Never Say Never Again
Please have some respect for Sean Connery, who died on October 31st, 2020. May he Rest In Peace.
Never Say Never Again is the second unofficial James Bond movie, released in 1983. It is also the only unofficial movie to star Sean Connery in the title role. The film received mixed-to-positive reviews from critics and is widely considered to be one of the two terrible unofficial James Bond movies ever made, alongside Casino Royale (1967).
S.P.E.C.T.R.E. agents under the command of Ernst Blofeld infiltrate a U.S. Air Force base situated in the U.K. and steal two Tomahawk cruise missiles. When N.A.T.O. is held ransom, the British re-activate their "00" Agents and send James Bond to recapture the warheads and kill Blofeld.
- Elephant in the room: although he's younger than then-current official Bond actor Roger Moore, Sean Connery looks way past his prime in this film.
- The soundtrack is horrible.
- VERY slow pacing.
- Irvin Kershener's directing is not very good, especially after he directed The Empire Strikes Back, which is a way better film than this.
- The film lacks a lot of charm the official EON films had (aside from Connery).
- It is a cheap re-hash of Thunderball.
- Because of Connery's grey hair in the film, he doesn't really look like James Bond.
- Rowan Atkinson was great as Nigel.
- Sean Connery still does a great portrayal as Bond.
- Had this been made as an official Bond movie in the 1960's, it would have been a LOT better.
Never Say Never Again was broadly welcomed and praised by the critics: Ian Christie, writing in the Daily Express, said that Never Say Never Again was "one of the better Bonds", finding the film "superbly witty and entertaining...the dialogue is crisp and the fight scenes imaginative". Christie also thought that "Connery has lost none of his charm and, if anything, is more appealing than ever as the stylish resolute hero". David Robinson, writing in The Times also concentrated on Connery, saying that: "Connery is back, looking hardly a day older or thicker, and still outclassing every other exponent of the role, in the goodnatured throwaway with which he parries all the sex and violence on the way". For Robinson, the presence of Connery and Klaus Maria Brandauer as Maximillian Largo "very nearly make it all worthwhile."
The reviewer for Time Out summed up Never Say Never Again saying "The action's good, the photography excellent, the sets decent; but the real clincher is the fact that Bond is once more played by a man with the right stuff."
Derek Malcolm in The Guardian showed himself to be a fan of Connery's Bond, saying the film contains "the best Bond in the business", but nevertheless did not find Never Say Never Again any more enjoyable than the recently released Octopussy (starring Roger Moore), or "that either of them came very near to matching Dr. No or From Russia with Love". Malcolm's main issue with the film was that he had a "feeling that a constant struggle was going on between a desire to make a huge box-office success and the effort to make character as important as stunts". Malcolm summed up that "the mix remains obstinately the same – up to scratch but not surpassing it". Writing in The Observer, Philip French noted that "this curiously muted film ends up making no contribution of its own and inviting damaging comparisons with the original, hyper-confident Thunderball". French concluded that "like an hour-glass full of damp sand, the picture moves with increasing slowness as it approaches a confused climax in the Persian Gulf".
Writing for Newsweek, critic Jack Kroll thought the early part of the film was handled "with wit and style", although he went on to say that the director was "hamstrung by Lorenzo Semple's script". Richard Schickel, writing in Time magazine praised the film and its cast. He wrote that Klaus Maria Brandauer's character was "played with silky, neurotic charm", while Barbara Carrera, playing Fatima Blush, "deftly parodies all the fatal femmes who have slithered through Bond's career". Schickel's highest praise was saved for the return of Connery, observing "it is good to see Connery's grave stylishness in this role again. It makes Bond's cynicism and opportunism seem the product of genuine worldliness (and world weariness) as opposed to Roger Moore's mere twirpishness."
Janet Maslin, writing in The New York Times, was broadly praising of the film, saying she thought that Never Say Never Again "has noticeably more humor and character than the Bond films usually provide. It has a marvelous villain in Largo." Maslin also thought highly of Connery in the role, observing that "in Never Say Never Again, the formula is broadened to accommodate an older, seasoned man of much greater stature, and Mr. Connery expertly fills the bill." Writing in The Washington Post, Gary Arnold was fulsome in his praise, saying that Never Say Never Again is "one of the best James Bond adventure thrillers ever made", going on to say that "this picture is likely to remain a cherished, savory example of commercial filmmaking at its most astute and accomplished." Arnold went further, saying that "Never Say Never Again is the best acted Bond picture ever made, because it clearly surpasses any predecessors in the area of inventive and clever character delineation".
The critic for The Globe and Mail, Jay Scott, also praised the film, saying that Never Say Never Again "may be the only instalment of the long-running series that has been helmed by a first-rate director." According to Scott, the director, with high-quality support cast, resulted in the "classiest of all the Bonds". Roger Ebert gave the film 3½ out of 4 stars, and wrote that Never Say Never Again, while consisting of a basic "Bond plot", was different from other Bond films: "For one thing, there's more of a human element in the movie, and it comes from Klaus Maria Brandauer, as Largo." Ebert went on to add, "there was never a Beatles reunion ... but here, by God, is Sean Connery as Sir James Bond. Good work, 007." Gene Siskel of The Chicago Tribune also gave the film 3½ out of 4 stars, writing that the film was "one of the best 007 adventures ever made".
Colin Greenland reviewed Never Say Never Again for Imagine magazine, and stated that "Never Say Never Again is a complacent male sexist fantasy, where women can be only femmes fatales or passive victims."
Because Never Say Never Again is not an Eon-produced film, it has not been included in a number of subsequent reviews. Norman Wilner of MSN said that 1967's Casino Royale and Never Say Never Again "exist outside the 'official' continuity, and are excluded from this list, just as they're absent from MGM's megabox. But take my word for it; they're both pretty awful". Retrospective reviews of the film remain positive. Rotten Tomatoes sampled 53 critics and judged 70% of the reviews as positive, with an average rating of 5.60/10. The site's critical consensus reads: "While the rehashed story feels rather uninspired and unnecessary, the return of both Sean Connery and a more understated Bond make Never Say Never Again a watchable retread." The score is still more positive than some of the Eon films, with Rotten Tomatoes ranking Never Say Never Again 16th among all Bond films in 2008. On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 68 out of 100 based on 15 critics, indicating generally favourable reviews. Empire gives the film three of a possible five stars, observing that "Connery was perhaps wise to call it quits the first time round". IGN gave Never Say Never Again a score of 5 out of 10, claiming that the film "is more miss than hit". The review also thought that the film was "marred with too many clunky exposition scenes and not enough moments of Bond being Bond".
In 1995 Michael Sauter of Entertainment Weekly rated Never Say Never Again as the ninth best Bond film to that point, after 17 films had been released. Sauter thought the film "is successful only as a portrait of an over-the-hill superhero." He admitted that "even past his prime, Connery proves that nobody does it better". James Berardinelli, in his review of Never Say Never Again, thinks the re-writing of the Thunderball story has led to a film which has "a hokey, jokey feel, [it] is possibly the worst-written Bond script of all". Berardinelli concludes that "it's a major disappointment that, having lured back the original 007, the film makers couldn't offer him something better than this drawn-out, hackneyed story." Critic Danny Peary wrote that "it was great to see Sean Connery return as James Bond after a dozen years". He also thought the supporting cast was good, saying that Klaus Maria Brandauer's Largo was "neurotic, vulnerable ... one of the most complex of Bond's foes" and that Barbara Carrera and Kim Basinger "make lasting impressions." Peary also wrote that the "film is exotic, well acted, and stylishly directed ... It would be one of the best Bond films if the finale weren't disappointing. 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?"
James Bond fan Calvin Dyson ranked Never Say Never Again as his least favorite Bond film.