Anthony's Film Review
Never Say Never Again (1983)
Having a well-known character and star does not necessarily make a quality film...
For those of you who are not entirely acquainted with James Bond but have seen Never Say Never Again, you might have several questions about it. For example, how come some other James Bond films start out with that cool gun-barrel sequence with Bond shooting into the camera and this one doesn't? Or, how can there be two James Bond films released in the same year since Octopussy was also released in 1983? And the big question of all: Is there any reason this movie is so similar to that earlier Bond movie with Connery called Thunderball?
Let me explain, assuming I have the details right. Ian Fleming, the author of the Bond novels, got together with screenwriter Kevn McClory and, together, they came up with a concept of a villainous organization called SPECTRE led by Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Basically, it was McClory's idea for a movie. What Fleming did was take that idea and incorporate it into his Bond novel Thunderball. A legal battle ensued for years until McClory won the rights to Thunderball and had the chance to make his Bond movie, Never Say Never Again, even though it had to pretty much be a remake of Thunderball.
Now, I can definitely understand McClory's side since plagiarism is always frowned upon. At the same time, I have to admit. The plagiarist's followers, in this case the official production company behind the Bond films, do a much better job with a Bond movie than McClory with Never Say Never Again. The official James Bond films have style. They have action that is quite exciting to watch and not something dull to sit through. They have dialogue that is memorable enough to recite with other Bond fans. Never Say Never Again feels dull and lifeless for the most part.
I don't mind a Bond plot reused once beyond the original, but if the actors aren't giving us something unique to see on the screen, it's meaningless. Obviously, as a non-official Bond film, an entirely different set of actors are required for the recurring supporting characters, like M, Moneypenny, and Felix Leiter. They're nowhere near the way Bernard Lee and Robert Brown play M, Desmond Llewelyn plays Q, and Lois Maxwell plays Moneypenny. It's just not the same. It's a case of accept no imitations.
Were there scenes in the movie that I liked? Maybe, but let me tell you a few things that were done all wrong. First, James Bond does not play video games. He is a sophisticated man who plays baccarat, craps, or whatever you find in the high-stakes casinos, NOT a virtual reality video game. There is also a stunt involving Bond riding a horse off a cliff. Not bad for a B-action flick, but not this kind of movie. And did I mention that Sean Connery definitely looks too old to be Bond? Yes, Roger Moore was old, but he still did a pretty good job in his last few Bond films.
This may be a James Bond film, but not a REAL James Bond film. It's not one I watch over and over again like I have done with films like Goldfinger, The Spy Who Loved Me, and Licence to Kill. Watching Never Say Never Again is no different from watching any forgettable 80s action film. It has action but little excitement. The James Bond films (that is, the official series) have lived on because the formula has been done just right. They leave you shaken and stirred. Never Say Never Again does neither, but just to be nice, I'll give it a few points for trying.
For more information about Never Say Never Again, visit the Internet Movie Database.
In addition, check out my reviews of the following:
Official James Bond Films
Unfficial James Bond Films