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The year 1983 saw a strange phenomenon; two rival Bond films.
"Octopussy", starring Roger Moore, was part of the official Cubby
Broccoli Bond franchise. "Never Say Never Again", made by a rival
producer, is, apart from the awful "Casino Royale", the only Bond movie
which does not form part of that franchise. Its big attraction was that
it brought back the original Bond, Sean Connery; its title reputedly
derived from Connery's remark after "Diamonds Are Forever" that he
would never again play the role. Some have complained that Connery was,
at 53, too old for the role, but he was in fact three years younger
than his successor Moore, who not only made "Octopussy" in the same
year but went on to make one further Bond film, "A View to a Kill", two
The film owes its existence to the settlement of a lawsuit about the film rights to Ian Fleming's work. It is perhaps unfortunate that the terms of the settlement included a clause that the new film had to be a remake of "Thunderball", as that was perhaps not the greatest of the Connery Bonds. (A remake of "Dr No" or "Goldfinger" might have worked better). The plot is much the same as that of the earlier film; the terrorist organisation SPECTRE, acting together with a megalomaniac tycoon named Largo, have stolen two American nuclear warheads and are attempting to hold the world's governments to ransom by threatening to detonate them unless they receive a vast sum of money. It falls to Bond, of course, to save the world by tracking down the missing missiles.
The film is fortunate in that it has not just one but two of the most beautiful Bond girls of all, Barbara Carrera as the seductive but lethal Fatima Blush and Kim Basinger as Largo's girlfriend Domino who defects to Bond's side after learning of her lover's evil plans. A number of the Bond films have a plot that hangs upon the hero's ability to win over the villain's mistress or female accomplice- there are similar developments, for example, in "Goldfinger", "Live and Let Die" and "The Living Daylights". In the official series, Bond's ally is normally regarded as the female lead, but here Carrera, playing the villainess, is billed above Basinger, who was a relatively unknown actress at the time. Basinger, of course, has gone on to become one of Hollywood's biggest stars, whereas Carrera is one of a number of Bond girls who have somewhat faded from view.
Of the villains, Max von Sydow makes an effective Blofeld, the head of SPECTRE, but Klaus Maria Brandauer seemed too bland and nonthreatening as Largo, except perhaps during the "Domination" game, a more sophisticated variant on those violent computer games such as "Space Invaders" that were so popular in the early eighties. Brandauer can be an excellent actor in his native German, in films such as "Mephisto" and "Oberst Redl", but he does not comes across so expressively in English.
One of the film's features is that it both follows the normal Bond formula and, at times, departs from it. There is the standard world-in-peril plot, chase sequences, a series of exotic locations, glamorous women, sinister villains and a specially written theme song based on the film's title. There is, however, no extended pre-credits sequence, and we see some familiar characters in a new light. For example, Bond's boss M becomes a languid, supercilious aristocrat, his American colleague Felix Leiter is shown as black for the only time, and the scientist Q is portrayed by Alec McCowen as a disillusioned cynic with (despite his characteristically upper-class Christian name of Algernon) a distinctly working-class accent. There is also an amusing cameo from Rowan Atkinson as a bumbling British diplomat. Although Connery was perhaps not quite a good here as he was in some of his earlier films in the role, this ringing the changes on the familiar theme makes this one of the more memorable Bonds. 7/10
A goof. Rowan Atkinson's character states that he is from the British Embassy in Nassau. As, however, the Bahamas is a Commonwealth country, Britain would have a High Commission in its capital, not an Embassy.
Never Say Never Again got its title because Sean Connery had said in the
1970s (shortly after Diamonds Are Forever) that he would "never" do another
Bond film. However, in 1983 he was persuaded to return to the role for a
one-off special, a remake of his fourth entry Thunderball, and his wife
rather humorously said to him that in the future he should make a point
never to say never again. This film actually came out close to a Roger Moore
entry in the series (Octopussy), and although Connery had more admirers as
007 than Moore, it was surprisingly Octopussy that scored a bigger box
Connery's Bond is older and more vulnerable than we remember him. His boss, M, doesn't hold him in very high regard and actually suggests that he take some time off in a plush health spa. During his time here, Bond uncovers a strange plot and the further he delves into the mystery the more he discovers. It seems that his old adversaries SPECTRE, fronted by the nefarious Blofeld (Max Von Sydow) have stolen two nuclear warheads which they will detonate if they are not paid an extortionate ransom. Chief overseer of this hideous plan is Emile Largo (Klaus Maria Brandeur), and Bond pursues Largo around the globe in an attempt to stop him, visiting such places as Monte Carlo and North Africa during the course of the mission.
The music by Michel Legrand is poor by series standards. It sounds rather similar to his music for the sleazy 1981 movie Your Ticket Is No Longer Valid, and is really ill-suited to this Bond production. However, in terms of villains, they've come with a couple of great ones for this film. Largo, as personified by Brandeur, is smooth but deadly, and hench-woman Fatima Blush (the sensual Barbara Carrera) is uncommonly disturbing. Rowan Atkinson also has a fairly good role as a dim-witted agent assigned to "help" Bond. The big action sequences are quite good, especially the horse chase around the North African sea-fortress and the motorbike chase, although some of the underwater moments are tough to understand because it's hard to figure out who is who behind the diving masks.
In 1965 producer Kevin McLory -who owns a part of the Bond cinematic
rights- associate with EON Productions (Harry Saltzman and Albert
Broccoli) for making "Thunderball", the fourth film of the 007
franchise. The star is Sean Connery, of course.
In 1982 McLory wins a legal battle and can produce an "independent" Bond film. "Never say never again" (NSNA) is one of the two "unofficial" 007 films made outside EON (the other is the 1967 comedy spoof "Casino Royale"). NSNA is a remake of "Thunderball" and stars the original Bond, Sean Connery -who comes back to the role after many years of absence.
The film is released some months after "Octopussy" with Roger Moore, the 13th episode of the EON series. At the time press calls it "War of the Bonds"... Both films are a big success in 1983, even if "Octopussy" earns more money at the box office.
NSNA is a luxurious film made by excellent technicians -director Irvin Kershner who led "The Empire strikes back", Douglas Slocombe -cinematographer of "Raiders of the lost Ark"-, and screenwriter Lorenzo Semple Jr -who wrote "The three days of the Condor"- among others...
The cast is excellent with Connery, a then relatively unknown Kim Basinger, Barbara Carrera, Klaus Maria Brandauer, Max Von Sydow, Edward Fox...
Although all that the film remains inferior to the original "Thunderball". It lacks many fundamental ingredients for being a real Bond movie: there's not the traditional gun barrel sequence, there's not the "James Bond theme", M and Q are not played by the traditional actors... It's a copyright reason: EON only is allowed to use these elements. Briefly, NSNA lacks the classic cinematic 007 atmosphere.
On the other hand the film is exciting and enjoyable. Brandauer is a very good villain and the women (Basinger and Carrera) are sensual and gorgeous. But the main highlight is Sean Connery! He's once again wonderful in the role, he's older but looks fitter and nicer here than in "Diamonds are forever", his last performance in the role of the British super-spy before NSNA.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Only Connery could bring that particular style with a line like that
Fatima crashes into Bond's arms when she water-skis up to the super
agent in Nassau and apologizes, 'Oh, how reckless of me. I made you all
wet.' The super agent replies, 'Yes, but my martini is still dry.'
Barbara Carrera makes a great villain, stealing the show as SPECTRE executioner Fatima Blush Fatima is number 12 in the SPECTRE chain of command, and is a gorgeous assassin who takes intense sensations of pleasure in killing
Fatima assumes all the deadly characteristics of Fiona, proving to be one of Bond's toughest adversaries She is a victim of her vanity She's good at what she does, and wants the world to know it But her vanity is her downfall Using every possible approach to eliminate 007, Fatima is a wild and cunning woman who makes love to the man she is about to kill
Austrian actor Klaus-María Brandauer (Largo) does not make a very formidable opponent for 007 Referred to as number one in the SPECTRE chain of command, Largo resides in the Bahamas, and travels aboard his super yacht, the Flying Saucer
Max Von Sydow becomes the fourth actor to appear as SPECTRE chief Ernst Stavro Blofeld, once more plotting to put the world at ransom
Kim Basinger takes the part once owned by the lovely French actress Claudine Auger She is Domino, the mistress of Largo, who soon falls deeply in love with her rescuer
Black actor Bernie Casey becomes the sixth actor to play CIA agent Felix Leiter after Jack Lord, Cec Linder, Rik Van Nutter, Norman Burton, and David Hedison...
Edward Fox portrays the new, unsympathetic 'M.' Pamela Salem is the third actress to play Miss Moneypenny. Lois Maxwell was the first and Barbara Bouchet was the second.
Valerie Leon is the sexy lady in the Bahamas who fished 007 out of the blue water and saved his life by making love to him in her own room Valerie was the Sardinian hotel receptionist in 'The Spy Who loved Me' when Bond and Anya arrive seeking Stromberg
Prunella Gee is Shrublands physical therapist Patricia Saskia Cohen Tanugi is Nicole, Bond's Secret Service contact in the South of France
Gavan O'Herlihy is Jack Petachi, the U.S. Air Force communications officer who duplicates the President of the United States' 'eye print' and arms two cruise missiles with nuclear warheads
Rowan Atkinson is the bumbling foreign officer Nigel Small-Fawcett; and Alec McCowen is Algernon, the armorer who provides 007 some formidable items
If you like to see Connery playing a tense battle of wills, disguised as a masseur, attacked by robot-controlled sharks, giving away a considerable amount of money for a tango dance, thrown into a medieval dungeon, don't miss this second of only two "unofficial" James Bond films
MASTER PLAN: blackmail the world after stealing two nuclear warheads.
Haven't we heard this plan before? Yes, in "Thunderball"(65). And, wow,
two Bond films in the same year (the other was "Octopussy") - what can
it mean? This is now a curiosity in the Bond film series (and not a
part of the canon series), an anomaly, an oddity, a film stemming from
the real-life battles between Eon Productions and their nemesis,
producer McClory, who won rights to remake the earlier film. It
probably would have been better if he'd succeeded earlier - say, around
1976 or so; as it is, Connery, who managed to equal Roger Moore's
number of Bond portrayals with this film, is a full dozen years older
since his previous Bonder "Diamonds Are Forever," and it shows. This
isn't really a parody, like "Casino Royale" from 1967, though there are
some too-cute moments, right up to the conclusion, a freeze-frame of
Bond winking at us. There are also elements of a weird re-start, such
as the first scene with Bond and M, who mentions he is new to the
position, much like the Bond & female M scene in "GoldenEye." In this
version, M (Fox) is still male, though he's a stuffy high-strung
bureaucrat, opposed to double-0 agents, and looks a bit younger than
Bond. This is a bit strange to take in, just on its own. Q is played by
one of the best British actors, McCowen, so his scenes have a nice
flair, though he has a silly name, Algernon.
There's no teaser sequence or fancy credits such as we're used to - in fact, the beginning is so mundane, it's as if we're watching a typically substandard seventies thriller, with a wretched song and an awful score. Many of the early scenes are perfunctory; in other words, they're presented as the stuff we're used to seeing in a Bond film (Bond shoots bad guys, Bond is eyed by the ladies, Bond is menaced by sharks), but without the style and panache of the regular film series. As in "Thunderball," Bond is sent to a health spa early in the film. In an early action scene, he's attacked by a brawny assassin/henchman in the 'Oddjob/Jaws' mold who seems unstoppable, and things appear to be picking up, until he's stopped by a silly gag. I admit I did laugh when I saw this in the theater way back when - but I don't nowadays. I also get the impression of a conspiracy by the producer to throw in some banal stuff amid the standard spy action, not helped any by what seems like in-joking involving Bond's aging hero bit, including M's comically shrill disapproval. It mirrors the problem with Moore in his last couple of Bonders, where the audience is laughing at the hero - undesirable conditions for a Bonder. Things seem to improve again in the middle half, as much of the action here is dominated by the female villain, Blush (actress Carrera in her best role). She exults in her performance as the persistent killer with some odd sexual preoccupations, anticipating the much later lethal ladies such as Onatopp in "GoldenEye."
But, the best performance is by Brandauer as the main villain, Largo - a much different Largo than the one in "Thunderball." He's almost on another, superior level from the rest of the cast, suggesting insanity better than most other Bond villains, somewhat effeminate in some of his gestures, but also magnetic when sparring with Bond, especially in their memorably electrifying video game duel, a bizarre yet entrancing confrontation. Von Sydow, always good, has a much briefer role as famous uber-villain Blofeld, staying behind the scenes for most of the movie. Basinger as Domino the Bond girl is, unfortunately, similar to many of the Bond girls of that period: nice to look at, but usually helpless and kind of an airhead, though she demonstrates fear convincingly. Connery, looking his age (early fifties), goes through the motions here, but hey, it's still Connery as Bond; he can do this kind of thing in his sleep (which he nearly does) and is always watchable, with that easy charisma. The pace is actually pretty good for awhile up until the climactic shoot-out, in spite of some cheap production values. The finale, underwater with Largo, is murky stuff, with no tension, as if the filmmakers just gave up by this point and wanted to get it over with. We kind of forget what the threat is about half-an-hour before the end. Oh, and, Atkinson is his small role is abominable, like nails on chalkboard. Connery would not return. Bond:7 Villain:9 Femme Fatales:5 Henchwoman/men:8 Leiter:6 Fights:5 Stunts/Chases:6 Gadgets:4 Auto:5 Locations:6 Pace:6 overall:6
Yes, it's Sean Connery playing Bond again, looking more alive and into
his part than any time since the first time they made this film, in
1965 when it was called "Thunderball". But the tongue is so firmly in
cheek one wonders if Connery isn't employing a few observed tricks from
his friend and more humorous successor, Roger Moore.
Moore is my favorite Bond, but Connery makes a strong case for himself in this unusual outing. The only serious Bond film not made under the aegis of the classic Eon Bond series, "Never Say Never Again" is an irreverent return to the well. Soft on action, it's nevertheless strong on character and clever dialogue.
Bond, it's made clear right away, is a man in disfavor. No matter how many times he has saved the world, his new boss thinks little of his fat lifestyle. "Too many free radicals, that's your problem...Caused by eating too much red meat, white bread, too many martinis." "Then I shall cut out the white bread, sir," Bond smartly replies.
An early fight sequence in a spa represents the movie's high point action-wise, with Bond and an attacker fighting their way through a kitchen, a bedroom, and a laboratory before Bond finally douses his opponent, ironically with no small help from those free radicals. Humor is liberally applied in the film, rather more cleverly than most of Moore's outings, though Connery seems to be having more fun sending himself up as a result of Moore's less egotistic example.
Was it because he was making a good chunk of the gross? Or was it working for less stingy producers? Whatever it is, the screenplay serves his laid-back style well, and the result is richer and more entertaining than Connery's prior two Eon Bond outings, "You Only Live Twice" and "Diamonds Are Forever".
The 1980s were not a good decade for Bond, whether it was Connery, Moore, or Timothy Dalton. Leg warmers, video games, and ugly sports cars are all in evidence, and the Bianca Jagger sunglasses Klaus Maria Brandauer is seen wearing in his first scene do him no favors. Forget first impressions. Brandauer's role as the chief villain, Maximilian Largo, is one of the best in any Bond film, with Brandauer enjoyably playing up his character's menace and mania. At one point, he allows Bond free roam of his situation room, with a martini to boot, and his dancing eyes and mad, engaging grin make for compelling company throughout.
The best thing in this film, other than Connery, are the Bond girls, shot with more attention to personality than normal in Bond films, a testament to cinematographer Douglas Slocombe and director Irvin Kirshner. Barbara Carrera was nominated for a Golden Globe for her role as the villainess Fatima Blush, every bit as crazy as Largo and even nicer to look at. She doesn't last the whole movie; you almost need her gone in order to focus on the others.
Kim Basinger's breasts and buttocks should have had their own agents for the screen time they get in this film, but I'm not complaining. Basinger's a rare beauty who in this early role as Largo's mistress mixes incredible hotitude with a childlike vulnerability that brings out the Bond in me, and many others I suspect. (Her lips and cheekbones are pretty sweet, too.)
It's not a well-constructed film. It's a knockoff of a better Bond movie with a sloppy storyline, a terrible score, and a flat ending. But it does have Connery, proving his was the definitive take on cinema's definitive secret agent, even if he steals a page or two from my 007, Mr. Moore. The end result is entertaining enough, so I'm not complaining.
"Never Say Never Again", as everyone knows by now, was the second Bond
film to be released in 1983, and was nearly as big a hit as "Octopussy"
was (that film was still playing in some theaters when "Never Say Never
Again" was released). Lacking the distinctive gun-barrel opening and
famous Bond theme among other distinctive features of the EON franchise
films, this lacks not only the feel of the EON Bond series, but of
Fleming's work, leaving a seriously bloated mess of an American action
thriller which happens to feature Bond as the lead character.
Why? That's the first question anybody should be asking about this film. A cynic (which I probably qualify as) would say 'for the cash', others might say it was just to get Connery back as Bond and give him a proper goodbye. Some might say it was in retaliation to the direction the Moore films were headed in, although "For Your Eyes Only" is a far superior and far less bloated film than this, so that argument doesn't quite work.
Of course, there's a lot to dislike here. Connery has moments of inspiration where he slips right back into character, but for most of the film he just looks really old and slightly ridiculous, which fits the plot but doesn't make his performance any less tired. Still, I'd argue that this is a better send-off for him as Bond than "Diamonds are Forever". Kim Basinger is a terrible Bond girl, and as much as I like Rowan Atkinson he shouldn't be anywhere near a Bond film. In addition, the villains here fall flat as well.
That said, "Never Say Never Again" is not a film I can hate, even if I wanted to (and I never want to hate anything), simply because little of it comes off as especially bad yet all of it comes off as flat, bland, and uninspired, and far, far too American for a Bond film. It's just sort of... there being the bloated, over-long, but not terrible film it is. I don't count it as a 'Bond film', as it doesn't feel remotely like one, but even just as an action thriller it doesn't quite work.
You don't review James Bond movies, you evaluate them, rate them
according to how well they meet expectations. There are certain things
one has come to expect, even demand of a Bond film and each individual
effort either delivers or it doesn't. So, here are ten elements that
make a Bond film a Bond film. And even though NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN is
not technically part of the official Bond filmography, the mere
presence of Sean Connery returning as 007 makes it something more than
merely an honorary member of the series. Anyway, here's how it rates on
a scale of 1 to 10:
Title: NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN: The clever title has no apparent link to the actual storyline, but is instead an in-joke reference to Sean Connery's vow to never play OO7 again after having been lured back once before for DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER. Whatever the case, it is a catchy title. 8 points.
Pre-Credit Teaser: Perhaps trying to avoid any obvious parallels to the official EON series of Bond films, there is no Teaser; the opening scenes are just shown behind the credits. And even that is disappointing: yet another "oh-no, Bond has been killed" fakeout. 4 points.
Opening Credits: Other than a screen full of tiny 007's, they didn't even bother trying to jazz up the credits with graphics or split screens or interesting camera angles. 1 points.
Theme Song: As written by Michel LeGrand and sung by Lani Hall "Never Say Never Again" would make for a perfectly pleasant part of a particularly long elevator ride. As a Bond theme, it's merely okay. 6 points.
"Bond, James Bond": Appropriately, since this film sees Connery being lured back into service as Bond after a decade's hiatus, the story begins with 007 facing the question as to whether Bond/Connery is still up to the job. Happily, Connery more than proves himself ready for Bondage again. Though he is a bit grayer, sporting a bit more girth and wearing a slightly more obvious toupee, he seems to have no trouble slipping back into action. All in all, it is one of Connery's best, and most relaxed, turns as the character. 9 points.
Bond Babes: Even in the best of the Bond films, the female characters aren't given much dimension; they exist largely as necessary props for Bond's use. Future Oscar-winner Kim Basinger is granted a great deal of leeway in creating her character of Domino Petachi and the film benefits from this. She does a nice job -- and she's not bad to look at either. 8 points.
Bond Villain: The reports of his death being obviously exaggerated, Blofeld is back -- at least, for the moment -- showing he has more lives than his prized pussycat. One-time Jesus portrayer-turned-stereotypical villain, Max von Sydow isn't given a lot to do in the role, but is a silky presence nonetheless. But he is overshadowed by a wonderful performance by Klaus Maria Brandauer as Maximilian Largo. After a string of banal Bond villains, it is so refreshing for Brandauer to gave a performance that is both subtle, yet colorfully evil. Funny without being campy, ruthless without seeming cartoonish; his Largo ranks right up there with Auric Goldfinger as one of Bond's best villains. 10 points.
Bond Baddies: Fatima Blush! What can I say? As played with all the bold style of a particularly flamboyant drag queen, Barbara Carrera breezes through the film, displaying a mix of self-amused evil and more than a tad of pure psychotic insanity. Bond has crossed paths with a variety of femmes fatales, most of whom have been so easily disposed of that they existed more as amusing eye candy than as characters. But few dared to exhibit such a flare for the dramatic or such fierce determination. Even her untimely demise is spectacular, even by Bondian standards. 10 points.
Sinister Plot: As a remake of sorts of THUNDERBALL, the film does seem a bit been-there-done-that: nuclear missiles are stolen and major real estate will go kaboom if all the countries of the world don't pay a multi-kazillion dollar ransom. But at least producer Kevin McClory was lucky enough to find himself forced to remake one of the weakest Bond adventures. By comparisons, this effort blows THUNDERBALL out of the water. And despite the absence of many Bondian trademarks, the film succeeds on its own. 9 points.
Production values: The film starts out with an uneasy style, like a TV movie trying to be more than it can. But as the story progress, the film gains momentum and a sense of purpose, making it a superior adventure. 8 points.
Bonus Points: There are several odd changes that sets this Bond film apart from the official series. Miss Moneypenny is hardly acknowledged; as played by Edward Fox, "M" is a cranky old grouch with no respect for the "Double Os," a foreshadowing of how Judi Dench would later play the part; and "Q" suddenly has a cockney accent and is all buddy-buddy with Bond. And there is a curious sense of nostalgia throughout the film, such as replacing Bond's Astin-Martin with a vintage Packard and a tango dance number that is cleverly inserted into the story. And a big rescue near the end is on horseback, an homage to THE RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, which was itself a tribute to the Bond films. 5 points.
Summary: NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN is a mixed bag. In the really important areas, it more than holds it own thanks to hero Connery, villain Brandauer, assassin Carrera and damsel-in-distress Basinger. But the devil is in the details; as seemingly unimportant as the opening credits, theme song and such seem, the film is lacking because of their absence. It all comes off as a faux Bond film; a very good substitute, but a substitute nonetheless.
Bond-o-meter Rating: 78 points out of 100.
I've always liked Sean Connery, but as James Bond I've always favored
Roger Moore. Still it was Connery who set the Bond standard and while
he had by 1983 established himself as something other than James Bond,
the money must have been irresistible for him to make one more
appearance as 007 and save the world from the evil designs of Spectre.
And what designs they are in Never Say Never Again. SPECTRE with the help of a foolish young Air Force officer who happens to be Kim Bassinger's brother stole two nuclear missiles during a war games exercise and now SPECTRE headed by Blofeld, played here by Max Von Sydow is threatening blackmail of the world.
Von Sydow's operations guy is Klaus Maria Brandauer who is also courting Bassinger and is a bit on the crazy side. And he's got a female assassin working for him in Barbara Carrera who makes Angelina Jolie as Nora Croft look like Mrs. Butterworth.
But before Sean Connery can even get started he's got to deal with a new 'M' running things at British Intelligence. Edward Fox thinks Connery is old fashioned in his methods and costs the British taxpayers too much money with his violent ways. I really did enjoy Fox's performance, he's like the great grandson of Colonel Blimp.
I also enjoyed Carrera, she's something to look at and quite resourceful in her methods. When she's scuba diving with Connery in the Bahamas, note how she puts Mr. Shark on 007's case.
Will Connery do James Bond again? He was widely quoted as saying who would they cast him as at this point, Roger Moore's father? But I think Connery would still be formidable in a wheelchair.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As the '70's drew to a close, rumours began to fly in the entertainment
industry about the possible return of Sean Connery to the role he had
made famous back in 1962 - James Bond. Cubby Broccoli was asked on
location in Brazil during the making of 'Moonraker' by the B.B.C.'s
Barry Norman how he viewed the prospect. Understandably, the producer
was reluctant to voice an opinion. 'Moonraker' outraged fans with what
they perceived to be a cheapening of the character, and the jumping
onto the 'Star Wars' bandwagon much as 'Live & Let Die' had done with
the blaxploitation craze a few years earlier. Many publicly hoped
Connery would return, if only to show Eon how a real Bond movie should
look. Years of legal battles followed. The original script, entitled
'James Bond Of The Secret Service' ( later changed to 'Warhead' ) by
Kevin McClory, Len Deighton, and Connery, involved the infamous Bermuda
Triangle and a climactic battle in the Statue of Liberty, but was never
filmed. A new script, closer to the 'Thunderball' storyline, came from
Lorenzo Semple Junior, responsible for Adam West's 'Batman' and
co-author of 'The Parallax View', one of the decade's finest conspiracy
thrillers. Feeling it needed a British touch, Connery brought in Dick
Clement and Ian La Frenais, writers of hit British sitcoms 'The Likely
Lads' and 'Porridge'. The witty title was suggested by Connery's wife
'Never Say Never Again' features Connery as an older, wearier Bond, reduced to a teaching post in Her Majesty's Secret Service. When he fumbles a training exercise in South America, M ( Edward Fox ) sends him to Shrublands to get back into shape. But SPECTRE agents Fatima Blush ( Barbara Carrera ) and Lippe ( Pat Roach ) are there too. U.S. Captain Jack Pettachi ( Gavan O'Herlihy ) is recovering from surgery that has turned his retina into a copy of the American President's. The reason? To enable SPECTRE to steal two nuclear warheads and hold the entire world to ransom...
The film opened before Christmas 1983 to unanimous critical praise; some used it to viciously attack the Roger Moore series, particularly that year's 'Octopussy'. Directed by Irwin Kershner, 'Never' lacks the excitement and spectacle one associates with Bond, at times it looks and feels like a T.V. movie. 'Thunderball' ( 1965 ) is superior in every respect. 'Never' was also hampered by the lack of Monty Norman's 'James Bond Theme' and Maurice Binder's gun-barrel logo.
Connery though is magnificent, effortlessly stepping back into his most famous role. Hearing him deliver the one-liners is a joy. Barbara Carrera is terrific as 'Fatima', a snake-loving lady whose love for murder is such she dances after ( so she thinks ) killing Bond. Kim Basinger smolders as 'Domino'. As 'Maximillian Largo', Klaus Maria Brandauer gives a chilling, believable performance. Alec McCowen manages to create a 'Q' every bit as likable as Desmond Llewelyn's better-known version. Pamela Salem looks good as 'Moneypenny', but is underused. A major disappointment though is Max Von Sydow as 'Blofeld'. The posters gave the impression he would be a major character, but in fact he appears only in a few scenes. With a stronger script, he could have been one of the all-time great Bond villains.
'Never' promised to revert to the crunchy style of the early Eon Bonds, but did not deliver. The gadgets were there, but used almost apologetically, such as Bond's rocket-firing motorcycle. The traditional baccarat duel is replaced by a very '80's computer game called 'Domination'. There was also an unwise attempt to compete with Eon's Bonds in terms of juvenile humour ie. Bond saving himself by throwing his own urine sample into an assassin's face. But the nadir comes with Rowan Atkinson's bumbling Foreign Office official 'Nigel Small-Fawcett'. He is so awful you wonder if he thought he was in a Footlights revue.
Another flaw is the lack of a decent score. Instead of John Barry, we have to make do with Michel Legrand, whose score is absolutely hopeless. He seems to never to have seen a Bond film in his life.
Though the film was a financial success, Connery himself was disappointed, and not did act again for some years. 1983 was a good year for 007 maniacs - in addition to the Connery and Moore movies, George Lazenby did a delightful cameo in the made-for-T.V. 'Return Of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: The Fifteen Years Later Affair'.
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