The last of Roger Moore's "golden age" trilogy of James Bond flicks (following 1977's 'The Spy Who Loved Me' and 1979's 'Moonraker') 'For Your Eyes Only' is arguably his finest outing as 007. Tougher, grittier and more no-nonsense than any of Moore's other Bond films, it works as a straight-ahead spy thriller and as a vehicle for Moore's humorous yet still suave take on the secret agent. 'For Your Eyes Only' fits the Moore era like a glove, with little of the out-of-element gimmicks of his earlier films (such as the voodoo trappings of 'Live and Let Die') or the borderline-embarassing geriatric hijinks of his swan song, 'A View to a Kill.' This is an entertaining, well-crafted action yarn that gives us all the stunts, girls, and gadgets we expect from Moore's 007.
Since I always find the Bond plots (at least in these earlier flicks) too convoluted for their own good (and ultimately unimportant anyway), let's just catalog 'For Your Eyes Only' by its locations, action sequences, and Bond girl. In this one, Bond once again travels the globe, stopping in Greece, Italy, the Bahamas, and England. He finds time to run a car chase through winding hills in a VW bug, outrun gun-toting skiers on a snowmobile, descend underwater to rescue a lost ATAC, and climb a giant cliff face to a mountaintop monastery. His leading lading is the lovely Caroline Bouquet, a Greek woman out to avenge her parents, and who sure knows how to use a crossbow. Oh, yeah, there is also the pre-title sequence where Bond finally gets to off his arch-nemesis Blofeld, but that might as well have wafted in from another 007 movie.
'For Your Eyes Only' doesn't offer one iota of anything we haven't seen in any other James Bond movie. It's just a solid, dependable entry in the series. And for the Roger Moore years, that's enough. I grew up with Moore as Bond and always liked him. He has none of the rascally swagger or rough edges of a Sean Connery or Daniel Craig, but his likable sense of humor and unflappable smoothness under pressure works better for me than either Pierce Brosnan and Timothy Dalton. (As for George Lazenby, he remains the underrated Bond but I'll leave him out of it.) 'For Your Eyes Only' is notable, however, for featuring a meaner Moore than usual -- perhaps the actor's finest moment as Bond comes about halfway through the film when he must make a decision between saving a foe or kicking him off a cliff. Moore's decision -- and reaction -- is perhaps his finest bit of acting ever in the series, and crystallizes his approach to the character.
Otherwise, 'For Your Eyes Only' has been crafted with precision to hit all the Bond bases. Directed by John Glen (a previous 2nd unit director on the Bond films who received a promotion for 'For Your Eyes Only'), the action sequences are handled very well. I particularly liked the extended skier/snowmobile chase that is tightly-edited and genuinely exciting. (Aside from some lame rear projection, the majority of the sequence was shot live, with no CGI assist.) The VW Bug chase through the hills of Greece is also well-done, especially in how it integrates the Moore humor naturally into the rhythms of the scene. The climactic climb up the cliff face also has a couple of hold-your-breath moments, again because there is no CGI to remind us that it's all fake. Bouquet also brings an anger and intensity to her character that gives the action scenes extra grit, so for once in a Bond film, we actually care about the outcome of the action and stunts.
A few other aspects of the film have not held up so well, however. The gadgets are pretty funny by today's standards, especially Q's computer search database. The score by Oscar-winner Bill Conti (subbing for an absent John Barry) is horribly dated, and sounds like it was done by some cheesy disco band that would be lucky to open for ABBA. And if in Bouquet we get one of the better Bond girls, the movie also gives us Lynn-Holly Johnson as a teenage ice skater with a serious crush on 007. Though I kinda like the perky Johnson, her character has no reason to be in the movie and her chirpy flirtations quickly grow tiresome.
But flaws aside (and what Bond film doesn't have some?), 'For Your Eyes Only' is if not first-rate 007 than certainly up there with Moore's best. It's ultimately perhaps too routine for its own good (at this point in the Bond evolution, the producers appeared to be taking no chances), but there's enough fun, cool stunts, and spy intrigue to hold our interest. If you looking to start up your Roger Moore Bond collection on Blu-ray, 'For Your Eyes Only' is as good a film as any to start with.
MGM has just released its first wave of six Bond titles on Blu-ray, and the first I chose to review was 'For Your Eyes Only.' I saw this film incessantly on cable back in the early '80s, and have owned it on just about every other video format, including LaserDisc and DVD. Being rather familiar with the film over the years, I can certainly say 'For Your Eyes Only' has never looked better than it does on this Blu-ray. MGM has done a kiss kiss-bang bang job on this restoration.
Far superior is the quality of the source, which here surprised me with its cleanliness. There is nary a speckle of dirt or a blemish to be found, though enemies of DNR (Digital Noise Reduction) may be chagrined to see that most of the film grain seems to have been wiped clean, too. The resulting image has a very smooth veneer, and if it wasn't for the requisite late '70s softness, it would be tougher to judge what era this film was produced. (The only downside to the improved clarity of the Blu-ray is that the film's rear projection work is now painfully obvious.)
The film's color palette remains a bit drab, however. 'For Your Eyes Only' has never been the most vibrant Bond film in the canon, and though hues are very clean here they hardly pop. Detail is well above the previous DVD, though again the softness of the source flattens depth. Black levels are consistent, as is contrast. There are also no apparent artifacts with this 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode, and thankfully, the incredibly irritating edge enhancement that marred the previous Bond DVD editions is long gone. 'For Your Eyes Only' is not the visual tour de force of the Bond series, but it looks about as good as it probably ever will on Blu-ray.
MGM has produced a DTS-HD Lossless Master Audio 5.1 Surround (48kHz/24-bit) remix for 'For Your Eyes Only' that floored me. I wasn't expecting such an aggressive upgrade for a film this old. Most impressive.
Right from the opening pre-title sequence (where Bond finally gets his revenge on Blofeld), the surround channels are alive with movement and sound. Unlike the obviously processed surround mixes we are used to getting with older titles, rear effects sound fully discrete as the move from channel to channel. Heft of dynamics is quite expansive, with genuine low bass churning out of the subwoofer with aplomb and a distinct presence to the higher registers. Even the rears have this sense of impact and spaciousness, which is quite pronounced -- I was expecting the score in particular to be so jacked-up in the surrounds. Dialogue suffers, however, with the music and effects too strong in the mix, and I often had to adjust volume during non-action scenes to compensate. Which is unfortunate, because otherwise 'For Your Eyes Only' would be a first-rate remix. As is, it certainly exceeded my expectations.
MGM previously released 'For Your Eyes Only' (and its entire Bond catalog) as special edition DVDs back in the early '00s, and it has repurposed that assortment here. There are also a few new goodies the studio has produced for the new Blu-ray and DVD editions, making this the most comprehensive 'For Your Eyes Only' yet. (Video materials are presented in a mix of 1080 and 480 video, and I could find no subtitle options.)
'For Your Eyes Only' remains one of Roger Moore's best outings as James Bond. The story is a bit tougher than most 007 flicks of the era, there is some cool action, and Bond girl Caroline Bouquet displays some true grit in the role. Sadly, the film's effects, gadgetry, and score are pretty dated, but that's okay -- it only adds to the charm. This Blu-ray is a strong one, with a sharp remaster, great audio, and a nice package of (regurgitated) extras. James Bond fans should waste no time in picking up 'For Your Eyes Only.'