The very existence of this film just frosts my ass. The legal battle that resulted in this un-necessary and rather arrogant remake of "Thunderball" is trite with greed and power struggles. The result of this odd legal battle results in this unofficial Bond film called "Never Say Never Again" (that's an inside joke for the return of Connery as Bond...again) which not only takes the cake as one of the most awkward Bond films but also one of the worst. Even if it is 'unofficial'.
STORYLINE: James Bond is called back from some time teaching (I'm sure that worked out well for MI6) and retraining his now older self to investigate the dealings of SPECTRE when they steal two nuclear warheads from the Americans and threaten to use them. This leads Bond to investigate into Largo (through a series of hunches) and follow the rich gamer from the Bahamas all the way to France to discover if he is in league with the ultimate evil foundation.
PLOT 2/5: The biggest problem with "Never Say Never Again" is that it is SO FREAKING AWKWARD. In fact, at times its hard to tell if this isn't a James Bond parody so much as a true Spy/Action film. The very awkward attempts at at Jazz score, the poorly written dialogue, the odd uses of soft camera lenses (that are SO OBVIOUS), the poorly developed plot lines about people trying to kill Bond...oh yeah lets stick a really loud beeping magnet to attract wired sharks that will work, and of course every other scene in the film. Yes. Every scene is just damn awkward. They try to update the plot for the 80s and strike that balance of fun humor and serious Bond that worked in the 60s but they never get it right. It just ends up awkward. A tuxedo and ball gown party with arcades that leads to a showdown between Bond and Largo playing a really intense game of Virtual Boy?! What?! Its these moments that truly make this film laughable and so hard to take seriously.
BOND 1.5/5: Connery returns as the illustrious James Bond and pretty much seems to think its a joke. Through the entire movie it seems like he's in on some joke we don't get and he portrays the character that way. He left the role for a reason (a few) and its obvious that he has moved on and really doesn't throw himself into creating the suave and cold spy again. He just floats through with the awkward dialogue and other awkward characters (what the hell is Mr. Bean doing in this film?!) and makes the film feel like a parody rather than an exciting romp.
VILLAIN 1.5/5: Largo in "Thunderball" may have been over the top but he was a badass (he has an eye patch for fuck's sake!). Largo from "Never Say Never Again" is just a pretty boy who designs video games about world domination on the side of being an evil number 2 in SPECTRE. When he starts to go crazy towards the end its rather mind numbing in how its brought about. Once again its like he's in on a private joke about the film that we don't know. What's even worse is his hench woman, Number 12. When she and Bond get into a standoff after the motorcycle chase her crazy laugh makes the scene so ridiculous you have to laugh! Then of course she goes out with a bang that's even funnier. Unintentionally though.
BOND GIRL 1/5: I feel bad for her. I really do. She gets a handful of dialogue and the rest is her looking either confused or playfully coy. That's it. Her chemistry with Bond feels forced and again, awkward. Its as if they were like, "well she was in the other movie lets just throw her in there as a damsel in distress a few times and as eye candy. We can have her almost nude in a couple scenes to be edgy! Would the audience really care about her? Nah. They don't need to. She's there for plot relevance only!" Thanks guys. No really thanks. Its nice to have that. Sigh.
If you really want a good time (of unintentional laughter and awkward moments galore) then "Never Say Never Again" is the Bond film for you. Its as if they made it to out stupify some of the Roger Moore films in the 80s instead of making their own film. Occasionally the action can be solid but that's about it. Otherwise its actors sleepwalking through their roles and a plot that's so shamefully dumb that we end up not caring about the last half hour or so. If you are willing to sit through the awkwardness of this film then I commend you. I, on the other hand, will try to forget and move on. Bring on "View To A Kill"....damnit....three in row?!
BONUS RANT: The opening title sequence just kicks off the the odd juxtaposition nicely for this film. Despite a solid and intense action sequence (one of the best scenes in the film), its completely ruined by the title song. The song is good. The scene is good. But together they ruin each other. Its like watching a sensual love scene put to the music of Slayer. Just doesn't work.
Written By Matt Reifschneider