Thanks to Netflix streaming offering a fair share of the Bond films, I decided to watch Never Say Never Again, for only the second time. It had been at least 5 years, and after that initial viewing I pretty much had written it off. It just lacked the "feel" of the EON films and I never wanted to revisit it again. Much to my surprise I actually found it quite good and actually containing many of the things I look for in a Bond film.
For starters, Sean Connery looks good in it. He's lean and fit, yet clearly looking older at this point, but the movie doesn't ignore this fact. He seems to be fully invested in the role in a way we hadn't seen since TB or perhaps even GF. I am one of those who believes that while Connery did appear overweight and weathered in DAF, he at least looked like he was having a good time. In NSNA he actually looks like he's taking the role seriously, which is refreshing.
Second, the supporting cast is for the most part all top notch. Max Van Sydow is a very convincing Blofeld and comes across as evil combined with intelligence. Klaus Brandauer plays an excellent Largo: very animated. Fatima Blush is fantastic--possibly one of the best female villains of the series: sexy, yet truly villainous. The Felix Leiter of this film is smooth. Rowan Atkinson adds a dose of good humor. Kim Bassinger shows a depth of range in a nice performance as Domino. I'll admit though, the mi6 staff pales in comparison: Moneypenny, Q and M are incredibly weak and forgettable.
Third: The direction is tight and plot moves along without slowing down the film--the only slow part possibly being the arrival of the nukes to the final scene.
Fourth: The locations and cinematography are stunning--I feel like I'm in a Bond film--from the Bahamas to Northern Africa to the Tears of Alla set-piece.
Fifth: The action scenes are exciting and well orchestrated: The fight with Bond inside the medic conjures the many great henchman fights during Connery's original hey-day and the bike chase is high speed entertainment.
Other points: the gadgets are present but kept to minimal practical uses such as the laser wrist watch. Also, the humor is used throughout and reminds us that we're in a Bond film: "Yes, but my martini's still dry." Lastly the Bond atmosphere is is abound--vodka martini's, gambling, tuxedoes and swagger.
Honestly, after this viewing, Never Say Never Again shot up in my rankings. Heck, I didn't even include it before. Now I can safely say it's top 10-12 material. It's not perfect, but I'll take it. There are obviously some improvements, such as the music, the visual effects (that shark looked totally fake) and the entire mi6 staff needs to be fired. But on the whole, NSNA was a thoroughly satisfying Bond film. So while I never thought I would revisit this film, I should have taken a cue from Sir Sean..."Never, never, never, never say..."
So what are your thoughts? Do you love it, hate it, or do you not even recognize it as Bond? Do you find some positives and strengths to the film that perhaps are overlooked because it's not EON?