Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Fiddler In The Monastery

After the over the top and frankly horrendous Moonraker Bond is returned to his roots.  This is almost a reboot as Bond is stripped bare and we have a film actually driven by plot rather than stunts and gadgets.  For Your Eyes Only is a reinvention, we have new music for the gun barrel and Roger seems to be buying into it.  He doesn't look as tired and disinterested as in Moonraker.  The next Bond reboot, Casino Royale, bears a few similiarities to For Your Eyes Only, both are stories of double cross with hints of revenge.  However, For Your Eyes Only doesn't start too well.

Sheena the Gozerian
Bond visits Tracy, the only reference made to Mrs Bond during Roger's reign, before being interrupted by a soon to be remote controlled helicopter.  It seems Blofeld is back, crippled and soon to be dead once and for all (or not Kevin McClory).  Moore's Bond has never faced Blofeld before and this is a timely, if a little flippant, nod to past glories.  As Blofeld falls away to nothing the warble of Sheena Easton takes over.  The most notable thing about Easton's involvement is her boat race plastered all over the opening titles.

Back to the film proper and we soon find we have an understated, almost subtle Cold War thriller on our hands.  Secrets and Russians abound as we have a naval ship, the St Georges, disguised as a trawler doing a bit of actual spying.  There are no killer freighters hungry for the Royal Navy but an almost humble World War Two mine to provide Great Britain with problems.

This is where we need M, not the bleeding Minister Of Defence.  A mark of respect to the late Bernard Lee but a memo would have been better than Fredrick Gray.  The extent of Gray's conversation seems to be 'Hmmmm'.  It's like his prostate is falring up.  Thank God for good ol' General Gogol.  It's Gogol who lets us know what the Navy were looking after, an ATAC which turns out to be some kind of nuclear submarine walkie talkie.  Quite an important bit of kit and now the Russkis are after it.  Cue Bond.

Or not.  We're off to the Greek Islands first where some posh bit with too much hair is going home to daddy.  It doesn't end well and a long and lazy close up let's us know she's out for revenge.  But will she bleach her upper lip first?  Now it comes together as Bond is tasked with finding a Cuban hitman, shame it's in that bloody Lotus.  It seems the daddy of posh bit (Melina) was a British agent.  This doesn't explain the quite bizarre difference in accents.  Anyway, Bond goes off to find Tony Montana.

There's a Viagra joke in here somewhere
Cunningly dressed as a middle aged man trying to recreate his youth Bond bumps into Melina and her crossbow and loses the Lotus. YES!  This is the first time we've seen Moore's Bond have to think on his feet as in between umbrellas and a very resilient Citroen 2CV he escapes some goons.  A quick lecture for Melina on the perils of vengeance before Bond is headed back off to Blighty.

Seeing that Q pretty much invented LCD TV amongst other things it's a bit odd he still uses a Charles Babbage original.  Despite this, the interplay between Bond and Q this time around is up there with the best and helps Bond identify a bloke from a Tron storyboard as a bad guy.  Target acquired.  And he's Belgian.

Sporting some more dubious leisurewear Bond encounters Ferrara (reprised as Casino Royale's Mathis?) and Kristatos.  Now I don't trust Kristatos.  Anyone spending that much time watching teenage ice skaters is a bit dodgy.  Even if he is sponsoring her.  And he's got a Russian bird in his employ.  Alarm bells should ring loud but Bond is happy to make friends and let Kristatos lay the blame with Colombo.  Thank God Bond didn't make friends with Bibi.  Perhaps Roger put his foot down over the age difference.  Despite later thinking that Bond is from the British Narcotics Board(?) Kristatos sells Bond his story.

Colombo is 'The Dove', a semi legit businessman who munches pistachios and doesn't have a trenchcoat.  The chase for Colombo is manipulated by Kristatos via a biathlon and a needless turn in ice hockey gear before a very awkward dinner with ex Mrs Brosnan.  There was nowhere near enough soft focus and vaseline going on to make her attractive and how she thinks that's a Liverpudlian accent is beyond me.  Our newly promoted director John Glen again reaches back to On Her Majesty's Secret Service as Mrs Brosnan is dispatched rather brutally on the beach.  We've already seen a cosy ride in the snow, a ski chase and a bobsleigh.  Nice to reference your first Bond film every now and then.

My wings may be a shield of steel but they're no match for Topol's hair
 Bond is kidnapped and dragged before a very Drago like Colombo.  It's now that the Fiddler on the Roof tells Bond the truth.  Bond really is getting gullible in his old age, he's buying stories of any Topol, Kristatos and Harry.  Dr Hans Zarkov proves that he is a good guy by taking Bond on a jolly to a drugs factory in Albania.  It seems that Kristatos is, indeed, a KGB'd up bad guy.  Especially when he appears to have a stash of mines like the one that blew up the St Georges.  It's amazing what Topol can do with some nutshells, his improbable hair and a penchant for dressing like a bin man.  He makes Neville Southall look dapper.

Coveted by Bond villains everywhere
The tension (remember that?) builds underwater as Bond goes after the elusive ATAC only to find the bastard Kristatos waiting for him on the surface, it's only dispelled as Moore talks to himself while cutting the ATAC free like a pensioner trying to get a Sky+ box to work.  Don't worry, the bad guys still have their obligatory yellow submarine.  A spot of keel-hauling from the novel of Live And Let Die and a chat with a parrot leads Bond to cracking Kristatos plan.  Yes, that said 'parrot'.  Just be grateful the fucking pigeon hasn't come back.  The tension is ramped up some more as Bond ascends to a remote monastery as Kristatos prepares for victory.  A sequence which Sylvester Stallone managed to turn into an entire film.

For Your Eyes Only sees Bond as gritty and realistic.  Devoid of gadgets Bond becomes the cold killer that we've been missing for ten years.  This is best shown as he says goodbye to the Belgian Lucque with a kick and an acceptable quip.  Bond is proven to be resourceful as the ATAC is lost to both sides.  Detente indeed.

Not only has Bond saved the western world but he's had a good go at rescuing United Artists too.  After their humbling with Heaven's Gate and Kris Kristofferson For Your Eyes Only provided some much needed box office dollar.  Despite this United Artists was swallowed up by MGM and Bond will be represented by a roaring lion from now on.  For Your Eyes Only shows that Bond can be realistic and successful.  Just don't mention Maggie Thatcher.  Hopefully the producers will keep this in mind for the next film.  Oh, wait, Octopussy's up next.

James Bond will return but he'll be doing an impression of Dr Dolittle.