As Roger Moore's tenure as James Bond came to an end (probably a little later than it should have had it not been for Connery doing "Never Say Never Again") its nice to see that he was able to get a few darker and more serious entries into his time as 007. As "For Your Eyes Only" was a nice return to a slightly darker and more thought provoking film, so does "Octopussy" follow in those footsteps although to less that matched results. This one is just a little less balanced.
STORYLINE: James Bond has to find out why 009 was killed in East Berlin carrying a fake Faberge egg. This leads him to delve into a jewelry smuggling ring through India to the illustrious and beautiful Octopussy whom has teamed up (unknowingly) with a trigger happy Russian military commander who wants to put a little bang in his buck and kick start a Russian attack on the rest of the Western world. Its up to Bond to put a stop to all of it.
PLOT 3/5: Now here lies the major problem with "Octopussy". Once again, the balance between the serious/dark material and the goofier more action oriented side of Bond clash. The more impressive back story with the Russian military discontent about the spread of ideologies and and general political intrigue make this one feel a lot more like a spy film and take on that role that gives the film a bit of intelligence. This on the other hand is completely ransacked for the sake of making the film 'fun' and 'exciting' by adding in completely useless and random elements that it didn't need. A jungle chase in India could have been exciting and tense is turned on its head by Bond commanding a tiger to sit (which it does) and then swinging on vines and yelping out a Tarzan call. The same goes with most of the scenes that could have worked. Its as if the film makers wanted to make a smart spy film but were afraid that it would alienate their audience so they threw in lots of stupidity to make it 'fun'. At times it can be effective (just watch the after-opening-credits 009 clown chase and how effectively creepy it is) but it just makes it a rather hit or miss watch too.
BOND 2.5/5: Moore shows that he is able to pull off the more serious material with the last few films, but poor pacing and oddly dumb (or shall I say dumber than normal) one liners in this film hinder his performance too much. Its also obvious that age is damn well catching up with him in this one as he just doesn't look as sharp or as dangerous as he used to. He has his moments and still layers on charm like no ones business, but its still far from his best.
VILLAIN 2.5/5: Again, as with the previous entry, the loosely fit 'villain' role is rather played by multiple characters with Kamal Khan more than likely fitting the more basic role. Despite some noble attempts as seeming deadly and smart, Khan just isn't cut of the same material as some of the great villains in Bond history. He comes off as more of a secondary villain to less used and better suited General Orlov whose role was probably downsized cause it was too political and intelligent. Had Orlov been our lead 'villain' (technically he was, he just had less screen time and relevance) this film could have been more impactful. Oh well.
BOND GIRL 2.5/5: Now we have to assume that Octopussy is technically the Bond girl here, and she's fantastic. Although she only appears about halfway through the film and is rather sparsely shown until the third act, she works well as a Bond girl. Deadly, resourceful, and ably portrayed by Maud Adams. The problem is...Maud Adams was already in "Man With The Golden Gun"! Now she's a different character?! Sorry but we know its the same damn lady guys! You can't slightly change her hair color and expect us to be fooled. She does a great job but has to be knocked down a bit for the odd reason that she was already in a freakin Bond film before.
"Octopussy" has its moments but suffers from its own stupidity far more often than it should. It starts off on the wrong foot (although with some pretty sick plane work) and ends on the wrong foot (a fucking hot air balloon and scantily clad "Conan" warrior babes?! What are you thinking?!) but in the middle it does have its moments. Appreciate some of the more intelligent moments like Orlov and the political side of it, but its a rather feeble attempt in the end.
BONUS RANT: The henchmen for Khan, Gobinda, has some of the worst close up shots of his eyes. After the first two or so it becomes so ridiculous that its hard not to laugh. The attempts to make him menacing just end up hilarious.
Written By Matt Reifschneider
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