Octopussy (1983)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Octopussy</strong> (1983)

(Third viewing, On Blu-ray, October 2018) This is probably my third viewing of Octopussy, first after seeing it as a kid when it first played broadcast TV, and then again later as a re-run as a teenager where I found it far more interesting given the film’s higher-than-usual-for-Bond sex-appeal. As a middle-aged man, I’m a bit cooler on the film, but not by much—Octopussy is a slightly better than average Bond, with a strong heroine and one of the finest sustained suspense sequences of the series. Moore can’t help but let some of his characteristic silliness contaminate the film (It would be significantly better with about ten seconds’ worth of cuts to take out the dumbest moments and sound effects) but he also manages one or two of his finest acting moments as he realizes the nature of a nuclear-driven plot to destabilize Europe. Fully playing into Cold War dynamics does lend a bit of authenticity to this instalment, even though the film seems determined to undermine this seriousness with sillier moments ranging from a chase through an Indian city where all the clichés are used in rapid succession, to a dumbfounding Tarzan yell. While I wasn’t particularly fond of Maud Adams in The Man with the Golden Gun, her character and appearance here are far more mature than most of the Bond Girls—she’s an older woman with significant power, and the film does toy with the idea of Bond finding something of an equal. Alas, Octopussy does mess it up with a seduction scene that is less than enthusiastically consensual, and then again when it transforms this capable character into a damsel in distress. It’s really too bad that a handful of sequences can significantly damage an otherwise enjoyable film. The stunts are rather good, some of the narrative twists are interesting, and then there’s that breathless chase sequence in Germany that pushes Bond to his limits and maintains the suspense for a surprisingly long time. Octopussy evens out to an OK film, with a few frustrating issues but not as bad as many of the films in the series—or even just in Moore’s run.

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