MI6 trawls the archives to see how critics of
the day received Sean Connery's final outing
as James Bond in the 1983 'rogue' film "Never
Say Never Again"...
Time Tunnel: Review Rewind
23rd February 2011
New York Times - October 7th,
One of the key questions of the current film season can now
be answered: This is the better Bond, and by a wide margin.
It's not a matter of casting - though Sean
Connery makes a
welcome return in ''Never Say
Never Again,'' Roger
certainly done nicely with the role - but rather one of creaks.
Last summer's ''Octopussy'' reworked the same old Bond formula
in all its anachronistic glory, with 007 winking his way through
the usual intrigue, a figure of devilish charm and inexhaustible
vigor. In ''Never Say Never Again,'' however, the material
has been successfully updated. Here, time has caught up with
Bond - and he's very much the better for wear.
''Never Say Never Again''
finds Bond taking
the health cure after all those years of high living. Packed
off to a spa, and berated for a past checkered with too
many martinis and too much white bread, he's subjected
to herbal enemas and various other indignities. When a
sultry woman tells him she'd like to see him in half an
hour, it's for a massage. However, Bond still travels with
a suitcase packed with vodka and caviar, and he hasn't
lost his flair for adventure. After fighting a murderous
giant and nearly wrecking the health facility, he's off
to the Bahamas and Monte Carlo for what's at least in part
a remake of ''Thunderball.''
As directed by Irvin Kershner, ''Never Say Never Again''
has noticeably more humor and character than the Bond films
usually provide. It has a marvelous villain in Largo, the
globe-trotting playboy who implements a SPECTRE scheme
to hijack two American cruise missiles and hold them for
ransom. Largo, superbly played by Klaus Maria Brandauer
(who starred in ''Mephisto''), is wickedly competitive
with Bond and fiercely possessive of the beautiful Domino
(Kim Basinger), who's virtually a prisoner on a yacht that's
bigger than most battleships. You don't need any of Bond's
special sleuthing equipment, provided for him by Q (Alec
McCowen) in a brief but delightful scene, to guess which
one will wind up with the leading lady.
With Bernie Casey and Edward Fox as Bond's colleague
and boss, respectively, and with Barbara Carrera gorgeous but
awfully overwrought as a deadly rival, Mr. Connery is in lively
company. He combines the wry reserve of yesteryear with a hint
of weariness that, in the context of the screenplay's insistence
on adventure, is genuinely amusing. In his post- Bond career,
Mr. Connery easily proved himself to be an actor of far more
resourcefulness than his 007 films had indicated. 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.
''Never Say Never Again'' is rated PG (''Parental Guidance Suggested'').
It contains what one character calls ''some gratuitous sex and
violence,'' and it wouldn't be a Bond movie without them.
Variety - October, 1983
After a 12-year hiatus, Sean Connery is back in action as
James Bond. The new entry marks something of a retreat from the
far-fetched technology of many of the later Bonds in favor of intrigue
Although it is not acknowledged
as such, pic is roughly a remake of the 1965 Thunderball.
organization SPECTRE manages to steal two US cruise missiles
and announces it will detonate their nuclear warheads
in strategic areas unless their outrageous ransom demands
In short order, Bond hooks up with dangerous SPECTRE agent
Fatima Blush (Barbara Carrera), who makes several interesting
attempts to kill her prey, and later makes the acquaintance
of Domino (Kim Basinger), g.f. of SPECTRE kingpin Largo
(Klaus Maria Brandauer), who enjoys the challenge presented
by the secret agent as long as he thinks he holds the trump
What clicks best in the film is the casting.
Klaus Maria Brandauer makes one of the best Bond opponents
early in the series.
Carrera lets out all the stops, while
Basinger is luscious as the pivotal romantic and dramatic
of course, there's Connery, in fine form and still very
much looking the part.
Chicago Sun-Times - October
Ah, yes, James, it is good to have you back again. It is good
to see the way you smile from under lowered eyebrows, and the
way you bark commands in a sudden emergency, and it is good to
see the way you look at women. Other secret agents may undress
women with their eyes. You are more gallant. You undress them,
and then thoughtfully dress them again. You are a rogue with
the instincts of a gentleman.
It has been 12 years since Sean Connery hung it up as James
Bond, 12 years since "Diamonds
Are Forever," and Connery's
announcement that he would "never again" play special
agent 007. What complex instincts caused him to have one more
fling at the role, I cannot guess. Perhaps it was one morning
in front of the mirror, as he pulled in his gut and reflected
that he was in pretty damn fine shape for 53. And then, with
a bow in the direction of his friend Roger Moore, who has made
his own niche as a different kind of Bond, Sean Connery went
back on assignment again.
The movie is called "Never Say Never
Again." The title has nothing to do with the movie
-- except why Connery made it -- but never mind, nothing
in this movie has much to do with anything else. It's another
one of those Bond plots in which the basic ingredients
are thrown together more or less in fancy.
We begin with a threat (SPECTRE has stolen two nuclear
missiles and is holding the world at ransom). We continue
with Bond, his newest gadgets, his mission briefing. We
meet the beautiful women who will figure in the plot (Barbara
Carrera as terrorist Fatima Blush, Kim Basinger as the
innocent mistress of the evil Largo).
We meet the villains (Max von Sydow as Blofeld,
Klaus Maria Brandauer as Largo). We visit exotic locations, we
survive near misses, and Bond spars with the evil woman and redeems
the good one. All basic.
What makes "Never Say Never Again" more
fun than most of the Bonds is more complex than that. For one
thing, there's more of a human element in the movie, and it comes
from Klaus Maria Brandauer, as Largo. Brandauer is a wonderful
actor, and he chooses not to play the villain as a cliché.
Instead, he brings a certain poignancy and charm to Largo, and
since Connery always has been a particularly human James Bond,
the emotional stakes are more convincing this time.
Sean Connery says he'll never make another James Bond movie,
and maybe I believe him. But the fact that he made this one,
so many years later, is one of those small show-business miracles
that never happen. There was never a Beatles reunion. Bob Dylan
and Joan Baez don't appear on the same stage anymore. But here,
by God, is Sean Connery as Sir James Bond. Good work, 007.
Post Gazette -
The name is Connery, Sean Connery. But to millions of movie lovers
around the world - and despite numerous other fine roles - he
will always be James Bond. That he's back as Bond after an absence
of 13 years is only part of the good news. The other parts is
that "Never Say Never Again" is as good, even better,
than the earlier Bond films.
Through the novelty has long worn off and the Bond films
seemed to flounder for a while, relying heavily on gadgetry
and special effects, Connery shows us that their strength
was always in the character.
Who can resist the suave, charming rake? The superman
who is all the more lovable for his weaknesses? The dashing,
witty, intelligent secret agent who knows when to use his
fountain pen grenade but not when to resist the temptation
of a pretty woman?
Connery slips back into the role as if it were a comfortable
pair of jeans. He's aged, but that glint is still in his
Bond's nonchalant delivery somehow seems
too glib when delivered by Roger Moore (who nonetheless
a credible job in the role), but Connery makes the dumbest
lines sound urbane.
In "Never Say Never Again," a title thought
up by Connery's wife as a lesson to the man who swore he'd
never again play Bond, it's explained that Bond has been
semi-retired and relegated to teaching the tricks of his
trade - a graceful way of acknowledging the passage of
The new head of the British secret service calls
Bond back into the ranks, gives him a lecture on the ravages
of "too much
red meat, white bread and dry martinis" and sends him off
to a fancy fitness retreat to purge those toxins.
Of course, in two seconds flat Bond becomes embroiled in SPECTRE's
latest sinister plot - to hold the world for ransom with two
stolen nuclear cruise missiles. The villains include SPECTRE's
head, Blofeld (Max Von Sydow), and the beautiful Fatima Blush
(Barbara Carrera), a true femme fatale who wears extravagant
costumes and wants to annihilate Bond all by herself. Then there's
(Klaus Maria Brandauer), one of the wealthiest men on earth and
an evil, although amusing entrepreneur who runs his business
from the computer room of Adnan Khashoggi's magnificent yacht.
With the help of Felix
(Bernie Casey), and American agent, and the usual crew
(but a different
cast) - M (Edward Fox), Miss Moneypenny (Pamela Salem)
and Q (Alex McCowen) - Bond fights to make the world safe
once again, winning the heart of Largo's stunning mistress,
Domino (Kim Basinger), in the process.
"Never Say Never Again" is a classy production
with location shooting in the Bahamas and the south of
France. The special effects are used sparingly but to great
effect. The real action comes from some thrilling and well-choreographed
fight scenes, most notably one in the hospital and another
inside a Moorish castle.
At more than two hours the movie does seem a bit long,
and there are several scenes that could have been cut of
tightened. But Irvin Kershner's excellent direction keeps
things moving, and the screenplay by Lorezno Semple Jr.
is almost like a Greek tragedy in the way the character's
fatal flaws become their undoing.
Say Never Again" is great fun and it's a pleasure
to have Connery back. Sorry, Roger, but nobody does it
James Bond Time Tunnel
Say Never Again - Movie Coverage