US Release Date: 10-07-1983
Directed by: Irvin Kershner
- Sean Connery, as
- James Bond
- Klaus Maria Brandauer, as
- Maximilian Largo
- Max von Sydow, as
- Ernst Stavro Blofeld
- Barbara Carrera, as
- Fatima Blush
- Kim Basinger, as
- Domino Petachi
- Bernie Casey, as
- Felix Leiter
- Edward Fox, as
- Alec McCowen, as
- Pamela Salem, as
- Miss Moneypenny
- Rowan Atkinson as
- Nigel Small-Fawcett
Connery is in better shape here than when we last saw him as Bond in 1971.
Never Say Never Again is the one off, "what if" James Bond movie that saw the return of Sean Connery to the role he created. What if Roger Moore had never taken over the role and what if S.P.E.C.T.R.E. hadn't previously tried to hold the world to ransom against the threat of nuclear bombs. It was only able to be made because of a complicated court case from the 1960s where by the film rights to one story went to Kevin McClory instead of to EON Productions like the rest of them.
The plot to this movie is a remake of Thunderball with the story updated to 1983 and a few minor tweaks that actually improve upon the story. While the original story took place almost entirely in the Bahamas, in this version the story also features locations in Nice and North Africa. The basic story of S.P.E.C.T.R.E. making off with two nuclear bombs and threatening to blow them up unless the world pays up remains the same.
Of course the big draw and the best part of this movie is the return of Sean Connery. It had been 12 years since he last played 007, but he slips back into the role as easily as he slips back into the tuxedo. In fact, despite being in his early 50s when he made this movie he actually looks in better shape than in 1971 and even 1967, the last two times he played Bond. And unlike Roger Moore who appeared in Octopussy that same year, Connery actually still looks capable of doing the action he's required to do in the movie and still looks like he could kick your ass. As Q says in this movie, "Things have been awfully dull around here since you’ve been gone. I hope we’re going to see a return to some gratuitous sex and violence."
One of the real treats of the movie is Barbara Carrera as the villainous Fatima Blush. Her over-the-top evilness and love of killing allows her to steal almost every scene in which she appears. She also far out shadows a very young Kim Basinger who plays the good, but a bit dull, Bond girl, Domino.
Klaus Maria Brandauer as Largo, the main villain isn't quite as effective and never really seems like a challenge to Bond. They do share a good scene together in the rather dated video game battle during Largo's party, but you never doubt that Bond will defeat him.
The Roger Moore Bond movies tend to be comedy-adventures and rarely display a sense of danger. Connery's Bond movies are action-adventures and are much edgier. They still provide some humor. Rowan Atkinson has a small but comical part and Bond and the new M's relationship is worth a few chuckles, but the action never takes a backseat to the jokes.
Sean Connery is James Bond, of that there can be no question. Everyone who came after him in the part is inferior in some way. Although this movie isn't perfect, it is good enough that you truly wish Connery had never said never again.
Barbara Carrera and Sean Connery in Never Say Never Again.
Yes Sean Connery was more physically fit than Roger Moore in 1983 but his face, with its deep set lines, looks older than Moore’s smooth pretty boy visage. Connery brings a certain gravitas to the role that no one else has ever quite equaled. It is funny that this is called the one “unofficial” Bond movie. I have a hard time thinking of it that way since Connery, more than anyone else, IS James Bond.
Minus the famous Bond theme music, plus the fact that M, Q and Miss Moneypenny are all played by new actors does give Never Say Never Again a bit of an independent feel to it. And the rehashing of an old plot that the younger Connery-as-Bond experienced does give it a slight alternate-reality quality.
The gratuitous sex is more prominent than in most Moore Bond movies. In fact, according to the IMDB Bond beds more women (4) in this movie than in any previous installment. The scene with him and Fatima Blush is done quite cheekily, showing them doing it several times in different positions in a brief montage.
And speaking of Fatima Blush I wholeheartedly agree with Scott that she is a very memorable Bond femme fatale. She is as ruthlessly deadly as she is ravishingly gorgeous. The scene where she tosses her snake into another car to kill the driver and then calmly goes to the scene of the accident to retrieve her pet and plant an explosive device is very well done.
There are several good action sequences. Bond on a motorcycle is one and when he rescues Kim Basinger on horseback is another. Although the scene where Bond, Domino and the horse go over a cliff and fall hundreds of feet into the water caused outrage in the animal rights community and helped lead to movies using the disclaimer, “No animals were injured during the making of this movie”.
It is also quite campy in parts. In one scene Bond goes to the doctor. A nurse says, “Mr. Bond, I need a urine sample. If you could fill this beaker for me?” From across the room Bond quips, “From here?” He later uses his own urine sample as a weapon in one of the silliest moments from any Bond movie.
Never Say Never Again was Sean Connery’s seventh and final Bond movie. He is the only actor to play the role in three different decades and will always be the definitive 007.
Barbara Carrera as Fatima Blush
Never Say Never Again has lots to offer but is too long. Although it features Carrera at her sexiest, the entire part in the Bahamas is unnecessary. What is accomplished by going there? Sure the "catch you later line" is funny, but the method in which Fatima Blush tries to kill Bond is ridiculous.
Nigel is supposed to be funny, but comes across more stupid than humorous. The scene where Bond massages Basinger is a bit sexy but the only thing he learns in that scene, is that Largo is having a party. They could have just met there without affecting the plot in the least.
Connery plays the entire movie straight but the script is constantly employing jokes. There is the cigarette case joke, the "free radicals" and "keep dancing" lines. There is also, of course, lots and lots of sexual innuendoes.
As Scott wrote, it also contains some dramatic moments. My favorite has always been when Bond returns to his villa after the party and finds Nicole's body. Considering how much humor is in this movie, it is amazing that it can still create such tension.
To continue what my brothers stated, Barbara Carrera is the best Bond bad girl of all time. She is as sexy as she is psychotic. At one point Largo says to her of Domino, "Maybe one day you have to kill her." She smiles at him excitedly and says, "Your sense of humor is delicious."
It is of course great to have Connery doing one more Bond film, but Never Say Never Again could have been trimmed to a tighter running time. It contains the usual Bond flaw of the bad guy letting Bond live when captured. Why does Largo let Bond wander around his ship freely and not just kill him? The film is a bit overblown, but saved by the presence of Connery and Carrera.
Photos © Copyright Warner Bros. (1983)