The Weekly Bond Countdown: #21 – Octopussy (1983)

Bond in a clown costume – that is all I need to say.

I find it amusing that someone who is trying to diffuse a bomb still manages to find the time to dress up as a clown for the circus!

There’s something about Octopussy I can’t stand.  Sometimes it’s hard to explain but I don’t enthusiastically love this film like the other Bond films.

I think deep down inside I find this film bland.   Out of all the Roger Moore films as Bond, this one is easily the worse for me. By this time, Moore had already established what his Bond was all about, so I’m definitely not going to make any excuses for that.  In fact some of his scenes are probably the best moments in the film.

However there were too many incidents that are distracting which let down an ok plot. After a decent opening, which involves Bond flying a mini jet plane, it is then followed by an uninspiring Bond theme sang by Rita Coolidge.  To be fair, it’s hard to find words that rhyme with Octopussy“All Time High” works in that case but it is a very boring track.  When you compare it to other Bond themes, it lacks impact to the point where it could have been the theme to another film entirely and sadly not even composer John Barry could save it.

Looking back at Moore’s career as Bond, the majority of his films seem to be competing against the popular films (and fads) at the time.  Moonraker was Bond’s answer to Star WarsLive and Let Die was an answer to the rise of the Blaxploitation films during the 70s.  The Spy Who Loved Me had a character called Jaws (Richard Kiel).  A man with razor sharp teeth and would eventually take out a shark towards the end of the film! Coincidence?  Well Octopussy was Bond’s answer to Indiana Jones (and Tarzan if you count Bond swinging through the trees in the jungles of India).

What’s great about Indiana Jones is that it’s a memorable 80s film that pokes fun at the 1930 serials about explorers hunting for treasure.  But with Bond, the jokes feel misplaced as if the makers were unsure what to do.  There are one-liners or double entendre moments that could have been easily used in a Carry On Film.  “Having trouble keeping it up Q?” Bond asks as Q tests a remote controlled rope that fails to keep upright.  Other examples include Bond using Q’s video camera to zoom in on a woman’s breast or Bond’s face, painting a thousand words when he hears what Magda calls her tattoo.  Trust me, I think we were all pulling the same face!  I guess for me, the whole thing feels cringe worthy.

It also feels like they threw everything but the kitchen sink at Octopussy, as if the stunt was planned first and then scene context written later. Or loosely match various (and yet glorious) locations just so Bond could jet set over there. I can imagine the pre-production meetings where the world atlas was on the table with members of the crew placing pins on different exotic locations just to decide where Bond hasn’t visited.

And whilst I completely understand the plot, try explaining how you get from a Faberge egg to disarming a nuclear bomb in a circus!  Trust me, it’s not like playing six degrees of separation with Kevin Bacon.

Even though this film was released before Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, I couldn’t help but laugh at a few Temple of Doom-esque scenes.   There’s a question of believability in one scene where Magda (after stealing the real Faberge egg from Bond), loosely ties her dress on the balcony and gracefully falls to the ground where Kamal is waiting for her.  Either her dress is made out of the strongest material ever, or do we comically have to believe that her tying one-knot could support her weight?  Indiana Jones had those “Anything Goes” moments, like falling out of a plane with Short Round and Willie Scott with nothing but a inflatable boat! And how can we not forget the dinner scene where Bond was served an Indian delicacy…a sheep’s head!  Yum!  Bet horsemeat sounds appealing now…

If there is one saving grace with Octopussy then it was when the film was released.  The film was released the same time as Kevin McClory’s Never Say Never Again (a remake of Thunderball – a film I won’t be reviewing as technically it’s not an official Bond film).  Octopussy won outright.  For me it’s proof that a Bond film is more than just hiring a past (and popular) actor to step back into the role.  A Bond film has its own formula and elements.  Roger Moore (at that time) WAS Bond, in an official Bond film, with official Bond music, with Cubby Broccoli as producer and with a cast and crew who have worked together for years to make each Bond film exciting and adventurous.  All this based on stories created by Ian Fleming, the creator of Bond.

Unfortunately for McClory, his film wasn’t going up against a movie franchise…he was going up against a dedicated family.

The Countdown So Far:

Check back next week Wednesday to find out which Bond film comes in at #20.

Author: Kelechi Ehenulo

Creator and writer of Confessions From A Geek Mind. Loves sci-fi and LEGO - couldn't ask for a better combo!

6 thoughts

  1. i liked this movie.actually the plot of this movie is way too complicated.i figured it out after watching it for the third time.it is a fun filled adventure movie

    Like

    1. It might be appealing but for me, the entire film is cringeworthy. Not as bad as Die Another Day (because we both know that is awful) but it’s on that tipping point. But thankfully there’s moments where it saves itself from complete and total disaster.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s one of the appealing things about Bond and the fact that he gets to travel around the world. I just felt with Octopussy, it was so obvious that the film was there just because they haven’t been to India, rather than the plot driving where Bond goes.

        Liked by 1 person

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