Octopussy (1983)

Ian Fleming’s Octopussy (1983)

Synopsis:

Super-spy James Bond (Roger Moore, The Naked Face) is sent to investigate the murder of a fellow British agent. The clues lead Bond to a traveling circus, whose owner is a mysterious woman nicknamed “Octopussy” (Maude Adams, The Man with the Golden Gun). Bond finds out that one of Octopussy’s associates, Kamal Khan (Louis Jordan, Gigi), is preparing a fiendish plot to bait European nations into war.

Reaction & Thoughts:

“Mr. Bond is indeed of a very rare breed… soon to be made extinct.”

After the uncharacteristically austere and realistic For Your Eyes Only, the franchise does a u-turn and decides to make things as much fun as possible. Octopussy is much closer to The Spy Who Loved Me than to For Your Eyes Only, and that’s not a bad thing.

 I’m not sure if this was intentional or not, but Octopussy has a comic-book vibe to it. Director John Glen (Licence to Kill) keeps things moving at a fast pace — it’s one of the longest films in the series, yet the movie never drags.

Octopussy is cartoonish in places. The climax (the all-female squadron of fighters is a hoot!) is something that needs to be seen to be believed. It’s goofy, even campy, and lots of fun! The movie also contains one of my all-time favorite moments in the franchise: Bond, dressed up as a circus clown, tries to defuse a nuclear bomb. It’s a truly unforgettable sequence, filled with high suspense and daffy humor.

Unfortunately, Roger Moore is beginning to show his age. Moore wasn’t oblivious to the fact that he was getting too old for the role of Bond. He did announce his retirement right after the release of the film. He was, of course, lured back for one last adventure, but I think this would have been the perfect swan song for him.

The supporting cast is a little on the weak side. It’s kinda ridiculous to accept the very French Louis Jordan as an Arab, but he seems to be having fun. Maude Adams isn’t one of my favorite “Bond Girls.” I think the title role should have gone to someone with a little more “oomph” (Oscar-winning actresses Jane Fonda and Faye Dunaway allegedly turned down the role). I did love the beautiful Swedish actress Kristina Wayborn (The Silent Lovers) — she is great as henchwoman Magda.

Anyhow, the regulars are back: Desmond Llewelyn as Q, Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny and Walter Gotell as Gogol. I particularly liked how Llewelyn’s Q became essential to Bond’s mission.

Composer John Barry (Born Free) is back too (he skipped For Your Eyes Only). The soundtrack is good but unmemorable. The song “All-Time High” is average at best. The ballad was written by Tim Rice (Aladdin and The Lion King), with music by Barry, and sung by Rita Coolidge. Although it remains one of the least admired Bond tunes, Rice stated that the song has made him tons of money. As always, I recommend people to read Film Music Central for an in-depth analysis of the song/music.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

Even though Octopussy is not perfect by any means, I liked its bubblegum atmosphere. I don’t see today’s jaded young viewers embracing a movie that is unapologetically silly, though. That’s their loss — Octopussy is an amusing action movie, a really fun movie to watch on a lazy afternoon. Color, 131 minutes, Rated PG.

James Bond will return
in
A View to a Kill (1985)

4 responses to “Octopussy (1983)

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