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Octopussy (1983)

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Score: 7/10

Genre: Action and Spy Running Time: 2 hrs. 11 min.

Release Date: June 10th, 1983 MPAA Rating: PG

Director: John Glen Actors: Roger Moore, Maud Adams, Louis Jourdan, Kristina Wayborn, Steven Berkoff, Kabir Bedi, Desmond Llewelyn, Lois Maxwell, Walter Gotell

A

s each Bond film is released, the running time seems to increase by a few minutes (and this one is overlong by about ten or so). Apparently, a bigger budget allows for unnecessary scenes, though “Octopussy” does employ quite a few exhilarating action sequences (some of which are more memorable than any before them). Fine-tuning the completely action-oriented introductory bit (now entirely unrelated to the main plot), Bond engages in undercover work, a high-flying escape, and an explosive diversion, all before the elegant theme song “All Time High” announces the title – perhaps the most ridiculous of the bunch – as well as yet another opening interaction that familiarizes viewers with the actual premise.

In East Berlin, a fake Faberge egg is delivered by the dying Agent 009. Picking up with “Operation Trove,” British Agent 007, James Bond (Roger Moore), is to find out the significance of the forgery. Meanwhile, fanatical Russian General Orlov (Steven Berkoff) is intent on achieving world socialism through force, bragging of his ability to command 15 armored tank divisions capable of destroying any opposing forces within just five days. NATO’s threat of countering with nukes is dismissed as improbable due to Russia’s own possession of retaliatory nuclear potential and insistence upon universal disarmament. But superior Gogol (Walter Gotell) wants nothing to do with Orlov’s extremist ideals, leaving the power-hungry commander to scheme on his own.

In the mix is art seller Kamal Khan (Louis Jourdan), who buys the fake Faberge egg at a Sotheby’s auction when Bond switches it for the real one. Vixen Magda (Kristina Wayborn) seduces Bond to get it back, also coordinating his kidnapping, which puts him in front of a mysterious woman called Octopussy (Maud Adams). Of all the countless, beautiful actresses in the film industry, it seems unreasonable that the filmmakers would want to reuse Maud Adams, who previously appeared as a Bond girl in “The Man with the Golden Gun” – but she returns nonetheless, looking older but not unrecognizable, and possessing no connection to her previous character.

Bond’s tongue-in-cheek attitude, while at an all time high (pun intended), is, on rare occasion, done exhilaratingly well, engaging in some hilarious repartee with evildoers, along with an unusually witty exercising of gadgetry and stunt choreography (despite a few of his usual adolescent antics). The new setting in India is amusingly accommodating, with a blowgun shootout, snake charming, coal-walking, sword-swallowing, a hunting safari with elephants, majestic palaces, and a formidable henchman with a turban (an imposing figure put to good use more than once). There’s also a gimmicky dinner scene involving the consuming of ghastly foods (arriving a year before “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” duplicated this notion to greater affect).

For the first time in the series, the story unfolds like a true mystery, with the connections of various criminals being slowly revealed, instead of merely having some eccentric billionaire devising a plot to take over the world. Plus, using a military radical as the primary antagonist puts Bond back into a slightly more realistic world of espionage. The progression of events that leads Bond into various locations and action sequences is more fluid too, never feeling strung together randomly for the sake of including specific equipment. However, once Octopussy and her floating palace (with a crocodile moat) of warrior women (in ludicrous bright red uniforms, later revisited in Pixar’s “The Incredibles”) are revealed, the movie takes an immediate turn for the worse. All at once, it’s one of the most adventuresome and goofy, violent and comedic of the series. But highlights include memorable henchmen such as the circus twins with an affinity for knives, and Kabir Bedi as the intimidating Gobinda, repeatedly turning up to duel Bond; a lively train-top quarrel; the usual bevy of scantily clad women; and stunts that routinely top the previous entries in the series.

– Mike Massie

 

 

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