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Review Octopussy (1983): Odd one in the franchise!

genre: action, adventure, espionage

Octupussy is an odd one in the franchise. It's one I had different opinions about throughout the years. I recall not liking it the first time I watched it. But subsequently I began to regard it as one of the better ones. Now after many years I think it's in-between. There are some good moments in the film, but also very questionable ones. 

The main issue with Octopussy is the sense of urgency. In most Bond films, there usually are huge things at stake. While plot wise this is the case, it never feels like something grave is to happen. In large part, one can blame the tone. Everything is played out tongue-in-cheek. Combine that with Roger Moore basically being too old and many silly moments, it's real hard to take matters seriously. Don't get me wrong. The lighter comedic moments certainly are welcome, but if only there would have been more serious scenes to balance it out somewhat.

Then there is the stereotypical portrayal of India. I can only tolerate this since this is an older film, and it's not directly offensive. So I won't go into that. However, there are some issues concerning the casting. Octopussy and her ladies for the most part should have been portrayed by Indian women. There are a few, but apparently the casting director only could find two actresses who fit the description. Of course, this is preposterous. Bollywood was at its best in the Eighties. So many actors and actresses to choose from who could have been in the film. But they didn't even try. Sneh Gupta who plays the Indian hotel guide very easily could have portrayed Octopussy. I mean not that I have anything against Maud Adams. However, Gupta definitely is more beautiful and would have been more authentic even if she is Kenian born. 

And let us be real, Maud Adams didn't do that much in the film. She was more someone whose character is pivotal and mentioned constantly. But when she finally appears, doesn't really make that much of an impact. Vijay Amritraj does bring a charm to the film, but he was a tennis player and not an actor. And he only was picked because he met Cubby Broccoli at the Championships in Wimbledon. Kabir Bedi as the henchman is great. I do wonder though why he hadn't been picked to play the big baddie. I thought the actor playing Kamal Khan was not compelling in the slightest. Bedi in that regard is a scene stealer and has more presence and grace and arguably more acting chops.

I did enjoy the action. Like the train sequence and the manhunt. Although, it never feels like Bond is in real danger. This would have been the perfect opportunity to demonstrate that events should be taken seriously. Thing is that if you would put all the action in one montage the action will look decent, only it's not particular memorable in the way it's cut. With one exception. The assault on Kamal's palace. It's here where we get to witness the very special qualities of Octupussy and her ladies. But the real iconic moments are not present. If they were, I surely would have been full of praise and would make all kinds of excuses for the flaws this film has. 

Overall Octopussy is a bit disappointing especially compared to say A View to a Kill which to me is far more consistent and enjoyable.

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