Poor John Glen. James Bond's perennial second-unit director finally gets promoted to full-on maestro and he's stuck shuffling around Roger Moore's creaking bones. For Your Eyes Only is a back-to-basics investigation with Bond snooping around undersea wrecks in search of some slightly dull Cold War technology. Glen weasels around Moore's decrepitude with an army of silhouetted stunt men lashing out with fluid, dynamic violence.
Despite Roger Moore's presence, the film has obviously been constructed as a launch platform for a new Bond actor - TV thug Lewis Collins was reportedly circling the role until Cubby Broccoli got cold feet. Like Dr. No and Live and Let Die, Eyes' threat levels are anchored in an idea of reality. Main squeeze, Carole Bouquet's Melina, is likewise young and virginal. In a hilariously glib pre-credits sequence Glen and screenwriters Michael G Wilson and Richard Maibaum reintroduce us to the Bond elements the Moore series has largely lapsed on, in particular 007's marital grief and his sprightly desire to absolutely crush those that have crossed him.
Although he has trouble drawing any warmth out of his actors Glen is a far more accomplished visual storyteller than either Guy Hamilton or Lewis Gilbert. Glen junks the numbing mediums that had all but drained the pep out of the series for close inspections of brutal looking machinery. Glen brings some genre vulgarity to Bond, his camera zooming in on Melina's vengeful, disconnected eyeline like a sniper. Glen and cinematographer Alan Hume shoot Bond and his cohorts from ambush positions, John Grover editing with a clip that confers chase pace. Thanks to Glen, For Your Eyes Only instantly arrives at the agitated, coked-up frequency that would become emblematic of 80s action films.