Picks and Pans Review: Octopussy
Let's get the standard objections out of the way: Yes, in this, the 13th film in the James Bond series (not counting the spoofy Casino Royale), there is a lot of casual violence. The leering sexism is relentless from Maurice Binder's silhouetted opening credits, in which obviously naked women cavort with obviously clothed men. Yes, some of the gimmicks are a little tired by now, and there is some faltering here in the pacing that keeps the eyes and ears so involved the brain has no time to ponder the implausiblity of it all. All that said, this is still a marvelous film. Roger Moore, in his sixth Bond movie, does his raised-eyebrow take to perfection. The film, set in sumptuous locations in India, looks and sounds wonderful; it is full of bright colors and brightly recorded sounds. (It is no coincidence that the same production designer, Peter Lamont, has done 11 of the Bond films.) Such familiar faces as Lois Maxwell (Moneypenny), Desmond Llewelyn ("Q") and Walter Gotell (Gogol, Russian general) return, as does Maud Adams, the first woman to have two major roles in Bond films, having been disposed of by Christopher Lee in 1974's The Man With the Golden Gun. Kristina Wayborn, who plays Adams' right-hand woman, is an attractive newcomer, and Louis Jourdan makes a superb villain. Tennis pro Vijay Amritraj handles a substantial part decently, and Michaela Clavell, novelist James' daughter, makes a token appearance. The plot has to do with a berserk Soviet general who wants to set off a nuclear bomb in Western Europe and make it seem like an accident, so antiwar forces will demand unilateral disarmament and cede power to the U.S.S.R. Director John Glen, who debuted with the 12th Bond film, For Your Eyes Only, maintains the kinetic magic for the most part. While this film is not up to the level of Goldfinger or Live and Let Die, it is still first-class escapist entertainment. (PG)
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