No. 12 in the phenomenally durable James Bond series. "For Your Eyes Only" is undeniably easy on the eyes. Maybe too easy to prevent the mind from wandering and the lids from drooping. Although a smooth and attractive production, stocked with the regulation ingredients and anchored by a starring performance from Roger Moore, who seems to be aging into the role of Bond with considerable mellow assurance, "Eyes" is somehow too relaxing to be satisfying.
Some kind of stimulating friction is missing in this renewal of Bond's adventures, which begin with an out-of-control helicopter flight over the Becton Gasworks in the East End of London and then continue in scenic splendor or luxury on Greek and Italian locations -- Corfu, Cortina d'ampezzo and finally the Greek Monument Valley, the Meteora Mountains, which provided an even more breathtaking setting for the obscure adventure movie "Sky Riders." Assigned to recover a top-secret targeting computer for nuclear missiles that is feared lost when a British spy ship sinks in the Mediterranean, Bond finds himself romantically involved with Melina Havelock (Carole Bouquet), the vengeance-minded daughter of a murdered marine archeologist who doubled as a British agent. At the same time, he must fend off the flirtatious advances of a teen-age ice-skating champ named Bibi (Lynn-Holly Johnson, the professional skater who made her movie debut as a teen skater who overcomes blindness in "Ice Castles"), the protege of a Greek tycoon, Kristatos (Julian Glover), who may or may not be the Soviet intermediary Bond has to fear. If it's not the sleek Kristatos, it's the other Greek tycoon, the earthy Columbo, played by Topol, and it doesn't require much head-scratching to guess which one can be trusted.
If one were cataloguing the elements in the movie, I'm sure that a breakdown would list percentages of exposition, action, romantic byplay and picturesque local color consistent with earlier Bond thrillers. The lack of underlying narrative tension or memorable action highlights defy quantification. You feel their absence without being able to measure their importance precisely.
I do know I began drifting away from the movie during a prolonged ski chase that never delivered the payoffs that might have justified its length. An underwater fight in which Bond and Melina are attacked by a thug inside an exotically menacing diving suit almost lured me back in, but even here the hardware was more diverting that the action, with the good guys demonstrating a new compact sub before the bad guy turned up to demonstrate his new rig.
The action sequences in "Eyes" are more ponderous than sensational. One remains so conscious of the planning, logistics and equipment lavished on them that the temptation to respond with simple visceral excitement is never quite activated. Nothing really stands out as a genuine picturemaker. There's no equivalent of the classic action highlights that can be recalled readily from "From Russia, With Love" or "You Only Live Twice" or "The Spy Who Loved Me" or "Moonraker." This is a Bond waiting for something inspired to push it over the top.
It's also possible in my own case that Steven Spielberg's "Raiders of the Lost Ark" has set an action standard so stimulating that the competition is bound to look tepid by comparison. The deliberate pace of "Eyes" may seem more desirable to people who find the level of excitement in "Raiders" more unnerving than stimulating, but it presents a formidable obstacle if you prefer a director with Spielberg's accelerated sense of timing. As the competing adventure spectacles have appeared and made their methodical ways across the screen, I've found it difficult to adjust to the pronounced slowdown. "I've got something better than Bond," George Lucas supposedly told Spielberg when first proposing "Raiders." Unfortunately, the newest Bond is not equipped to make a liar of him.