Never Say Never Again (1983)


Bond looks different. Again. And yet familiar. The story seems familiar too. Something about the sinister SPECTRE organisation high-jacking two nuclear warheads, intent on blowing up the world, so they can rule over the rubble. Or something.

Of course Bond also flirts with Moneypenny, the secretary, who looks different, and he nails every broad with a pulse, including a blond therapist, a feisty henchwoman, a voluptuous beach babe, and Kim Bassinger in her prime.


SPECTRE. Wow, so they're back... It's like deja vu all over again.

Max von Sydow plays Blofeld, in three shots. There must be a ton of material on the cutting-room floor, because it doesn't make any sense. We don't even get to see his reaction to the final showdown. He just disappears from the story! Actually the most prominent bad guy is Largo, aka. No. 1, played by Klaus Maria Brandauer, a sexually frustrated millionaire with inferiority issues, and a couple of nukes. Now that's scary!

There also a nasty henchwoman, called Fatima Blush. Yes, I also read that as bush, when I read it fast.


Right off the bat this Bond movies feels odd. There's no classic Bond bulls-eye intro, no Maurice Bender credit sequence, we do get an unbelievably bad theme song, so it's not like we're on completely foreign ground.

Shoehorned in between Roger Moore's two final Bond films, the existence of this irregular 007 adventure deserves a brief explanation. This is a so-called unofficial movie, meaning that it's not part of the official James Bond cannon. It exists only because of legal issues regarding Thunderball, resulting in producer Kevin McClory securing the legal rights to the Thunderball story, and all characters that appear in it, meaning that he could potentially remake that movie until the end of time, without fear of prosecution from the "real" Bond producers. McClory should have gotten the rights to a different story, because Thunderball didn't really work the first time around, and since everything about this film is inferior to the original, we're not exactly on to a winner.

Since this is not an official Bond, naturally they couldn't get Roger Moore for the lead, so instead they went back to Sean Connery, and asked him to reprise the role he abandoned with much glee 12 years ago. God knows how much they payed him to do this, but he doesn't look nearly as tired, as he did in his previous Bond film, though he does look considerable older. At 53 he just can't pass for a spiffy super secret agent any more, assuming he ever really could. Connery's return to the role is not helped by the fact that the plot starts off with an attack on some sort of bad guy stronghold where Bond is killed. Luckily this turns out to be a training mission, but it's not really a confidence inspiring opening, by any stretch of the imagination.

After this follows an unbelievable stupid scene where a preposterously unfair M, played by Edward Fox, orders Bond to a hippie health spa, because his eating habits are bad. Really? This is how you want to establish your cool secret agent? By having a guy tell him off, for eating too much red meat...? Are you serious? Moments later Bond loses the last bit of street cred, when he's reduced to smuggle caviar and pate into the spa, in a hidden compartment in his suitcase, and eat it in secrecy in his room. Come on people!

Never Say Never Again is dead on arrival. It takes forever to get going, and when it finally does it's quite unimpressive. The film plays out without a single memorable scene. There are no big set-pieces, no cool action scenes, not a single clever line, and all the characters are forgettable. The story plods along, painfully slow and disjointed (so was the original, you'll recall), resulting in an uninspired, dull, mumbling film that should never have been made.

Ironically, the only thing that could have saved Never Say Never Again, was if somebody had just said "never!"

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