For Your Eyes Only (1981)

Genres - Action  |   Sub-Genres - Glamorized Spy Film, Romantic Adventure  |   Run Time - 127 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by John L. Messina

After 1979's Moonraker, the keepers of the James Bond franchise determined that the series had drifted too far from its roots and became overly reliant on gadgetry and camp. For Your Eyes Only, the 12th film in the series, returns to the form that worked in the early Sean Connery films. The Bond character is restored to his earlier incarnation as an edgy, tough gentleman spy, and simple intrigue returns to the storytelling. Though it has fewer technological gimmicks than the typical Bond movie, For Your Eyes Only has a more believable plot and the villains seem human for once. Still, it could have been better. While the main body of the film offers constant riveting action, it is regrettably framed by a pair of unfortunate camp bits involving frequent Bond nemesis Ernst Blofeld and a Margaret Thatcher lookalike. In his fifth turn as Bond, Roger Moore delivers his finest performance. More serious than usual, Moore eschews the goofiness that marks his other portrayals. The acting highlight, however, comes from Carole Bouquet's performance as Melina Havelock. This "Bond girl" can actually act; she delivers a tough, adult portrayal -- a stark contrast to the silly characterization of Bibi offered by Lynn-Holly Johnson. Intended as comic relief, Bibi comes off as merely annoying -- so annoying even Bond won't sleep with her. While Topol provides good fun as the smuggler Columbo, Julian Glover and Michael Gothard make boring bad guys. Director John Glen, who'd previously done second unit work on the series, proves himself adept at using beautiful locations and staging breathtaking stunts. Note Topol's first scene with Moore, on a boat, as Glen subtly sways the camera to simulate rocking.