A British spy-ship, St Georges, uses the ATAC (Automatic Targeting Attack Communicator) system to allow the U.K. Ministry of Defence to co-ordinate the Royal Navy’s Polaris submarines. The ship is sunk after trawling an old naval mine in the Ionian Sea. The British government asks a marine archaeologist named Sir Timothy Havelock (Jack Hedley) to locate the St Georges, but he and his wife are murdered by a Cuban hitman named Hector Gonzales (Stefan Kalipha). Their daughter Melina (Carole Bouquet), having witnessed the murder, vows revenge.
The head of the KGB, General Gogol (Walter Gotell) is also interested in the St Georges and notifies his contact in Greece. MI-6 agent James Bond (Roger Moore) is told by Minister of Defence Sir Francis Gray (Geoffrey Keen) and MI-6 Chief of Staff Bill Tanner (James Villiers) to get his hands on the ATAC before the Soviets do. The transmitter could conceivably be used to order British submarines to launch their Polaris missiles. Bond travels to Spain to find out who hired Gonzales. While he is watching Gonzales’ villa, Bond is captured, but escapes when Gonzalez is killed by a crossbow bolt. He discovers that Melina is the assassin and they escape together.
Q (Desmond Llewelyn) learns that Gonzalez had been paid by a Belgian assassin named Emile Leopold Locque (Michael Gothard), so Bond goes to Locques’ base in Cortina, Italy, to meet his MI-6 contact Luigi Ferrara (John Moreno) and also meets an informant, Greek tycoon Ari Kristatos (Julian Glover), who reveals to Bond that Locque is employed by a former World War II resistance fighter named Milos Columbo, or The Dove (Chaim Topol). Kristatos’ protégée, young figure skater Bibi Dahl (Lynn-Holly Johnson), accompanies Bond to a biathlon competition. Three skiers try to kill him. There is another attempt on his life at the ice-rink and Ferrara is killed in Bond’s car, the killer leaving a dove pin behind. Bond goes to Corfu after Columbo.
In the casino there, Bond meets Kristatos and asks to meet Columbo, their conversation secretly recorded by Columbo’s men. Columbo argues with his mistress, Countess Lisl von Schlaf (Cassandra Harris) and Bond offers to escort her home. They spend the night together and in the morning are ambushed by Locque. Lisl is killed and Bond is captured by Columbo’s men before Locque can kill him. Columbo tells Bond that Locque has been hired by Kristatos, who is working for the KGB. Bond accompanies Columbo and his men on a raid on Kristato’s opium-processing warehouses in Albania. There, Bond discovers Naval mines like those that sank the St Georges. The base is destroyed and Bond kills Locque.
Later, he meets Melina and they recover the ATAC from the sunken ship, but it is taken from them by Kristatos. He tries to kill them but they escape. Melina’s parrot mentions St. Cyril’s, which is an abandoned mountaintop monastery. There, Columbo confronts Kristatos and Bond kills his henchman Kriegler (John Wyman). Bond retrieves the ATAC and stops Melina from killing Kristatos, who tries to kill Bond, but is killed by Columbo. General Gogol arrives in a helicopter and Bond throws the ATAC off the cliff to keep it out of KGB hands. Bond and Melina spend an evening aboard her father’s yacht.
The film was directed by John Glen, his first, and produced by Albert Broccoli, written by Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson from two Ian Fleming short stories—For your Eyes Only and Risico--with some inspiration from Live and Let Die, Goldfinger, and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. It was an attempt to get back to the style of early Bond films after Moonraker’s attempt to capitalise on the success of Star Wars. They largely succeeded and For Your Eyes Only is generally considered to be one of the two best Roger Moore Bond offerings, along with The Spy Who Loved Me. I think that’s right. It was a serious movie and the dumb jokes were at a minimum. It received generally good reviews and was a financial success. Shortly afterwards, United Artists was absorbed by MGM.
The pre-credit sequence features a visit by Bond to the grave of his wife Tracy and an assassination attempt upon Bond by someone who is obviously supposed to be Ernst Stavro Blofeld, judging by the bald head, the Nehru jacket, and the white cat. They were unable, for legal reasons, to name him. Bernard Lee had died of cancer and M did not appear. Carole Bouquet was unable to work underwater, so her underwater scenes were faked. Roger Moore had to be convinced to perform the cold-blooded killing of Locque. The Monks of Meteora did not approve of the James Bond films and, forced to allow filming on their mountain top monastery by the Greek government, tried to sabotage the production in any way they could. The theme-song was sung by Sheena Easton.
Stuntman Paolo Grioni was killed on the bobsled track, as was another bobsledder during competition. It was redesigned. Bond’s wife’s tombstone reads, “We have all the time in the world.” Cassandra Harris (Countess Lisl) was married to Pierce Brosnan. A thug named Claus was played by Charles Dance, his first screen role. Roger Moore said that, of all the cars he had driven as Bond, his favourite was the Citroën 2CV. The chase was done for laughs but was still exciting. Lynn-Holly Johnson was a real professional figure-skater. The parrot, Max, belonged to stuntwoman Cyd Child and had previously belonged to Diana Rigg. Its voice was dubbed and it was fed peanut butter to make its beak move.