Movie Review: ‘Octopussy’ (50 Years of Bond)


OctopussyDirector: John Glen

Cast: Roger Moore, Maud Adams, Louis Jourdan, Kristina Wayborn, Vijay Amritraj, Desmond Llewellyn, Lois Maxwell, Robert Brown

Plot: 009 draws attention to himself by crashing through the window of the US embassy in East Germany while dressed as a clown and clutching a Faberge egg. When his death is reported Bond is assigned to uncover the conspiracy 009 had stumbled upon.

Review: For Your Eyes Only took two very firm and well received steps away from the silliness that the franchise had stooped to, making it all the more disappointing when the next entry took a step back. Octopussy comes to the table with some solid ideas and innovations, but it also seems to have come to the table drunk.

There’s some interesting and grounded villains, just like For Your Eyes Only, and much of the plot involves some betrayal on their behalf. An exiled Afghan prince and a battle-hungry Soviet General conspire to frame the US for the detonation of an atomic device in West Germany, opening up the road to war. Their patsy is one Octopussy, a business-women and circus owner who’s traveling show doubles a jewelry smuggling operation. Bond finds himself in the position of teaming with the smugglers to combat the harbingers of war. This all sounds like a solid foundation on which to build a film, but the architect must have been suffering from a concussion when the walls went up.

Octopussy

Maybe distracted by something?

When the cold and calculating villain Kamal is introduced at an Indian casino it should’ve been a tense, terse situation. Instead we get introduced to his non-acting sidekick who menacingly crushes a pair of dice to powder in his fist without changing his expression. This is, of course, a reference to the scene in which Oddball crushed a golf ball in Goldfinger. Except Oddjob looked like he was actually doing something apart from sifting some sand between his fingers, and the crushed golf ball was much more convincing then a pair of dice magically turning to dust. This over-the-top hammyness becomes par for the course.

Octopussy

“Grrrrrrrr…”

Shortly before this he meets Vijay, his disposable sidekick. Vijay is under cover as a tennis pro and is played by a real life tennis pro named Vijay. Because that kind of tacky casting always works out. Just in case it wasn’t obvious, he does use a tennis racket to fend of bad guys. And when he hits people with the tennis racket it makes the sound of a racket striking a tennis ball. Whilst onlookers turn their head’s back and forth as though they’re watching a tennis match even though there is nothing going back and forth in front of them. Of course this character makes contact with Bond by playing the Bond theme music that Bond he somehow recognizes. Are the film-makers aware that Bond can’t actually hear the music that plays over the movies?

Octopussy

“There’s that sound again…”

There are plenty of other silly moments, such as a bad guy wielding a razor yo-yo, that is only useful once when three other guys are holding the target still, Bond infiltrating an enemy hideout by disguising himself as a crocodile, Bond swinging on vines through a jungle complete with a Tarzan yell played over it – but you get the idea.

This has the potential to be a good film. It has a solid cast and a good premise but the supposed comic relief cheapens the movie to the point of idiocy. Maud Adams in fine as the titular Octopussy but it’s downright perplexing casting her again after she had such a key role in The Man With the Golden Gun. The plot feels as though it was written in shifts by different teams of writers. The set-up drags on for way to long and the end of the second act feels like the climax of the film before it carries on another twenty odd minutes.

Homer was wrong on this one – Octopussy wasn’t the great thing about the British and it isn’t worth watching twice.

Rating: THREE outta TEN