CAST: Roger Moore, Maud Adams, Louis Jourdan, Kristina Wayborn, Kabir Bedi, Steven Berkoff, David Meyer, Anthony Meyer, Desmond Llewelyn, Robert Brown, Lois Maxwell, Michaela Clavell, Walter Gotell, Vijay Amritraj, Geoffrey Keen, Douglas Wilmer, Albert Moses, Paul Hardwick, Eva Reiber-Staier, Peter Porteous, Andy Bradford, Gary Russell
RUNNING TIME: 131 mins
BASICALLY…: James Bond (Moore) uncovers a jewel-smuggling operation headed by the wealthy and mysterious Octopussy (Adams), which is fronting a deadly nuclear attack…
NOW FOR THE REVIEW…
With No Time To Die being pushed back all the way to November, the world needs its fix of Ian Fleming’s ace secret agent to tide them over until then. That’s why, every week until it finally comes out, we’re going to be taking a look at each previous movie in the series to see if, and how, they hold up today.
This week, it’s the title that caused schoolboys everywhere to giggle themselves into a stupor, but can Octopussy really get as silly as its name? A lot of the time, yes – but it’s mostly fun, in the sense that you’re watching a daft circus where not a lot of it makes sense yet the blissful enjoyment is enough to make you forget any idea of logic while you’re watching it.
It only makes sense that circus analogies are used for this film, because an actual circus factors quite heavily into the plot; it is the front for a jewellery smuggling syndicate run by a wealthy woman known as Octopussy (Maud Adams), who has partnered with exiled Afghan prince Kamal Khan (Louis Jourdan) for her latest caper. However, part of their plan is exposed to the British government when a fake Fabergé egg falls into their lap, and Bond (Roger Moore) is sent to Delhi in order to keep tabs on Khan, eventually discovering that he is in league with a trigger-happy Soviet general Orlov (Steven Berkoff), who plans to set off a nuclear explosive on American soil.
While the evil plans in these Bond films are certainly starting to get a little more cartoonish and ridiculous, there’s no denying that there is still a sense of passion put into everything from the stunt work to the use of its exotic locations, although this one certainly plays up the choreography quite considerably, especially when there’s actual acrobats, knife throwers and even human cannonballs on the team. The fight scenes have plenty of impressive stunt work, some of which really do look like they really hurt upon doing them, and John Glen’s direction as well as some choice editing and camera trickery ensures you can feel just about every punch, kick, gunshot and knife being hurled at our lead character. It’s definitely over-the-top and borderline stupid at times, but at least it’s more aware of how much fun it’s having while doing it, compared to For Your Eyes Only which made the mistake of taking itself perhaps a little too seriously; this one, meanwhile, has an assassin whose weapon of choice is a yo-yoing buzzsaw, so it’s clear which one is the more fun of the two.
Nonetheless, it’s safe to say that this is by far one of the sillier Bond films, because the plot really doesn’t add when you start to piece it all together, and it makes a real clown out of Moore’s Bond whose dialogue seems to be mostly made up of witty one-liners even when certain scenarios don’t even call for it, and the actor’s polite gentlemanly attitude towards staring into the face of death is starting to wear thin and expose the interpretation’s thin personality outside of the basics (it’s even to a point where at one point, he actually disguises himself as a clown). His age is also beginning to make it difficult to believe that most women, particularly of the younger variety, would be genuinely attracted to him; Moore, who was roughly in his mid-50s when he filmed this, comes across more as an old perv than a true ladies’ man here, from eyeing up Moneypenny’s new secretary to zooming in on a female co-worker’s chest with one of Q’s cameras, which is mostly shrugged off instead of being called out for its inappropriateness, even at the time this was made. A lot of other stuff in this film charts high on the scale of ridicule, including an especially hammy villain performance by Steven Berkoff who barks orders and chews all sorts of scenery as this strange hybrid of Willem Dafoe and George C. Scott’s Oscar-winning portrayal of George S. Patton, but nothing quite tops the idea of this Bond still being able to do and say what he does and still feel believable as the world’s greatest secret agent.
Again, though, there is joy in watching some of these passion-fuelled sequences play out once you switch part of your brain off and let all this dumb stuff happen in front of you. It’s not a boring movie by any stretch, as there is enough bonkers imagery to keep you entertained throughout a lot of it, and as long as you accept that this is not one of the smarter entries then you can enjoy it for long enough without feeling like you’ve wasted your time. That being said, I am glad that this particular era of Bond is nearly over; as fun as some of the Moore ones have been, it will be nice to get the series back on track towards being the genuinely thrilling series that it can be, with an actor who can bring a whole new interpretation of the character to life.
Before that, though, there is one more Moore film to get through – and from what I’ve seen about this next one, we may be in for the craziest (and not necessarily in a good way) outing yet.
SO, TO SUM UP…
Octopussy boasts some impressive stunt work and filmmaking techniques which make the numerous fight sequences feel all too real, but it doesn’t fully disguise a thin and mostly nonsensical plot with a lead actor who’s starting to show his age in the main part, although it’s a fun enough watch to stop itself from getting too boring.