Octopussy (1983)

John Glen has a knack for making the odd and bizarre seems plausible. Yes, we can all see that this Bond is one of the more far fetched of the series, but I was okay with this. From the circus, to the mountains, to India, to a floating 'island' populated entirely with beautiful women; there is much in "Octopussy" that seems completely and totally ridiculous.
On the other hand, the stunt work for this film is fantastic. The visual effects are all good (minus the animation of a clearly robotic octopus) and there is genuine peril to the film that many other films before have lacked. Loss of life is now given the full respect it demands and women are no longer just some play thing to be wooed (not to say that this movie spares the series of its sometimes more than slight chauvinism; but at least these females have an inkling of a brain).
James Bond by this time has had a large number of adventures and this movie is probably at the top of them because, unlike so many of the previous films (mysteries, action flicks, savior films, revenge stories), "Octopussy" feels like a journey and a quest more than any of the other sub-genres that the franchise has experimented with.
The movie begins with an unrelated prologue that gives way to some very precise sequences. Bond is at the race tracks and he's trying to infiltrate a foreign military by posing as a general. He intends to destroy a piece of technology that they have; but he gets caught. He's sexy helping agent distracts the men and a plane unfolds from the back of his car, then he's shooting off into the sky to safety.
Post monotonous and repetitive main titles (Maurice Binder just needs to quit already), James is told of a Fabergé egg. We see a clown sneaking out of East Berlin and being pursued by a man with knives. Stabbed in the back, the clown makes his way to the British Ambassador's house and crashed in, letting the jeweled egg roll out of his hand.
This clown was an agent of MI6 and they aren't taking his death that lightly. Putting Bond on the case and studying the Fabergé egg, they see that the expensive bauble is a fake. The real egg is being auctioned off in a few days and Bond must accompany a jewelry expert to try to see if the seller will show up.
Jewel smuggling is not something new to the Bond franchise. We have seen it before in "Goldfinger" and "Diamonds Are Forever"; yet John Glen brings something slightly Hitchcockian to "Octopussy". A scene in which the Fabergé egg is auctioned off brings back memory to the auction scene from "North by Northwest" though the two movies couldn't be more different.
Roger Moore returns yet again though this is hi next to last performance as the title character. He's calm and collected, much more intelligent than Sean Connery's rendition; but there a mocking uncaring to his character. John Glen brings out the best in him and this and the previous Bond have been the best with Roger Moore as 007.
Aside from the problem with the title, "Octopussy" brings fresh circumstances to the Bond series without being completely irrational. The conflicting bad guys are unnecessary as is the signature ways that some of the henchmen kill people.
Fun and entertaining, "Octopussy" does get weighed down with its own ridiculousness; but it makes a valiant effort.

Score: ★★½

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