Never Say Never Again (1983)

DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
edited July 2012 in Reviews Posts: 19,740
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  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    edited July 2013 Posts: 16,351
    Ingredients:
    Sean Connery looking very fit for the most part, Douglas Slocombe who photographed Indy, Irvin Kershner fresh off Empire Strikes Back & who directed Connery in the marvelous film Fine Madness, the legendary Vic Armstrong coordinating stunts, story by Fleming.
    Mix:
    Using sets and locations, blend the ingredients well. Add in Rowan Atkinson to taste.
    Cook:
    On thirty six million for six months.
    Cool Down:
    When done assemble the bits with a load of questionable assistant editors, and top off with Legrand's instant score mix, stir DO NOT SHAKE!

    Serves millions of undemanding Bond fans.

    :-<

    Never Say Never Again

    This movie had so many possibilities, SO much high octane talent in front of & behind the cameras... what went wrong?
    Well, the screenplay by Lorenzo Semple Jr. is a possible starting point. He's best known for the Batman TV series, and while he adds a certain flair to the screenplay, he also adds camp that while not as heavy as what appeared in the earlier Moore films, was there nonetheless.
    Irvin Kershner has to be one of the most overrated directors of all time. The man has no sense of pacing a film though he's great with individual scenes. The Empire Strikes Back worked in large part due to a superior screenplay & Lucas' micro-management IMO.
    All the actors give it their best, but Kersh is notorious for giving his actors room to improvise, which in this case led them to meander a bit.
    The editor (who's most notable work is Field of Dreams, a very slow and NON-action filled film) and his MANY assistants just dropped the ball, wanting to include too many unnecessary shots and even partial scenes to hit the desired 2 hr length. This film might have worked reasonably well at 105 minutes or so.
    And Legrand, who's work mostly speaks for itself, delivers a peculiar score- some of it fine, and some of it worthy of the afore mentioned Batman TV series.

    In the right frame of mind, this is a very entertaining Bond outing. Who couldn't love the faux gyroscope/bomb in the cigar case gag? And Barbara Carrera chewing up the scenery and getting blown up for her insane vanity? Awesome.

    Still, Octopussy of the same year was miles ahead IMO. Just as silly (if not more so in spots), but it delivered some fine intrigue as well, something NSNA failed totally at.

    Bottom line: an unnecessary but entertaining romp due mostly to Connery; big fans of FRWL will be (and were) offended.

    4 of 10


  • timdalton007timdalton007 North Alabama
    Posts: 65
    1983 was “the battle of the Bonds”. That year both Roger Moore and Sean Connery starred in two separate James Bond film, the former (Octopussy) was produced by the “official” makers of the Bond films while the later (Never Say Never Again) was produced “unofficially” by a group led by Kevin McClory who held the film rights to Thunderball. Surprisingly enough is the “unofficial” film that is better despite the obvious flaw of missing elements from the official films and the fact that Never Say Never Again is a remake of Thunderball.

    Never Say Never Again has the distinction of sporting one of the best casts ever assembled for a Bond film. It all starts with Sean Connery, returning to the play Bond for the first time since 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever. Connery might be older then he was then but he looks better here than he did in Diamonds Are Forever. Gone is the bored Bond of Diamonds and in is an older version of the Bond of the early Connery films. The Bond of Never Say Never Again is the sleek and dangerous shark of Dr. No or From Russia With Love, just a few years older. Connery’s delivery of one liners and dialogue is as dead on as it ever was. The one downside to Connery’s age is his believability, especially when it comes to the ladies of the film. Let’s face it even Connery, despite being in top physical shape, looks as odd as Moore when he is bedding women half his age. Yet despite this believability issue, Never Say Never Again shows Connery in one of his better Bond performances and a definite improvement on his two earlier Bond performances.

    Kim Bassinger plays Domino in one of her early film roles. Bassinger plays the role with considerable confidence for a relative newcomer and she makes the character believable. Bassinger holds her own against her co-stars and has considerable chemistry with them as well. While her part is smaller than that of her Thunderball counter-part played by Claudine Auger, Bassinger does a very good job and is definitely amongst the film’s highlights.

    Then there’s the villain, Maximilian Largo played by Klaus Maria Brandauer. Brandauer’s Largo is everything a James Bond film villain should be: suave, charming, evil and above all believable none the less. One can believe in the villain of this film, a billionaire playboy with an evil streak in him that remains well hidden. Brandauer makes the role realistic and chooses not to fall into the trap many other Bond villains have fallen into by going over the top. Brandauer plays Largo with a silent menace and charisma unseen in many adversaries of 007.

    The excellent cast extends into the supporting cast as well. Barbara Carrera makes a fine henchwoman in the guise of Fatima Blush and the screen lights up whenever she appears. Max Von Sydow makes a rather nice appearance as Blofeld, though his appearance is more akin to a cameo role. Rowan Atkinson makes an early screen appearance as Bond’s bumbling contact in the Bahamas that makes for some of the best scenes in the film. With all that the highlight of the supporting cast comes from the MI6 staff from Edward Fox’s M who makes for a great contrast to Bernard Lee, Pamela Salem who makes a fine Moneypenny and the icing on the cake with Alec McCowen’s wonderful Q. The supporting cast has a couple of misfires though in the form of Bernie Casey as Felix Leiter (the first African-American to play the role incidentally) and Gavin O’Herlihy as Jack Petachi who both seem to lack credibility in their respective roles. Otherwise this film sports one of the best casts ever assembled for a Bond film.

    On top of an excellent cast the film has several other essential ingredients: good action sequences, good special effects and good direction. From the opening Central America sequence to the fight at Shrublands to the underwater sequences and motorbike chase, this is a film where the action sequences are not only great but service the plot as well for the most part. The film also sports good special effects in terms of cruise missile models, explosions, and all the things we expect from a Bond film. Irvin Kershner, then fresh off doing The Empire Strikes Back for the Star Wars series, brings a tight sense of direction to the film especially in sequences like the substation of nuclear warheads and the subsequent theft of the cruise missiles.

    Yet this film is far from perfect. Never Say Never Again is easily one of the most dated of the Bond films with its heavy use of 1980’s computers and video games. While technology dates any film after a time, this film’s heavy reliance on it, especially in the hijacking of the cruise missiles and the Domination sequence makes the film look incredibly dated some quarter of a century after its release. The script also tends to suffer from predictability due to the very fact it’s a remake of Thunderball.

    Yet for its predictability the script for Never Say Never Again is pretty good. The script sports good dialogue scenes, not a single cringe worthy one liner (how many of the Roger Moore era scripts can you say that about?), some humorous situations, and yet is watchable and tense for the most part. Once you look past the fact that it’s a remake, there are quite a lot of good things in the script for the film.

    Music is in fact the biggest weakness of the film. Due to the “unofficial” status of the film, the James Bond Theme could not be used. That said this could have shown with the right composer that a Bond score without it could work. Unfortunately first choice James Horner (fresh off Star Trek II at the time) was passed over in favor of Michael Legrand, whose score is far from adequate. Legrand’s score is totally out of place in a Bond film and there is only of or two places where it actually works. To make matters worse the film is also lumbered with one of the worst title sequences ever to grace a James Bond film.

    Yet despite being heavily dated, somewhat predicable, and having a bad score Never Say Never Again is still a good Bond film. With one of the best casts of any Bond film, good action sequences, good special effects, good direction, and some terrific dialogue. Never Say Never Again proves that “unofficial” isn’t a bad thing. In fact it is better than quite a few official films, is definitely better than Octopussy and the winner of “the battle of the Bonds”.

    timdalton007
  • Posts: 291
    If it's being counted, Never Say Never Again stands my least favorite Bond film beneath Casino Royale '67 which at least some innovation and humor.

    As a reprise of thunderball, the plot is predictable and not much is done to spice it up. Music is really lacking compared to Barry's sounds. Atmosphere and stage setting is dull. It looks like they rounded up expensive furniture from an antique store, but it's not really fantasy. Directing seemed a little clumsy. Noting really popped out. You would think this is a low budget indie movie, but it had a near-equal budget to Moore's competing film at the time (Octopussy) which looked much richer and grandiose.

    Connery was old and didn't even try to conceal his accent. He complained Eon made the series too silly, and with his extensive creative control of this film, he basically conceded that this is fan service and a parody in itself. I'm perhaps too young to appreciate the historical significance, but it seems to have aged as a cashgrab.

    As for my score, 1 point is given by default, the 2nd point is given to any non-Nazi movie with some effort put into it and the 3rd point is because of Kim Basinger <3.

    3/10 (Bad)
  • LocqueLocque Escaped from a Namur prison
    Posts: 259
    In 1983, producer Kevin McClory remade Thunderball because he could, but not, it would seem, because anyone really wanted to.
    It's a sluggish, lumbering affair, where the action set-pieces fail to raise any adrenaline-levels and are often terribly lame (that video-game!). Michel Legrand's now horribly dated score is no substitute for John Barry and the James Bond theme. Even the -on paper- talented cast can't save this: for all the hype about Sean Connery reprising the role of Bond, he seems very disengaged, walking through the film like he's only there to pay off a house in the Bahamas, Klaus Maria Brandauer fails to exude any menace as Largo, Kim Bassinger only gets to look pretty, and Max Von Sydow just has a walk-on. The show gets stolen by Barbara Carrera of all people, the only one there who seems to have any fun as bad girl Fatima Blush.
    Thunderball wasn't the most exciting of Bond films, Never Say Never manages to be even more boring.
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