“For Your Eyes Only” (1981) | Film Review

For Your Eyes Only gets off to an odd start – beginning on a somber note by having Bond visiting the grave of his late wife – before boarding a helicopter that – SURPRISE! – is remote controlled by an unnamed villain fans will recognise as Blofeld but is not actually credited as such due to the character actually tied up in rights belonging to another party.

Blofeld laughs like a schoolyard bully while he dangles Bond from the helicopter but Bond has the last laugh! He gains control of the helicopter, scoops up the unnamed villain and drops him down a chimney. Roll the opening credits and the sweeping pop ditty and title track sung by Sheena Easton.

FOR YOUR EYES ONLY strips back the lunacy of Moonraker and gets back to basics for 007. What that means is that it’s an old fashioned Cold War thriller, populated by a musical score comprising of searing electrical guitars and driven by character and plot.

I use the words ‘character’ and ‘plot’ but both are pretty thin, with characters, like the Hilary Duff-look-alike and creepy childlike Bibi being non-existent and utterly pointless to the film while Melina Havelock’s revenge for her parents is a bit wooden and one-dimensional.

Still, Havelock’s revenge provides a serious tone and it’s the franchise’s way of wanting to get down to the grit of what James Bond was and is. It doesn’t quite get there, characterisation is lacking, but there’s a small drive to move this 127 minute movie along and I’m thankful that some semblance of plot and character to keep things moving after witnessing MOONRAKER’S absurdity.

For Your Eyes Only is a solid James Bond adventure. One that delivers in lush scenery and some striped back moments of tension and action but is let down by a thin plot and poor characterisation. It sets things up but doesn’t pay it off all too well.

Oh — I reckon Chaim Topol, as Columbo, steals every scene he’s in. The man is a pure blast.

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