A fake Fabergé egg, and a fellow Agent's death, lead James Bond to uncover an international jewel-smuggling operation, headed by the mysterious Octopussy, being used to disguise a nuclear at... Read allA fake Fabergé egg, and a fellow Agent's death, lead James Bond to uncover an international jewel-smuggling operation, headed by the mysterious Octopussy, being used to disguise a nuclear attack on N.A.T.O. forces.A fake Fabergé egg, and a fellow Agent's death, lead James Bond to uncover an international jewel-smuggling operation, headed by the mysterious Octopussy, being used to disguise a nuclear attack on N.A.T.O. forces.
Octopussy's events are sparked into action with a clown's departure from a travelling circus, a man in disguise and actually a British double-0 agent fleeing the place. The circus' jovial background ambiance juxtaposes the sense of chase and danger as he's pursued by two expert knife throwers whom have mean looking intent etched onto their faces; it dissipating with the deathly popping noise that a balloon the clown had attached to him makes upon snagging a branch - the danger escalates, and the scene changes tracts. Escaping them, he stumbles into an Allied embassy and dies on arrival – only to reveal that he was carrying a fabergé egg. Baffled but somewhat alarmed, the British secret service assign Bond to the case and charge him with finding out precisely what's going on. The egg is more broadly linked to that of Louis Jourdan's villain of Afghan descent, Kamal Khan. Khan is royalty in his neck of the woods and a man of whom comes equipped with a hard-as-nails body guard named Gobinda (Bedi), whose own strength is put across via a sequence in which he crushes some dice in the palm of his hands – allusions to Goldfinger's henchman Oddjob, and his uncanny ability to do likewise to golf balls, here rearing up.
A fair few miles away, Steven Berkoff's Soviet General, Orlov, is engaged in a heated debate with half a dozen of his compatriots. In reaction to another General's peaceful ideas about surrendering to the West and ending Cold War hostilities (dialogue playing out to a fitting background of a world map, inferring unity) Orlov outlines a plan built on the notion of full scale warfare which will result in the occupying of most of Western Europe out of an enforced Capitalist disarmament. His methods and attitudes are played out to a very different backdrop, that of a large image built on the iconography of a dictatorship-come-propagandist infused piece of artwork, something reiterating an aggression or a thirst for conquest.
But most of that stuff comes later on; primarily, it is about the duelling between Khan and Bond, a duelling which begins at a London auction in which Bond outbids the man for another fabergé egg and then continues on to an Indian-set casino when either man, respectively clad in white and black reiterating this sensibility of there existing conflict, do battle over a game of high-stakes Backgammon that again, sees Bond win out. When Bond is in India, Khan's nation of residence, it is to attempt to uncover why it was Khan desires the egg; a mark around which we encounter the titular Octopussy (Maud Adams, redeeming things somewhat for her turn/presence in the underdone The Man With the Golden Gun). We observe how Khan appears in the service of her and her palace-set island dwelling; conditions housing circus performers whom dominate a female-only zone. The women on Octopussy's island have purposes or roles; there is a sense of positivity where she dwells, that of taking people in and turning them into someone rather than nothing. Her abode, while very much similar to Khan's in appearance, is the polar opposite to his, in which plans for destruction and harm come to fruition, while attitudes of greed dominate proceedings and the lone female presence is that of the initially somewhat flimsy Magda (Wayborn), of whom is not particularly empowered and employed only as a seductress.
The film has a merry, outgoing quality about it; it is good, clean adventure imbued espionage fun – an honest romp with a likable degree to it. When allies in the film die, there is pause for thought and we sense their lack of presence; there is a sense of great travel throughout, characters are shooting from one corner of the globe to another but are discovering new things that actually total up into something. As the film builds to its finale, intrigue often intensifies rather than merely dissipating; clues are dotted around that we, as must the characters, have to make sure we observe: we overhear the names of certain German cities in distant conversations and that of dates, the names of these places rearing up later on in print furthering tension as pieces of a puzzle come together. We enjoy the intrigue, the mystery surrounding each movement and nuance as things develop – things are not spelt out to us like they might have been. While easy to criticise, the casting of a then-tennis pro and the taking of events to India in order to pine to a new audience seemingly rife enough, Octopussy holds up as a taut; coiled, involving spy thriller which works a lot more than it perhaps has any right to.
- Oct 5, 2011