When, after a lengthy legal battle "Never Say Never Again," a non-Eon remake of "Thunderball" was put into production starring the original Mack-Daddy himself as 007 once again and set to come out the same year as "Octopussy," it was widely thought that it was not the proper time to risk trying anything new. So Moore was brought back once again, and I'm forced to grit my teeth and suffer through more of his shenanigans as the series still refused to grow up a little bit.
That being said, I must admit to actually liking "Octopussy." Despite the ridiculous title which you feel silly even saying out loud, this is a fun movie that manages to be quite entertaining. The plot is a little obtuse at times and there is more than one occasion when it's easy to not understand a thing anybody is talking about, but the action in between all of it is abundant and exciting, more so then arguably any of Roger Moore's other outings, and the screwball antics are kept to a relative minimum. Mostly.
Dammit, I said "mostly."
The story this time revolves around Fabergé eggs, and before you say anything, no, the plot doesn't suck. It gets kind of dicey to follow, but essentially what's going on is that there's a lot of forgeries of priceless things going around and being sold for insane prices lately, all to fund a rogue Russian general, Orlov (Steven Berkoff), doing bad things like expanding their borders and conquering some of Europe. I know that sounds stupid, and maybe it is, but it works just enough to get the story from A to B. In any case 007 is naturally the only one who can do anything about it, and sets out to track down the forgers, heading out to India where a bunch of the action takes place, before heading to West Germany (a nice dated reference there) for the admittedly exciting climax.
The *ahem* titular character is a notorious smuggler played by Maud Adams, whom observant viewers might recognize from "The Man With The Golden Gun," where she played Christopher Lee's ill-fated concubine whose corpse was shockingly good at sitting bolt-upright in instant rigor mortis. Like in that previous film, Adams is a strong presence on screen, and makes for one of the better Bond girls of the series, since she's not totally useless or stupid. This is particularly true when you look at the lineup of girls from the rest of the Roger Moore era. In fact she's probably the most respectable of all of them, since she had become an incredibly powerful world-class smuggler all by herself, and Maud Adams does command a great deal of respect in her performance. She's not just some busty ditz they slapped a lab coat on and called "Doctor" like we believe that for one hot minute. (I'm looking at you, Denise Richards.)
Useless? She's got her own elite squad of hot ninja acrobat circus performers who dress like The Flash. That's awesome!
Roger Moore is his usual cream-puff self, but at least here he brought a bit more physicality to the role. Or at least, his stuntman did. I've said it before and I'll keep saying it until I'm finally done with him, but Roger Moore is not a threatening guy, and I've never bought him as an action lead. But despite all of that, the film does manage to make him come across as more than someone's goofy uncle despite his noticeably advancing age.
Like I said earlier, the wackiness is toned down a bit in "Octopussy," an aspect I was immensely relieved by. True, there are moments like Bond dressing like both a clown and a gorilla, a crowd watching a car chase with heads moving back and forth in unison like a tennis match, all while Bond's sidekick Vijay wails on the bad guys with a tennis racket, and Bond yelling like Tarzan while swinging on a vine (groan), but for all of that goofy crap there's still a lot of pretty hard-hitting action and some surprisingly dark stuff in here. When the film features a guy taking a rotary saw yo-yo to the face and a dude hunting humans like he's a cross between Van Pelt and the villain from "Bloodlust," it tends to make up for some of the more comedic moments.
I love ham and eggs!
Once again, however, the villain is slightly lackluster. Louis Jourdan is just...alright as Kamal Khan, an exiled Afghan prince working with Orlov. One one hand he's slimy enough and gives off the impression that he would gladly set fire to a car full of nuns just because, but it's likely that he'd probably get someone else to do it for him. And this is just me, but I like my Bond villains to be somewhat more threatening then that. Otherwise when we get to the final showdown there's going to be little tension because you know he doesn't stand a chance against 007. It's really more about getting past the big henchman they always have at that point, and I've always found that to be a bit anticlimactic when the films go that route. Orlov would have been the more logical choice for James to face off against at the end, but unfortunately that doesn't end up happening.
That's about all I have for "Octopussy." It's a surprisingly exciting entry in the Roger Moore series, and I'd call it one of his better, if not best ones. True, you're not going to know exactly what's going on the whole time, but the climax has Bond fighting a dude on top of a plane. That's got to count for something.
Yeah, the trailer sucks, but you get a taste for how much action is in this one.
THE BOTTOM LINE - I'd call "Octopussy" one of my favorite Roger Moore flicks. The biggest reason for that is the action, which flows fast, hard-hitting, and is surprisingly consistent throughout its overly long run-time. It's just enough to make you forgive the fact that it's still Roger Moore. It's what's great about the English. I must have seen this movie twice.
WILL RETURN IN
"A VIEW TO A KILL"