Director: John Glen
Cast: Roger Moore, Maud Adams, Louis Jourdan, Kristina Wayborn, Vijay Amritraj, Steven Berkoff, Kabir Bedi, Desmond Llewelyn, Lois Maxwell, David Meyer, Anthony Meyer
Plot: When 009 turns up dead with a priceless jewel in his hand, 007 (Moore) traces the jewel to a smuggling unit that could be connected to a renegade Russian general, intent on destroying the Western defences.
Octopussy’s plot is a little all over the place. The transition between the jewel smuggling operation and terrorist attack is a messy one that doesn’t entirely make sense. On one hand, we have Octopussy and Kamal Khan, the lead villains of the show. They are partners in crime, forging the Faberge egg and other expensive pieces of jewellery and selling them on. Somewhere along the line, they end up crossing paths with General Orlov (an under-used Steven Berkoff), who wants to destroy the Western border’s defences, making a Soviet invasion easy work. When the two plans slot together, it is difficult to understand why Orlov’s scheme works so well with what Kamal is trying to accomplish. There are moments of Octopussy where you have to stop thinking about what the bad guys are up to and just roll with the fact that we are now in a circus in Germany.
However, despite a poor story holding the whole movie together, Octopussy still emerges as one of the better Roger Moores. Why? Well, the main reason is that this film is so much god damn fun. While Moore occasionally strays too far into the slapstick (his clown disguise, swinging on vines like Tarzan to evade his enemies), other moments encapsulate perfectly why some people believe that Moore is the best Bond. It is hard to resist his charm in Octopussy, even for me the one who insists that Roger Moore is the factor that nearly destroyed the Bond franchise. Moments of brilliance shine throughout this movie: Bond shoots enemies while sliding down a stair bannister, Bond kills his foes using props from an Indian circus act. On top of that, there are some of the best quips I’ve heard from Bond in quite some time. “Thank God for hard currency,” Bond tells his partner, when a wad of notes in his breast pocket saves him from a knife attack. “I think I need a re-filling,” says Bond girl, Magda, meaning her champagne flute, but Moore’s eyebrows tell us that his mind went to a dirtier place. I might have left this film a Moore convert. Damn it, Roger; it took you six movies, but you have won me over.
The action is at its best as well. I was surprised about how many set-pieces were squeezed into this one, yet they didn’t feel rushed like some of the action in the Connery era. One moment Bond is having a punch-up on top of a train and mere minutes later, he is disarming a bomb in the middle of a circus. The punch-ups are always exciting and this movie boasts some great ideas to keep everything fresh and action-packed. One assassin has a weapon that can only be described as a cross between a yo-yo and a knife. The knife-throwing twins are also a welcome addition to the plot. Octopussy is bursting with bad guys, yet General Orlov aside, everyone is done justice (ironic as Orlov is supposed to be the mastermind behind the whole affair). Gobinda will always be one of my favourite additions to the Bond universe, strong like Oddjob, but without the slapstick exaggerations of Jaws. A lot of the actors are having fun here as well. Usually Roger Moore is the only one treating Bond as a fun distraction, but here Louis Jordan and Berkoff have some fun with their villain roles too. Everyone is actually enjoying making a Bond film, which helps seeing as For Your Eyes Only was stuck in routine and Moonraker was too ambitious.
Critics have criticised Octopussy, calling it one of the weaker Bonds out there. It is easy to compare this with the serious, gritty 21st century Bonds like Skyfall and Casino Royale and begin to loathe the fact that Bond never strays from this routine. However, I cannot bring myself to hold it in the same disdain. Octopussy symbolises the Bond of the Moore era: dedicated at bringing a fun two hours to a movie audience. I appreciate the consistent and reliable thrill of Octopussy.
Final Verdict: Frowned upon by most Bond purists, Octopussy is actually a non-stop thrill ride, which boasts some fantastic set-pieces and fun villains.