James Bond Retrospective: Review of NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN

(I am a pretty huge James Bond fan, so with the new SKYFALL coming out November 9th, I thought it would be cool to re-watch every Bond movie and review them on the site, counting down the days until the latest one is released)

A lot of people don’t consider this to be an official James Bond movie since it wasn’t an Eon production, but if a movie stars Sean Connery playing James Bond, I consider it to be a JAMES BOND MOVIE!  THE END.   I saw this one in the theaters when I was 7.  I remember the opening, the video game battle, and… that’s about it.  I do remember watching it again a couple of times on video, but it’s probably been since 1984-85 since I’ve actually seen it.  I don’t remember despising it like many others have, so I was curious to give it another look.

Sean Connery returns as 007 for the first time in 12 years.  It’s actually a remake of THUNDERBALL, which seems like a weird thing to do.  Amway, just like that film, it starts off with M assigning Bond to a Spa to get back in shape.  Then there’s the bad guy Largo and his mistress Domino, and that bad bitch Fatima and yadda yadda yadda.  The differences: Blofeld is actually shown this time, there’s a huge motorcycle chase, they move the climax to an underwater cave in the middle east, and there are video games.  Yup!  Video games.

Since this film isn’t by the same producers as the others, it definitely doesn’t “feel” like a Bond picture.  It doesn’t even have a pre-title sequence.  The title song isn’t bad, but I don’t want to hear some 80’s ballad being sung as Bond is breaking into a place killing bad guys.  And I certainly don’t want the credits to appear over a Bond action sequence.  To me, when a movie has the opening credits over fully edited sequences, it tells me that the filmmakers don’t care about what they just filmed.  If they don’t care, why should I?  Turns out that opening was just a training sequence (which absolutely makes no sense, logically, since it appears Bond was strangling people to death).  Whatever!

Okay, I’ll just let it all out now.  This is a terrible movie!  There are only 2 things I can think of that I liked.  There’s a shark attack sequence that impressed me cause it appears that real sharks were used.  It’s pretty impressive what they were able to get the sharks to do on camera.  And even though his character wasn’t fully realized, I think Klaus Maria Brandauer brings something unique to his role as Largo.  He’s not your typical villain, as he’s sinister and a bit eccentric.  But that’s it.  The rest of the movie is nearly unwatchable.

The action sequences are rubbish.  The motorcycle chase is lackluster and silly.  Why does he have to do a wheelie every 5 fucking seconds?!?  And the way that Fatima dies looks so cheap and stupid that it felt like it was straight out of a Charles Bronson Cannon film..  Now, don’t get me wrong, I can enjoy something as stupid as those films, but I expect a Bond film to have a little more class.  Seriously!  The finale is just a bunch of guys shooting at each other unconvincingly.  And Largo’s end isn’t satisfying enough, cause it all happens underwater.  And where the heck did Domino come from?!?  But the worst, jaw-droppingly bad moment in the film is when Bond and Domino are riding horseback and jump off of a cliff into the ocean, riding the horse all the way down.  It is the worst stunt and special effect that has ever been in a Bond film.  It looks like horse shit.  Heh.  When there’s not action, the movie is even more lost as characters wander around aimlessly trying to figure out where the plot went.  And that Tango between Bond and Domino comes out of left field, and is disappointingly uninspired.

Oh yeah!  And the video games!  So I guess Largo is into video games and has what appears to be a video game convention in the middle of a hotel as every 80’s arcade game is present. (Centipede,etc).  But it wasn’t convincing at all since there were no pimple-faced 13-year-olds to be found.  Nope, just a bunch of 40-something yuppies in expensive clothes playing video games.  Just what fucking planet is this supposed to take place on?!?  And the video game that Bond plays Largo in?  What the shit?!?  That scene was dated back when it came out in 1983!

Sean Connery delivers his absolute worst performance as Bond.  He just doesn’t even seem to be trying here.  Even though he’s 4 years younger than Roger Moore and was only just over 50 in this, he looks like he’s over 65.  He looks like garbage and certainly doesn’t look like he can do any kind of action scenes.  Kim Basinger is light years away from her Oscar-winning turn in L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, as she is pretty bad as Domino.  Barbara Carrera is even worse as the evil Fatima.  She’s not menacing, and she’s NOT sexy.  She can’t act, looks gross, and apparently can’t even do something as simple as walking up the stairs convincingly.  What the fuck was up with that?!?  Max Von Sydow is a great actor, but is completely wasted here as Blofeld.  He’s built up as the villain, but the movie quickly forgets about him.  Equally wasted is Bernie Casey as Felix, who has nothing to do besides calling 007, “Buddy”.  Oh yeah!  And Mr. Bean is in this!  That’s right!  Rowan Atkinson bumbles his way through the role of someone working for M.  Which brings me to M.  Edward Fox’s portrayal of M is dreadful.  In other films, M respects Bond, but gives him a hard time.  Here, all Fox does is shout at him with much hatred.  That’s NOT how M is supposed be.

Director Irvin Kershner (EMPIRE STRIKES BACK) gives no life to the film.  Every shot is flat and the pacing is non-existent.  The script is an embarrassing rehash of THUNDERBALL, which wasn’t that good to begin with.  Michel Legrand’s score does not fit at all into the movie.  Listening to it by itself, it’s not bad, but throw it over some Bond action and it couldn’t be more out-of-place.  And don’t get me started on the final moment.  Bond retires saying that he’ll never do a mission again, Kim Basinger says “Never say Never”, then he turns to the camera and winks.  FREEZE FRAME!  The end! ……… Fuck me!  Wow!

So, um, yeah… I guess I didn’t like it.  It’s not only a bad Bond film, but it’s just an all around bad movie.  If it weren’t for the shark scene and the interesting performance by Brandauer, this would rank among the worst films ever made.  I know Bond fans were furious about this movie cause it wasn’t an Eon production, and I think they’re wrong.  They should be furious at it because it’s a horrendous film.  ★ (out of ★★★★)

– Rated PG but would be PG13 today for violence and some sensuality.

– Running time: 2hrs 13min.

Categories: Austin Kennedy, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Reviews

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2 replies

  1. I couldn’t disagree more with you on this review. Connery’s worst performance as Bond? Have you SEEN You Only Live Twice and/or Diamonds Are Forever? He’s way worse there – not to mention actually not interested.

    • I have SEEN all the Bond movies. I agree that Connery gave a boring performance in YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE, but I think the movie has much better direction than NEVER SAY NEVER. But I do disagree with DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER. I actually thought he gave an energetic, lively performance in that one. And yes, I still stand by my opinion: NEVER SAY NEVER contains Connery’s worst performance. Thanks for reading! 🙂

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