Octopussy

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

British agent 009 is found dead at the British embassy in East Berlin, dressed as a circus clown and carrying a fake Fabergé egg. MI6 immediately suspects Soviet involvement and, after seeing the real egg appear at an auction in London, sends James Bond—agent 007—to investigate and find out who the seller is. At the auction Bond is able to swap the real egg with the fake and engages in a bidding war with exiled Afghan prince Kamal Khan, forcing Khan to pay £500,000 for the fake egg. Bond follows Khan back to his palace in Rajasthan, India, where Bond defeats Khan in a game of backgammon. Bond escapes with his Indian colleague Vijay, evading Khan’s bodyguard Gobinda’s attempts to kill them both. Bond is seduced by one of Khan’s associates, Magda, and notices that she has a blue-ringed octopus tattoo. Magda steals the real Fabergé egg fitted with a listening device by Q, while Gobinda captures Bond and takes him to Khan’s palace. After Bond escapes from his cell he listens in on the bug in the Fabergé egg and discovers that Khan is working with Orlov, a Soviet general, who is seeking to expand Soviet control into Central Europe.

After escaping from the palace, Bond infiltrates a floating palace in Udaipur, India, and there finds its owner, Octopussy, a wealthy woman who leads the Octopus cult, of which Magda is a member. In Octopussy’s palace Bond finds out that Orlov has been supplying Khan with priceless Soviet treasures, replacing them with replicas while Khan has been smuggling the real versions into the West via Octopussy’s circus troupe. Orlov is planning to meet Khan at Karl-Marx-Stadt (Chemnitz) in East Germany, where the circus is scheduled to perform. After evading Khan’s assassins, who kill Vijay, Bond goes to East Germany.

Bond infiltrates the circus and finds that Orlov replaced the Soviet treasures with a nuclear warhead, primed to explode during the circus show at a US Air Force base in West Germany. The explosion would trigger Europe into seeking disarmament in the belief that the bomb was a US one that detonated by accident, leaving its borders open to Soviet invasion. Bond takes Orlov’s car, drives it along the train tracks and boards the moving circus train. Orlov is shot dead by GDR guards while trying to cross the border. Bond kills the twin knife-throwers Mischka and Grischka in revenge for 009’s death, and, after falling from the train, commandeers a car in order to get to the Air Force base. At the base Bond disguises himself as a clown to evade the West German police. He attempts to convince Octopussy that Khan has betrayed her by showing her one of the treasures found in Orlov’s car, which she was to smuggle for him. Octopussy realises that she has been tricked and assists Bond in deactivating the warhead.

Bond and Octopussy return to India and launch an assault on Khan’s palace. Khan and Gobinda flee the palace, capturing Octopussy in the process. Bond follows them as they attempt to escape in an aeroplane, clinging to the fuselage and disabling one of its engines. Gobinda dies after falling off the roof of the plane and Bond rescues Octopussy from Khan, the pair jumping onto a nearby cliff moments before the plane crashes into a mountain, killing Khan. While M and General Gogol discuss the return of the jewellery, Bond recuperates with Octopussy aboard her private boat in India.

REVIEW:

So, here I am returning to the Bond franchise with Octopussy. Isn’t that just a dirty sounding title? Arthur Fleming must have been a dirty old man, I tell you. Aside from coming up with characters like Pussy Galore and Octopussy, he makes his lead character, as one of my friends put it, “a cooz hound.” Still, I don’t think there are many men on this planet that wouldn’t trade places with James Bond in a heartbeat, let alone the scores of women who would line up to be a Bond girl (some have preferences to which Bond, though).

What is this about?

Agent 007 springs into action after uncovering a terrorist plot hatched by a renegade Soviet general and an exiled Afghan prince to launch a nuclear attack — financed by the sale of Fabergé eggs — against NATO forces in Europe.

What did I like?

Eggs. When I was growing up and would be dragged halfway across the country to visit my grandmother every summer, one of the things I remembered were these fancy eggs she had in her bedroom. As it turned out, they were Faberge eggs. Imagine how tickled I was to see the same things pop up in this film, albeit a much fancier and expensive version…not to mention not pink (long story, but my grandmother’s house was Pepto Bismol pink inside and out…ugh!)

Secret Agent Man. The last few Bond films I’ve seen, well all of them really excluding Dr. No, haven’t exactly showcased Bond’s spy ability. This is the first one that I can recall that we see him don disguises, sneak into offices, seduce the girls, escape nefarious captors, etc. Sure, he does a combination of these in all of the films, but for some reason, at least to me, it was more prominent with this film. Whatever we think of James Bond, he is a spy, first and foremost.

Humor. In the research I did before I hit play on this film this afternoon, I read that critics denounced it for not having humor. Now, as I have been making my way through this franchise, I have learned that humor is not the major selling point for 007. Leave that for Austin Powers or some parody. However, there is a place for it. When these films start to get too serious, they drag on and get rather boring. The powers that be behind this film knew that and threw in a few moments of levity, such as 007 give the Tarzan yell when he’s swinging through the jungle, the adolescent behavior he showed when talking to Q, or some light jokes here and there that just break up the monotony. Can you imagine life without someone funny in your life? Neither can Bond, I would imagine.

What didn’t I like?

Cold consequences. In comics, when Batman, Iron Man, Daredevil, Green Lantern, or whoever puts away the villain, they tend to break out after some time, but that’s life in comic books. These Bond films are meant to be more real life, so how is it that the Soviets can basically attempt to frame the US for trying to blow up the world (I am exaggerating with this plot, btw), and don’t even get a slap on the wrist? Something is quite unsettling about that to me. Maybe I am just not up to speed on my history and there was some kind of alliance between the UK and the USSR, or this is a plot device for a future film?

Theme. Aside from the grand compositions of composers like John Williams, James Horner, and the like, as well as the great songs that have come from Disney movies, the most popular film music tends to be the themes songs to 007 films. I mean, here we are about 2 or 3 years removed from the latest entry, Skyfall, and people are still humming it and requesting it on the radio. With that reputation to live up to, I have to say that this film didn’t deliver. The theme song is ok and passable, but I couldn’t tell you who sings it or hums it and I haven’t been long hit stop. Hopefully the next Bond film won’t have that issue.

KHAN! Another disappointment for me was the film’s main villain, a man named Kamal Khan. Louis Jourdan’s performance is actually solid, for what they gave him to do, but this film isn’t named Khan. Octopussy should have been the villain, if you ask me, or Khan’s chief bodyguard, whose name escapes me at this moment. That guy seemed to do more damage and serve as more of a threat to Bond than Khan, who was basically just another rich guy in a suit with delusions of grandeur. Typical for a Bond villain, but not threatening enough, as many of his predecessors have been.

I was telling one of my buds from college who is a Bond buff, that Octopussy will go down as one of my favorite in the franchise so far. He laughed it off and is currently telling my why it shouldn’t be, but whatever! Everyone has their own opinion, right? For me, this was quite the enjoyable ride, a return of sorts for 007 to his action/adventure roots and not relying so much on the gadgets and gizmos, though a few more of those would have been nice. Do I recommend this? Yes, I doubt that anyone will just hate this film, so give it a shot!

4 out of 5 stars

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