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Movie Review: Never Say Never Again

Never Say Never Again
Directed by Irvin Kershner
Written by Lorenzo Semple, Jr. based on the story by Jack Whittingham, Kevin McClory, and Ian Fleming
Orion, 1983

Kevin McClory would become a thorn in the side of EON productions, Albert R. Broccoli’s company behind the official Bond franchise, after the film Thunderball was made. Before EON made the first Bond film Dr. No, the above credited story writers (yes, including Fleming) tried to adapt Thunderball but for various reasons were unsuccessful. If I’m getting this right, when it came time for EON to make it, they bought the rights to the story and gave McClory a producer credit. But McClory wanted to make his own Bond film. Eventually, he got his chance, but only to remake Thunderball.

A particular feather in his cap was getting the most popular Bond ever, Sean Connery, to reprise the role of 007 for the seventh time. In 1983, this film would open October 7, months after the EON production Octopussy hit screens. Octopussy, not surprisingly, would win out at the box office. The first to hit screens (not to mention the more legitimate) usually wins.

But, McClory had another ace in the hole: director Irvin Kershner. The man was undoubtedly sought-after following the direction of 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back. In the end, though, it’s a remake of Thunderball. It’s not even as good as what I feel is an inferior Bond film in the first place in Thunderball. It’s just a plain bad movie.

Same thing, with different touches and names: In Thunderball, the bad guys used a double of an American officer to infiltrate a warship with nuclear weapons in order to stockpile them and extort money from the major governments of the world. In this one, Jack Petachi (Gavan O’Herlihy) has been fitted with a retina so he can bypass a number of failsafes and launch the missiles into the water. This is all the master plan of SPECTRE’s Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Max Von Sydow), the brainchild of his “Number Two” Maximilian Largo (Klaus Maria Brandauer, in full-on ridiculous eighties bad guy mode), and his henchwoman “Number Twelve” Fatima Blush (Barbara Carrera, who is OK until she has to become a cackling, vain villain). The key for Bond to get into Largo’s plot is to make friends with Petachi’s unknowing sister, Domino (Kim Basinger, relatively unknown at the time).

The main plot takes a back seat to a lot of dumb action, especially the pandering-to-youth video game scene, in which Largo and Bond play some game that’s like Battleship and Risk involving World Domination, and as the stakes go up so does the danger with electroshock joysticks. Yeah, pretty lame.

Also, the headscratching moment in which Bond seduces some random woman and Blush blows up Bond’s hotel room, but they are safe because they decided to go to the woman’s hotel room instead, but somehow, British secret service babysitter Nigel Small-Fawcett (Rowan Atkinson) knows to call Bond there.

It’s a mess of a film. Not to be confused with the real thing.

A remake of Thunderball

(Depending on your view of legitimacy) Follows: Octopussy

(Same thing) Next: A View to a Kill


Comment from Jonathan Watkins
Time: November 15, 2006, 7:54 pm

This movie, if anything, is definately an interesting note to put in the history books considering all of the shit surrounding it. It’s amazing the damn thing ever got made, and how much were they paying Connery to get him to do this? It’s not really a good film on any level; although I think Kirschner shot it well. But for anyone interested in film and the business, this is a good one to read up on; I’m not so sure I would go through the trouble of watching it, however.

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