Jun 20, 2014

Review: Octopussy (1983)

John Glen returns to direct his second James Bond installment after For Your Eyes Only. What was great about FYEO was that it was a return to a more simple storyline and a grittier feel after the Moonraker fiasco. Octopussy appears to have an even simpler story but that's not really the case once the curtains are fully pulled back. What's changed this time around is how much Bond humour there is (too much!) and the complete absence of any real grit. So basically everything that was good has changed.

It's really a shame because For Your Eyes Only really was a great recovery. There still is a touch of the old spy-thriller feel in Octopussy as there was in FYEO but there's just this unhealthy injection of too much humour and one-liners. Is it the addition of George MacDonald Fraser as a third writer that caused this? Is it an attempt at hiding the general uninterestingness that plagues Octopussy in general? Who knows, but there's definitely something wrong.


Genre: action, adventure, crime
Directed by: John Glen
Produced by: Albert R. Broccoli, Michael G. Wilson, Tom Pevsner
Written by: George MacDonald Fraser, Richard Maibaum, Michael G. Wilson
Music by: John Barry
Running time: 131 minutes
Production company: United Artists, Eon Productions, Danjaq, etc.
Distributed by: MGM/UA Entertainment Company, United International Pictures, C.B. Films S.A., etc.
Country: United Kingdom
Language: English
Budget: $27,500,000
Box office: $183,700,000

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Roger Moore, Maud Adams, Louis Jourdan, Kristina Wayborn, Kabir Bedi, Steven Berkoff, David Meyer, Tony Meyer, Desmond Llewelyn, Robert Brown, Lois Maxwell, Michaela Clavell, Walter Gotell, Vijay Amritraj, Albert Moses, Geoffrey Keen, Douglas Wilmer, Andy Bradford




Our story begins with Agent 009 sneaking out of a circus in East Berlin. He is being chased by two knife throwers who are able to semi-succeed at delivering the killing blow. 009 makes it to an English embassy before succumbing to his injuries with a fake Fabergé egg in his possession. MI6 are called in and Bond is asked to piece together why there would be a fake Fabergé egg at all and why the real one is about to go on sale at an auction.


There is plenty of action as there should be in a Bond movie but none of it is particularly exciting. The story takes place mostly in Delhi, India which is interesting I suppose because it gives the chance for Bond to be involved in a chase involving rickshaws. This is meant to be like the Citroen 2CV chase from FYEO but the effect isn't the same. It's meant to be a simpler chase without any Bond gadget-porn but with all the jokes, it's just ruined.

The scenes which are meant to be fun just aren't and the overdose of jokes and one-liners doesn't help. Some of the one-liners are actually pretty good but it's mostly hit or miss. What's strange is that there seems to be this Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom vibe going on because of the fact that Octopussy is set in India. Octopussy came out first but it also does a fair amount of India gross-out scenes, albeit not as much as Temple of Doom did. There's a dinner scene where an entire sheep head is served to 007 as well as a couple of scenes where some creepy crawlies getting under his skin. It's definitely a weird coincidence. The worst joke in the entire film though is a ridiculous reference to George of the Jungle that should never have seen the light of day.

All the characters besides Bond aren't really all that interesting either. Especially compared to For Your Eyes Only which had a great group of supporting characters. I don't really like Maud Adams as the main Bond girl and Louis Jourdan's character Kamal doesn't get many opportunities to be particularly evil. Kamal's sidekick Gobinda (Kabir Bedi) is just comically gruff and there are never any really gritty fights between him and James Bond. He seems like a tough customer but never gets the chance to show it.

The opening segment is alright but it also has just a couple too many jokes. The opening credits? They almost seem like satire because basically every single design involves the female form and the 007 gun logo. You could seriously see these credits with a change of music being ideal for a joke about how James Bond opening credits usually are. In the end, Octopussy is the perfect Bond film to accuse of being a spoof of the series and it's too bad. There are some nice elements here and there but with the overload of jokes, Octopussy is more bad than it is boring.



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