Never Say Never Again

Never Say Never AgainSynopsis: Sean Connery is back for his final performance as superagent James Bond in this high-velocity action thriller! Agent 007 is hurled into a pulse-pounding race to save the world from armageddon when two atomic warheads are hijacked by the evil Spectre organization!

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Welcome to The Critical Eye’s ‘Mission Briefing Version’ commentaries of the James Bond movies.

Via thirteen key categories, over the course of the next few months we will rate and/or comment on each picture in brief. These MBV blurbs will also sometimes feature guest commentators, Bond fans and non-fans alike, thus offering a variety of perspectives on this iconic series.

We hope that you will enjoy TCE’s unique take on the world of 007.

Never Say Never Again

Date of viewing: August 3, 2014

1-Never Say Never Again

Opening credits

The Thorn: 0 – This is really lame. It’s basically a point-of-view shot from a plane or helicopter flying over the water, near a coast, with a superimposed grill growing closer until we see 007 in it. To the tune of “Never Say Never Again”, one of the most pathetic James Bond songs ever.

The Horrible Dr. B: 5 – The opening is very B-movie and the 80 style music doesn’t help. I do like however seeing Bond opening with a ninja mission.

***

2-Never Say Never Again
Story
The Thorn: 8.0 – Unless the script had been really poor, it’s hard to knock this one – it’s the same one as ‘Thunderball’, which is pretty good. But it’s been adapted for an older Bond, in an era where the 00 section is in disuse and is underfunded. I really enjoyed this real-world twist to the story. The rest is the same: SPECTRE hijacks a couple of nuclear warheads and try to hold the world ransom. Bond follows a lead he stumbled upon at a health spa he has been forced to visit and ends up in Largo’s clutches… and Domino’s arms. Sound familiar?
The Horrible Dr. B: 10 -Its a remake ofThunderball.

***

3-Never Say Never Again
Banter
The Thorn: 8.0 – This is probably one of the film’s strongest points, aside from Connery’s return. The dialogues are solid, relatively witty, and there are these lovely nods to Connery’s return (in the form of 007’s return to active duty) and digs at the official Bond series, such as this one from Q: “Good to see you Mr. Bond. Things’ve been awfully dull ’round here. I hope we’re going to see some gratuitous sex and violence in this one!”
The Horrible Dr. B: 10 – There are a lot of quirky characters, funny interactions and moments. The movie does a good job of mixing funny elements in the story without hurting it.

***

4-Never Say Never Again
Villain
The Thorn: 7.5 – I really enjoy Max von Sydow’s incarnation of Blofeld here: he’s aristocratic and devilish. Unfortunately, he gets too much screen time for my taste – he should be more of an enigma. As for Klaus Maria Brandauer’s Largo, he’s subtly sinister. He has a face you want to love, but there’s something eerie underneath the surface. I hated his artificial laugh and he overgesticulated sometimes, but he was pretty good.
The Horrible Dr. B: 10 – Largo talks with his hands; I like that. Although he is ruthless, he his also very polite and respectful of people he deems worthy, even if they are enemies. Fatima is crazy but a good passionate kind of crazy;it’s borderline cartoonish but not too bad.

***

5-Never Say Never Again
Bond Girls
The Thorn: 8.0 – I really like Fatima Blush, who is based on Fiona Volpe from ‘Thunderball’. Barbara Carrera plays her flamboyant and just nutty enough that you know that she can be unpredictable, dangerous. When she completely derails at the end, it’s not entirely out of character. Kim Basinger’s Domino is a little soft, however. She’s pretty, but she doesn’t have much personality; she only comes alive when she dances. But she has the hottest arrière-train in the world. Holy snap! I’ll have daydreams for days. She and Carrera were fit and lean, which make them rather yummy. There are tons of beautiful women in this one, clearly to compete with the official series.
The Horrible Dr. B: 5 – I am not a big fan of KimBasinger, however I am a fan of Kim wearing a tiger swimsuit: Roar!!!

***

6-Never Say Never Again
Gadgets
The Thorn: 7.0 – This is one department in which the film lacks significant inspiration: a noise-making frisbee, a food mallette, a laser watch, and a pen that shoots an exploding cartridge (and not especially well)? Not exactly the stuff of legend.
The Horrible Dr. B: 10 – Computers used in the movie are pretty outdated, but I like the attention to details. The coolest gadget is Jack’s presidential eyeball; I’d love to have one of those.

***

7-Never Say Never Again
Vehicles
The Thorn: 7.5 – The Flying Saucer (a.k.a. the Disco Volante in ‘Thunderball’) is an impressive yacht, but it’s straight forward, aside for a command center inside it. Bond’s motorcycle was a bit underwhelming because it had the lamest gadgets on it (bumpers and minor rocket propulsion) and was clunky. There were also these flying apparati that were shot out of a submarine rocket launcher, but they were more awkward than jetpacks and were poorly inserted into the film. The rest of the vehicles were standard fare.
The Horrible Dr. B: 5 – The special bike is ok; however I don’t understand why the bumpers are not active by default??? Unfortunately, this movie doesn’t have the great submarine vehicles ofThunderball.

***

8-Never Say Never Again
Locales
The Thorn: 7.5 – I found that the locales here were all absolutely lovely and the choice of locations were perfect for the picture (the casino one is marred by the video game room, mind you). However, my enthusiasm is tapered considerably by the sets, which all look fake as all get out, making them look completely separate from the rest of the film. Given how much money was put into some of these elaborate constructions, you’d think they would at least light them in such a way that we wouldn’t notice.
The Horrible Dr. B: 10 – Nice set and locations.

***

9-Never Say Never Again
Stunts
The Thorn: 7.5 – There aren’t a lot of action scenes in this one, and what they have is done well. The motorcycle jump was successful (although is was only a few metres) and Bond’s dive into the well looked dangerous but real. The fight scenes were also done well.
The Horrible Dr. B: 5 – Ok.

***

10-Never Say Never Again
Soundtrack
The Thorn: 2.0 – This is by far the worst aspect of the picture, and it’s a consistent shadow over the proceedings. No matter how bad the theme song is, it’s nothing compared to how out of place this freeform jazz-filled score is. I have to give it points because it’s good music, but it’s wrong for this picture, what with all its saxophones and trumpets. Some elements of it even reminded me of Henri Mancini’s ‘The Pink Panther Strikes Again’. Look, Michel Legrand went into this picture severely handicapped by not having Monty Norman’s “James Bond Theme” to work with, I get that, but he didn’t support the film in any way – case-in-point, the silent action sequences. The Bond films are so intrinsically tied to the music that a poorly-conceived score spoils things (ex: GoldenEye).
The Horrible Dr. B: 0 – Bad 80 elevator music. The opening song is the worst.

***

11-Never Say Never Again
Best Bond moment
The Thorn: Strangely, the moment that stands out for me is when Bond tries to get into Largo’s fundraising event at the casino and puts the guard out of commission by punching him in the gut (telling passersby who see him groaning to avoid eating the fish) and then putting him in a closet with a bomb that, if moved laterally, will blow up in his face. The guy is frozen in place for the duration of Bond’s stay, holding his arm up so that the “bomb” doesn’t shift in any way. Clearly, Bond was messing with him. I loved the gag. The casino duel between Bond and Largo would have been my favourite if they’d played a card game, but a video game doesn’t have the same cachet.
The Horrible Dr. B: Seeing Sean Connery as Bond again.

***

12-Never Say Never Again
Worst Bond moment
The Thorn: Without a doubt, the urine death at the health spa takes it. Yes, it’s funny (although too coincidental) that Bond’s urine is so toxic that 007 can blind his assailant with it, but it’s impossible that the man would be killed by falling into a shelf of glass vials. Lame. I also have to note the way Fatima dies, which was too contrived for me, and the radio controlled shark attack, which was a bit weak.
The Horrible Dr. B: Fatima’s plastic dress; ugliest dress ever.

***

13-Never Say Never Again
Overall impression
The Thorn: 7.5 – In many ways, ‘Never Say Never Again’ feels like a B-list Bond movie. From the crappy opening credits, to the music, to the cheap sets, to the unexciting third act, to Connery being less than his prime (he’s good, but he’s overshadowed by himself 20 years earlier), it all amounts to good but not great, a wannabe effort. It has a lot of terrific elements to it, however, including the best Felix Leiter ever. If one could overdub John Barry’s music over it, it might actually be one of the better ones. Barry was a godsend to the original series; he knew exactly how to play it.
The Horrible Dr. B: 9 – Although this movie is not an “official” Bond movie, it is a must for any Bond fan. As a “Bond film”, the only element missing is the music; otherwise, everything else follows the series format. I’m really glad that Connery decided to take part in it: his Bond is smart, resourceful, funny, suave, and of course all the chicks falls for him. We love you Sean and you will always be the best Bond.

James Bond will return

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