Written by General Jabbo
After 12 years away from the role, Sean Connery returned as James Bond in 1983’s Never Say Never Again, the title of which came from Connery’s wife after he claimed he’d never play 007 again. The film is a loose remake of Thunderball, which producer Kevin McClory and screenwriter Jack Whittingham had successfully sued Ian Fleming over after he did not credit them for their contributions to the Thunderball novel.
Much like Connery, who was in his early 50s at the time, Never Say Never Again finds an aging Bond who is past his prime. After a training exercise goes poorly, he is sent to a health spa to get in shape and eliminate his free radicals.
While he is there, M16 gets word that SPECTRE agent Maximilian Largo (Klaus Maria Brandauer), with the help of a sleeper agent, has stolen two nuclear warheads that SPECTRE head Ernst Blofeld (Max Von Sydow) plans to detonate if his huge ransom demand from all the NATO countries is not met. Reluctantly, M16 reactivates the 00’s and Bond is sent after Largo to try to stop him.
Largo sends the ruthless, if not crazy Fatima Blush (Barbara Carrera) to kill Bond. Like Largo, Blush is unpredictable, making her a deadly foe. Bond encounters Largo’s girlfriend Domino (Kim Basinger), who learns of Largo’s plot and his betrayal of her family through Bond and ends up helping Bond along with CIA agent Felix Leiter (Bernie Casey).
Never Say Never Again features some fine action sequences, including a motorcycle chase and an underwater fight. It also unfortunately features a bland score by Michel Legrand (blame Connery for that as he was his choice). For his part, Connery seems into the role, as if reclaiming the character and Von Sydow and Brandauer are excellent in their villainous portrayals.
The film is by no means the best Bond movie, but it certainly isn’t the worst (Moonraker anyone?). It was a refreshing change after 10 years of increasingly campy Roger Moore Bond films. In fact, it was released the same year as Octopussy and while grossing slightly less, still did very well at the box office. Moore was still the “official” Bond at that point, making the films for EON Productions. Never Say Never Again was not an official film, thus it was not allowed to use the trademark intro of Bond turning and shooting nor was it allowed to use the traditional Bond music. The film suffers a little for this, but is still a fun ride.
Extras on the DVD include commentary with director Irvin Kershner and James Bond historian Steven Jay Rubin; and featurettes entitled “The Big Gamble,” which talked about the legal troubles of getting the film made; “Sean is Back” about the return of Connery; and “The Girls of Never Say Never Again.” Also included are the original theatrical trailer and a photo gallery.