Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Saturday Is Bond Day #12: For Your Eyes Only

This week Bond Day fell on a Sunday, since Saturday was BEA (for me, at least) and Friday evening was taken up with a four-hour drive back from Boston. But we did all assemble, as night fell on the end of the weekend, to watch Roger Moore drop Blofeld (or a double) down an industrial chimney as For Your Eyes Only began.

That got the boys excited -- they're always up for more Blofeld -- but it had nothing to do with the rest of the movie, as usual. (It does function as a wink from the filmmakers to the audience, saying that they realize that Moonraker was too far over the top and that things need to settle down to earth -- and that leads into one of the smaller-scale Bond stories, without a world-destroying villain or a cartoonish sidekick.)

The actual plot of For Your Eyes Only starts with more typical spycraft: a disguised British spy ship off the coast of Armenia hits an old mine and goes down -- too quickly for the crew to self-destruct a secret encryption system. And then both the Soviets and the British send cut-out assets after the sunken ship; the British have an undersea archaeologist supposedly examining a Greek temple on the seabed, while the Russians send a killer to get rid of him.

Both Bond and the eventual Bond Girl -- Melina Havelock (played by Carole Bouquet), the daughter of the dead archaeologist -- go on the hunt for that killer, and Melina hits him with a crossbow bolt (allowing James to escape; he'd been captured, yet again, by the villain). They cross paths again a couple of times across Europe, as Bond traces the money towards those Russian overlords and teams up with Melina to retrieve the surveillance device from that sunken ship.

The villains are mostly mid-level Euro-thugs -- a guy with octagonal glasses, an East German biathlon champion, and the usual faceless minions -- with a mastermind whose identity is actually kept murky for most of the movie, in a nice touch. It's a smaller movie in terms of the stakes, though there's still the usual panoply of ski chases, underwater battles, and seduction of countesses to make it as Bondian as any other movie in the series.

Moore is starting to look old by this point, though -- he's in his mid-fifties, and a step slower than he was a decade before when he took on the role -- and his sophistication does tend to harden into aristocratic disdain, which is the wrong attitude for Bond. But, still, he's a better Bond than I'd thought he was (not having seen these movies for twenty years), and For Your Eyes Only is a quite good spy movie that's about as realistic as any Bond movie should ever be.


leonsp said...

Hmm. Armenia doesn't have a coast. Perhaps that's the point.

Andrew Wheeler said...

leonsp: Hmmm. I didn't take notes at the time, so I could have gotten that wrong. I probably meant Albania,since that's right next to Greece, and several of the characters are very Greek.

Unknown said...

this was probably the first bond movie i actaully saw in a theatre, so i have fond memories of it.

Andrew, do you plan on watching "Never Say Never Again"? My wife and I watched it the other night, and I was stunned by how bad it was. I had remembered that it was the better of the two dueling Bond's that year (the Moore movie was Octopussy), but it was very disappointing.

Andrew Wheeler said...

Howard: The current plan is to hit Octopussy this week and Never Say Never Again next, though I don't remember either of them as being particularly inspired. And then we'll get to the real turkey, A View to a Kill, which as I recall has a fun '80s theme song, some nice views of the Eiffel Tower, and not much else to recommend it.

James Davis Nicoll said...

Useless trivia: that lady with her back to us on the poster is wearing her swimsuit backwards, so it will show more of her buttocks.

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