Movie Review: Never Say Never Again (1983)

This post might make more sense if you read yesterday’s review of Thunderball first. I’ll wait.

Sean Connery is the best Bond, but noticeably older here. Of course, it’d been twelve years since he’d last played the role. Even so, he was still actually three years younger than Roger Moore, who was playing Bond at the same time for a different production company. As far as I’m concerned, Moore pretty much always looked too old to be Bond anyway. I’ll stick with Connery.

A new M has replaced the man Bond used to work with, and his disdain for the “00” program is over the top. Also not entertaining.

“Fatima Blush” (Barbara Carrera) is the new Spectre agent at the spa. The Petachi situation is very different from both previous versions, with a new sub-plot. “Count” Lippe is now a brute who foregoes the indirect methods of the prior stories in favor of hand-to-hand combat.

The nuclear missiles are no longer in a NATO plane that gets hijacked. Instead they are LAUNCHED from a US plane, and directly LANDED underwater to hide them. This gets M ordered to re-activate the “00” agents. Could we get any more convoluted and awkward? Is all this just to “explain” why Sean Connery looks older than his last Bond appearance?

Kim Basinger plays Domino, and this time she’s in love with Largo. I must’ve slept through the reason why Bond goes to the Bahamas in this one, but there he is, immediately asking about Largo. I missed why he’s doing that too.

Barbara Carrera, er, I mean “Fatima,” immediately intercepts Bond in Nassau and sleeps with him. Then she takes him diving so she can abandon him to be eaten by cybernetic sharks. Wait, is this an episode of Batman?

But Largo’s boat is en route to the Bahamas from France? So Bond immediately leaves the Bahamas for France and Felix is introduced there. And he still has two hands. Bond crashes a benefit at the “Casino Royale.” Of course. And so, we get our casino scene with Largo here. Even though it’s not in Nassau. And instead of baccarat, they play video games! Seriously? OK, I know it was the 80’s, but seriously? Casino Royale is a video arcade?

And now we get to do our scuba-diving outside the yacht off the coast of France. Is that cheaper? More exotic? What is the reason? Does this guy who sued Ian Fleming have something to prove? Perhaps.

And then they’re off to North Africa. If you’re following along in your novel version at home, you’re on the wrong part of the globe. And they ain’t getting back to the Caribbean in this flick.

Anyway, at the end we are led to believe that Bond is retiring. Possibly with Domino. But Connery winks into the camera as the stupid “Never Say Never” song comes up, so who knows what they intended?

I’m a huge fan of Connery’s and look upon his lesser imitators pretty much the way I look at cover bands. And it’s great to see him don his “00” again, one last time. But this movie isn’t close enough to Thunderball to be a good remake, or a good translation of the novel, and if judged strictly on its own merits it’s not really worth the watch. Fortunately for Fleming, he didn’t have to watch this because he was long dead. Honestly it wasn’t the best way for Connery to take a bow. And it doesn’t make the guy who sued Fleming look at all good. Were these his ideas? Au revoir, Mr Bond.

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