Final Two: It’s hard not to find yourself writing about A View to a Kill when you write about Octopussy. Both movies represent the end of the Moore tenure and both are faced with the same problem: How do you make a good Bond film when your main actor is too old for the role? Octopussy is the better of the two movies, and it seems as though everything Octopussy does right A View to a Kill does wrong. Octopussy manages to make Moore seem old and dignified while Kill makes him just seem old. Octopussy never has Moore explicitly say ‘I’m getting too old for this shit’ but by dressing him like a dad and giving him an age appropriate love interest, the producers seem to be leaning into his age instead of ignoring it. Of course, an age appropriate love interest in a Bond movie is still a woman eighteen years his junior but the chemistry between real life friends Moore and Maud Adams is fantastic.
Where: Location is also a key factor in making this the better of the two movies. The lion’s share of the movie is set in India, which is photographed beautifully, and leads to some creative ideas from the producers. Around the midway point there is a chase sequence that involves Bond on the run from elephant mounted villains, which leads him to encounter snakes, tigers, and other creatures as he tries to evade his captors. As an action scene it is rote, but the location and the animals make it something very exciting. A trend amongst Bond films is to sometimes hope that the setting is enough, especially in the early movies when simply showing a sumo match was deemed enough of a sequence without adding Bond into it. Later the movies tried harder to integrate Bond into these settings rather than simply showing them, and Octopussy is great example of not simply having Bond in India because it’s cheap to film/hasn’t been in Bond before/the filmmakers wanted a holiday/all of the above, but to actually use it to make the movie exotic and interesting.
Silly: This movie takes some lessons from For Your Eyes Only and tries to keep it simple but is a lot sillier than its predecessor. After all, this is a movie called Octopussy. This means we get to see Roger Moore dress up as a clown (and if the bomb timer is to be believed he performs this transformation in about eight seconds), a car with no tyres drive on railroad tracks, and a character played by tennis player Vijay Amritraj, who makes lots of tennis references and instantly dates the movie as his tennis heyday was in the 70’s and 80’s and is probably unfamiliar to modern audiences.
Overall: This movie would have benefited from being an earlier Bond. In an ideal world The Man with the Golden Gun is made later and is a lament about being an aging assassin and Octopussy is made in Moore’s prime and Moore doesn’t dress like a dad during the whole thing. Overall though, it an entertaining movie with some fantastic set pieces, such as the plane fight finale and a fitting final Moore Bond. Oh, wait, there’s another one isn’t there?