Never Say Never Again (1983)
"Never Say Never Again" is the second unofficial Bond film—the first being "Casino Royale". What this means is that EON did not produce the movie. This picture had to have a special court order just for it get made. Sean Connery returned one last time as 007 in this, the only remake of the franchise.
"Thunderball" is one of my favorite Bond films thus far, perhaps my favorite. It's mindlessly fun, has a great production value, and is sensationally watchable. So I was skeptical to hear that "Never Say Never Again" is a remake of "Thunderball".
The two movies have a lot in common—that much seemed obvious—they both have the world tipping on the verge of nuclear war and both of them have scenes shot entirely under the water.
"Thunderball" was great because it wasn't afraid of the silence of water, it let the sharks and the action sequences speak for themselves. For as exciting as it was, much of it had no dialogue. "Never Say Never Again" is not keen to make that same decision. This film, spends most of its time in more exotic places above ground.
SPECTRE is back in force and they want to ransom a few nuclear missiles against the free world. They demand a whole lot of money in return for not detonating the bombs.
Bond has been out of action for quite some time. In training, he's not doing too terribly well; but he shrugs it off and claims that in real-life situations, he'd do better because of the adrenaline.
All those martinis, red meat, and white bread are taking their toll on our hero and he gets sent to a clinic where he'll, hopefully, be on the road to recovery.
At the place he accidentally discovers part of SPECTRE's plan and gets mugged by the stereotypical invincible man. But don't worry, he can't get knocked out in the first few scenes—he saves himself by throwing his own pee on the person (just don't ask).
This brings up a remarkable problem with "Never Say Never Again". It's ludicrousness, more so than any other Bond film, is just a turn off. It's not fun, it's just stupid.
When Bond finally comes face-to-face with his enemy, he fights him in a video game. It's somewhat anticlimactic, though the film tries its hardest to make something out of it.
Then we have some staples of the series like how Bond is simply irresistible to women. One woman (who somehow managed to eke out a Golden Globe nomination for her performance) is so desperate to be the best at everything that she makes Bond sign a confession stating that she was the best thing he'd ever had in bed—while she holds a gun to his head.
But that's not all, no, the sins of "Never Say Never Again" number far too many to keep score.
Yet there is still something to the film that it good. A man named Largo, who is running the operation is played by Klaus Maria Brandauer whose performance is note-worthy. He makes all other Bond villains seems cartoonish. He is so good and so convincing. Alas, the rest of the movie stinks.
Trying to prove that it's not "Thunderball", the film veers way off course several times, desperately pushing away from the other movie's plot line. This means that we get scenes that are way too long. Dance scenes, fight scenes, bed scenes—it all feel very unnecessary.
As Q says to Bond near the beginning of the film: "I hope we're going to see some gratuitous sex and violence in this one!"
"Never Say Never Again" is filled with bitterness and tries to truncate the Bond series where it lies. Lucky for us the film is forgotten and no one cared about it—otherwise, the film may have succeeded.
Posted by Micah Jones