Never Say Never Again (1983)
Never Say Never Again (1983)

Genre: Action and Spy Running Time: 2 hrs. 14 min.

Release Date: October 7th, 1983 MPAA Rating: PG

Director: Irvin Kershner Actors: Sean Connery, Klaus Maria Brandauer, Max Von Sydow, Barbara Carrera, Kim Basinger, Bernie Casey, Rowan Atkinson, Pamela Salem, Pat Roach

 


 

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t may be James Bond (with Sean Connery no less!), but without the use of the gun barrel graphics, the booming theme music, and the opening title silhouettes of nude female figures, it just doesn’t feel the same. Perhaps this film’s most unfortunate aspect is the timing of the theatrical release, when Bond’s fandom was waning and the miraculous reacquisition of Connery wasn’t enough to inject life into the production. Even the theme song lacks inspiration and enthusiasm. Many familiar elements are present, though replaced with revisions: Moneypenny, M, and Q all make appearances, though portrayed by different actors (Pamela Salem, Edward Fox, and Alec McCowen, respectively); Bond’s car is substituted noticeably; and the topmost villain, while retaining the name Ernst Stavro Blofeld, is now embodied by the tall, slender Max Von Sydow.

Communications officer Captain Jack Petachi (Gavan O’Herlihy) has his eye surgically altered to be identical to the President of the United States. The procedure is forced upon him by the maniacal villains of the terrorist organization SPECTRE (specializing in counterintelligence, revenge, and extortion), blackmailing him with threats against his sister Domino (Kim Basinger). While aging British Secret Agent James Bond (Sean Connery) is on a strict regimen of dieting and exercising at a health farm, he stumbles upon the sinister plot, in which Petachi is able to sneak aboard the American military base Swadley Air Command in England and initiate an order for thermonuclear devices to replace dummy warheads. They’re launched into the ocean for SPECTRE to retrieve, to ransom back to NATO governments for billions of dollars.

Out of sheer necessity, MI6 leader M (now reduced to a cantankerous fool) reinstitutes the “007” program, putting Bond back in the field. His mission is to investigate billionaire Maximilian Largo (Klaus Maria Brandauer), stationed in the Bahamas, who incidentally has Domino as his lover. British embassy contact Nigel Small-Fawcett (Rowan Atkinson) warns Bond about stirring up trouble in the touristy Nassau, but the spy still immediately connects with SPECTRE agent Number 12 (Barbara Carrera), who was previously charged with ensuring that the warhead theft operation went smoothly. She’s an athletic, egotistic, masochistic, eccentric, abusive woman (favoring killing a man by tossing a snake into his car), who lures Bond into an underwater trap. Despite numerous, wearying assassination attempts (in which 007 routinely emerges unharmed), he proceeds to the south of France, where Largo’s boat (The Flying Saucer) sails.

Bond spouts wisecracks (though toned down considerably from the current Roger Moore films), sleeps with multiple (much younger) women, and sports a sharp tuxedo. Q’s warehouse of futuristic gadgetry is shown, fight scenes are amusingly destructive, martinis are served dry, and car chases are accomplished with practical effects and daring stunts. But the use of a ridiculous arcade-style 3D game, followed by a peculiarly showy tango; Carrera’s weird frolicsomeness outshining her deviousness and effectiveness (unbelievably, this led to a Golden Globe nomination); Michel Legrand’s trumpet-heavy score, which is severely lacking in momentum; a rather bland climax; and an overlong running time contribute to the many shortcomings that aren’t easily forgiven. Readapting the “Thunderball” novel (itself based on a screenplay) is also an unfortunate, restrictive choice of source material, since the original film from 1965 was one of Bond’s least impressive adventures.

– Mike Massie

  • 2/10