Ricky Church continues his countdown to Spectre with a review of Octopussy…
Though people are raging over the new Star Wars trailer (and rightly so) there is still a new James Bond film coming out and as much as I might want to talk about Star Wars: The Force Awakens, its time to continue the Countdown to SPECTRE with the next film in the franchise, Octopussy. So let’s dive into James Skywalker’s next adventure. I mean Han Bond. I mean 00-D2. Damn it.
After the murder of a fellow 00 agent Bond is assigned to investigate possible Soviet involvement and gets caught up in a smuggling ring, led by the beautiful and mysterious Octopussy, a woman with numerous followers and a connection to Bond’s past. He also comes into contact with Kamal Khan, an exiled Afghan prince who’s partnered with Octopussy and a radical Soviet general for his own nefarious purposes.
Octopussy follows in the footsteps of For Your Eyes Only by once again offering a tale grounded in reality, one that again focuses on the espionage aspects of Bond’s work. Unfortunately, those aspects aren’t quite as strong in this film due to a disjointed plot that is, at times, hard to follow. The first act isn’t very interesting and quickly falls into the franchise’s usual clichés, such as Bond meets villain, villain orchestrates assassination attempt, villain eventually captures Bond. It relies too much on that tried and true formula to really differentiate itself from the other films.
Alongside that, the first two acts are largely camp-free. There’s of course some humour in there, but with the exception of a couple of moments, there’s very little camp in those two acts. This is a good thing until act three goes overboard with campiness with such scenes as Bond dressing as a clown or gorilla, Octopussy’s circus engaging in an assault on Khan’s palace or a fight atop a plane. It’s suddenly as if it went from James Bond to Batman ’66 throughout the climax. The best thing that can be said about this is the fact Q finally goes on a field mission and seems to get a chance with a few lucky ladies.
Moore is adequate in the role of Bond, but there’s not much room for him to develop the character and he hardly expresses any of 007’s classic characteristics. Maud Adams (who previously appeared as Scaramanga’s paramour in The Man with the Golden Gun) makes for an interesting Bond girl, one whose not strictly evil but also isn’t good. For the most part, she’s an independent character, but her role is hampered by the fact she doesn’t appear until halfway through the film and really doesn’t have that much screentime. Once Bond leaves her island, she’s not seen again until the climax at her circus and gets herself captured during her palace assault, leaving her to be rescued by Bond. Adams does well with what she has, but aside from the name, there’s not enough to make Octopussy stand out among the Bond girls.
Louis Jourdan plays Kamal Khan and he is at least charismatic in the role. He’s diabolical, but not always overtly so; Jourdan doesn’t play him as a typical moustache-twirling villain. However, Khan’s motivations aren’t quite clear. The ultimate goal is for Russia to invade Western Europe, but it’s not really known what Khan gets out of his partnership with Olov, the radical Soviet general. Since Khan sees himself more as a businessman, perhaps he views this plan as a regular business deal, but if that’s so it is never said aloud in the film. His motivations are murky at best.
Octopussy is not the most exciting of Bond’s, or even Roger Moore’s, films. While the focus on a less spectacular plot is welcome, it unravels by the end of the film because everything becomes so over-the-top. For the longest time as well, the film is just plain uninteresting as its more of the same stuff viewers have been treated to in the past. Some of the characters are interesting, but they don’t fully realize their potential due to limited screentime or undefined motivations. Ultimately, while Octopussy isn’t the worst of Moore’s films, it is not a very entertaining Bond adventure.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★