Tag Archives: John Glen

Octopussy (1983) Review

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Octopussy

Time: 131 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1]
Cast:
Roger Moore as James Bond
Maud Adams as Octopussy
Louis Jourdan as Kamal Khan
Kristina Wayborn as Magda
Kabir Bedi as Gobinda
Director: John Glen

James Bond (Roger Moore) sets out to foil a nuclear attack on the NATO. However, in order to do so, he must enlist the help of a circus group and its obscure leader, Octopussy.

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Roger Moore’s previous Bond movie For Your Eyes Only ended up being quite a surprise, one of the more underrated entries in the franchise. The next Bond movie for me to revisit was Octopussy, another Bond movie I have a very limited memory of. I went in open minded but unfortunately I found the film rather lacking. It’s not only silly and badly done in parts, it’s just dull to sit through.

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Octopussy starts off well. Right from the get-go, it’s very clear that after the last Bond being relatively serious, the producers wanted to get back to campy Bond. It’s fun and hilarious, if not very original for a Bond opening. Even the initial premise started out pretty interesting. I was expecting some campiness and I certainly got that. There were parts of it I liked, such as when it gets to the circus and Bond dons Bond dons clown makeup. However there are also some parts where it gets a bit too much, like when Bond does a Tarzan yell as he’s swinging through the jungle. On the whole, it does border into being a bit too stupid and juvenile in parts, and it wasn’t even funny for most of it. When you look at some of the things that happen in this movie, it sounds interesting or at least entertaining. Unfortunately, its surprising dull despite its ridiculous moments. To put it bluntly, I was bored through much of the movie. The script is very muddled and confused. The plot involves Faberge eggs and somehow connects to nuclear weapons and a Russian general, and at a certain point I stopped trying to follow what was happening because the story was incomprehensible. Its surprisingly complicated and hard to follow, and not in a top tier espionage spy thriller way. The story felt half-baked, underdeveloped, formulaic and familiar, even lazy as it falls back on old tropes. It might be strange to say but this movie has just about no narrative momentum. Things definitely happen in the movie, but none of it builds on each other. Individual scenes are fine to watch on their own, but there’s no connection holding them all together and it makes for a very uneven experience. The pacing itself is rather sluggish too, and my patience really only lasted as long as the first act.

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Roger Moore plays James Bond once again, and he’s definitely had better performances as the character. He is sleepwalking at times but he’s effortlessly charming and fun to watch. With that said he’s definitely on the older side, and this should’ve been his final Bond movie (or more preferably For Your Eyes Only). Maud Adams plays the role of Octopussy, and all of her memorable aspects of that character begin and end with her name. While it makes for a title that not’s easy to forget, I do wonder why its named after her considering that the character doesn’t have much to do here. I feel like even Adams’s considerably smaller part in earlier Moore film The Man with the Golden Gun left more of an impression than in here. The main antagonists are quite weak, not terrible but forgettable. The Bond villain Kamal Khan is played well by Louis Jourdan but isn’t threatening at all. Kabir Bedi fairs a little better as Khan’s bodyguard.

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John Glen returns as director after For Your Eyes Only. The direction in this movie is mostly fine, if not as impressive. However there are definitely some good aspects here. The cinematography is solid, the camera makes great use of the locations (especially in India), and it captures the action very well. The action sequences aren’t as thrilling compared to For Your Eyes Only, but here’s still some solid stunt works and impressive work here. There’s fights, plenty of shootouts, chases, and more, the highlight being a long sequence on trains in the third act. The action isn’t that thrilling and leans more into camp, but there’s good work there.

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I was taken off guard by how little I enjoyed Octopussy. I’ve seen Bond movies that are absurdly silly, I’ve seen Bond movies that are boring, but I haven’t seen a Bond movie that’s depressingly both. It’s not without its strong points, Roger Moore has been better in other movies but is charismatic as always, and some of the technical work and action is solid. However the script drags everything down, uneven, unfocused, dull, and tedious to watch. Very likely the worst of Moore’s Bond films and is one of the worst Bond movies in general.

For Your Eyes Only (1981) Review

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For Your Eyes Only

Time: 127 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1]
Cast:
Roger Moore as James Bond
Carole Bouquet as Melina Havelock
Topol as Milos Columbo
Lynn-Holly Johnson as Bibi Dahl
Julian Glover as Aristotle Kristatos
Director: John Glen

After a British information-gathering vessel gets sunk into the sea, Agent 007 (James Bond) is given the responsibility of locating the lost encryption device and thwarting it from entering inimical hands.

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The later era Roger Moore movies are probably the James Bond films that I remembered the least. After Bond reached its peak silliness with Moonraker, I was wondering what they were going to do next with the follow up film, For Your Eyes Only. I actually liked it quite a lot, and its one of my favourite Moore-era Bond films.

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For Your Eyes Only is actually recognised as the most serious of the Roger Moore Bond movies. After the over the top nature of Moonraker, Bond goes back to basics with the next film. Even the gadgetry is reduced, making Bond feel more vulnerable and the story comparatively grounded. The campiness is definitely downplayed, it still has the humour, one-liners and double entendres that you would expect from the Moore Bond films. It also has a fair amount of absurdity, including a moment where Bond faces off against hockey goons. Plotwise, For Your Eyes Only is an occasionally complicated but otherwise straightforward cold war era spy thriller about Bond having to find a sunken ship. The mission isn’t constantly riveting from beginning to end, and it does have some convoluted twists and turns which can halt the pacing a little. However, it is consistently strong in the second half, and on the whole I liked the story. I particularly admire that this is a Bond film where you really have to pay attention to what’s happening. In terms of other issues, the ones that stand out in my mind are strangely the first and last scenes of the film. The opening is a very random scene where Bond encounters a bald man in a wheelchair with a white cat who isn’t officially called Blofeld but is definitely meant to be Blofeld. Its absurdly silly and funny particularly with the dialogue but unless you understand the reason why this scene was included in the movie, it won’t make sense at all. As for the final scene, it involves a talking parrot, yet the most bizarre choice was a cameo by one Margaret Thatcher, which I think it really could’ve done without.

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Roger Moore is reliably great as James Bond once again, even if he’s starting to really look his age. It is a strong contender for his best appearance as the character. Bond in this movie was surprisingly ruthless, and while The Man with the Golden Gun had those moments, For Your Eyes Only really showed that Moore could pull it off (even if he’s not such a fan of that interpretation of the character). Carole Bouquet is the main Bond girl named Melina Havelock, and I liked her. She has her own motivation that happens to cross over into Bond’s mission as she’s on a quest for revenge after her parents are killed. Age difference aside, the chemistry between Moore and Bouquet is believable, and the romance itself is naturally developed and less forced than some of the other Bond romances. One of the stand out actors in this movie was Topol as a Bond ally named Milos Columbo, who is entertaining and great in all of his scenes. On the flip side you have Lynn-Holly Johnson who’s a young ice skater named Bibi Conti. She was a bit irritating but it is made worse when she is really into Bond and comes onto him a couple times despite looking way too young. Thankfully the 54 year old Roger Moore doesn’t actually bed her in the movie, but she’s nonetheless a bizarre and pointless addition to the film. Julian Glover is essentially the villain as a Greek businessman named Aristotle Kristatos. I like him as an actor and he’s certainly done well at villainous roles many times. However he’s a rather unremarkable villain even though I appreciate him being a more grounded character, especially after the last two movies having villains who were plotting to destroy humanity and create their own society. Overall he was an okay villain but not that memorable.

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John Glen, who was the editor on some of the previous Bond movies, is the director here. He’s done a really good job, and it’s solid on a technical level. It’s a very well shot movie, For Your Eyes Only is a globetrotting Bond film and it makes great use of the locations. The action is particularly where the film shines. There’s a diverse range of action with a fun car chase in the countryside, a chase on skis involving motorcycles and bobsleds, and more. The highlight was a very tense scene in which Bond is rock climbing on a cliff that’s still impressive to this day. The only scene which didn’t work for me was an extensive underwater scene, its just slow and dull to watch. I liked the soundtrack of the movie, from the score from Bill Conti to the title song from Sheena Easton.

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I wouldn’t say that For Your Eyes Only is one of the best James Bond movies, on the franchise on the whole it’s a middling entry. However I liked it a lot overall, from the very strong action, to the more serious and grounded approach and story. It is probably my favourite movie of the Roger Moore era after The Spy Who Loved Me. A rather underrated film that’s worth another look.

Licence to Kill (1989) Review

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Licence to Kill

Time: 133 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Timothy Dalton as James Bond
Carey Lowell as Pam Bouvier
Robert Davi as Franz Sanchez
Talisa Soto as Lupe Lamora
Anthony Zerbe as Milton Krest
Director: John Glen

After his friend, Felix Leiter, is gravely injured by a drug lord, James Bond (Timothy Dalton) seeks revenge. With the MI6 refusing to back him, Bond takes matters into his own hands.

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Of the James Bond movies I had yet to revisit, Licence to Kill was the one I was most looking forward to the most. Timothy Dalton’s second and final entry is now seen as being ahead of its time, doubling down on the serious and gritty take on the character and series from The Living Daylights to deliver a darker movie. It was not received exactly favourably by audiences at the time. Today it’s much better appreciated and I can say that it’s for good reason.

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Licence to Kill felt like a very different Bond than its predecessors, because it really was. Essentially the premise is that James Bond goes searching for revenge after his friend Felix Leiter is gravely injured and his wife is murdered on their wedding day. As such it drops the entire spy espionage aspect and goes straight for a revenge action route, ditching the formulaic plot structure of the franchise. There isn’t even a mission, Bond in the first half has his licence to kill revoked and goes on his own without help from MI6. It is a smaller and more personal story, straying from an espionage plot typical for a Bond film, which is probably why people in the late 80s weren’t feeling it. However it does give the story and Bond an emotional core, as all of his actions are personally motivated by him alone. The film continues with the darker, more serious and grounded tone from The Living Daylights and turns it up. The movie definitely pushed the limits to what PG-13 was at the time, it’s really violent for the Bond film, and cuts down on the wisecracks. That’s not to say that the film is overly self-serious, there’s a lot of fun to be had with it. It retains some of the familiar Bond conventions, including some gadgets surprisingly. However it chooses the right conventions to retain, while remaining true to itself and not forcing in classic Bond aspects. In terms of issues, I do think the ending is the weakest aspect and resolves the plot and characters a bit too neatly for my liking, with more of a typical lighthearted Bond ending.

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Timothy Dalton is once again great as James Bond although this time we see a different side to him, and overall delivers a better performance than in The Living Daylights. Here he is driven by rage and revenge and while we still get to see his humorous side through some one-liners and interactions, he usually doesn’t have much time for the charm or wit, for the better. The Living Daylights occasionally had moments that felt out of place for Dalton to deliver as no doubt carryover from the Moore era, Licence to Kill thankfully strips all that away. Dalton’s Bond also has depth, layers, and felt like an actual person with weaknesses. Also he really benefits from having the plot driven by him. Carey Lowell is the main Bond Girl named Pam Bouvier, and she was a very likeable and prominent presence in the movie. She is established as an equal to Bond, even saving him in their first encounter. Also like in The Living Daylights, there’s legitimate romance explored as the film progresses, and the two are very believable together. Q as played by Desmond Llewyn has a more prominent role in the movie compared to some of the other Bond instalments, as he decides to assist Bond with his vendetta by providing some gadgets. It adds depth to Q and Bond’s unique friendship, and I liked their interactions together. Another way that Licence to Kill is distinct as a Bond movie is the villain. The villain this time is Franz Sanchez, a drug lord played by Robert Davi, and seems to be one of the most grounded and realistic Bond villains. Sanchez doesn’t have any world ending plans, he’s just wanting to become more powerful as a drug lord and isn’t pushing any global plan by the time Bond comes hunting for him. He’s simple yet incredibly effective. First of all he feels like a real threat and is very intimidating in both character and performance. He’s also surprisingly human and isn’t cartoonishly evil, for example it is established that loyalty is very important to him. This goes to make Sanchez an interesting and unique Bond villain, and it’s helped by a strong performance from Davi. Another performance worth highlighting is that of Benicio del Toro in an early role as a henchman, who is very memorable in his screentime.

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Director John Glen does a very good job at directing this film. First of all, I really liked the deliberate grounding of the movie. The action is strong, well shot, and has some impressive stunts. As I said earlier, the film is more violent including people being eaten by sharks, people being lit on fire, and a man literally being exploded in a pressure chamber. All of this is fitting for the much darker tone of the movie. The third act is also very satisfying with its climax.

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Licence to Kill is a fresh movie in the Bond franchise, a stripped down and more personal film for the lead character with a darker tone and grounded take, while also being very entertaining to watch. The action is entertaining, the cast of characters are all memorable and solid, and I was invested throughout. Honestly it is my favourite Bond film outside of the Daniel Craig era. It’s a shame that Timothy Dalton didn’t get to do more Bond movies because both this and The Living Daylights rank among my favourite Bond films. If you like the Bond movies but haven’t watched Dalton’s movies, I highly recommend checking them out, an underappreciated set of movies in the franchise.