My bond with… Bond: Octopussy (1983)

By Christian DiMartino

I’m not sure if I’ve ever discussed this on this page, but for the last 15 years, I have been a big fan of the James Bond series. I started watching them as a nine year old and even though some aren’t so great, they are usually at least pretty entertaining. I remember how proud I was of myself when I memorized each of the movies in chronological order… again, I’m a dork. So with the arrival of Bond’s next outing, No Time to Die, finally hitting theatres next month (as a Bond-aholic, November is a more fitting month, but it’s whatever), it seemed like an ample time to stroll down memory lane.

If you’ll recall, in my last review of For Your Eyes Only, I mentioned that that film should’ve been Roger Moore’s final outing as Bond. Not just because he was getting a bit too old for the part, but also because it would’ve been a fine note to go out on. Well, little did I know that it WAS supposed to be his final go, but once MGM realized that Warner Bros. were making a rival Bond film, Never Say Never Again, starring Sean Connery (a film I have never seen), they knew they had to go with someone reliable and familiar, as opposed to be a new star. So just when Roger Moore was out, they pulled him back in for a 6th time with Octopussy.

I had probably only seen Octopussy one other time before last night, and while it’s not a film that I dislike, necessarily (if you haven’t noticed, I find something of merit in most of these movies), Octopussy is one of the more forgettable entries. Its set pieces are decent and the film has its moments, yet much of it feels very much like assembled parts of other, better Bond films. It is watchable though, at least.

We open with the obligatory action sequence, this time involving Bond (Moore) sporting a mustache doing something involving planes. Again, I just watched the movie last night, and my mind is sorta blank. What I do still remember though is the opening title song, Rita Coolidge’s “All Time High.” I’m pretty relieved that she didn’t attempt to find rhymes with “Octopussy.” Something tells me that wouldn’t have went well. In any case, I actually dig this song, and not just because it played a role in Seth McFarlane’s comedic gem Ted (if you’ll recall, Mark Wahlberg sang it on stage at a Nora Jones concert… my memory works in mysterious ways).

Following this, we get a man dressed as a clown, who turns out to be an agent named 009. 009 is gunned down on this mission by a set of twins. Bond begins looking into the killing of 009, and he gets caught in the middle of kerfuffle involving a fake faberge egg. He also discovers a plot involving jewel smuggling, which is being headed by a mysterious woman named Octopussy (Maud Adams, returning in a different role following The Man with the Golden Gun). It takes a good hour for the title character to make an appearance, but seeing as this is a Bond movie, you can assume what role she actually plays in the story.

Octopussy holds you but it doesn’t fully grip you. It’s a movie of moments- moments that are colorful and interesting, as you’d expect from a Bond movie, but also moments that just don’t really click with you, either. The main thing you take away from this movie is the circus stuff. We see Roger Moore dressed as a clown at one point, Octopussy’s henchwomen are essentially gymnastic acrobats.

In terms of the Bond girl department, you remember Octopussy simply because of her name. There isn’t all that much to the character, besides the circus stuff, and even that feels it was kinda stolen from Goldfinger. Which, I gotta say… Pussy Galore and Octopussy… I don’t know who their parents were, but I hope they received punishment of some sort. Octopussy does make more of a splash than the villains though. Like For Your Eyes Only, these villains pretty much evaporate from the memory. I get that at the end of the day all of these Bond villains are essentially up to the same stuff, but I mean, why not have the villains be clowns? That would at least be more interesting.

The moments in Octopussy that do work though make this bumpy ride enjoyable enough. Particularly the final act. Much of this movie plays more like an Indiana Jones movie than anything, but the final act of Octopussy is silly and nutty; but brimming with more personality than the rest of it. Shoot, we even get to witness Desmond Llewellyn’s Q in action, and that alone is almost worth the price of admission. Moore definitely looks too old for this part, but he really shouldn’t be to blame. They needed an actor they could depend on, and he was that actor. The material, however, could’ve used a bit more of a polish. “An All Time High,” it is not, but I have seen worse.

James Bond, and I, will return with A View to a Kill.

2 thoughts on “My bond with… Bond: Octopussy (1983)

  1. Contrary to the theme song, Octopussy isn’t exactly an all time high. It’s definitely in the middle quality of Bond films. Seeing Bond as a clown was admittedly funny and as usual it has some cool action sequences but it’s clear that the Moore Bond formula is starting to wear itself out at this point. Also, I find the transition into the theme in the beginning funny from Bond saying “Fill her up” before the cheesy ‘80s sax comes in right after.

    Liked by 1 person

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