Much like the Connery movies before, one has to wonder what criteria was used for selecting the Roger Moore movies to appear in the first wave of Blu-ray movies. For Your Eyes Only feels like a rather random selection, with far more memorable and enjoyable adventures bypassed to bump a pretty mundane picture to the top of the list.
I have seen every one of the Bond movies save one (somehow I’ve never seen the one George Lazenby flick), but watching For Your Eyes Only this time felt like I was watching the movie over again for the first time. Not because I was watching it with fresh eyes, but because the movie is wholly unremarkable in any way. It’s about as generic a Bond adventure as you can get, with little standing out to be remembered.
The espionage story is a pretty standard one. A spy boat crashes and takes with it the ATAC, a special device that can control the royal fleet’s nuclear missiles. In the wrong hands, the fleet would be rendered powerless. It’s up to 007 to retrieve the ATAC before a dueling pair of Grecian bosses gets their hands on it. But which of the bosses can Bond trust to help, and which is actually behind the assassination of a team of underwater specialists MI6 had previously brought in to recover the ATAC?
After the ridiculousness of Moonraker, it almost makes sense that the following picture would be very down to earth, and For Your Eyes Only certainly accomplishes that. Bond is all but gadget free here, relying more on physical skill and natural abilities to complete his mission. The span of the movie certainly gives him plenty of range for those physical abilities, including skiing, underwater action, and a tenacious mountain climbing sequence. All are executed quite well, surpassing previous movies that utilized the same devices, especially the underwater conflicts.
In compensating for such an outlandish previous movie, For Your Eyes Only comes across as rather mundane. There is no over the top villain or henchman here to be remembered after the credits roll. By the same measure, Bond’s accomplices and aids are pretty standard fare as well. The only performance in the movie that stands out is that of Lynn-Holly Johnson, who plays a young ice skater Bond actually refuses the advances of. It’s pretty easy to understand why - after less than five minutes of screen time the actresses portrayal of the character is so annoying, I was happy to see she wasn’t the type Bond was going to pursue.
In fact, the only thing that stands out about this movie, and the only thing I remembered about it going into it again, is the pre-credits sequence, which sees Bond face off with a “bald man in a wheelchair” (intended to be implied as Ernst Stavro Blofeld, but without credit given due to a nasty lawsuit). The sequence has nothing to do with the rest of the movie, and was meant as a quick way to get rid of Blofeld from Bond continuity (since the EON producers no longer had rights to the character). Unfortunately it’s a bit dissatisfying to see a villain who had plagued Bond so many times before have his comeuppance delivered so unceremoniously.
While the action sequences deliver fairly decently, the plot and characters of For Your Eyes Only leave something to be desired - namely something remarkable enough to make them memorable. Already, elements of the movie are fading from my memory and I have no doubt that by the time I watch the movie, it will yet again be a new experience for me, and one just as briefly enjoyable but ultimately unremarkable as it was this time.
If there’s one reason For Your Eyes Only makes sense for the first wave of Blu-ray movies, it’s because the movie is an absolute gorgeous transfer onto the high definition format. The variety in the different action sequences afford many opportunities for the movie to look brilliant visually, and the Blu-ray release lives up to those opportunities, resulting in what is probably the best looking of the entire first wave of Bond on Blu-ray. It’s just a shame the movie isn’t a better flick.
I did notice a few sound issues while watching the movie - something I had barely heard in other versions. There are a few instances of channel creeping, where sound appears in channels of the surround sound where it doesn’t belong. The result tends to be a slightly echoed sound for a few seconds. It’s not horrible, but it is worth mentioning.
Like the other discs in the series, the Blu-ray carries with it the contents of the previous DVD releases, including three commentary tracks and a wealth of featurettes, both vintage and retrospective. As before, Moore makes a fairly conscious effort to be included in the extras, both then and now, and with his own commentary track on the movie, which he considers to be his best James Bond picture. Ah, the subjectivity of film…
It’s worth noting that this Blu-ray release does carry two things not found on previous discs in the series. For Your Eyes Only was the first Bond movie to have a music video made for its theme song (performed by Sheena Easton), so that’s included here on the disc. There are also several deleted scenes, which none of the previous Blu-ray discs had on them. All of these things have been seen before on DVD, but it does make this disc stand out a bit more. Let’s be honest, it needs all the help it can get in that regard.
Visually stunning, For Your Eyes Only has a great presentation on high definition Blu-ray. If the story wasn’t so ho-hum, this would easily be a solid recommendation to show off your high definition player. It’s still worth using to show off with for the high definition visuals, and the bonus is you might rediscover the movie’s story every time you put it in your player, since there’s not much to keep the film in your memory between viewings.