Classic Intel: Octopussy - Online Review

'fairly famous Bond faux pas - the ridiculous clown suit, his Tarzan impression during the awful jungle hunt segment - permeate consistently'

There are several heinous and inexcusable crimes in Octopussy, which mark it out not just as a Bond film with a deeply flawed moral centre but also as a fascinating, depressing, insight into movie-making culture in the late seventies and early eighties. During the course of the film Roger Moore's James Bond seemingly forces Maud Adams' Octopussy to have sex with him, racially abuses two Indian colleagues and has close brushes with both a stereotypical German (sausage, beer, rotund) and a stereotypical mad Russian (mad). In isolation, maybe, you could partially put these instances down as unfortunate 'one offs' that got past a script supervisor, or lapsed moments when the director failed to recognise the error of his ways. In partnership they are damning. This is a film with a skewed, masculine, white, sexist, racist view of the world. A holdover from Empirical days of yore, sadly with Bond pivoting at the centre, spewing forth much of the distasteful guff which several people somewhere seemed to think of as perfectly acceptable.

On a much more minor level in terms of crimes committed in a cinema, Octopussy equally fails to excel as a Bond film. Maude Adams returns to the franchise, playing a different character than in 1974's The Man With The Golden Gun. In a franchise which consistently changes who plays the lead that might perhaps, be more acceptable, but outside Bond, would it be? It seems completely bizarre that Bond (also Moore in the 1974 offering) doesn't twig, along the lines of 'your lips look familiar', or other such witticism. Elsewhere, fairly famous Bond faux pas - the ridiculous clown suit, his Tarzan impression during the awful jungle hunt segment - permeate consistently.

And yet, there's also so much here to like. As is the norm with the franchise the runtime is lengthy (one hundred and thirty one minutes) but the pace is so sharply managed that you never get chance to notice it. The final major action sequence on top of a train is Indiana Jones levels of fun, an interesting comparison to note given that there are some parallels with Temple Of Doom, which came out a year later than this in 1984. Moore too, after hardly getting a shot off in 1979's Moonraker a few films previously, finally gets chance to do a little bit of shooting, and actually performs fairly well. The early sequences concerning the gentle espionage of the art world are very Thomas Crown, another charming Bond connection which Moore manages well.

Octopussy, at the final reckoning, eventually shows its true spots. It is an entertaining film, with several stand out sequences and Moore on good form, but it is also fraught with frivolous offensive components, and several inadequacies which prevent it from reaching the franchises' upper echelons. About as deeply flawed as a 'good' film can be.

Octopussy was showing on Sky Go and Sky Anytime.

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