With the simultaneous release of the ‘non-official’ Never Say Never Again, the Bond producers felt the need to bring back Roger Moore despite his intentions to leave the franchise.
First things first, Octopussy is not only the worst name for a James Bond film, but the worst name for any film ever made up until 2 Fast 2 Furious was released.
For Your Eyes Only showed glimpses of a fresh start for the series, with new director John Glen at least trying to keep things down to earth. He returns to direct this film.
Octopussy instantly throws hope out the window when a mini plane comes out of a horse’s rear end, serving as Bond’s getaway vehicle. He manages to escape then proceeds to land at a petrol station for fuel.
After that we are treated to a very dreary title song before diving into the plot.
Interestingly enough, the first half hour of Octopussy is an intriguing intro to the film. 009 is murdered with a Fabergé egg in his hand. We trace the owner of the egg back and uncover a smuggling ring, which sends Bond to India.
It’s competently put together and the writing is genuinely witty. The casino scene stands out in particular, as does the scene in the auction house where Bond switches the real egg for a fake.
Then Bond gets in a super-charged auto-rick and things take a nose dive; the film becomes an ugly tapestry of crap special effects, moronic jokes and awful ideas.
To name but a few, there’s a plastic alligator Bond uses as a submarine. There’s a watch that lets you look at boobs. Bond swings from vine to vine at one point and they splice in a Tarzan sound effect. One villain uses a circular saw on a yo-yo as a weapon (why would you want a power tool bouncing back at you?). The list is endless.
It’s stupid and really off putting, since the opening scenes do such a good job of reeling us in.
As with For Your Eyes Only, trying to cram both gritty, realistic story telling and cheesy jokes for the kids in one place just doesn’t work.
It’s safe to say that this hurts the film a lot more that its predecessor. The bad parts are so bad that they remain stuck in our mind and anything even vaguely memorable flies out the window.
None of this is helped by the fact that the plot is far too complicated. It is impossible to follow what is happening. People’s motivations do not match their actions, and no one seems to make any logical moves, including Bond.
The performances aren’t too bad mind you. Moore is an old hand at the Bond game now and he’s always fun to watch even in the worst case scenario. Maud Adams plays Octopussy and is alluring despite having been given a weak part. She gives off the air of faux confidence, it’s clear she’s in deeper than she wants to be despite being in a position of power.
Despite its occasional highlights Octopussy stands as one of the weaker films we have seen thus far. Its slapstick tone doesn’t chime well with Bond’s smooth character, and its convoluted plot is nauseatingly hard to follow.