Friday, February 28, 2014

Lost In A Winter Wonderland: For Your Eyes Only Has James Bond Off Course!

The Good: Most of the acting is good, Grounded, surprisingly sensible, plot
The Bad: Formulaic plot progression, No character development, Terrible editing
The Basics: In a disappointing James Bond film, Bond looks for a British coding system in the frozen alps and underwater to keep it from falling into Soviet hands . . . blah . . . blah . . . blah.

After a point, it is hard to make a pulp novel series into a compelling movie franchise. James Bond has become a tough sell for me by the point For Your Eyes Only comes up in the franchise for exactly that reason. Indeed, by For Your Eyes Only, there is very little that James Bond has not already done. In fact, the longer For Your Eyes Only goes on, the more it feels like a “Best Of Bond” compilation. There is an erratic quality to For Your Eyes Only, made worse by the choppy editing (especially in the fight sequences) and a thin plot.

What little momentum For Your Eyes Only had at the beginning is cut when James Bond gets mired in an extended skiing sequence in the Alps followed by long underwater sequences and then an interminably long mountain climbing sequence. The thin plot is fleshed out with a bizarre ice skater subplot and slower, drawn-out action sequences that serve to do little else other than get the movie over two hours. But so many “already done” elements of the James Bond franchise are here: there’s a chase on skis, a diving sequence, a boat that is attacked, a sidekick for Bond, another Bond sidekick who gets killed early on, etc.

Picked up after visiting his wife’s grave, James Bond’s helicopter pilot is killed and his helicopter is hijacked via remote control by Blofeld. Killing Blofeld, Bond heads back to MI-6 headquarters. A British vessel is attacked by terrorists off the Georgian coast. British agents attempt to find the ship, but Melina Havelock and her parents are attacked and the mission fails. Bond is assigned by the Minister Of Defense to take up the Havelock’s mission and recover the order system from aboard the missing, presumed wrecked, ship. When Bond tries to infiltrate the compound of Gonzales, the man who hired the hit on the Havelocks, he is captured . . . and rescued by Melina who kills Gonzales. Fleeing together, Bond promises to find the people responsible for the death of Melina’s parents.

Heading to Cortina in Italy, Bond encounters hitmen, including the notorious Locque. Surviving Locque’s attacks, Bond makes it to Corfu, where he is reunited with Melina. There, he finds both Kristatos and Columbo, rival gangsters who implicate each other in the disappearance of the British naval vessel. Finding that Kristatos has the resources for a serious salvage operation, Bond finally manages to defeat Locque. Bond and Melina then go after the St. George. Recovering the British technology – and dispatching many goons in the process – Bond and Melina are captured by Kristatos. Eager to meet with the Russian general who hired him, Kristatos takes the time to try to kill Bond and Melina. With the aid of the fleeing skating coach, Bond’s team infiltrates Kristatos’s lair to prevent the Soviet Union from getting their hands on codes that would incapacitate the British military.

For Your Eyes Only is, for a change, a remarkably straightforward James Bond spy film plot. Kristatos is not out for world domination; he’s just out to make a buck. He behaves like a bounty hunter with an underworld credibility that seems very realistic for the real world. Despite silly gadgets being developed by Q, in the field, Bond uses an eminently practical exploding car. For Your Eyes Only is a surprisingly viable spy caper (despite the impractical lengths to which human endurance is pushed in the movie).

On the character front, For Your Eyes Only features a Bond girl that James Bond does not immediately bed, which is a nice change of pace, and a younger Bond woman who Bond seems morally opposed to having sex with. Melina is given more character traits, as she is a woman out for revenge, though that is not played out in an irrational or unpleasant way. Bond does not really grow or develop in For Your Eyes Only, but the character is charming . . . though he does not use much in the way of charm in the film.

The acting in For Your Eyes Only is good. Roger Moore is a decent James Bond, though he uses very little of his innate charisma in the role, which is somewhat disappointing. But Julian Glover is a good villain as Kristatos, keeping the role grounded. Carole Bouquet might be one of the strongest, most independent Bond women and she has a substantive role (if an underdeveloped character arc). For Your Eyes Only is also notable in that it is the first motion picture role for Charles Dance, who is immensely popular once again thanks to his role in the third season of Game Of Thrones (reviewed here!), but his thug role is little more than a cameo.

Ultimately, For Your Eyes Only is a let-down, a movie without enough substance or challenge to it that it has to be padded . . . and the filler feels like exactly what it is.

For other James Bond films, please check out my reviews of:
Dr. No
From Russia With Love
You Only Live Twice
On Her Majesty's Secret Service
Diamonds Are Forever
Live And Let Die
The Man With The Golden Gun
The Spy Who Loved Me
Die Another Day
Casino Royale
Quantum Of Solace


For other movie reviews, please check out my Movie Review Index Page for an organized listing.

© 2014 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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