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For Your Eyes Only

Flicks To Hold You Over: For Your Eyes Only (1981)

Eric Renderking Fisk | May 2014

It’s hard to imagine but it’s true, this was the very first James Bond movie I ever saw. Period. It’s also the first James Bond I went to see by myself… there’s a lot of nostalgia packed into this big film. So my opinion might be slightly biased. There’s another reason why this Bond outing is my favorite out of all of Roger Moore’s, besides it being the first, it’s the most “realistic” of the bunch. You can actually imagine that something like a secret agent trying to recover a secret encoder that was lost at the bottom of the ocean…

… It’s not hard to imagine because events like that actually happened when British Secret Service tried to recover German Enigma code machines during the second world war.

All the motivations of this movie rings true. First there is the Bond Girl who’s out to avenge the death of her parents who were trying to help recover the McGuffin (The “ATAC” code machine in the wreckage at the bottom of the ocean) before Bond was assigned to find it and their murder. Then there are his associates who may or may not be the “real” bad guys, and the genuine Bond master villain (Julian Glover who shows up again in “The Last Crusade”) who isn’t for the money but for ideology. All the characters seem like real people in this Bond flick who are responsible for the suspense.

My sons who were watching this movie with me actually cared about James Bond and what happened to him through all of his encounters with the bad guys and there were moments when they thought he might not actually survive some of those dangerous circumstances.

There was genuine tension and suspense since the characters seem real to us during the almost 2 hours it took to watch it. Because the situation is somewhat based in reality and the characters are more than 2-dimensional caricatures and not in a mere parody we’re at the edge of our seats. My youngest son, Tumble, couldn’t sit still while remaining glued to the television.

It’s not hard to see why this is the best of all of Roger Moore’s version of James Bond. There is a genuine feel to this movie that was missing in “Moonraker” and “The Spy Who Loved Me,” and I think it’s called “realism.” Those two films feel more like parodies of the spy genre than actual spy movies. Sadly, after “For Your Eyes Only” they broke the mold and Moore’s 007 returns to the same campiness in “Octopussy” and “A View To A Kill” before giving up the license to kill to other actors.

“For Your Eyes Only” mirrors some of the other best Bond movies like the soft-reboot “The Living Daylights” with Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan’s “GoldenEye” and finally Daniel Craig’s “Casino Royale,” when the movies have some basis in reality they’re excellent but when they go too far over the top and have no genuine basis in reality they’re almost intolerable. That’s a lesson any movie maker should learn. Yes, George… I’m looking at you.

I can’t help give this one 5 fedoras – a score I usually reserve for movies like “Miller’s Crossing” and “Raiders…” it’s so close to perfection but almost misses the target ever-so-slightly with a only a few missteps.

I have to give this movie one damn skull because of that parrot nonsense in the motion picture and the unnecessary attempt a humor.