The 1980s were a difficult period for James Bond. Helmed almost exclusively by director John Glen, the series had its brief highs and sluggish, lengthy lows. For Your Eyes Only is the beginning of a new generation of Bond. As Roger Moore fires his way through into the 1980s, one thing is clear. Nothing has changed. He is still the formidably cheeky airhead that, at the same time as saving the world and getting the girl, gurns his face in the most fascinating of ways. Much of that is seen in the opening, where Bond struggles to gain control of a helicopter piloted by a camera-shy Blofeld, who does not face the camera. That is the start Bond made to the 1980s, and it is no wonder a slump was on the way.
To its credit, For Your Eyes Only deals with the gluttony of the series as best it can. Completely and immediately forgettable it may be, the first foray into the 1980s is an unnoteworthy one. That is for the best as Moore clatters his way through another two hours of bizarre set pieces, encounters with old enemies and new threats and a knack for gadgets as ever before. Nothing has really changed about the series except for how it delivers its story. A staggered pace and audiences may notice the absence of Lewis Carroll, the firm hand behind the scenes of the bulky 1970s output. A distinct drop in quality is founded in For Your Eyes Only, a feature that can only hope to hit the heights of Moore’s earlier works.
A return to the norm was needed. Moonraker jumped the shark. Bringing Bond back down to Earth is a harder challenge than first expected. Another bit of Moore filler that can provide neither memorable villain nor heroic lead. The Spy Who Loved Me may have benefitted somewhat from Moore’s lack of presence, but For Your Eyes Only is in desperate need of it. Julian Glover and Carole Bouquet litter the supporting cast, playing up their roles with that expectedly camp charm of this Bond iteration. They are not selling it particularly well, and much of that is because their scenes are written right into the ground. Glover is never given a chance to express himself as a villain and Bouquet is often playing second fiddle to whoever else is on screen with her.
Neither is given their chance to shine. Instead, For Your Eyes Only sets its sights on bringing Bond back to the clutches of normality. The life of a 007 never stops. At least this Moore-led farce gets that right. It is all systems go from the very beginning, and despite the lacklustre writing that takes Moore and company from scene to scene, For Your Eyes Only is at least enjoyable. Seeing Bond fly off in a helicopter with definitely-not-Blofeld-for-legal-reasons in a wheelchair pierced by the grip below the chopper is quite the sight. For all Glen’s efforts to bring Bond back down to relative normalcy, he does well to lift off with even more erratic decision-making than ever before. It was all downhill from here.