Octopussy Review

Because of how often the Roger Moore led Bond films are shown on television, I feel like I’ve assimilated much of his work into my system without really noticing. Case in point, Octopussy, which I remembered a few set pieces of without having any real memory of watching the film in its entirety. Perhaps I should have left it that way. Inevitably there was no desire to view this, nor was there any point in doing so. Once you’ve seen the few big explosions, heard the one-liners and, if you’re a nerd, read the book, you’ve already seen more than what this adaptation can offer to audiences.

Moore is an instantly divisive Bond. You either love the light-hearted, campy craftsmanship he brought to the table, or recoil in anguish at his bumbling antics which vaguely resemble the Connery era, but with less edge. Octopussy certainly isn’t the best example of Moore’s talents, but providing a serviceable enough vehicle for his sixth outing as 007. Signs of wear and tear were beginning to show long before this. Not entirely changing up the way he approaches the role makes for significantly underwhelming scenes. With nothing unique to add or provide on each consecutive performance, Octopussy has the unenviable position of offering a bland screenplay to a performer completely set in his ways.

With an impressively underwhelming cast behind him, director John Glen marches on through in dutiful collaboration with Moore once again. His second turn in the directing chair, as poor as it is, can be excused somewhat. Finding your footing in such a large franchise is no small feat, greater directors than Glen have tried and failed to turn in an effort worthy of adoration. His work here is fine, a craftsman that is brutal to his own vision, seemingly in favour of making Moore look good. Nobody needs to make Moore charming or grounded, he was far into his role as the debonair agent, and a guiding hand from the director’s chair in this instance feels startling, and not in a positive manner.

It’s a tad stupid, filled with some strange plot details and, ultimately, is just rather boring. Octopussy has the expected bits of memorable dialogue, but as far as real narrative quality goes, it’s sincerely lacking. Nothing can break through the horridly expected story choices, the usual twists and turns all along the way. Some may find this a real charm, some grandiose statement on how superbly consistent the series is on the whole. Consistent, yes, the James Bond franchise at this time had been steady and unwavering when faced with mediocre projects, and Moore presided over many of them. Octopussy is just another action flick, lacking both interest and, crucially, a memorable villain.

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