For Your Eyes Only was a stripped back reboot of the Bond franchise made necessary by the outlandish Moonraker. Octopussy sees a return to slapstick and nonsense, it's complete reversal only avoided by Jaws and that fucking pigeon being absent. The circus involved is more than just a setting. At the heart of Octopussy is a reasonably good story, a renegade Russian general wants to storm Europe with the aid of a nuclear accident. Unfortunately, the story is a Christmas tree and the writers and producers just kept adding tacky baubles and bits of tinsel.
Octopussy doesn't actually start of all that bad. Disregarding the pre credit sequence which really is a load of Toro the film proper begins with 009. Oh, yes, another '00'. He doesn't get to do much as he's dispensed with the Ferrero Rocher and ruined the ambassador's patio doors before a cunning deployment of a Faberge egg. A fake Faberge egg as we soon find out. The fake egg seems to be of more concern to M and (bloody Hell, yet again) the Minister of Defence, than 009's demise so Bond is sent to Sotheby's to find out what's going on. Meanwhile General Orlov is having a right ding dong with General Gogol. He only wins as he seems to be in charge of a revolving table. A Pyrrhic victory as his comrades basically tell him to shut up. Watching Steven Berkoff sulk is brilliant.
|I will defeat Bond with smarm|
Things are getting muddled. We now have a bonkers Russian general passing on jewels to Khan to forge who then uses Octopussy to smuggle them around. Octopussy has a squad of fearless fighting women but owns a circus. She's got the hump with James Bond. But how does any of this help Orlov make his tank divisions go east to west? What's the point of Octopussy other than to get Bond and Andrea Anders in the same room again? And who the bloody Hell is Rita Coolidge?
Octopussy is a mess of a film wrapped up in a game of 'That's not Roger' as myriad stunt doubles hurtle around the jungle and hold onto planes. Real Roger pops up ebery now and then to tell a tiger to 'sit' (I know) or bugger up the planting of a listening device. Khan smarms his way through scenes rather than offering any menace and Q is unleashed into the Subcontinent only to hold on to a native ally as he expires and fly a hot air balloon. None of it makes any sense or makes you care about anything. You could see why Moore really wanted to call it a day before the cameras rolled.
Somehow we establish that Orlov has planted a nuclear bomb in Octopussy's circus and is in the process of double crossing Khan and Octopussy by running off with the valuables. For a bloke Hell bent on world domination he is very involved in petty theft. The Western world's hopes lie with Bond, so what does he do? He gets on a train. No good can come of this and, true enough, a fight with a spot welding twin kicks off. At least Bond got out of the gorilla suit. By now Orlov is dead, his character completely redundant and yet his bomb still counts down. Berkoff was completely wasted as Orlov was relegated to the sidelines. The film would have benefited from him taking over from Khan as the main villain of the piece.
|What do you mean this bomb has no Waldorfs?|
|How Roger's clown make up should have looked|
Apart from the fact that Octopussy is a turgid lump in the Bond canon it's notable for one reason. It was produced at the same time as, and went up against, Never Say Never Again and the return of Connery. It's good that Octopussy pulled in more dollars than Never... and hopefully now that MGM have the rights to Never... we'll never see it again.
Octopussy jumped up and down on For Your Eyes Only's goodwill and was a step too far for dear old Roger. It should have been an omen that most of the crew had Delhi belly on location. There's one more to come from Roger. Hopefully he'll go out with a bang rather than a whimper.
James Bond will return and this time he'll be accompanied by another Avenger.
|No, not one of those Avengers|