Octopussy ★★★½

Geoff T's James Bond-a-Thon #13
Octopussy (1983)

And so we're back into camp territory again, with the film where Bond dresses as a clown. Yes, that's a thing that actually happens.

With the popularity of films like Raiders of the Lost Ark (which itself was inspired by the Bond series, ironically), the producers decided to take this instalment into more of a adventure film direction, resulting in what is easily one of the most ridiculous of the Moore era. Even then, I think this is still a very enjoyable enough entry that has it's share of goofy but memorable moments, but script-wise the entire thing feels a bit disjointed and unfocused.

This one has some sort of weird storyline revolving around the theft of valuable jewels owned by the Soviets, and is probably one of the most non-sensual in Bond history. From what I understand, 009 (dressed as a clown) retrieves a fake Fabergé egg in Germany before his demise at the hands of a knife-welding circus duo. In London, the auctioning of an identical (and authentic) Fabergé egg by Afhgan prince Kamal Khan attracts the attention of MI6, who send Bond to India to investigate whenever he has anything to do with 009's death.

What is stumbled upon is a smuggling ring where Khan and Soviet General Orlov organize the theft of relics while replacing them with fakes. Involved in this is the titular Bond girl 'Octopussy' (Maud Adams), a wealthy smuggler and owner of her own travelling circus trope. Robert Brown fills in for the role of M this time, and makes a suitable replacement for Bernard Lee. Q is also given more screen-time as he assists Bond heavily on his journey, along with Bond's Indian ally and contact Vijay.

The daftness in this one is off the charts. Bond pulls off a good amount of extremely silly antics such as doing a Tarzan yell while swinging on vines, hiding in a Gorilla suit to avoid detection on a train and attempting to stop a bomb at a circus in Germany while dressed as a clown. Even then, it has some good moments like Bond flying a fighter jet in the pre-title sequence, attempting to keep up with a moving circus train and hanging onto a plane to rescue Octopussy.

Music wise, it's what you'd expect from John Barry with a more adventurous style, a huge departure from the more upbeat score in the last film. The theme song is Rita Collidge's 'All Time High', one of the first Bond themes to lack mention of the film's title. Although this is an extremely unpopular one with most Bond fans, I personally find it to be a pretty nice and relaxing ballad, even if it is really generic.

As much fondness as I have for this one, I can still imagine it being a major put-off for many. It's easily up there with Diamonds Are Forever and Moonraker as being one of the cringiest entries, despite having some very impressive set-pieces and exotic use of locations. Watching Moore as Bond now feels rather awkward because of his age, and I feel this should have been in his last one. Still, he was in for one last outing.


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