Roger Moore's sixth Bond is an all-time high...
Octopussy marks the tenth year for Roger Moore's tenure as James Bond. He has come a long way since he started. In 1973, he took over the role of Bond from Sean Connery, adding his own style of more lighthearted humor to his performance. Ten years later, we still see Moore's humorous wit, but this time, he demonstrates much more than that. In Octopussy, James Bond has a cold side, a romantic side, and a funny side all rolled into one. Moore plays each element of his character quite well. Because of this, I consider it his best performance as James Bond out of his seven Bond films over twelve years.
The story begins with not one, but two mysteries. First, a clown flees a circus with two knife throwers on his trail. He is, in fact, Agent 009 in disguise. There is already suspense with this scene as two questions come to mind. Will this agent escape? And why is he on the run? The answers come with the end of the chase. Agent 009 is murdered, but he manages to smuggle a Faberge egg to authorities just in time before his demise. Soon, an auction at Sotheby's is bidding a Faberge egg, similar to the one 009 had in his hands. This is the second mystery. Why is the egg so valuable, and to whom?
The trail takes James Bond to India and Germany where he spies on two characters: Kamal Khan and General Orlov. The former is an exiled Afghan prince who relishes wealth. The latter is a mad Soviet general who is against his country's policy of detente. The alliance between these two characters is more frightening that either character alone. It's another example of why a James Bond movie can be so exciting. The story begins with simple spy work but soon escalates into a desperate attempt to stop something catastrophic.
The film really does have a nice cast of characters. Khan and Orlov make up the cast of villains along with the dutiful servant Gobinda and the knife-throwing twins Mishka and Grishka. Among Bond's allies, tennis player Vijay Amritraj plays an MI6 agent with the same real-life first name. M appears as usual, but this is the first film in which Robert Brown plays M since Bernard Lee had passed away after his final appearance in Moonraker. And of course, Q the gadget expert is an amusing and likable character as usual. He is especially funny when he is shocked to see what Bond does with a camera in his lab.
Let's not forget the characters who complete the Bond cast: the Bond girls. The title character of Octopussy is effectively played by Maud Adams, who is a very stunning beauty. The film has not one or two Bond girls, but more girls in a single Bond movie than any other. Besides her right-hand woman Magda, Octopussy has a cult of beautiful women who seek guidance from her. The women altogether also make one deadly fighting force, as Bond would later find out.
Aside from the wholesome fun of a Bond film, there is the realism of the film's time period. Octopussy also works as a Cold War thriller. Bond is on a mission when Germany is still divided into East and West by the Berlin Wall. During a Soviet generals conference, General Orlov lays out his plan of invasion, illustrated by an electronic map expanding the red shading of the Soviet Union into Europe. The climax of the film heightens to a level of tension reminiscent of actual fears during the Cold War. The movie is a reminder that James Bond is not just any spy, but a Cold War spy.
If I had to pick Moore's best Bond films, it would be Octopussy and The Spy Who Loved Me, two different styles of Bond film but equally entertaining. Octopussy works because it mixes humor, suspense, romance, and action without favoring one over the rest. The cast is as wonderful as the characters they play. Despite his age, Roger Moore still manages to play Bond well, proving that he has not lost his touch as the suave secret agent even after a decade.
For more information about Octopussy, visit the Internet Movie Database.
In addition, check out my reviews for the following:
Official James Bond Films