NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN

(1983)
With Sean Connery, Klaus Maria Brandauer, Kim Basinger, Barbara Carrera, Max Von Sydow, Edward Fox, Rowan Atkinson, Alec McCowan, Bernie Casey
Directed by Irvin Kershner
Reviewed by JL

Older, Paunchier, Cooler     For a laundry list of complicated legal reasons, independent producer Kevin McClory was allowed to make this "renegade" James Bond film, the only one not produced by the Broccoli-Saltzman gang at EON Productions.  A remake of THUNDERBALL (1965), NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN is most notable for Sean Connery's return to the role of Bond.  After a dozen years away from the role, he effortlessly proves why he is considered the definitive 007.  The film itself doesn't fare so well but it does have its strengths, including a strong first hour and the ravishing Barbara Carrera as over-the-top evil diva Fatima Blush.  But the second half of the film meanders, as director Irvin Kershner (best known for THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK) seems to lose conviction in the material.  The precious few action scenes are strictly by-the-numbers, as if Kirshner regards a silly video-game sequence to be of greater consequence.  The climactic underwater battle in THUNDERBALL suffered from excessive length, but it was at least staged imaginatively and with grand style.  Kirshner tosses off the scene in NSNA, not bothering to make a clear distinction between the good guys and the bad guys, and it sputters to an uncertain conclusion while we're still waiting for the action to start.  When the action is lukewarm, there's no sense of danger, leaving the film too dependent on Connery's charisma to pull things along. 3 - JL


      The cast is much more fun to watch than than the movie itself, starting with Sean Connery, who is obviously older than we remember him from the heady days of FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE and GOLDFINGER, but really not looking that much more the worse for wear than he did in DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER.  As soon as he's shuttled off to Shrublands to get himself back in shape and discovers an evil plot afoot, Connery immediately reminds us why we have missed him so much since that movie.  Kim Basinger does much more with the character of Domino than Claudine Auger did in THUNDERBALL, and Barbara Carerra is simply in a class of her own as the beautiful and sadistic Fatima Blush.  Klaus Maria Brandauer is a quirky Largo, (but I miss Adolfo Celi) and Max Von Sydow is perhaps the finest actor ever to portray Bond's own Professor Moriarty, Ernst Stavro Blofeld.  Add a small but amusing appearance by Rowan Atkinson and you've got a cast that goes along way towards making up for the weaknesses stated above.  They can't save the film from being mediocre (the contemporaneous Roger Moore film OCTOPUSSY is the more entertaining movie by half) but their professionalism and talent do make NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN worth revisiting every few years. 2½ - JB

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