Never Say Never Again (1983)

Never Say Never Again (1983)

“Good to see you, Mr. Bond. Things have been awfully dull around here.”

With support from his top agent Largo (Klaus Maria Brandauer), SPECTRE head Ernst Blofeld (Max von Sydow) puts the world in nuclear jeopardy by replacing two dummy warheads with live ones, and demanding ransom. When aging James Bond (Sean Connery) is sent from a health spa to investigate, he soon encounters and seduces both Largo’s psychopathic assistant (Barbara Carrera) and his mistress (Kim Basinger).

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • James Bond Films
  • Max von Sydow Films
  • Nuclear Threat
  • Sean Connery Films
  • Spies

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that “it was great to see Sean Connery return as James Bond after a dozen years, during which time he insisted he’d never play the part again.” Notably, Connery “initiated this project itself” and “it was not part of the ongoing Roger Moore series being produced by Albert Broccoli”; a quick read through any of the reviews linked below — or Wikipedia’s entry on the film — will give a sufficient overview of why this ended up “not [as] new material, but a remake of Connery’s fourth Bond film, Thunderball.” Peary points out that while “Bond’s a bit older,” “every woman he sees is attracted to him and he still can outwit the vilest of villains,” and he notes that Bond’s “pain game ‘Domination’ [with Brandauer] is a highlight.” (I agree, though critical opinions are decidedly mixed on this.) He writes that a “very athletic Barbara Carrera (giving her best performance) as the cheerful assassin Fatima Blush and blonde Kim Basinger as Domino, Largo’s innocent girlfriend, make lasting impressions”:

… and argues that the “film is exotic” (which Bond flick isn’t?), “well acted, and stylishly directed by Irvin Kershner.” He posits that this “would be one of the best Bond films if the finale weren’t disappointing”, and in closing makes the following plea: “When will filmmakers realize that underwater fight scenes don’t work because viewers usually can’t tell the hero and villain apart and they know doubles are being used?” (Excellent points; I agree.)

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Klaus Maria Brandauer as Largo
  • Barbara Carrera as Fatima
  • The “World Domination” game

Must See?
No, though of course Bond fans (especially “Connery-as-Bond” fans) will want to check it out.


5 thoughts on “Never Say Never Again (1983)

  1. ⭐️⭐️⭐️ out of ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    There’s no such beast as a Bond film that’s a bad film, but NSNA would get my vote as my least favourite. It’s still good entertainment but it just feels … slack.

    The direction is listless, the score and theme tune dull and Connery is playing it like Moore; all one liners and quips, only it’s not right for him. Basinger is dull, but Carrera and Brandauer are good if not as good as Lucianna Paluzzi or Adolfo Celi in Thunderball (1965).

    Watchable, fun but not a patch on the EON films. I hope you will also cover the other unofficial, non-EON Bond; Casino Royale (1967).

  2. First viewing. Not must-see.

    At the time that Connery returned to the franchise, I had (long) tired of the Bond series – which explains why I’m just seeing this now.

    This entry is something of a… mixed blessing. ~ which is to say, thanks largely to the visual senses of both Kershner and ace DP Douglas Slocombe and the screenplay mainly credited to Lorenzo Semple Jr., its first half has a welcome freshness which engages. It’s certainly the better part of the film.

    What follows – with its ‘requisite’ gadgets, bombs, car chase, etc. – throws the film into automatic pilot. Yet, that is what the film has been wanting to do all along. While it remains watchable, I was ready for it to be over when it still had 30 minutes+ to go.

    Carrera does indeed make a stunning villainess and von Sydow (!) seems to be enjoying what amounts to his 10-minutes of screen time as serene evil.

  3. Why is it that von Sydow so often seems to be on screen TOO LITTLE?

    We – want – more – von Sydow!

  4. I think, in this case, Max was probably happy to have a role he could just giggle about later. 😉

  5. Von Sydow shot much more material for this including a death scene but it was sadly cut out in post production. NSNA is one of the longest Bonds up to that point (134 minutes) so keeping the length down would seem a priority and keeping Connery on screen was a must given all the publicity about his return.

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