The 1980s may not seem it, but they really did represent a dip in the quality of the Bond movies. Bond no longer felt alive, as it did in the 60s; it no longer had the quaint patriotic charm of the 70s. These Bond films, for the most part, are mechanical exercises in removing any colour left in the old dog. This began in For Your Eyes Only, continued in A View to a Kill, and concluded with Licence to Kill. Octopussy and The Living Daylights are for the most part exempt; the former is stuffy but decent, the latter is a genuine attempt to resurrect a suffocating franchise.
Anyhow, For Your Eyes Only. Well, there's a nice bit at the start with the vicar, but after that we're in comedy accent heaven. Blofeld (and it is Blofeld) has never been so inept, not even when played by the sadly maligned Charles Gray. I initially thought he would be the villain of the piece, which would have been better than Julian 'best performance was in a children's sci-fi show' Glover, even if he sounds like an utter fool. Roger, for his part, looks good but acts morose. It's plainly obvious that he doesn't care for the material.
As if the misrepresentation of Blofeld wasn't bad enough, we segue into Maurice Binder's most anodyne title sequence. Remember Thunderball? He obviously did, and so we get a retread of that, albeit without the stylishness. Oh, and the fact that Sheena 'appeared in Miami Vice' Easton is the first artist to appear in the title sequence doesn't really count for much, given she has the voice of a pubic boy.
Onwards and upwards, eh? Sadly, no. As the film progresses it wraps itself up in a series of ludicrous subplots and pure 80s tack. If you couldn't tell that Gonzales was a villain when you first saw him (hint: the porn star moustache, the leering face) then you must be blind, and if you are, then at least you missed out on John Glen's flat direction. Hilariously, one of his floozies turned out to be a she-man, which is about the only colour you'll find (indeed, it was the only memorable incident covered in the DVD documentary). And who the hell let Bill 'Tom' Conti do the music? Mind you, can it really be called music? Throwing together a few notes then playing them as LOUDLY as possible doesn't qualify. I presume those deluded few who championed the score a few months ago were really listening to the YOLT CD. Check it out- it's wonderful. The Space March particularly.
This is such a thin movie that for a good portion of time, Roger has to fight off the advances of a teenage nymphet (and guess who we have to thank for that- good old Uncle Cubby...). Disturbingly, she's the most attractive female featured. Yes, I'm sorry, but it's true. Cassandra Harris is a snaggletoothed bint, while Carole Bouquet is so enigmatic I began to wonder if she was actually in the film and I wasn't hallucinating. Lads, if you're going to cast a Bond film, at least make sure she doesn't have a moustache, K?
And on and on it goes, from dull plot twist to dull plot twist. There are good things; Topol is reminiscent of Pedro Armendariz; Melina's entrance is way cool, and Desmond Llewelyn is at his best. However, the much vaunted scene where Roger kicks Locque's car off the cliff just doesn't work for his Bond. He was always better playing it light, mainly because you can't beat Sean's hard man credentials.
Much to my amazement, it actually ends. Julian Glover's insipid foe is provided with an insipid death, Margaret Thatcher gets chatted up by a parrot, and Bond undergoes his worst torture ever: swimming with Carole Bouquet. It's silly. It's crap. And I didn't even mention the 2CV chase. Although I will now.
I never thought I'd say this, but come back Moonraker, all is forgiven...
Article written by Allan Johnstone (SausageBrigade)