I had quite forgotten how good "For Your Eyes Only" is. After hitting his stride in "The Spy Who Loved Me" and "Moonraker," Roger Moore had settled comfortably into the 007 role, by 1981 finally taking our minds off Sean Connery.
In excellent picture and sound, this thirteenth entry in the series (fourteenth if you count the early television production; twelfth if you discount the silly "Casino Royale") makes a good DVD investment either singly or in a boxed set with six other Bond adventures.
Producer Cubby Broccoli decided to bring Bond back to Earth following the secret agent's high-flying sci-fi exploits in "Moonraker." This next adventure is free of complicated paraphernalia, fancy gadgets, elaborate special effects, or crime syndicates bent on world domination. Instead, the plot involves the relatively straightforward theft of a submarine control system by one of two potential bad guys and its sale to the Russians. Bond's job: Recover the device before the Russians get their hands on it, romance a few ladies, dispatch a few villains, and never lose his cool.
Moore not only remains unruffled, he has gained enough maturity to be more than a pretty face; with age he finally looks sufficiently tough to handle a difficult situation. There are enough nifty car chases, ski chases, and underwater chases to satisfy fans of chase scenes, and enough beautiful Bond women, Carole Bouquet in particular, to satisfy fans of beautiful women. Champion skater Lynn-Holly Johnson plays a spunky teenager keen on bedding Bond, a temptation Bond prudently resists.
And the scenery is gorgeous; filmed almost entirely around the Bahamas, the Mediterranean, Italy, and Greece, the settings are among the most attractive in any of the Bond films. Moneypenny is back (Lois Maxwell) and Q, of course (Desmond Llewelyn), but Bernard Lee had just passed away and his part as M was left out. On the debit side, the film's action slows down toward the end; there is no strong central heavy (Julian Glover and Topol play the likely suspects); and much of what goes on we have seen before.
But Bond is Bond, and we expect more of the same. The film was directed by John Glen, long associated with second-unit work on the series, who would go on to do the next four Bonds as well.
MGM's picture quality is excellent. The widescreen aspect ratio is 2.21:1, almost its theatrical Panavision release size, with colors vibrant and generally well separated from one another. Grain is at a minimum; shimmering or jittery lines are few; and most other digital artifacts are absent.
The original two-channel stereo has been remixed and is presented to good effect in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, if not sounding quite as spectacular as the newer Brosnan features, at least coming close. Front stereo spread is especially wide, with musical ambiance reinforcement used throughout the rear.
Now let's talk about the bonus items on this Special Edition, all of them accessed through a colorful, animated menu. Like others in the line, "For Your Eyes Only" contains two, separate, full-feature audio commentaries, one by the director, Glen, and a second by executive producer Michael G. Wilson and members of the crew.
There is the usual entertaining documentary, this one titled "Inside For Your Eyes Only," narrated by Patrick Macnee. There is a "For Your Eyes Only" music video by Sheena Easton; incidentally, the only singer ever to appear on screen singing a Bond theme song. Then there are abundant behind-the-scenes stills, storyboard sequences, the famous MGM informational booklet, four trailers and radio ads, and a remarkable fifty-six chapter stops. However, unlike the DVD of "Live and Let Die," there is no commercial for the British Milk Board. Presumably, this particular dairy product had previously been stirred, not shaken, and Bond wouldn't go for it a second time.
"For Your Eyes Only" is one of the more credible ventures in the series, if the plausibility factor counts for anything. Most of the outlandish silliness of a few other Bond issues is mercifully absent, replaced by a greater emphasis on believable thrills. The result is highly satisfactory.
The movie may be purchased separately or in a box set with "From Russia With Love," "You Only Live Twice," "Diamonds Are Forever," "Moonraker," "The Living Daylights," and "The World Is Not Enough."