Never Say Never Again blasted onto screens in 1983 and we sat back and let it rot as the black sheep of the franchise. It saw a lawsuit taken to the High Court in England to prevent its production. It is the least known and most under rated Bond movie ever, and I am going to look in more depth at the movie! What a final showdown for Sean Connery.
Released – 1983
Film duration – 2hr
Genre – spy, action, adventure, thriller
IMDB – 6.1/10 & Rotten Tomatoes 70
Starring: Sean Connery, Kim Basinger, Klaus Maria Brandauer, Max Von Sydow, Barbara Carrera, Bernie Casey, Alec McCowen, Edward Fox, Rowan Atkinson.
Song – Never Say Never Again – music by Michel Legrand, lyrics by Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman and performed by Lani Hall.
S.P.E.C.T.R.E has stolen two American nuclear warheads, and James Bond must find the targets before they are detonated.
A remake of the 1965 movie Thunderball (easily a top 3 Bond movie), Never Say Never Again (I won’t I promise), was one of the more mature and laid back Bond movies, but still packed a punch and left its heated mark on the world. 007 is re-activated in this movie and has to find two nuclear warheads in time. It is not made by Eon.
The movie does not have the classic shot down the barrel James Bond introduction, rather, we are introduced to the movie with a background song Never Say Never Again, music by Michel Legrand and performed by Lani Hall. It is a good song and quite memorable, and doesn’t lack a Bond feel, it is simply played out differently, without all the naked women, and instead we get to see Bond break into a complex with armed guards and fight them one by one, eventually revealing it is a training mission.
It is clear that Bond is not much liked despite saving the world multiple times, as he is sent to a health center, after being told, “too many free radicals, that’s your problem, caused by eating too much red meat, white bread, too many martinis!” Bond (Connery) seems to have taken onboard the wit that Roger Moore was employing and using the same sort of accent by responding, “then I shall cut out the white bread, sir.” In this health center or spa, we see a fight unfold, and it happens to be the best part of the movie in terms of both action and humour. I find it hilarious yet really satisfying to watch. Bond and his larger, stronger attacker make their fight way through the kitchens, hallways, bedrooms and laboratory, and we get to see the magnificence of the building itself, being luxurious. Connery has no issues with the humour and seems to revel in it, throwing a sample of his own urine at the attacker stops him, so we think. It is just a good fight sequence, and the setting is perfect. Bond has aged, we see that, but is still very self aware and doesn’t shy from a challenge. It is laid back and so is Bond.
I would argue that Connery as Bond in this movie is actually better than the previous movies. Diamonds are Forever was good, so were the others. But this new one is just laid back and relaxing, we know Bond will win, which makes it satisfying to watch, because it is a struggle for him. Of course, it is because of a man called Maximillian Largo that Bond is attacked. Largo is under the control of Blofeld from Spectre. Brandauer plays the villain extremely well, giving him charisma and ego, and that hidden maniac within that we all fear. He does not have an eye patch like in Thunderball however, and does in fact have a bit more mystery to him. There is also no shark pool in this movie, but there is a lot of sharks further into the movie. The villain doesn’t mind getting close to Bond or letting him on his ship, with his woman Domino, or for that matter even in his casino.
We are introduced in the health center to Fatima Blush (Carrera), who was nominated for a Golden Globe for her role as the villainess. The woman has personality, hates men, abuses them, and is crazy and works for Spectre, specifically under the orders of Largo. She stands out as strong and not to be messed with, she sort of overshadows the first part until Bond eventually blows her up after an intense bike chase scene, he does that with a screw pen which doesn’t work at first and Bond remarks that it’s “not perfected yet.” The other Bond girl is Domino, who’s air force pilot brother Largo killed. She is always dressed to expose her toned buttocks or breasts and I noticed after rewatching the movie last night, that a lot of camera work is on them. Particularly during a scene when she is being auctioned off and we get to see her bum bouncing up and down on a horse. I am not complaining though, because she acted the part well.
So Bond has been introduced to Largo. It is the scene in the casino which is a real Bond moment. But before I talk about that, Bond has explored an underwater wreck, been surrounded by sharks, and has escaped. Brief overview, but the scene is only a little important. The film includes Felix Lighter and he works quite closely with Bond in this film.
So the casino, Bond turns up, not wielding his spy glasses this time that allow him to see through clothes though, dumps a pistol in an ice bucket (don’t ask why they did this, it makes no sense) and then he proceeds to a unique game with Largo, it is memorable and defines the film. The pair has to use two joysticks to fight for control or to defend the different countries of the world, the loser is given an electric shock. As you can imagine Bond never gives up, after a series of debilitating shocks decides to challenge Largo to the world. Largo loses and it shows Bond that he is “certifiably” , which means Bond is saying that Largo is certifiably insane. I agree, the whole scene is crazy, because what sane minded person get electric shocks for money? Seems like a game designed to control peoples minds more than anything. Anyway, Bond settles for one dance with Domino, which Largo agrees to. We know Bond doesn’t usually take money, probably because he has enough or no use for it.
During the dance, he exposes Largo to Domino, saying Largo killed her brother. It is a large and luxurious ballroom, a bit like the building. This to me is a statement of Bond. He is luxurious, among the elite in this fantasy, but is a killer, a spy. For the most part he has been among the elite and has blended in well. But I couldn’t help find the dance scene slightly amusing, because Bond and Domino are the only ones dancing, and when he is talking to her, it would be impossible for the guests not to hear him due to his proximity to them.
Next memorable scene, and so far the film has demonstrated that Connery is making a final statement, he is the ultimate James Bond, 007. Nobody will ever beat him, and he knows it, or so he appears to show he is the best. It could be that it is not an official Bond movie that makes it so good. Because of the new directors and writing, it has quirks and differences which highlight it as actually being a really good spy action movie. Forget the one liner nonsense, it is passionate and true to the original concepts. The scene where he goes home (safehouse) after the casino still suited, finds his female associate dead, killed by crazy Fatima on orders of Largo. He then cracks then bike open out of site and comes shooting out of the garage. It is a great scene and you can see that later movies that used bikes, made the scenes and action look awfully similar. No Time To Die did nothing but promote the opening sequence on the motorbike, but it was Connery who was jumping over ledges, riding down stairs, and doing insane jumps decades before. The entire scene is fast paced and fantastic to watch. It made me think of a completely different movie with Sean Connery called The Rock and you can find he review here! Overall it is classic Bond, say no more.
We approach the end of the movie and all is not lost. Another sequence involving a horse, similar to The Living Daylights scenes. Bond escapes his capture using a laser watch. This movie does well in regard to using his gadgets, and using many of them. We don’t see that in other movies. He whisks Domino away from the African warlords bidders, across the ruins of the castle and into the ocean. Some versions, and I believe the television people will cut the 8 second clip of the horse falling into the water on its back, because of animal cruelty or something. I suspect the animal was not harmed. They are picked up by Felix and Bond tells that one bomb is under Washington and the other they have to find. The tears of Allah a rather bizarre name for a terrorist operation, way back in the 80s of movies too. No mention of that in the original Thunderball. But nonetheless emphasises that Largo is crazy.
Final showdown in an ancient tomb and a good old fashioned shoot out. It is Domino who shoots Largo underwater. Oh well, fate eh? I think the movie offers a lot in terms of entertainment. I find the rewatch value to be high, meaning that it never becomes boring, and it will not leave you wondering when it will end. I suggest you watch the movie. I have many times. Last night just made me realise how under rated the movie was. Most people don’t even acknowledge the efforts, classing it as a rip off. He is called James Bond 007, it has Q & M, Felix, and spy gadgets, based on Thunderball. It has a theme song. It has spectre and Blofeld. What more do you want? It is a real James Bond movie and Sean Connery’s 7th and final outing. Imagine the fan base finding out that he was returning to the role after 12 years? The title is a clear take from Connery, who remarked after Diamonds are Forever that he would never play the role again. He was in his 50s! Filmed in France, Spain, the Bahamas and Elstree Studios!
On conclusion, the film is one of the better Bond movies. Connery is appealing, talented and imaginative as 007 reprising his role for the final time. The film is full of well timed wit, excellent dialogue and character development, brilliant storylines and script, effective and exciting fight scenes and action and a good production which was a commercial success.
Never Say Never Again
5 star movie.