Octopussy is directed by John Glen and adapted to screenplay by George Macdonald Fraser, Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson. It stars Roger Moore, Maud Adams, Louis Jordan, Kabir Bedi, Steven Berkoff, Vijay Amritraj and Robert Brown. Music is scored by John Barry and cinematography by Alan Hume.
Bond 13 and 007 is assigned to find the link between the murder of 009 and the Fabergé egg found in the slain agent's possession. His investigation leads him to uncover a fiendish plot by a rogue Soviet General to detonate a nuclear device that will leave Western Europe vulnerable to a Soviet attack.
Undeniably the film that should have been Roger Moore's last as James Bond, Octopussy contains both the best and worst of the James Bond franchise. On the plus side is a very good core story that encompasses intelligent political overtones that were prevalent of the time period. A nuclear crisis is in the air and the East and the West, who have until now been casting suspicious eyes over each other, must co-operate to avert disaster. This closing down of the Cold War is nicely etched into the plot structure by the makers. The cast assembled is mostly impressive, with Adams and Jordan doing great characterisations, the photography by Hume makes India look like a paradise, Glen orchestrates some excellent action set-pieces, including one of the best pre-credits scenes of the series, and Barry's score is a swirl of romanticism and invention. The title song, All Time High sung by Rita Coolidge, is magnificent and this writer's personal favourite of all the Bond theme songs. While there's a new man enviably following the much missed Bernard Lee by playing M (Robert Brown) and Q (Desmond Llewelyn) gets a bigger role to play in the story.
Sadly, even though Moore is continuing the good acting of Bond he achieved in For Your Eyes Only, he is looking his age and not physically suited to the action. He is also saddled with having to do moronic things like swinging on a vine whilst doing the Tarzan jungle yell. It's pretty painful to watch and you have to wonder who on earth thought it was a good idea? There's moments when a silly bit of humour undermines the good plotting, while Berkoff and Amritraj are in turn over the top villainy and scarcely believable as a field agent. The film looks cheap, a rarity for a Bond film, and the smartness of the story often gets buried beneath the weight of convolutions. Most galling is that we should have had a classic Bond movie, a gargantuan feast of sets and tough secret agent shenanigans, for this was the year when Bond as we know it was facing off against the Kevin McClory rival Bond movie, Never Say Never Again, and that had Sean Connery in it; though he was also like Moore in his early 50s and too old for the suit.
The two films never met head to head at the box office, because McClory's was delayed. Both films made monster cash, with Octopussy grossing $184 million and Never Say Never Again copping $160 million, Bond, and the two actors playing the role were enough to ensure the cash tills rang loud and proud. But both films were solid rather than special, the profit margins were high but the quality wasn't. Octopussy has a bit of something for all types of Bond fans, but they just can't make a successful whole. From the Eon side of things there surely had to be a new direction, some decision making assertiveness instead of fluctuating between earthy Bond and ridiculous button pushing Bond, it needed some vim and vigour brought back into the fray. Moore planned to retire, and rightly so, was we about to see the dawn of a new Bond era? 7/10