For Your Eyes Only (1981)
Best Moore: It is widely said that the best Roger Moore Bond is The Spy Who Loved Me and this is hard to dispute. It is the first good Moore Bond and it is so good that it actually enhances Moonraker, a movie that should be worse than it is considering it is Bond in Space. However, the best Moore Bond is actually For Your Eyes Only. It is the most serious Moore Bond, dispensing with a lot of gadgets and gimmicks in favour of Bond becoming a side character to another character’s story of revenge.
Revenge and Age: Melina Havelock, played by Carole Bouquet, is a fascinating Bond girl as she, gasp, actually has a well-rounded plot arc all of her own. She’s not a spy or a villain but a normal person whose own personal mission of revenge against the people who killed her parents bring her into Bond’s world. Oddly enough it is Bond who tries to talk her out of going out for revenge, stating the old Chinese proverb, which says that before you set out on a path of revenge dig two graves, which is pretty hypocritical coming from a man who absolutely loves setting out on paths of revenge. Revenge as a plot driver for Bond is second only to diamonds in its popularity in this movie series. This movie even features a scene in which Bond himself kills a guy out of revenge, but I guess that’s okay because Melina doesn’t see it happen.
This movie is also the only Moore movie to acknowledge his age. It doesn’t do it in a ‘it’s not the years, it’s the mileage’ kind of way but it does have a younger woman throw herself at Bond and rather than going for it, Bond actually looks embarrassed by the whole thing and treats the girl to an ice cream instead. It also casts Bond in a more mentor-like role to Melina, leaving their relationship strictly as partners until the final scene, a rarity in Bond films up to this point. The idea of letting a relationship build between two people instead of just instantly falling into bed together is something new and fresh in this series, which is a compliment to this movie and a damning indictment of most of the others.
Moore gotta be Moore: As stated up top, this is a serious Moore Bond film. The plot doesn’t involve lasers or secret island bases (it’s a mountain base so a nice change) and there aren’t a lot of silly gadget scenes or comic relief. Of course, it is a Moore Bond after all so there is a strange final sequence featuring Margaret and Dennis Thatcher impersonators that instantly dates the movie, and a large plot point is revealed by a parrot who overheard the location of the bad guy’s base.
Overall: The best Moore Bond and one of the best Bonds, For Your Eyes Only is a great finale to the shaky Moore years. However; there are two more movies to follow. For Your Eyes Only is essential Bond and proof that Roger Moore’s James Bond wasn’t all cheesy one liners, raised eyebrows, and silliness. He did have the capability to be a serious Bond, so it is a shame that there aren’t more Moore Bonds that showcased this talent.