Actors and Allies
I've read that Roger Moore didn't enjoy making this movie and I believe it. It's not the kind of Bond flick he's known for and I expect that he liked making those kind better. But he's great in it. It works really well that he's getting a little older, even though Carole Bouquet (Melina) is 30 years younger than he is. He's still super active (that ski chase is amazing!), a handsome man, and I buy that she's temporarily attracted him as an anchor point in the chaos her life has become. Especially as a surrogate father figure after the death of her dad.
Bond isn't just a potential lover to her, he's a mentor. In fact, he's that first, offering her counsel on the price of revenge; something he knows a lot about. And I absolutely love that at the very end, he's going to let her make the decision about whether or not to murder Kristatos. It's taken out of both of their hands by circumstance, but it's important to me that Bond isn't the one to step in and deny her what she's spent the whole movie looking for. He obviously cares a great deal about her; enough to let her make her own choices.
More than just about any other Bond movie, his romantic relationship with Melina builds naturally (The Living Daylights and Casino Royale are other exceptions). There's even a really lovely montage of Bond's tagging along as Melina shops the Grecian markets for supplies for her crew. It's not a love to last the ages or anything, but it's believable and I appreciate the work that went into them as a couple.
I also like the way Bond's age factors into his reactions to Bibi. And he's back to flirting with Moneypenny, but it's mellowed out a lot. There's no danger in it, which is kind of sad, but it also makes sense that at some point these two would move past the flirting and just be friends. However, there's also something sad in the way Moneypenny starts putting on makeup when she notices that it's time for Bond's appointment. I can willfully re-interpret that as something else, but it's clearly supposed to be her holding a torch for Bond. Really, their whole scene together has an air of melancholy about it that I don't care for.
Moving on to Bond's other allies, this is the first movie in the series without Bernard Lee. He died of cancer, sadly, before they got around to shooting his scenes, but the script was already written and filming had already begun on other parts of the film. To work around his absence, they rewrote the story to explain that M is "on leave" and that Bill Tanner, M's Chief of Staff, is filling in. In the novels, Tanner is Bond's best friend in the Service and there's some of that camaraderie here, too. Tanner is more relaxed than M ever was and when he tells Bond to "try not to muck it up again," he's probably teasing, although it's a little hard to read that line.
The reason Tanner might be serious is because the Minister of Defense is also involved. The only "again" Tanner can be referring to is Melina's killing the Cuban assassin before Bond could question him, but that seems unfair to put on Bond. Except that the Minister already doesn't care for Bond thanks to the all times that Bond's embarrassed him one way or another. In FYEO, the Minister seems to know that Bond's a good agent, but he's still chilly towards him. And that's probably not going to change after the situation between Margaret Thatcher and the parrot.
Q's got a new assistant named Smithers who shows up again in Octopussy. There's not much to him here other than Bond knows his name and - more importantly - he's played by Jeremy "Boba Fett" Bulloch.
In the field, Bond's first ally is a fellow spy named Luigi Ferrara. He's competent, but mostly inconsequential and only there for exposition and to provide some pathos when he's killed. I like him though. He's a nerdy little guy and physically, he kind of reminds me of Roman Polanski.
Bond's biggest ally turns out to be Columbo, aka The Dove. Like in "Risico," we start off thinking he's the bad guy, but he turns into one of Bond's most memorable friends. He's one of those Fleming characters like Kerim Bey or Marc-Ange Draco who are not only Bond's pals, but sort of mentor/father figures to him. What's interesting in FYEO though is that the actor who plays Columbo (Topol from Fiddler on the Roof) is eight years younger than Roger Moore. He's letting his gray hair show though, so the age difference seems less and he and Bond treat each other as peers. It's a cool relationship and another reason I like older Moore in this movie. He's playing his age and it's great.
Another cool thing about Colombo is his obsession with pistachios. He uses them once as sort of an impromptu warning system, but they aren't in the movie as a plot device. They're just a character quirk and it's stuff like that that makes me love FYEO so much.
One last sort-of ally is Bibi's trainer, Brink. She's just a background character for most of the film, but when things get tough at the end, she turns out to be loyal and great. I like her a lot.
"That'll come in handy," regarding Smithers' fake-cast weapon.
"He had no head for heights," after Locque goes over a cliff.
True to it's scaled-back tone, FYEO doesn't do much with gadgets. In fact, it comments on this by having Bond's white, "burglar protected" Lotus blow up right before a chase, forcing Bond and Melina to escape in a tiny and cute, but unglamorous Citroën 2CV. Q's able to repair and repaint it, but Bond never uses any of its gadgets. The only field gadget he ever uses in the movie is a pager watch with a two-way radio transmitter.
The biggest gadget of the film is the Indentigraph (inspired by the slightly lower-tech Identicast system in the novel Goldfinger) that Bond and Q use to identify Locque. I like how Bond walks into the Identigraph room with Q and immediately grabs a tape reel to load up. He's clearly used the system numerous times.
Top Ten Gadgets
1. Lotus Esprit (The Spy Who Loved Me)
2. Aston Martin DB V (Goldfinger and Thunderball)
3. Jet pack (Thunderball)
4. Glastron CV23HT (Moonraker)
5. Little Nellie (You Only Live Twice)
6. Rocket cigarettes (You Only Live Twice)
7. Ski pole rocket (The Spy Who Loved Me)
8. Magnetic buzzsaw watch (Live and Let Die)
9. Attaché case (From Russia with Love)
10. Propeller SCUBA tank with built-in spearguns (Thunderball)
Bond's Best Outfit
I really like Bond's mountain climbing outfit from the end of the movie, too, but he's too dapper in this blue, double-breasted number with brass buttons. Reminds me of his Naval uniform.
Bond's Worst Outfit
Sunny yellow short-sleeves with high-waisted pants. Hi, Dad! (That's a joke. My dad never wore anything that dorky.)