Roger Moore essays the role of Ian Fleming’s secret agent 007 for the sexth, that is sixth time, pardon the pun. James Bond’s newest cinematic mission, other than surviving some serious competition from the likes of Return of the Jedi and Superman III, finds the veteran spy taking on an exiled Afghan, a subversive Soviet soldier, and Octopussy.
John Glen, director of Moore’s last assignment, For Your Eyes Only (1981) returns. The twelfth installment of the series shows no signs of serving as a coda though Father Time is certainly catching up with Moore. At nearly 56 one can only wonder when he’ll be handing in his licence to kill.
Following a spectacular opening sequence, as they usually are in the Bond pictures, Bond is at the office. There he is chatting up Miss Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell) and her young, comely assistant (Michaela Clavell, daughter of Shogun author James Clavell). He gets a briefing from his superior M (Robert Brown, filling the shoes of the late Bernard Lee) and the Minister of Defence (Geoffrey Keen) following the death of a fellow MI6 operative.
Bond’s latest undertaking whisks him from an auction at Southeby’s for a jewel-laden egg to an encounter in India with a charismatic Afghan named Kamal Khan (Louis Jourdan). Shortly thereafter he has a brief tryst with Kamal’s alluring mistress (Kristina Wayborn), becomes a prisoner, and later a quarry of Khan.
Of course there is the Bond woman. Maud Adams, who played the mistress of Moore’s foe in The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), returns to Bondage in the role of Octopussy. She is a wealthy woman whose business interests include a circus, jewel smuggling, and soon after meeting him, James Bond too (of course). Khan isn’t Bond’s only problem. His adversaries include a warmongering Russian (British stage veteran Steven Berkoff)) who is far more menacing than his Afghan ally–talk about strange bedfellows; Kabir Bedi as Khan’s Sikh henchman; and the usual assortment of unnamed goons whom Bond disposes of sooner or later.
Adapted from a pair of Fleming short stories (“Octopussy” and “The Property of a Lady”), Octopussy offers up an entertaining bonanza of action and humor. Though the finale, as much fun as it is, does stretch credibility a bit as several spry she warriors team up with Bond and the curmudgeonly gadget guru Q (Desmond Llewelyn). It’s nice to see him in the thick of things. One might wonder if the writers have ever thought of bringing back Felix Leiter. It’s been a number of years since the CIA agent and 007 ally was last seen onscreen in Moore’s first Bond adventure, Live and Let Die (1973). In addition to Lucas’ space saga and the Superman sequel, Bond will be facing off this year against… James Bond. Sean Connery will soon be coming to theatres as 007, nearly a dozen years since he renewed his licence to kill and thrill in Diamonds are Forever.