Following the down-to-Earth, Fleming thriller, “For Your Eyes Only”, “Octopussy” seems to relax a bit, and reverts to the jolly, humorous Roger Moore Bond film style — but this time, in moderation.
The film starts off with some great espionage and action. James Bond uses a disguise to infiltrate an air base and plant a bomb. The plan ends up falling through, and Bond comes face to face with the man he’s imitating. After being captured, Bond is able to escape from the back of a military truck with the help of his attractive, fellow agent. Cleverly hidden within a horse trailer, Bond hops into his AcroStar Mini Jet and flies off — only to come into contact with some opposition. After dodging a heat-seeking missile, and performing some amazing stunts, Bond casually lands near a gas station. After pulling up, he lightheartedly says, “Fill her up, please.”
The characters in this film aren’t of the high quality of the characters in “For Your Eyes Only”, however, they work well with the material. I’ve never really been amazed by Louis Jourdan’s performance of the villain Kamal Khan. He certainly doesn’t rank up there with Wiseman’s Dr. No, or Sheybal’s Kronsteen, or even Savalas’ Blofeld. On the other hand, though, he’s not a terrible character. I just never found him to be menacing. On the other hand, Kabir Bedi’s performance (as Gobinda) was quite menacing; I consider him to be a henchman to match the might of Oddjob. I like how the character was taken rather seriously, instead of being turned into a joke like Jaws. Perhaps that’s what added so much menace to the character. The knife-throwing twins, Mischka and Grischska, and the power-hungry General Orlov held these similar characteristics. As far as allies go, Vijay was pretty standard. He wasn’t as amazing as Jack Lord’s Felix Leiter, but he wasn’t as terrible as, say, Rosie Carver. The Bond girls seemed standard to me, also. Maud Adams returned to play Octopussy — but, Bond’s been there and done that. Kristina Wayborn (Magda) played a minor Bond girl, but I seemed to think that she wasn’t much of an actress, and more so an object to please the average male viewers’ eyes. It was fun to see Q in the field, though, landing a hot-air balloon on top of some of Khan’s goons.
John Barry did a favorable job with the film’s score. Though, I don’t consider it to be as legendary as the scores to “You Only Live Twice” or “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”, it still beats the hell out of Bill Conti’s dated, cheesy score to “For Your Eyes Only”. Rita Coolidge’s theme song was decent, also, but surely doesn’t match some of the classic themes of the series. Again, I prefer it to that annoying, sappy theme to “For Your Eyes Only”.
As far as locations go, India worked well in this film. The locations in Germany seemed grim, but worked well, also. The rest of the film tends to stay pretty serious, although we do get some ridiculous scenes that tend to take an audience out of “the moment”. For example, there’s a scene where Bond tells a tiger to “sit”, a scene where Bond swings across some vines and the Tarzan jungle-cry is heard, and then just plain-old cheesy lines like “That should keep you in curry for a few weeks”. Though Roger Moore was nearly 60-years-old at the time of the film’s release, he still held up pretty well, and looked pretty damn good.
Overall, the film is a laid-back successor of “For Your Eyes Only”. There are some scenes/aspects in which “Octopussy” tops “For Your Eyes Only”, but there are also some scenes/aspects in which “Octopussy” reverts back to the old, ridiculous nonsense that plagued Bond films like “Moonraker”. Roger Moore’s Bond era tend to catch a lot of harsh criticism, but sometimes for good reason. This film, however, doesn’t deserve any of that. It’s serious, yet fun. And most of all, it’s Bond. This is one of Moore’s best portrayals, I’d say.