Never Say Never Again..."Yes, But My Martini's Still Dry"

edited June 2011 in Bond Movies Posts: 1,497
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?
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Comments

  • GoldenGunGoldenGun Station B, Belgium
    edited April 2011 Posts: 3,018
    Quoting JBFan626: Sean Bean adds a dose of good humor.

    Sean Bean was in GE, but not in NSNA ;).

    I do think you're right. I like NSNA for the cast and the locations. Brandauer and von Sydow are good villains. Carrera brings a lot of fun while Basinger is an adequate Bond girl. Sean Connery plays Bond as he should play him at his age, therefore it doesn't feel out of place at all. Now about the Mi6 staff, Edward Fox is in my mind the second best M behind Bernard Lee. I'm a big fan of his and I love how he turns M into a "stiff-upperlip" kind of character. McCowen's Q is all right, he doesn't try to imitate Llewelynn which is a good thing. Same goes for the much disliked Michel Legrand score, I quite like it because it's different and no wannabe Barry score as Arnold sometimes makes them.

    Of course it's not a top Bond film, but an amusing and more then adequate one nonetheless. I'd give it a 7 out of 10, I would give OP the same.

  • edited April 2011 Posts: 1,497
    Quoting GoldenGun: Sean Bean was in GE, but not in NSNA ;).
    Haha...yes "Mr. Bean" was in this one, not that Mr. Bean.
  • Posts: 5,953
    Quoting JBFan626: Haha...yes "Mr. Bean" was in this one, not that Mr. Bean.
    Easy mistake to make :-))
    well, I haven't watched NSNA for years. My brother in law always provokes me by singing the theme song every time we see each other and declaring 'best Bond film ever'. Puts me off watching it again.
  • BennyBenny And I'm wearing a red shirt !
    Posts: 7,652
    NSNA is a very distant second to the far superior Octopussy released the same year (1983)
    But it is still a largely enjoyable film, with some fine performances, and witty lines.
    Certainly a better Bond film than Connery's last official outing in the EON series.
  • saunderssaunders Living in a world of avarice and deceit
    Posts: 987
    I've always considered NSNA an integral part of the series despite being unofficial and yes there is a lot not to like about this film with it's insipid Michel Legrand soundtrack, it's cheap sets, lack of action and poor use of what should of been fantastic locations. Having said that, there is still much to enjoy for the Bond fan with this film, Connery looks to be enjoying the role (he wasn't! He 's since stated that working on this film was like working in a toilet) and he's looking in far better physical shape than in his previous Bond film DAF twelve years earlier, and much like FYEO this role was written in such a way that it acknowledges the lead actors age rather than trying to ignore it. While on the subject of writing it should be noted that the humour in this film is far better than anything produced in the official series and the one liners are on the whole very funny, and this is not that surprising when you consider that Connery himself drafted in British television comedy writers Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais to undertake significant script doctoring.
    The villains are great fun, especially Barbara Carrera's deliciously warped Fatima and Maria Brandauer's quietly insane Largo, and a too short cameo by Exorcist star Max Von Sydow as a dignified Blofeld is also a great piece of casting.
    Edward Fox makes a humorous politically correct new 'M' but Pamela Salem's Miss Moneypenny is instantly forgettable and the less said about Rowan Atkinson's Small-Fawcett the better!
    A very young Kim Bassinger brings very little to the role except for her gorgeous body and for those admirers of the female form this film seems to have far more near nudity in it than in all of the Eon series put together!
    The special effects are mostly just plain awfull and the feel of the film as a whole is far more dated than anything produced by Eon in that decade.
    But my view is that even a below par unofficial Connery Bond is far better than one less Bond film in the universe, so lets stop trying to pretend it doesn't exist and embrace what will now certainly be Connery's final outing as James Bond 007.
  • Posts: 324
    Here's a brief review of NSNA I wrote for Eccentric-Cinema.com:

    It seems impossible, but in at least one instance Sean Connery as James Bond actually made Roger Moore look good. Coming just a few months after the release of Octopussy, this non-canonical 'rogue' 007 production brought Connery back to the role some twelve years after DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER. He needn't have bothered. Since it's a remake of 1965's THUNDERBALL the film ironically suffers from both a 'been there, done that' tiredness and a lack of the familiar, beloved Bond staples, notably the gun barrel opening and distinctive James Bond theme.

    Once again the suave secret agent vies with ruthless SPECTRE operative Largo (this time played by Austrian actor Klaus Maria Brandauer) for possession of two stolen nuclear warheads. Some of the major locations are the same — the English health clinic, the Bahamas — although there's far less underwater action than in the original. NSNA tries a more humorous approach, but the campy script by Lorenzo Semple Jr. (the '60s Batman TV series, FLASH GORDON) usually misses the mark; you'll be groaning rather than chuckling in most instances. Irvin Kershner's journeyman direction fails to add any zip to the proceedings, falling flat in the sparse, perfunctory action scenes. Composer Michel Legrand contributes a dreadful score (complete with excruciatingly awful theme song) which definitely drags the film down a few notches. At least the cast is enjoyable, especially Brandauer's quirky psycho-villain and Barbara Carrera (LONE WOLF MCQUADE) as his glamorous and lethal henchwoman, Fatima Blush. Edward Fox is a younger but even stuffier (and more exasperated) M; blaxploitation vet Bernie Casey is a cool Felix Leiter and the great Max Von Sydow an ideal Blofeld, but disappointingly they're given very little to do. A 29-year old Kim Basinger is on hand for some nice eye candy. And Connery, although up to the challenge and quite fit for his age, is slathered with so much makeup and skin bronzer that he looks like a wax mannequin of himself — and his Q Branch-issue toupee definitely fails the field test. (You really should have said "Never!" again, Sir Sean.)
  • edited April 2011 Posts: 4,711
    Get a Gunbarrel at the beginning, lose the horrific music (saxophone + underwater scenes make me zzzzzzzzzzzz), edit out the 'boring parts'
    (joking aside, I'm referring to lots of Blofeld, missile-transportation, ect. Basically most of the scenes that don't involve Sean) and finally figure a way to have Sean WITHOUT the helmet for the motorcycle chase and you've got a solid movie.

    Honestly, I enjoy it quite a bit when I skip the boring parts mentioned above. Unfortunately that means I'm watching a half hour movie! ;-)

    I think the one thing we can all agree on, is that Sean DOES look like he's having fun in the role, once again (compared to YOLT and DAF)
  • DaltonCraig007DaltonCraig007 They say, "Evil prevails when good men fail to act." What they ought to say is, "Evil prevails."
    Posts: 12,022
    Quoting Master_Dahark: Sean DOES look like he's having fun in the role, once again (compared to DAF)

    :(|) I'm sorry, but Connery in DAF must be, with Moore in MR, the actor who had the most fun playing Bond.
  • Posts: 4,711
    lol welllllll that hefty check may have helped.
  • DaltonCraig007DaltonCraig007 They say, "Evil prevails when good men fail to act." What they ought to say is, "Evil prevails."
    Posts: 12,022
    Don't get me wrong I find NSNA to be quite good, but I find it difficult to see how Connery was bored in DAF. I even love YOLT, and he doesn't look bored in that one. Connery in GF, on the other hand...
  • Posts: 161
    Sorry, as much as I love YOLT, but the boredom in Sean's performance is palpable.
    However, Sean's performance from DN-TB is perfection. He doesn't look bored in GF, Bond is just not given very much to do.
  • Posts: 1,497
    Quoting DaltonCraig007: Don't get me wrong I find NSNA to be quite good, but I find it difficult to see
    how Connery was bored in DAF.
    Connery's performance in DAF is enjoyable because he takes on an "I don't give a crap" attitude througout, which actually makes him looser in the role and the movie all the more entertaining for it. In NSNA he's seems more pre-meditated in really working at the part. Both efforts work in their own context, which is why I like both films and both Connery performances.

    As far as YOLT is concerned, I've always thought it was an exaggeration to say he looked bored. At the most he was basically on auto-pilot, which is not a bad thing. He had the role down so well, that he could just show up and turn on the Bond switch and could nail it. He was already in this mode in TB IMO. Whether or not he was tired of the role off-camera didn't seem to affect his ability to transform into 007 on screen.
  • Posts: 917
    Boring, slow paced, overly done action sequences, some bad acting, dull characters... snore. I don't like it, seen it recently, like a year ago. Meh. If you like, fine. Your choice. I won't make fun of you too much. :-))
  • Posts: 4,711
    We're all Bond fans here- isn't OK to at least LIKE all the films? You know, just some more than others?
    I honestly don't hate any of them
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!
    Posts: 15,392
    Quoting The_Reaper: I won't make fun of you too much.
    You may find many of us taking quite a liking to NSNA, Reaper. It has its merits and personally, I favour it more than TWINE.

    Also, we don't make fun of people here, based on their opinion.
  • Posts: 1,497
    The only incarnations of Bond that I don't actually like are the Barry Nelson 1954 Casino Royale--I wanted to fall asleep during the card game and the 1967 spoof--actually did fall asleep. NSNA was on this list, so I was pleasantly surprised to find I did enjoy it. MR teeters on the line of dislike--but there are redeeming moments.

    As far as the acting in NSNA, is there a Bond film that doesn't have a bit of bad acting? I think it adds to some of the charm, all the films are over-top to some degree so not all the characters should be treated completely seriously. I like NSNA for that reason; makes it feel like it was made in the 60's at times
  • DaltonCraig007DaltonCraig007 They say, "Evil prevails when good men fail to act." What they ought to say is, "Evil prevails."
    Posts: 12,022
    Quoting JBFan626: MR teeters on the line of dislike
    Nonsence ! MR is a top 5 Bond film for me !! :-c
  • edited April 2011 Posts: 917
    Quoting DarthDimi: Also, we don't make fun of people here, based on their opinion.

    Did you not see the Smiley face, there, DarthNazi, er, DarthDimi? :-?
  • GoldenGunGoldenGun Station B, Belgium
    edited April 2011 Posts: 3,018
    Quoting Master_Dahark:
    We're all Bond fans here- isn't OK to at least LIKE all the
    films? You know, just some more than others?
    I honestly don't hate any of
    them
    Well, I like most of them. The second half of DAD bothers me somewhat and the over-the-top Rambo action of TND too. Overall, I don't hate any of them with a passion. That's for sure ;).
  • Is it the first of april? Oh no, you're serious.

    NSNA isn't even a good film, let alone a bad Bond film. Awful awful awful from start to finish.
  • edited April 2011 Posts: 13,156
    On the whole, yes, I think it's a very bad film with only a few saving graces those being Barbara Carrera and...
  • Posts: 6,740
    It is an excellent 007 movie with a more than brilliant Sean Connery returning to the part that made him famous.
    The cast is excellent, the story well known and 007 is in form.

    Anybody not liking this movie misses out on a lot of fun. The movie has so many excellent moments that it almost cancels out the lesser stuff that is also there.

    I saw both NSNA & Octopussy in the cinema when they came out........It was an excellent year to be a Bondfan.
  • Posts: 917
    Enlighten us, please.
    Quoting SaintMark: The movie has so many excellent moments that it almost cancels out the lesser
    stuff that is also there.

  • Posts: 6,740
    The lesser stuff being dodgy effects and the musical score, even if the music at times isn't too shabby it does lack the kick the Barry sound and musical themes can bring.

    The story is fine, the actionscenes are excellent and the sets are glorious as they should be in a 007 movie. The computergame scene is a bit outdated but well done. And 007 in the guise of Connery is in his final 007 part beyond excellent. He is and proves once more with this film casually his is the UberBond imho of course.
  • PrinceKamalKhanPrinceKamalKhan Monsoon Palace, Udaipur
    Posts: 2,305
    blockquote>Quoting JBFan626: 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?

    NSNA is watchable enough, Connery is great as an older Bond, and the supporting cast is quite good. My main problem with NSNA is the fact that my favorite Bond film, TB of course, casts a large shadow over it. Hence, I have little desire to sit down and watch it. If I'm ever in the mood to watch its story, I'd rather watch the original one where it was done right with Connery in his prime and all the usual EON touches.

    In retropsect, it's too bad they couldn't have used another one of McClory's script drafts like the ones he worked on iwth Connery and Len Deighton to help make NSNA more distinct film from TB.
  • GoldenGunGoldenGun Station B, Belgium
    Posts: 3,018
    I would like to add that I do like Michel Legrand as a composer. Check some of his French work, the man is brilliant. NSNA isn't his best score but it isn't too bad either.
  • Posts: 2,392
    nah i dont like it too much,it wasnt awful but it wasnt good so closer to bottom than the top
  • I thought Sean looked great during the opening scene of the film, he really took care
    of business and Barbara Carrera was outstanding!
  • edited May 2011 Posts: 4,316
    NSNA has great scenes, great performances, and Brandauer.

    What I don´t like, besides the feeling that the film is busier showing off Connery than showing off Bond, is that the many great moments in the first half of the movie build up to much more than what it becomes in the end. Most of the end, starting with the African fort, just looks as if the producers had run out of money, and even the brilliant performances cannot make up for that.
    And the bikini shot shortly before Bond gives Domino a massage looks unforgivably clumsy.

    On the other hand, I find scenes like Bond´s encounter with Lippe, or the video game against Largo legendary. And the cruise missile p.o.w. never gets stale, although it gets on my nerves that the background footage isn´t assembled better.

    It seems to me that Eon themselves, while vehemently denying its existence, show quite some respect to NSNA. Things that are common now in Bond films but weren´t at all then, such as M in another office and with another character, or a laser built into a watch, were first seen in NSNA.
  • edited May 2011 Posts: 3,494
    I remember well when this came out. My father and brother went to one room to see NSNA and I went to see Octopussy. We all agreed Octopussy was much better after we had seen both. And so did the public judging by the box office.

    The only redeeming part of NSNA was the performances of Brandauer and Carrera, otherwise I hate this movie and it's best left in the bargain bin where it belongs. They don't beat Celi and Paluzzi in my book, but they were entertaining. Other I hate the movie. It was a half arsed attempt by McGlory to stick it to Cubby and it fails to match or improve upon Thunderball on any level. Connery was clearly. like he was in DAF, there for the money and his performance was uninspiring. The Legrand soundtrack was better suited for a 1970's cop movie or TV series and (gulp) even worse than Eric Serra's failure to capture how a Bond movie should be scored.

    Sir Henry

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