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Wednesday, July 14, 2010
# 32 - FOR YOUR EYES ONLY (1981)
(For my eyes only? Seriously? Are we talking about classified informtion - or a strip show?)
CAST: Roger Moore, Carole Bouquet, Chaim Topol, Lynn-Holly Johnson, Julian Glover, Cassandra Harris, Jill Bennett, Desmond Llewellyn.
DIRECTOR: John Glen
WARNING: Some SPOILERS and one unabashedly bimbo-ish Bond Girl - straight ahead...
In 1979, the Bond film MOONRAKER was released - and the Bond franchise came perilously close to falling on the wrong side of the fine line between escapist entertainment - and entertainment you just want to escape from. What with it’s daft Bond-goes-into-space plotline and silly laser-gun battles, it was painfully obvious that the producers were trying to cash in on the STAR WARS craze that was running rampant at the time.
Commercially, this gamble paid off, as MOONRAKER raked it in at the box-office. Artistically? Well, let’s just say I don’t know any true, self-respecting Bond fan who has this movie in his/her TOP 10. MOONRAKER essentially is a big wet fart in the face of everything Ian Fleming. Given its huge financial success - which says something terrifying about the audiences of the 70‘s - the producers could have easily kept on going down the path of over-the-top stupidity - and continued making easy money at the box-office.
Fortunately, as with the lean and mean CASINO ROYALE following the hugely successful - which says something terrifying about audiences today - but bloated DIE ANOTHER DAY, FOR YOUR EYES ONLY followed MOONRAKER - and was a welcome return to the more serious James Bond of Fleming’s creation. It was like running through a field of roses after busting out of a backed-up port-a-potty.
FOR YOUR EYES ONLY opens on an unusually serious note - even given the generally serious tone of this outing. James Bond (Roger Moore) is at late wife Tracy DiVicenzo’s grave. His mourning is interrupted by a priest who tells Bond that M has sent a chopper to take him back to MI-6 for an important mission. As the chopper takes off, Bond sees the priest giving him his last rites - which is basically the religious way of saying “You’re fucked, man!”
Anyhow, turns out the priest is right, because no sooner does the chopper clear the treeline, do we hear the cackle of that bald, crippled, fat fuck called Blofeld over the speaker of the chopper. Right after some killer gas, well, kills the chopper pilot upfront, Blofeld’s disembodied voice brags about how he’s in control of the chopper and is remote-piloting it from somewhere below.
Sure enough, Bond soon glimpses the bald, crippled, fat fuck on top of a factory below, yanking a joystick with such joyful abandon you’d think he was yanking on his own, um, joystick. Which, if you’re Blofeld, is probably all the action you’re ever going to get. No wonder he’s so goddamn vengeful - his got terminal blue balls. He probably wants to fuck Bond senseless, but just can’t come to terms with it - so he’d rather kill him. But that’s just me.
Anyhow, Blofeld sends the chopper this way and that, before telling Bond that he’s tired of playing with the chopper and would like to get down to playing with himself. However, just as Blofeld is about to crash the chopper, Bond manages to regain control of it - and turns the tables on the bald, crippled, fat fuck by chasing him on the roof of the factory, while yelling “Yank that joystick now, bitch!”
Eventually, Bond manages to hitch Blofeld’s wheelchair onto one of the chopper skids and deposits him where his parents should have deposited him right after being born - down a chimney as tall as the Empire State building. Wouldn’t worry, though. Because with all that blubber, the fat fuck will probably just bounce off the bottom and be okay.
Cut to the Mediterranean sea, where a British spy ship carrying a super-duper decoding machine capable of, um, super-duper decoding is lolling about in the sun. Too bad for its crew that some baddies really want that decoder. Before you can say “For your wives’ sakes, I hope you updated your wills” the ship is ripped apart by a bomb, and sinks to the bottom of the sea like an M. Night Shyamalan movie at the box office.
Cut to the lovely Greek island of Corfu, where Timothy Havelock and his beautiful Greek wife are conducting some underwater archaeology. Cue the arrival of their gorgeous daughter, Melina (Carole Bouquet), who is some sort of model/fashion designer judging from: (1) The beautiful scarf she gives her mother, while bragging that it’s the latest in haute couture; and (2) the fact that she looks like Carole Bouquet, who (3) is indeed a model/fashion designer. But I could be wrong.
At any rate, Melina barely has any time to say “howdy” to her folks and their horny parrot, Max (judging by the way he’s always crowing “Give us a kiss! Give us a kiss!” and eating pistachios like it was Viagra in shells), before the very same pilot who dropped off Melina on the boat circles around for another pass over the boat. Thinking that their daughter just made him pop a woody - and he’s coming back for one more leer - Timothy and his wife wave up at the plane.
Mr. Pilot returns the gesture by activating the plane’s hidden machine guns and blasting them to Hades, while Melina stares in terror and Max slaps his forehead and caws: “Well, that’s just great. Who’s gonna shove pistachios down my gullet now?” For her part, Melina shows how much her parents’ vicious deaths affects her by picking up the scarf she gave her mom - and holding it to her face while glaring after the departing plane, as if thinking: “You bastard. You got blood on the latest in haute couture. Watch. Out.”
Back in London, Bond receives an assignment to track down the killer of the Havelocks. Turns out they were using their dive ship to help locate the wreck of that sunken spy ship - and recover the decoder. Before long, Bond has tracked the pilot/killer/cretin to a Spanish resort where a lot of early-80’s bathing suits and hairstyles are competing for attention. And not the good kind.
Unfortunately, just as Bond is prepping to send a bullet through the assassin’s neck, an arrow coming out of left field - literally - does the job for him. Bond, horrified at possibly being blamed for a murder he didn’t commit (as opposed to the - oh, - 67,000 that he did) quickly skedaddles out of there. During his escape, he runs into Melina - who turns out to be the launcher of the arrow that ended the assassin’s spa vacation. Bond, seeing that she’s obviously deadly but also fucking gorgeous, grabs Melina and they escape in her car. If you’re expecting Ms. Havelock’s ride to be a Porsche, BMW, Lotus, or other similarly chi-chi type of transport, allow me to burst your bubble by sharing that it’s actually more like an ugly Volkwagen beetle fused with - an even uglier Volkwagen beetle.
No worries, though, because the car is fast enough to get them away from the pursuing spa staff, pissed off because they’re losing enough customers as it is without the help of a Brit Sugar Daddy and his hot Greek tramp helping things along. Fortunately, Bond and Melina are smart enough to know that the assassin is just the first rung in a ladder that will lead up to whoever ordered the hit on the Havelocks. And to say that Melina wants to blast her way up that ladder is like saying that a soldier coming right out of eight weeks of basic training is horny as hell - and will blast his way to the nearest orifice with a heartbeat.
Bond and Melina’s trail leads them to Kristatos (Julian Glover) who, despite having a Greek name, looks a lot like Kevin Costner’s less cute brother. Kristatos is apparently some kind of millionaire tycoon who likes to sponsor athletes - especially if they are young, blonde, and terminally annoying. His latest science project is the awfully named Bibi Dahl (Lynn Holly Johnson), a skater training for the Olympics who has three hobbies: (1) aggravating her coach (Jill Bennett) because she’s an old hag, (2) giving Kristatos the blue balls because he’s interested in her, (3) and pursuing men who would don’t have the slightest interest in her - like gay dudes and James Bond.
Yes, folks, you’ll be both shocked and gratified to know that James Bond actually has limits when it comes to women - and apparently Bibi Dahl is that limit. Hard to say if it’s the fact that she’s (1) 4,000 years younger than him, (2) can’t talk about anything other than skating and penises; (3) or would probably give him the cold shoulder the minute he showed any kind of real interest in her - making her what sociologists and anthropologists have clinically termed a “fucking cock tease.”
At any rate, while Bibi is panting after Bond in a monumentally embarrassing fashion, Kristatos is busy pointing our favorite spy in the direction of Milos Columbo (Chaim Topol), a Greek entrepreneur of sketchy background who - I should clarify right now - looks nothing like Peter Falk. Kristatos claims that Columbo is responsible for sinking the British spy ship, and is not only trying to recover the decoder from the wreck, but actually killed Melina’s parents because they were getting too close.
When confronted, however, Columbo tells Bond that Kristatos is (1) a fucking liar who (2) is actually the one behind the sabotage of the ship and (3) the slime that killed his mistress Lisl (Cassandra Harris) who - surprise, surprise - Bond recently fucked and (4) murdered the Havelocks and (5) Bond is a colossal choad for being manipulated so easily. Bond, not considering for a second that his might be another form of manipulation, basically believes Columbo on the spot. Well that was easy, Columbo thinks to himself.
At any rate, Kristatos manages to recover the decoder and skeddadles back to his Obligatory Bond Villain Lair - which is not located inside a volcano or under the sea or in his parents’ basement. Rather, it’s perched on top of a vertical mountain, making it impregnable and impenetrable. Much like your average Reverend’s teenaged daughter. But no fear: Bond has a crack team of Greek warriors (and one, um, warrior-ress in the form of Melina). Okay, alright… the Greek “warriors” are more like Columbo’s pudgy employees - but it beats going in alone. At this point, Bond can’t exactly be a chooser.
With a little elbow grease (and lot of convenient screenwriting illogic), Bond and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs manage to infiltrate the mountain-top lair where Bond (goddamnit) runs into Bibi Dahl yet again. Fortunately, Bibi’s too busy actually doing something useful like beating the crap out of Kristatos, to offer Bond a hand job. Kristatos throws the little bimbo aside and makes a run for it - trying to make an appointment to sell the decoder to the highest bidder.
Fortunately, Bond is still fast despite being, oh, 98 years old - and foils Kristatos’s plans - by tossing the decoder off the edge of the mountaintop. Meanwhile, Melina gets an opportunity to kill Kristatos, but is talked out of it by Bond - who obviously had no idea that 27 years later he would basically contradict himself in QUANTUM OF SOLACE by telling his new leading lady to not only blast someone to hell, but also helpfully show her how.
Fortunately, Kristatos doesn’t know when to call it a day, just like that fat fuck Blofeld before him, and tries to kill Melina - which gives an injured Columbo the reason he’s been looking for all this time to blast Kristatos to Hades. As if killing his mistress and framing him wasn’t justification enough. What a guy. The film ends with Bibi Dahl basically going down on Columbo with joy because he’s going to be her new sponsor. Just wait until the honeymoon’s over, buddy. You’ll be feeling Kristatos’ pain.
BUT, SERIOUSLY: After the over-the-top ridiculousness that MOONRAKER eventually became, FOR YOUR EYES ONLY was a bracing blast of down-to-earth realism that still manages to entertain without making you ashamed of yourself. Roger Moore matches the fairly no-nonsense material by turning in a performance that is carefully modulated and - gasp! - mature in some spots. Starting from that sobering first shot of Bond mourning at Tracy’s graveside, we know that we are not going to see MOONRAKER 2.
It also helps that Bond’s seriousness is matched by most of the supporting cast around him. As Melina, Carole Bouquet effectively combines beauty, intelligence, and resolve that makes her one of the stronger Bond girls in the pantheon. The writers also remember to make her human and relatable. You feel for her loss when her parents are gunned down. Chaim Topol is charismatic as Bond’s ally, Milos Columbo, and Julian Glover, suitably icy and menacing as the two-faced Kristatos who is eventually revealed to be the true villain.
As the secondary Bond girl, Lynn Holly Johnson is…. well, at least she provides some lightheartedness that keeps the film from being too down-to-earth. In the end, though, it’s apparent that the producers cast her for the very same reason that they would cast Denise Richards as Dr. Christmas Jones in the THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH 18 years later - to appeal to the Playstation crowd - or, in this movie’s case, the Atari crowd. But at least Dr. Jones was actually relevant to the plot and a valuable ally to Bond - instead of just being eye candy.
As for the third Bond girl, the late Cassandra Harris is spicy and memorable as Countess Lisl. Too bad she disappears so quickly from the action. I often wonder if FOR YOUR EYES ONLY would be a stronger film if Bibi Dahl was eliminated - and Lisl’s part enlarged. Guess we’ll never know.
All in all, FOR YOUR EYES ONLY is a strong throwback to the elegant and earthy sort of Bond adventure that Fleming would have approved of. Unfortunately, after this outing they reverted back to the silliness of OCTOPUSSY (Bond in a clown costume. Ugh.) Well, it was good while it lasted.