be the sort of artists most adolescents would regard as too fuddy-duddy for them to take seriously. However, it is the cheesiest song since Lulu’s title tune for Moore’s second mission The Man with The Golden Gun (1974). The title sequence is a bit tired, like the film’s leading man, and Maurice Binder’s work here almost would be more fit to serve as a music video for elevator music
While the long-running franchise–though Bond looks winded here–might possess some of the most amazing stunts, spectacular locales, and gorgeous women, one would probably never know it in seeing this film. A View to a Kill lacks the magic and fun found in just about any previous Bond film; even the disappointing The Man with the Golden Gun and the out-of-this-world excessive extravaganza Moonraker.