Moore Does Pussy Galore
For a time James Bond was all about escapism, it was about watching a dashing agent escape what seems impossible, charm his way into a woman's bed and save the day. And there is nothing wrong with escapism until it goes too far and becomes too stupid for words and sadly some of the most stupid James Bond movies came during Roger Moore's watch. There was "Moonraker" which was too stupid for words and then there was "Octopussy" which comes close to rivalling it, not just through the action being so outrageous but also the storyline being convoluted. And having played Bond for a decade Roger Moore was now going through the paces, camping up the once suave super agent to the point that "Octopussy" edges close to being a spoof. As such saying I don't really like "Octopussy" shouldn't be a great surprise.
When Agent 009 shows up dead clutching a Faberge egg 007 (Roger Moore - For Your Eyes Only) is put on the case to find out why 009 was murdered. His investigation soon leads to Kamal Kahn (Louis Jourdan - Three Coins in the Fountain) and then the delightful Octopussy (Maud Adams) who whilst running a circus full of sexy women also dabbles in jewellery smuggling. But things are not as simple as they seem and when Bond over hears Kamal talking to Russian General Orlov (Steven Berkoff - 44 Inch Chest) he discovers that Orlov plans to attack the West by switching hidden jewels heading across the defence line in to Berlin with an atomic bomb. Can Bond save the day whilst stopping various henchmen from killing him whilst also having the time to charm himself into the bed of Octopussy?
There are a lot of issues with "Octopussy" but the most critical is that it is messy. We have a storyline about General Orlov wanting to attack the West, there is a storyline about a fake Faberge egg, some stolen jewels, a bloke called Kamal who seems to link these together and a sexy woman called Octopussy who has a circus and is involved in jewellery smuggling. There is basically too much going on and because certain elements appear at the start then take a back seat for most of the movie you not so much wonder what is going on but don't care and good job too because it doesn't make much sense anyway. You almost get a sense that the producers realised by the early 80s that audiences were not so interested in the storyline but Bond's escapades, the sexy women and the brushes with death.
That leads to the next issue because as I already mentioned there is nothing wrong with escapism as long as it doesn't go too far and sadly "Octopussy" goes too far. The opening action where Bond is trying to plant a bomb on some military base may feature some stunning stunt flying but it is just too unbelievable. Same with action further on in the movie, a chase through the streets of India, sneaking to an island disguised as a crocodile and of course the big action finale which sees Bond gripping on to a plane which at one point is upside down. It simply tries to be too spectacular and becomes too unrealistic to just be escapism. Yes much of it is memorable but whilst memorable for being great stunts it is also memorable for being over the top and corny.
Of course it doesn't help matters that the humour again is too over the top and a lot of it becomes too corny. The quick quips end up being embarrassing for being so cheesy and even Roger Moore at times looks embarrassed as he raises an eyebrow whilst trying to deliver a one liner.
Talking of Roger Moore well to be honest "Octopussy" looks like he is on autopilot, delivering lines, acting charming when he delivers some cheesy line and looking all action hero when the time comes. But there is nothing new, this is the same thing we have seen before except with an element of not really trying, do what is needed and little more. At least Moore is better than Steven Berkoff who plays Orlov because this is a performance of over the top acting, sort of in keeping with the movie being over the top but not necessarily good for being so.
But "Octopussy" does have a couple of things going for it; Louis Jourdan does deliver a decent bad guy as Kamal. He is smooth and dangerous, a worthy enemy for Bond who is fearless and nefarious. And then there is Maud Adams in her second Bond movie as Octopussy and whilst the character is seriously thin at least Adams does make her seriously sexy. And saying that is not wrong because Octopussy is an intentionally sexy character and anything less would have felt wrong.
What this all boils down to is that I'm not a fan of "Octopussy", it may not be the worst Bond movie ever made but it is very close. From being too convoluted to being too over the top it does become uncomfortably close to being a spoof and other than some great stunt work and a decent performance from Louis Jordan there is little to make "Octopussy" worth watching.