For Your Eyes Only:
For Your Eyes Only is a pretty good film bookended by two really daft scenes that almost spoil it. It’s almost like there’s a certain quota of camp in every James Bond film, and so they tacked a prologue and epilogue just before the wrap to give it that patented ‘007 Seal of Quality.’
After the extravagance of Moonraker, this movie tries to get back to the actual characters. It begins with Bond visiting Tracy’s grave with some flowers. Sweet, until you remember Roger is the most prolific shagger in the British Isles, so the idea that he does this regularly is a bit far-fetched. However, it could well be the anniversary of her death, so maybe I’m being too hard on him.
He climbs in a chopper to be flown to HQ, and then the doors lock and the pilot is killed. Turns out the helicopter is actually being controlled remotely by an angry bald man in a neck brace and wheelchair, stroking a cat. It’s presumably meant to be Blofeld, even though he wasn’t bald last time, but we never see his face or learn his name. Either Blofeld has been in hiding for years, or rights issues mean that he’s not officially allowed to be in this film. I’ll leave you lot to figure out which.
Anyway he spends the next ten minutes mucking about with the helicopter, doing loop-de-loops and trying to make Bond piss his pants, instead of immediately just crashing the fucking thing into the ground. Predictably, Bond manages to wrestle control of the plane from him, and then lifts him up by his wheelchair and into the sky. Blofeld begs for his life, even though the stupid tosser had every chance to kill his rival and squandered it, and Bond then drops him down a big chimney to die a humiliating death – complete with a stock bomb whistle sound effect.
It’s really weird that half of these movies spend their time building up Blofeld to be this omniscient supervillain, and then the others want to make him look like a feckless tit. I mean, this is even more undignified than when he got dunked in that custard bath, and that’s saying something.
Does this have anything whatsoever to do with the overall plot? HA! Of course not. Still, at least the cat survived. My headcanon is that it was later appointed the new head of SPECTRE. Can’t have done a worse job than its owner.
Bond meets M and the lads, and learns that a nuclear targeting system has gone missing after a British ship was sunk by a sea mine off the coast of Greece. The ruskies are after it, so Bond is dispatched to get to the McGuffin before they do, and is ordered to rendezvous with marine archaeologist Sir Timothy Havelock.
Then we have a scene with Havelock, his wife, and his daughter Melina together on his boat, where we’re given just enough dialogue to establish that they’re a loving, well-adjusted family, and therefore: dead meat. Sure enough, a chaingun-equipped plane flies by and brutally slaughters Mr and Mrs Havelock, riddling them with bullets, and leaving their traumatised offspring to weep inconsolably over their mangled bodies.
It would have been easier to cope with this distressing homicide if we weren’t also reeling from the tonal whiplash of seeing a baldie bloke tumble down a smokestack like Wile E Coyote not ten minutes ago. It suddenly feels like we’re suddenly watching a completely different film, and considering what’s standard in the Moore era, this can only be a good thing.
After discovering that Havelock has been murdered, Bond (wearing a grandad cardigan) tracks his killer to a Greek villa and witnesses him getting paid off. Before Bond can intervene, Melina Havelock shoots him dead with a crossbow (the assassin I mean, not Bond). The goons spot Bond and assume he’s responsible, so Bond uses a giant parasol to float into the woods like a macho Princess Peach, and runs away. Melina saves Bond from a goon, and they both escape into the woods separately.
Bond jets back to London and consults with Q to determine the identity of the man paying off the assassin. Q shows Bond his latest gadget: a digital identikit he appears to have rigged up from a Sinclair Spectrum, which he is inordinately proud of despite it being hilariously primitive. Bond and Q faff about on the computer making a Skyrim character (“Now pay attention 007, everyone knows Nords are OP”). According to this 8-bit program, the assassin is a man with hair and a face and glasses.
But by using this MS Paint drawing and completely vague description, the algorithm crunches the numbers and they somehow receive a print-out picture of the hitman along with all his personal details, proving that Q is what Edward Snowden was trying to warn us all about.
It turns out that the guy who ordered the killing is a Belgian felon named Emile Leopold Locque, a man who presumably turned to a life of crime due to his unfortunate resemblance to Jeffrey Dahmer. Bond tracks Locque to a ski resort (groan) in the Italian Alps to meet with Greek businessman Aris Kristatos.
But instead of having a professional chat with a Local Contact, Bond ends up becoming the DILF of a young girl named Bibi Dahl. Bibi is an American figure skater with Olympic aspirations who Kristatos is financing. I’m not sure why this I, Tonya subplot was included in the film, but suffice to say, there has never been a character who has thrown the sexual politics of JB into sharper relief than Bibi.
Like many Bond girls, it’s quite hard to work out if she’s intended to be a simpering sweetheart or literally someone with the mind of a child. But the way Moore reacts to this lassie trying to bone him makes me think that she’s meant to be a (and I can’t believe I’m typing this) ‘Comedy Jailbait’ character. You know; because Lolita was such a laugh-a-minute yarn, right? It says a lot about this man that the one time he doesn’t sleep with a woman immediately, my only explanation is that he wants to avoid being outed as a nonce.
There’s no explanation for why this lass of 15/22 is so attracted to a man who looks like Bryan Cranston’s stunt double, but Bibi is utterly determined to ride Roger, cum what may. The scene is telegraphed as though she’s heard about his reputation as a player, but again (and it’s aggravating how often I have to reiterate this) James Bond is supposed to be a SECRET agent, remember? Unless Bond’s love affairs are getting published in the National Inquirer, I’m not sure how a sophomore would know about him.
She even climbs into Moore’s bed naked, just like Tatiana did in From Russia With Love. But Moore appears about as uncomfortable with the scene as I was. Which is to say: very. Just look at the clumsy way he handles this schoolgirl’s crush on him:
BOND: How did you get in here? BIBI: One of the porters is a fan. He'll do anything for me, and I'll do anything for you. BOND: Well, I'm exceedingly flattered, Bibi... but you're in training. BIBI: That's a laugh. Everybody knows it builds up muscle tone. BOND: How about building up a little more muscle tone by putting on your clothes? BIBI: Don't you like me? BOND: I think you're wonderful, Bibi... but I don't think your Uncle Ari would approve. BIBI: Him? He thinks I'm still a virgin. BOND: Yes, well, you get your clothes on, and I'll buy you an ice cream.
An ice cream? A frigging ice-cream!? I thought this dude was supposed to be a smooth operator? Man alive!
Anyway, there’s yet another bloody ski chase sequence when a bunch of mooks try to slay Bond. Bond escapes and consults with Kristatos, who tells him he can get to Locque by going after his boss Columbo (no, not the old guy in the trenchcoat) in Corfu. If you’re finding it hard to keep up with this chain of baddies then I have every sympathy for you. But hey, at least Bond is reminding us that he’s a proper spy, and not a syphilitic philanderer financed by the treasury.
So Bond goes to Corfu and sleeps with his mistress, Countess Lisl von Schlaf, who is actually Scouse for some reason. Since she’s connected to a bad guy, has pulled Bond, and is over the age of thirty, she now has the life expectancy of a cow on Ronald McDonald’s farm. Sure enough, while her and Moore are taking a romantic stroll along the beach, Locque savagely runs her over with a beach buggy.
It’s a really grim scene, and Moore reacts to it with appropriate disgust and icy fury. It’s the first time in a while that I got any sense that he has a working moral compass, although he was probably only annoyed in the same way he would be if someone keyed his Aston Martin.
Just before Locque/Dahmer can finish him off, Columbo’s men appear and scare him away. They capture Bond and bring him to Columbo, who reveals that he wasn’t actually the Mastermind who hired Locque. In fact, it was actually our Local Contact Kristatos all along! OMG! Who could have seen that one coming???
… Well, me for one. Look, I appreciate the effort this film made in trying to do a villainous bait-and-switch, but Kristatos is played by Julian Glover, who I recognised as Scaroth from Doctor Who, Walter Donovan in Indiana Jones, and General Veers in Star Wars. What I’m trying to say is that if you want the identity of the main bad guy to be a shocking twist, maybe you shouldn’t cast someone only known for playing baddies? Just a thought.
Bond, Columbo, and his minions raid one of Kristatos’ warehouses, and Bond chases down Locque. This is leads to a dramatic climax where Locque’s car is left hanging off the edge of a cliff. Bond slowly approaches the precarious vehicle, oozing venom, and boots it over the side. It’s a really compelling moment, not because Bond can pull off impossible stunts or fight 30 ninjas at once, but because he has the stomach to do what we can’t. He isn’t a nice guy; he’s a living weapon wielded by distant powers, who only occasionally recalls his conscience.
Then there’s a really cool sequence where Bond meets with Melina and they dive into the wreck of the boat sunk at the beginning of the movie. Unlike the tedious Thunderball ending, this scene is much more exploratory; more like forensics picking apart a nautical crime scene, and it’s visually beautiful too. They’re attacked by a Big Daddy from Bioshock, fend it off, and recover the McGuffin, but are then captured by Kristatos, who takes it from them and leaves them to be keel-hauled.
They escape, meet up with Columbo and his army, and a big band of them trek off to Kristatos’s Evil Lair in the mountains. There’s another cool sequence where Bond is rock climbing, and gets into a genuinely tense alpine duel with a mook who tries to chip away at his rappel, and then Bond storms the fortress and lets his pals inside. It turns out the Bibi is also there to fulfil the DID function. But Kristatos doesn’t put up much of a fight, so she’s rescued immediately when The Big Shoot Out rolls around.
Melina corners Kristatos at a helipad and prepared to exact her revenge but Bond stops her at the last minute and urges her to turn the other cheek. It seems a bit rich coming from the bloke who just dumped Blofeld down the flue, but the story frames it as though Bond wants to preserve Melina’s innocence and prevent her from becoming the stone cold bastard that he is. Melina hesitates, but then Kristatos pointlessly tries to knife Bond and Columbo kills him anyway. Ah well: crisis resolved!
I really like to pretend that the film ends here, with Bond having kept a young girl from becoming a bloodthirsty fury, but still remaining a killer beyond redemption himself. Unfortunately, the movie opts to actually conclude by having Bond screw his young protégé in the shower, while Margaret Thatcher mistakenly talks to his parrot on the phone.
Never change Roger. Never change…