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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.