Movie Review: NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN

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When I was in the middle of writing my James Bond film reviews, I discovered a dilemma. What to do with 1983’s unofficial Bond flick Never Say Never Again? It’s not a part of the EON films, yet it does have Sean Connery playing 007.

What makes a James Bond movie…well…a James Bond movie? Never Say Never Again doesn’t have the classic opening gunbarrel, followed by the usual pre-title sequence, and of course the credit titles song which is full of guns and naked silhouette girls. Nor does it even contain the James Bond theme. So what does it have to make it feel like a 007 adventure? It has an older Sean Connery playing the role with more conviction than he did the last time we saw him in Diamonds Are Forever.

NSNA is just a remake of Thunderball. Due to a long and complicated legal history, it was the only official Bond story that could be remade. Sean Connery, holding a longstanding grudge against producer Cubby Broccoli, decided to return to the role he said “never again” to. More on that later. NSNA was supposed to go head-to-head with official 007 movie Octopussy, starring Roger Moore. Due to some production delays, the flick came out a four months after Octopussy.

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Bond’s coolest moment? When he party-crashes Largo’s charity event, and makes life hell for the doorman. As seen above.

Bond’s most embarrassing moment? James Bond in an arcade. He should never have to play video games, especially a game as silly as “Domination”.

Bond’s best line? Fatima: Oh, how reckless of me. I made you all wet. James: Yes, but my martini is still dry. 

Best acting performance? It’s a tossup between Barbara Carrera’s Fatima Blush and Klaus Maria Brandauer’s Maximillian Largo. They are a wonderful one-two punch of bonkers villainy. They make Max Zorin and Raoul Silva seem like “stable geniuses.”  

Bond’s #MeToo #TimesUp moment? Pretending to be a masseur at a health spa mostly catering to beautiful young women. He gives Domino (Kim Basinger) a “hard” massage, until he leaves before getting caught. Only James could get away with that.

Worst line in the movie? Fatima: “You know that making love to Fatima was the greatest pleasure of your life.” Although, it does lead to a great reply by James talking about some girl he had sex with in Philadelphia. I want to know what that mission was!

What I noticed for the first time after watching this for the 27th time? The actor who plays General Miller in this, is the same actor who plays Bob Conley in A View To A Kill two years later. 

Best action sequence? I think the shark attack scene is done extremely well. It was almost like putting James Bond into a Jaws sequel. 

Who or what is the title song about? “Never Say Never Again” is sung by Lani Hall and it’s the usual type of Bond title theme song that is about a woman being pretty sure she can turn James into a one-woman kind of man. 

Best looking cinematic moment? Anytime you can shoot in the South of France, you have a good opportunity to film some breathtaking scenes. 

How could the villain have succeeded? As usual the villain leaves Bond tied up and decides to tell him just enough of his diabolical plan. 

Which other Bond actor could have starred in this movie? Since this is a pure Connery grudge-fest, no one else. But how about Daniel Craig in about five years, remakes this? Barbara Broccoli and he are too loyal to one another to ever do this.

Does Bond ever think he might die? When it appears his pen-gun fails him, he does have a look on his face that shows fear as Fatima is about to shoot him. 

What would have made the movie better? Having all the elements that make a James Bond movie legit. 

What’s in a name? James doesn’t use an alias in this, but he does pretend to be a masseur and later a tourist riding a bicycle.

What’s in a title? “Never Say Never Again” is a title that comes from Sean Connery’s wife Micheline. It’s a joke on Connery’s “never again” line. 

Drinking game: Drink a “Bloody Mary with plenty of Worcestershire sauce” every time Largo starts to say something, then stops, and then makes a mischievous face.

“WTF?!” moment: It’s a tie for me. The exploding Fatima (which is so clearly a mannequin) and the real horse that probably jumped to its death off the castle and into the ocean. 

Fun fact: Producer Kevin McClory and Sean Connery had plans in the mid-70s to remake Thunderball as a movie called Warhead

Review synopsis: It’s difficult to compare Never Say Never Again to any of the other official James Bond movies, besides Thunderball of course. I would say it is more entertaining than Thunderball, but it’s not a better film than the original. I enjoyed the idea of not shying away from Sean’s older age, which is oddly funny considering Roger Moore was three years older than him! The bottom line is that it takes a lot more than just having Sean Connery as James Bond to be a real 007 film. I will say kudos for breaking the fourth wall in a cool way at the very end.

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