My James Bond Retrospective: Tomorrow Never Dies

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After the immensely successful return of James Bond in GoldenEye, the studios immediately began working on its sequel. Bond had roared into the modern era of filmmaking in 1995, and MGM—the distributor of the 007 films—began capitalizing on the resurgence of “Bond-mania.”

James Bond was all over pop culture again, from novels to music to video games. 007 hadn’t seen this much exposure since the 1960s. So, it came as no surprise that another Bond film made its way to the big screen just two years after GoldenEye.

1997_tomorrow-never-diesTomorrow Never Dies premiered at the Odeon Leicester Square on December 9, 1997, and performed admirably at the box office, despite sharing its opening day with James Cameron’s Titanic.

The film opens with Bond assessing a terrorist arms deal in progress somewhere on the Russian border. One of the terrorists, Dr. Henry Gupta, purchases a US GPS encoder. British Admiral Roebuck orders a missile strike on the arms deal before realizing that there are nuclear torpedos attached to a plane in the middle of the site of the arms deal. Bond takes advantage of the chaos and steals the plane. Gupta, meanwhile, escapes with the GPS encoder.

Later, media mogul Elliot Carver—the man for whom Gupta is working—uses the GPS encoder to set the HMS Devonshire off course into Chinese territorial waters. In the middle of the standoff, Carver’s stealth boat attacks both the British and the Chinese, turning the two countries against each other.

Bond is sent to investigate Carver’s possible links to the attacks as tensions between the two countries mount. Over the course of his investigations, Bond encounters Chinese agent Wai Lin, and the two work together to expose Carver and thwart his plans for world domination.

Though not as good a film as GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies is still a successful jaunt into the Bond universe. It’s admittedly a bit campy, and delves into somewhat outrageous circumstances. The plot is fairly standard, and there’s nothing spectacular about the story. It’s basic Bond. Nothing more, nothing less. Frankly, it’s a bit bland, but that doesn’t make it terrible.

What the film lacks in depth of story and character, it more than makes up for in action, stunt work, and special effects. The movie is a spectacle—probably the most visually stunning Bond film to date.

The characters—with the notable exception of Bond himself (and a minor character named Dr. Kauffman)—are pretty stale. Wai Lin, played by Michelle Yeoh, is rather dull for a Bond girl, and there really isn’t much chemistry between her and Bond. Elliot Carver, played by Jonathan Pryce, is a weakly portrayed villain. The character could have been convincing, but Pryce doesn’t really sell him that well.

Brosnan seems more comfortable in this role, and this time around, he seems to be characterizing Bond more similarly to Roger Moore. He’s not half as silly, but it’s clear he wants to take the character in a more humorous direction. In this case, it works pretty well, though I must say that the one liners were a bit too prolific. The screenwriters could have removed a few of them, and he’d still come across as humorously sarcastic.

Tomorrow Never Dies wasn’t a terrible movie, but I found myself a little bored throughout. It didn’t have the edge that GoldenEye had; it seemed to care more about promoting this new Bond “look” than about allowing Brosnan and the story to do their work.

Next up, The World Is Not Enough.

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My James Bond Retrospective: GoldenEye

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Following Licence to Kill, Timothy Dalton was getting ready for a third stint as Agent 007. Despite this, he was quoted in Bondage Magazine with the following: “My feeling is this will be the last one. I don`t mean my last one. I mean the end of the whole lot. I don`t speak with any real authority, but it`s sort of a feeling I have. Sorry!”

Dalton knew more than he let on. The franchise was plagued with legal problems since he had first started playing Bond in 1987. There were company mergers, sales of distribution rights, shifts in production rights, and far more. One thing after another pushed the next Bond film back further and further. Production was supposed to begin in 1990, and a film was supposed to be released in 1991. But as problem after problem arose, the years went on without a new Bond film.

In 1994, Dalton resigned, breaking his three-film contract. It seemed like Bond was no more.

Between all the legal battles taking place and the search for a new Bond (not to mention new screenwriters, a new director, and a whole new cast), the task of getting a new Bond film out seemed impossible.

Pierce BrosnanBut with Dalton now out of the picture, Barbara Broccoli (Albert Broccoli’s daughter and new head at EON Productions) turned to Pierce Brosnan, who had been announced as the man to succeed Roger Moore as Bond back in 1986. Since Brosnan was no longer tied to Remington Steele, it appeared he would, after nine years of waiting, finally take on the mantle of James Bond, Agent 007.

Brosnan had it all: the charm, the looks, the bravado, the stage presence. To everyone around him, he was James Bond.

But Broccoli didn’t stop at a new Bond. With all the shakeup that had taken place in the last five years, EON Productions took this opportunity to introduce a number of new elements to the Bond franchise: a new M, a new Moneypenny, a whole new set of recurring characters, a completely new creative team, and even a new 007 logo—marking a new era for Bond and the start of the modern age of James Bond filmmaking. The 007 family was getting ready to say goodbye to the 20th Century and hello to the 21st.

What started as a foreboding moment in Bond history and the possible end of the franchise turned into an exciting run that breathed new life into the dying film series. This new look was essentially a “reboot” of the series (though not officially as the term hadn’t been applied to films just yet, and the idea of reestablishing the Bond franchise was too risky a move for the time period).

In 1995, audiences were introduced to a whole new era of James Bond 007.

1995_goldeneyeGoldenEye debuted on November 13, 1995, at the Radio City Music Hall in New York. The film was the most successful and highly anticipated Bond film since Moonraker, and was the fourth highest grossing among all films in 1995. Critical reception was positive, and audiences praised the new direction the Bond franchise was headed. Roger Ebert praised Brosnan’s performance, saying that he was “somehow more sensitive, more vulnerable, more psychologically complete” than the previous ones.

The film begins in 1986, where Agents 006 and 007 are infiltrating a Soviet military installation. While setting explosive charges, 006 is shot and seemingly killed as 007 escapes, destroying the facility.

After the opening titles, the story jumps to 1995. The Cold War is over, the Iron Curtain has been torn down, and Bond finds himself in a world wherein he may not belong.

Elsewhere, a Russian general steals control of a powerful satellite weapon known as GoldenEye and sets in motion a plan to control the world through electromagnetically destroying major cities throughout the world. He starts by destroying the satellite control station in Siberia.

Sean Bean and Pierce Brosnan as 006 and 007MI6 discovers that the general isn’t working for the Russian government at all; instead, he’s working for a crime syndicate known simply as Janus. Bond investigates, and over the course of his investigation he discovers that the man behind Janus is none other than his old friend Alec Trevelyan, Agent 006.

GoldenEye launches the Bond franchise into the modern era of filmmaking. Computer imagery is incorporated in the film, tighter cutting techniques are employed, and the dialogue is more focused than ever before. The film is well written and takes itself much more seriously than any Bond film before while at the same time poking fun and criticizing at the franchise as a whole. Nowhere is this attitude clearer than in the new M’s description of Bond as “a sexist, misogynist dinosaur,” and “a relic of the Cold War.”

The movie elevates believable acting over good looks, providing a realism that hasn’t existed in a Bond film before. Every cast member is memorable, from the new Moneypenny (who proves that she is far wittier and more independent than Bond had ever given her credit for) to the film’s villain, Alec Trevelyan, played masterfully by Sean Bean. While not as sadistic as some other villains in the Bond series, Trevelyan proves he can be the most dangerous villain for Bond as a former partner and best friend. An outstanding performance, but then again, it’s Sean Bean. He never delivers a subpar performance.

Both Bond girls in the film are well played and carry the story in powerful—yet very different—ways. Famke Janssen plays Xenia Onatopp, a twisted and frightening Russian soldier working for Janus who gets some bizarre sexual gratification from murdering people.

Izabella Scorupco plays Natalya Simonova, a Russian computer programmer who helps Bond complete his mission. Scorupco connects well with the audience, and her character is very believable. I found myself often rooting for her throughout the movie. She’s smart, sexy, and strong, challenging Bond almost every step of the way and proving that she can outwit him.

Brosnan’s performance is stellar. Easily the best performance of Bond to date. Now, I’m not saying he’s the best Bond, but his portrayal of Bond in GoldenEye far outshines anything Connery, Lazenby, Moore, and even Dalton had done before. Brosnan brings a weightiness to the role and opens a window into what makes Bond tick. We see hints of emotional connection, allowing us to feel for the character more than we ever have before while also getting a sense for that armor that he puts up to protect himself emotionally.

On the other hand, Brosnan also has the opportunity to do something unprecedented. He has the opportunity to take the best out of what the other actors had done and create a Bond that has flashes of both Connery and Moore. He’s harsh and blunt like Connery, but he’s witty and dashing like Moore. We also see hints of the cold and calculating version of Bond that Dalton had begun to develop.

Brosnan also does the best job of delivering two of Bond’s most iconic lines. Check it out below.

If there’s one complaint I have with the film, it’s the casting of Joe Don Baker. While his character in GoldenEye is a much better role for him than Brad Whittaker was in The Living Daylights, I still don’t like the idea of reusing actors for different roles in the same movie franchise. Don’t get me wrong; I like Wade. I just wish he weren’t the same person who played another character in the Bond universe.

Overall, GoldenEye is my favorite Bond film so far. It’s realistic, tightly cut, well written, and well executed. I have to admit that it’s the film I’ve seen the most number of times, and I watched it this time with a sense of nostalgia (as it was the Bond film of my childhood; I was 11 years old when it debuted). I tried to remain as objective as possible, but it’s difficult when so much of my childhood is wrapped up in this film.

I like Brosnan as Bond. I think he suffers from some bad scripts, but I’ve always loved his portrayal of the character. But that’s getting ahead of myself. For now, Bond is back, and he’s gotten an upgrade.

Next up, Tomorrow Never Dies.

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My James Bond Retrospective: Licence to Kill

Immediately following the release of The Living Daylights, EON Productions began development on the next feature. The plan was to continue in the vein of Timothy Dalton’s first film, exploring Bond’s darker side. The original title for the film was Licence Revoked, but due to some confusion among some American test audiences, the title was changed at the last minute to Licence to Kill.

As a result of this change, the marketing campaign had to be altered significantly to accommodate the new title. The original marketing campaign reflected the darker tone of the film and was an evolution from previous James Bond marketing. The new marketing ended up more “traditional Bond” than the initial campaign, causing some audiences to feel bothered by the darker tone of the movie as they had seen a lighter tone in the advertising.

The film opened at the Odeon Leicester Square in London on June 13, 1989. The film did not do well in the box office; some cite the last-minute marketing change, while others cite the heavily saturated summer of movies. Batman, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Lethal Weapon 2, Ghostbusters II, and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids all came out that summer.

The film opens with Bond and DEA agent friend, Felix Leiter (played once again by David Hedison), on their way to Leiter’s wedding. They’re interrupted when a group of DEA agents inform Leiter that a drug lord he has been hunting down named Sanchez had just been spotted nearby. He and Bond immediately take off and make the arrest. After they complete the mission, they make it just in time for the ceremony.

A $2 million bribe convinces the arresting agent to spring Sanchez free. Sanchez goes after Leiter, kills his wife and feeds Leiter to sharks. Leiter survives, but he loses his arm and his leg to the sharks. Because of his closeness to Leiter and his wife, Bond goes on a personal vendetta, hunting Sanchez and attempting to bring down his operation.

Bond’s actions anger M, who attempts to pull him in. Bond refuses and resigns his commission as 007, going rogue and attempting to accomplish the mission without MI6 support.

Licence to Kill is the darkest and most violent Bond film to date, with a deceptively simple plot and a well executed screenplay. Unfortunately, audiences weren’t prepared for such a dark movie at the time, and the film suffered at the box office. Critics remarked the the film was too dark, and much of the charm that they were used to (likely from the Roger Moore films) had vanished, replaced by an angrier, deadlier sentiment.

Dalton appears more comfortable this time around. The film is built around his darker sensibility and works well for him. I was on the edge of my seat for practically the entire movie. The gritty action, smart dialogue, harsh characters, and simultaneously simple and complex plot all give this film an edge that is much needed in the franchise.

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The primary Bond girl, Pam Bouvier (played by Carey Lowell), is a tough woman who gives 007 a run for his money. She’s an edgy, gritty character who has an intoxicating elegance about her that is tantalizing and frightening at the same time. She’s easily one of my favorite Bond girls, but she’s incomparable to any Bond girl who came before her.

Franz Sanchez, played by Robert Davi, is a vile character. He’s a well portrayed villain, deviant, powerful, and maniacal. The last time I was this awed by a Bond villain was Blofeld from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Every character was well written, but not every character was well portrayed. The secondary Bond girl, for example, was not a good performance. She was stiff and didn’t have a good grasp of her character. It was clear she was doing little more than reciting her lines.

Desmond Llewelyn plays Q yet again, but this time he gets far more opportunities to shine than he ever has. His appearances give much needed comedy relief to an otherwise gloomy film. Despite this, he is able to show off a more sensitive side to his character, a welcome exploration of a mainstay of the franchise.

Licence to Kill is a great film. It was way ahead of its time; the film was about as dark and violent as a mid- to late-2000s film. It’s unfortunate that Bond fans in the 80s weren’t ready for the stark change in the franchise.

This would be the last Bond film anyone would see for a long time. Due to legal difficulties, the film franchise would be held up for several years. Fortunately for us, the next Bond film is just a Blu-Ray disc away.

Next up, GoldenEye.

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My James Bond Retrospective: The Living Daylights

If there’s one complaint I have of the last few James Bond films (both official and unofficial), it’s that Bond is old. Sean Connery, around the time that Octopussy and Never Say Never Again came out, was heard saying, “Bond should be played by an actor 35, 33 years old. I’m too old. Roger’s too old, too!”

After the disappointment (both critical and financial) that was A View to a Kill, Eon Productions began work on a new Bond film. This time there were no plans for Roger Moore to return to the franchise as he would be 59 years old by the time the film would be released. A massive search for a new actor to play Bond began, trying out talents like Sam Neill, Daniel Pilon, Mel Gibson, and Sean Bean.

The biggest splash was made by television star Pierce Brosnan, considered a favorite to portray the character. Brosnan accepted the producers’ offer to play Bond and was getting ready to take up the role as his television show Remington Steele had recently been cancelled by NBC due to falling ratings. Thanks to the announcement that Brosnan would be the new James Bond, interest in Remington Steele resurged, prompting NBC to exercise a 60-day option in Brosnan’s contract on the 60th day. NBC purchased another season of Remington Steele, causing Albert Broccoli to rescind his offer to Brosnan, stating that he didn’t want an actor playing Bond who was also starring in a contemporary TV series. According to Broccoli, “Remington Steele will not be James Bond.”

This series of events caused a decline in Remington Steele interest once again, and the newly purchased season was shortened to five episodes before it was officially cancelled. However, the deed was done; Brosnan would not play Bond.

The Broccolis were relentless. Rather than return to the aging Moore (as Albert and Harry Saltzman had done with Connery when Lazenby decided to not return for a second round), they continued their pursuit of a new actor. Dana Broccoli (Albert’s wife) suggested Timothy Dalton for the role. Albert was reluctant, knowing that Dalton had been publicly vocal about his lack of interest in James Bond, but he offered the role to Dalton anyway, who surprisingly accepted.

Finally, after 12 years and 7 films, a new James Bond appeared, right in time for Bond’s 25th Anniversary.

The Living Daylights premiered at the Odeon Leicester Square in London on June 27, 1987.

1987_the-living-daylightsThe film opens with an SAS defense testing operation gone awry. A 00 agent is assassinated during the operation, and 007 pursues. A tag with the phrase Smiert Spionom is left behind.

Later, Bond is sent on a mission to oversee the safe defection of Russian general Georgi Koskov. As Koskov is making his escape, Bond spots a lone sniper attempting to prevent his escape. Agent Saunders urges Bond to kill the sniper, but Bond notices that she is not a professional sniper and decides to frighten her with a shot instead of killing her.

Koskov escapes to western Europe and gives the British government Soviet military information. He also claims that General Pushkin has begun eliminating British agents in an operation known as Smiert Spionom, which means “death to spies.”

Several plot twists and action sequences later, Bond finds himself chasing down Koskov, who turns out to be on the wrong side of both the British and the Russians, and who has thrown Pushkin under the bus, as it were.

The Living Daylights is a welcome reprieve from the practical parody that had plagued the Bond franchise on and off for the past 12 years. Audiences in 1987 complained that the film was a bit too dark, but that’s likely because of what they were used to in the Bond franchise. Dalton has an excellent first performance as Bond, and his supporting cast is equally as competent.

As a side note, Dalton looks (to my eyes, at least) the most like Ian Fleming’s original rendition of the character among all the men who have played Bond so far. He also portrays the character more closely to Fleming’s description of him in the novels. While Moore took Bond in a more refined, light-hearted direction, and Connery played a dashing and debonair portrayal, Dalton plays him as a cold, hard assassin. The rendition works well, and this film turns out to be a hidden gem of the franchise.

The movie feels a bit dated for its time, carrying a somewhat 70s quality (with the exception of the soundtrack) despite being a late-80s film. That’s not necessarily a bad quality, but it doesn’t seem to have aged terribly well.

With regards to the characters, I found the new Miss Moneypenny and the new Felix Leiter to be a bit stiff in their performances. The Bond girl Kara Milovy, played by Maryam d’Abo, was quite good. Far less annoying than Stacey Sutton, but nowhere near as appealing as 60s Bond girls Pussy Galore or Tracy Di Vicenzo.

The primary villain, Brad Whittaker—an American arms dealer who comes off as a complete buffoon, was played by Joe Don Baker. There’s really nothing intriguing about this villain, or Koskov the secondary villain, which is where this film’s weakness lies. While it’s actually a decent movie, there’s a dearth of well written baddies, so the stakes just don’t seem terribly high. The villains of this movie are silly and incompetent, making Bond seem a bit weak when he can’t dispatch them easily.

All in all, this film wasn’t half bad. It was enjoyable, but not outstanding. That’s not surprising though. It seems to take Bond actors three films before they settle into their roles and come out with something stellar. It’s unfortunate that Dalton never got that chance.

Fortunately, we do get to see him one more time…

Next up, Licence to Kill.

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My James Bond Retrospective: A View to a Kill

As I progress through these films, I’ve noticed that the quality of my reviews has begun to drop of late. To be honest, it’s tough to thoroughly enjoy these films the worse they get, and I have found myself wanting to plow through these reviews as quickly as I can. I apologize for that.

While I certainly enjoyed films like The Spy who Loved Me and For Your Eyes Only, and I thought Moore’s performance in those films was quite good (and, for my tastes, more enjoyable than Connery’s), Moore had too many weak films to be known for his standouts, and unfortunately his reputation as Bond characterized by the weaker films, especially since neither of those two aforementioned films had the same impact on the franchise that Goldfinger, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, or some of the later films would have.

By this point, Moore was 57 years old. This was the biggest criticism most had of the film. Moore himself, in a 2007 interview, said, “I was only about four hundred years too old for the part.” Sean Connery remarked about the film, “Bond should be played by an actor 35, 33 years old. I’m too old. Roger’s too old, too!” Moore was appalled to discover that his female co-star’s mother was younger than he. A View to a Kill was the actor’s least favorite film.

1985_a-view-to-a-killA View to a Kill was the first EON Productions Bond film to debut outside of England. The film opened on May 22, 1985, at the Palace of the Fine Arts in San Francisco. It premiered in the UK on June 12, 1985, at the Odeon Leicester Square Cinema in London.

The film opens with a ski chase (surprise, surprise), and despite ski chase ubiquity in Moore’s Bond films, this one starts off well. It quickly delves into the ridiculous, however, when The Beach Boys’ “California Girls” begins playing as Bond “snowboards” his way through the remainder of the chase.

The film has several enjoyable moments, but overall, it’s rather tough to watch. Once again, the film relies heavily on too many tropes that have unfortunately become characteristic of Roger Moore’s Bond films. We know that his films are capable of so much more as we’ve seen in The Spy who Loved Me and For Your Eyes Only, but it’s almost as if the producers were trying to pigeonhole Moore into a particular mold. Sure, he had kicked things off in Live and Let Die with a slightly more comedic type of Bond, but that quickly turned from an endearing quality of Moore’s version of Bond to an annoying identifier of almost every film and not just the character. Moore played a more tongue-in-cheek Bond, which was fun to watch, but the films themselves began to rely on comedy, and that just didn’t work for Bond.

This version of 007 has more than run its course.

While there isn’t anything overly negative to say about this film, there is absolutely nothing great to say about it either. In fact, the film rests entirely in mediocrity. It’s not boring, per se, but it’s not particularly exciting. Stacey Sutton (played by Tanya Roberts) isn’t an awful character, but at the same time, she’s not particularly interesting either. She’s little more than a pretty face that tags along with Bond over the course of the film.

The villain isn’t all that great either. Zorin (played by Christopher Walken) is about as formulaic a Bond villain as could be. The character is representative of the film overall. There’s a formula that works for a Bond film, and when well executed, can be a huge success. A View to a Kill sticks to the tried and true formula, but it’s so formulaic and vanilla that it’s practically boring. The film lacks any imagination at all.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to continue watching these movies. I’ll acknowledge their importance to pop culture, but I’m finding it really tough to move on from one film to the next.

Thankfully, something very new awaits…

Up next, The Living Daylights.

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My James Bond Retrospective: Never Say Never Again

Long before EON Productions became the de facto James Bond production company, before Albert Broccoli decided to work with Harry Saltzman on producing a film based on the James Bond novels, before Harry Saltzman met Ian Fleming…long before any of what we know about James Bond ever came to be, a man named Kevin McClory gained an interest in the spy character known as Agent 007.

McClory met Fleming in 1958 and proposed the possibility of a television series based on Fleming’s soon-to-be-iconic character. Fleming had longed for the chance to move Bond from the page to the screen, and this seemed as good an opportunity as any. So McClory and Fleming began writing a new screenplay along with Jack Whittingham. Unfortunately, the project never saw the light of day. Fleming allegedly took the unfinished screenplay and adapted it into his ninth James Bond novel, Thunderball, published in 1961. Fleming did not credit McClory or Whittingham.

Naturally, McClory was furious, and he and Whittingham filed suit, which was settled out of court in 1963 forcing future versions of the novel to be credited as “based on a screen treatment by Kevin McClory, Jack Whittingham, and Ian Fleming,” in that specific order.

The lawsuit prevented Broccoli, Saltzman, and their EON Productions from adapting the novel into a movie until 1965, when EON made a deal with McClory which gave him sole producing credit for the film. McClory also retained the rights to produce a remake of Thunderball after ten years.

McClory attempted to make several Bond films in the 1970s, but each of those projects were abandoned after running into legal problems with the Broccoli family.

In 1982, American producer Jack Schwartzman decided to produce a Bond film with McClory under the auspices of Warner Bros. called Never Say Never Again based on Thunderball. The project was highly publicized as it marked the return of Sean Connery to the role of James Bond after a twelve-year hiatus from 007.

1983_2_never-say-never-againThe film debuted on October 7, 1983, just four months after the Roger Moore film Octopussy and was a commercial success, though it fell behind its competitor at the box office.

Never Say Never Again is a frustrating film to say the least. As a generalization, remakes are often weaker than the original, and this film follows that rule. It’s Thunderball with a few tweaks and changes. The film is entirely too self aware and simultaneously not aware of itself enough. Connery feels way too old to be playing Bond, and while Roger Moore is older, Connery just looks older.

The film suffers from an identity crisis the entire way through, and I’m assuming that has a lot to do with the fact that it had so many legal hoops to jump through. Every scene had to be combed for references to the Thunderball film; it could mirror only the Thunderball novel from 1961, not the movie from 1965. It’s because of this strict adherence to the novel at the expense of good screenwriting that the film ends up being so heavily expositional rather than allowing the action carry the story.

Not a great film at all. If you really want to see this story play out, just watch Thunderball.

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My James Bond Retrospective: Octopussy

By 1983, Roger Moore was really beginning to stretch the level of plausibility that his rendition of Bond would actually be able to effectively serve the crown. However, due to the competing Bond film set to release later that same year (which, incidentally, starred the equally implausible Sean Connery), the producers elected to stay their search for a newer, younger Bond. Instead, they stuck with what they perceived to be a winning formula (and in some cases, he certainly was).

John Glen (who had directed On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and For Your Eyes Only) returned to direct Octopussy.

1983_1_octopussyThe film opens with the death of British Agent 009 dressed in a clown costume and carrying a fake Fabergé egg. MI6 immediately suspects Soviet involvement and sends Bond to investigate. Using his keen spy sensibility, Bond swaps the fake egg for the real one and engages in a bidding war at an auction with Afghani prince Kamal Khan. Khan pays £500,000 for the fake egg.

Bond follows Khan to his palace where the two play a little Backgammon. Bond turns the tables on Khan and beats him at his own game. Bond later discovers that Khan is working together with Orlov, a rogue Soviet general seeking to expand Russian borders into Europe.

Bond then heads to India, where he meets Octopussy, the leader of the Octopus cult.

Nothing terribly exciting ensues. We’re treated to much of the weaker characteristics of the franchise and almost none of the strong. I was excited to watch this movie knowing that Glen, who had directed three of my favorite Bond films so far, would be taking the helm on this one. Sadly, he just couldn’t fix this poorly written script. Before I berate this film too much, I will say that it was far better than The Man with the Golden Gun and Diamonds Are Forever, both of which would be better off outside my memory of the Bond franchise.

That said, I found this film to be more reliant on tricks and gimmicks than on good storytelling. And as if Bond weren’t already losing dignity by simply aging as quickly as he was, the filmmakers thought it appropriate to put him in a circus clown costume.

While I agree that Roger Moore and Maud Adams had decent chemistry in The Man with the Golden Gun (she had played the character of Andrea Anders—a fact I had left out of my review because I was just so upset with that film), I thought it was an odd casting choice. Almost as odd as Charles Gray playing Blofeld. These kinds of casting decisions make me feel like I’m watching SNL or something as actors play multiple characters throughout the course of an episode.

Octopussy is a film that’s trying too hard to exert its ownership of the Bond franchise. Likely due to the fact that Kevin McClory was releasing his own competing Bond film later that year, this film was so obviously flexing its muscles that I couldn’t see past the noise it was making.

Bond is getting old, and after watching Octopussy and Never Say Never Again, I’m really growing tired of these films.

Next up, A View to a Kill.

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