Thursday, September 20, 2012

50th Anniversary Bond Rewatch "For Your Eyes Only" (1981)

As a fan of the popcorn, guilty pleasure, mindless entertainment aspect of the Bond series of films, I thought it would be interesting to revisit the films with the company of my brain. Maybe there is more to be found than escapism. Maybe some of the culture and thinking of the past 50 years has left its imprint…

After twice saving the entire world from mad-men bent on destroying humanity and restarting things in their own ideal, be it under the sea or in outer space, Bond is asked to recover a glorified calculator before is falls in the hands of the Russians. Not exactly epic stuff. But that was the idea. This time around the producers realize the mistake they made trying to emulate “Star Wars” just as they had previously slipped up trying to emulate the likes of “Shaft” and “Enter the Dragon.” This is Bond and the best Bonds have been pretty straight spy stories.

The most obvious signal that the filmmakers want to get back to basics here is when Bond has to escape from some adversaries, not in his souped-up spy car, but in a less than spectacular hunk of junk. It may be one of the best action sequences of any Moore film.

Other things to like about this story: The ally that truly comes across as an adversary early on, played by Fiddler on the Roof himself: Topol. He is one of the best characters in Bond. For the first time ever, Bond exhibits a sort of self control when it comes to a woman, which is good since Moore was almost twice the age of the actress in question and they are having her play even younger.

Aside from that, however, there is a lot of forgettable if not really unlikable. The other Bond girl here is not annoying, but bland. The villain is vanilla, his henchman nondescript, the ski scenes feel like retreads of “OHMSS.” Most rank this film somewhere around the tenth best of all Bond films which places it in the middle of the pack. When one considers it was the 12 film made and that it ranks about 6 or 7 amongst those films, we have a middling, not-great-not-terrible effort.

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