Movie Review: Never Say Never Again (James Bond)

Never Say Never Again (1983) Movie Poster
We’ve done a lot of James Bond posts, particularly on the movies. One film we’ve neglected to discuss thus far, however, was 1983’s Never Say Never Again.

There are (currently) 23 movies officially sanctioned by the original and subsequently official  James Bond franchise. However, there have been two other films and one TV show that also have featured our international spy hero. The TV show was a telling of the Casino Royale story (available on Netflix) as an episode of a CBS series called Climax! It was aired in 1954. The Casino Royale name also was used for a parody that really had nothing to do with the James Bond series other than the name of the film, the name of the character, and some elements of international spy-hood. Casino Royale (1967) was a big budget, big cast mess that had its funny moments, but like so many of the 1960’s sexy comedies, wore out its welcome. The Austin Powers movies owe a lot to the slapstick of this movie.

Casino Royale Movie, 1967, poster

The movie may have been a disappointment, but the poster girl was super-sexy. Right on!

The major coup of the film was that the creators were able to sign Sean Connery to play the part of James Bond. Connery was 52 at the time of filming and while there are several references to the fact that his character is aging, Bond still has plenty of life left in him. The action and sex are more exhilarating than the other James Bond film released that year: Octopussy (which, incidentally, is the first and only time we will ever see James Bond dressed as a clown; Ian Fleming was rolling in his grave).

Octopussy and Never Say Never Again, two James Bond movies from 1983

In the standard canon, the film Thunderball story had a unique birth. It was written by Ian Fleming but unlike his other stories, it was created through collaboration and was originally scripted to become a screenplay for a film. It was temporarily shelved until Harry Saltzman’s and Albert R. Broccoli’s production company, Eon Productions, resuscitated it for the 1965 film. One of the writers, Kevin McClory, sued Fleming (and won) to retain rights to the story. Eon worked out a deal to move forward with Thunderball but MClory was allowed create his own treatment for future projects. And so, Never Say Never Again was born.

Thunderball movie (1965), James Bond

Both Thunderball and Never Say Never Again were based on the same screenplay, Longitude 78 West, by Ian Fleming, Kevin McClory, Jack Whittingham, Ivar Bryce and Ernest Cuneo.

Sean Connery in Thunderball and Never Say Never Again

The film has a distinctive feel to it. There’s no mistaking that it is a Bond movie, but there’s a certain mood that gives it an edgier (in 1983) feel to it than the Eon productions. Never Say Never Again received praise from both critics and audiences at the time and  managed to be a huge success at the box office. It grossed $160 million worldwide on a budget of $36 million.  Unfortunately, it hasn’t aged any better than the other Bond films and has settled into middling acceptance from current users and critics. It also has the misfortune of being compared to the outstanding Thunderball film released nearly two decades earlier, rather than being taken in its own right.

Barbara Carerra and Sean Connery from Never Say Never Again

This seemed like a funny idea when we started out. Eh. Not sure it was worth the effort, but since we made it, here it is. That’s Barbara Carerra on the left wearing Sean Connery on her lady boobs. That’s Sean Connery on the right wearing Desmond LLewelyn and Donald Pleasance on his man boobs.

Never Say Never Again (1983) James Bond Movie

Here’s our review.

The Good:  It’s a smaller film than most Bond movies. The budget was sparse and it didn’t have the powerhouse presence of the Eon Bonds, but that actually made it more interesting to us. As we mentioned above, it felt like a fresh alternative to the Roger Moore era movies and compared to the outrageous Octopussy that was released the same year, it was by the superior film.  In terms of casting, high marks are deserved for three main players.

Sean Connery in Never Say Never AgainRoger Moore is three years older than Sean Connery and looked as old as his age in 1983. On the other hand, Sean managed to look like a James Bond that is only slightly past his prime. There are several references to Bond’s age throughout the film but that doesn’t stop him from salacious behavior and serious fighting ability.
Klaus Maria Brandauer  in Never Say Never AgainKlaus Maria Brandauer as Maximilian Largo is brilliant, suave, irrationally jealous, and totally off his rocker with heady megalomania. Klaus’ Largo was just about as opposite as possible from Adolfo Celi’s Largo from Thunderball. We’re glad for that. Both were excellent in their own right. Loved him!

Barbara Carerra  in Never Say Never Again We mentioned in another post that Luciana Paluzzi’s Fiona was one of our favorite villains. She was a perfect femme fatale because she wasn’t affected by Bond’s charms. It’s the same with Fatima Blush (Barbara Carerra), albeit with a refreshingly distinct persona just like Brandauer’s Largo. Barbara plays Fatima fantastically as a certified malevolent nut job. Unlike a lot of Bond villainesses, Fatima is extremely unpredictable and dangerous.

Never Say Never Again, Fatima Blush

Fatima Blush is a bat-shit crazy Bond bitch that wears garbage bags as shirts. We love her.

Max Von Sydow as Blofeld, Edward Fox as M, and Rowan Atkinson as Nigel Small-Fawcett were also wonderful additions to the cast as were many of the others.

Max Von Sydow, Edard Fox, and Rowan Atkinson  in Never Say Never Again

The action is prevalent and the typical undertones of exotic places, outrageous escapes, and more money and power than seems possible make this a certified Bond. One of the most interesting scenes is a computer game of world domination played by Bond against Largo. It involves getting jolts of electricity of increasing severity through the joysticks if one is losing the game. We just can’t figure out how James Bond seems to be good at everything he does. What? Does Daniel Craig’s Bond destroy other gamers at night during Call of Duty binges?

Never Say Never Again, Bond vs. Largo

Kim Basinger, actress Never Say Never AgainThe Bad: The only obvious casting misstep was Kim Basinger as Domino Petachi. Kim’s Domino has no mystique, whereas Thunderball’s Domino (acted by Claudine Auger) looked the part. We like Kim well enough (she is a rather fetching woman, after all), but this role could have been played by someone more compatible with the look the name invokes, like, oh let’s see, how about someone that’s actually Italian.

Claudine Auger and Kim Basinger, Domino in Thunderball and Never Say Never Again

Claudine Auger looks the part as Domino in Thunderball. Kim Basinger looks lost in Never Say Never Again.

James Bond and Domino Patachi, characters in Never Say Never Again

Sadly, it is impossible to escape the film’s comparison to Thunderball. There are plenty of unique elements in the film but it’s still much the same story-wise. So, there’s almost a been-there-done-that sense as the one watches the film. And, as good as Never Say Never Again is, it’s just a good Bond story rather than a great one.

James Bond, Thunderball vs. Never Say Never Again

Sean Connery and Kim Basinger in Never Say Never Again

OK, not really the most flattering shot of Sean. Kim looks nice though.

The Ugly: Really nothing. This is by no means going to end up on a Top 10 List of Best James Bond movies, but it is far better than the horrible Bond movies of the later Moore period. By the way, take a look at our James Bond mini reviews when you’re done here.

Connery may have been a fading action spy hero, but it didn’t detract from the action. Adding in Klaus Maria and Barbara’s performances and we’re giving this film a thumbs up. If we add this to the Bond canon, we would put it a bit above the  middle of the list.

3.5 out of 5 stars

James Bond and Domino Patachi, action scene in Never Say Never Again

The Action!!!

James Bond in Never Say Never Again

The Thrills!!!

Never Say Never Again, Under Water Scene

The Chills!!!

Never Say Never Again, Domino Petachi, nipples, see through leotard

and … the Nipples??!!

James Bond Never Say Never Again Movie Poster

Ghost Town Dialogue

Ghost Town (2008)There is a side-splittingly funny scene in the movie Ghost Town (2008) which we feel the compunction to share with you today.  Ghost Town, starring Téa Leoni, Ricky Gervais, and Greg Kinnear is a little bit of fun in a film genre we don’t typically care much about. Rom-coms are typically sooooo boooooring, but if the movie throws in a bit of quirkiness, a little edginess, and some terrific actors, well … pop goes the weasel!

Anyway, in this gem of a scene, Ricky’s character, Dr. Pincus, returns to the hospital where he recently had surgery because he believes something during the procedure may be causing hallucinations in which he sees and can speak to dead people. The surgeon, played by the irrepressible Kristen Wiig, at first tries to be evasive but eventually confesses (although her confession is quite bureaucratic) that Pincus died for seven minutes during the procedure. Joining the conversation shortly thereafter, the hospital lawyer, played by the huge and hilarious Michael-Leon Wooley (who provided the luscious voice for Louis, the trumpet playing alligator in Princess and the Frog), guides the surgeon through a hilarious dose of legalese as Pincus’ frustration rises. Confounded by the experience, Pincus finds himself without answers and terribly annoyed.

Ricky Gervais, a bunch of actors, and a very special visit by the original spooky-man, the illuminated M. Night Shamalama-ding-dong. The self-same destroyer of one of our favorite cartoons. We still cry a little when we think of Avatar: the Last Airbender. It’s like taking premium chocolate and turning it into cough syrup.

Go see the movie if you haven’t already. If you have, see it again. Compliments of Comics A-Go-Go!  And, yes, ladies. There is male nudity. And, no, gents-that-like-smooth-men. “Naked Guy” (Jeff Hiller) isn’t manscaped. Sorry.


Jeff Hiller beat out 2,610 other candidates for the role of Naked Guy and stated that the work was liberating. Of course he would. All actors are exhibitionists at heart. Little known fact: Kirk Cameron auditioned but when he found out the role included nudity, he turned it down. Which was fine because when Ricky (an avowed atheist) found out he might be working with Kirk, he said: “I don’t hate self-righteous Christians. No, hate is just a bit too strong a word. Loathe … perhaps. Could be passionately resent. Yeah. Or, or … desire to see some harm short of actual death would actually … I think … describe … what … the question — is it … how … yeah. Right-o …”  The dude in the middle is Brian d’Arcy James, who currently stars in Smash (a TV show which we know nothing about and given the plot probably don’t care to find out anyway). We thought you should know.

Kristin WiigNot many people can keep up with Ricky Gervais when he starts into his routine of incomplete sentences and meandering dialogue. Hats off to Kristen who did a fantastic job of making the confusion so much more fun.  Side note: Kristen hails from Canandaigua in upstate New York. Well, not really. She was born there and lived the first three years of her life in this quaint but boring Finger Lake town. There isn’t any particular reason for this side note other than we wanted to use the word “Canandaigua” somewhere in one of our posts.

Here’s the clip by Youtube user sattalite96. Not the greatest of quality, but, nonetheless, let the hilarity ensue.

Here’s a part of the script from Script-o-rama.

You... Miss!

- Yes?
- Me!

- What the... What?
- Can you...

- Can I... Yes.
- Follow you?

- To the...
- To my office.

- And then you'll tell me.
- Yeah.


Did anything unusual... What?

Jesus Christ! Sorry, I wasn't...

We have a meeting in a couple minutes,
so we just have to be quick.

Did anything unusual happen
during my procedure? What's he...

Can you please define "unusual"?

Out of the ordinary,
bizarre, unanticipated.

No, this went well.

- It was good. Okay, normal.
- Right.

Yes, good. Well, the cessation maybe,

- but after that, you responded...
- The cessation of what?

Dr. Pincus, I really...
I don't need to tell you that

every medical procedure
doesn't follow the same path.

- Everyone's different.
- Yeah.

There are subtle variations
in even the simplest surgical...

What would a subtle variation be
in my case, for example?

- Well, one doesn't wish to use jargon.
- No.

- But, you know, technically...
- Yep.

...medically, it's beginning...

Okay. Yeah.

- You died.
- I died?

- Little bit.
- For how long?

- Seven minutes.
- A bit less.

I died for seven minutes.

- A bit less.
- Approximately seven...

That's really the only thing
that I can think of...

How did I die?

For the record, we did not recommend
that you use the general anesthesia.

When you use anesthesia,
there is a chance, although it is small,

of a biochemical anomaly.

Where's the anesthesiologist?
I want to see him now.

He does not work here anymore.

You'll be happy to know
that at Saint Victor's,

we have a very strict
three-strikes policy.

My anesthesiologist had two strikes?

Okay, let's all calm down.

Let's just not overdramatize
the situation.

Why is he calming down?

Everybody dies.

Yeah, but usually at the end of their life,
and just the once and forever.

Everybody's different.

And you weren't even gonna tell me.

- No, we did tell you. We told you...
- No, you didn't.

We told you that night.
We gave you the full report.

- No, I don't remember that.
- Yes. Yeah, we...

It says here that you gurgled to me

before you rolled your eyes back
in your head, a little bit.

Have you any idea
how much I'm gonna sue you for?

- Nothing, I'm afraid.
- He's perked up. Go on.

You signed a general release
and a quitclaim form,

relieving your surgeon,
your anesthesiologist,

Saint Victor's Hospital and Cooperative
Institutional Health Partners

from any liability related

to your anesthetic-induced cessation
of heart function.

I definitely did not.

- Is this your signature at the bottom?
- When did I sign that?

Right after you passed
the post-operative responsiveness test,

legally mandated
by the state of New York.

Obviously I didn't know
what I was doing!

You knew enough to sign your name.

I dotted the "i" with a little love heart!

You were happy to be alive, right?

Bond. Leisure Suit Bond.

Good and bad outfits

After watching For Your Eyes Only recently, we mentioned on Twitter that we thought the James Bond character suffered in the 1970’s.  A lot of it had to do with Roger Moore. We feel badly saying that. It’s kind of like picking on Adam West. Both seem like nice chaps. But they also headlined projects that were campy when they really shouldn’t have been. As for Roger, he had big shoes to fill after Connery left, but he was probably the right type of guy given the direction the series was headed. Lighter, fluffier, sillier. Roger’s comedic timing was wonderful so he tended to put people at ease — something that James Bond wasn’t really meant to do.  When Connery’s Bond expressed humor it bordered on maliciousness. Ian Fleming’s Danger Man wasn’t a nice guy. He feigned pleasantries when it served him. Moore’s Bond seemed like the kind of guy that would go out of his way to help old ladies cross the street.

Ian Fleming James Bond

Hoagy Carmichael's face was Ian Fleming's physical template for James Bond

Moore also suffered from a lack of the physicality that Connery had in spades. Connery was a bodybuilder in his earlier life and seemed to be athletically inclined. Roger Moore seemed like he performed better striding into a hotel lobby than rumbling on the pitch. Of course, a lot of the problem had to do with Roger’s age. He’s actually three years older than Sean and was 45 when he began playing Bond and was 58 when he hung up the reigns – Holy Methuselah!

There’s always going to be a debate about what Bond should look like but in our opinion, the books tend to paint a picture of features that are darker and more severe than Moore possessed. That’s not to say that Connery looked much like what Ian had envisioned. In his novels, Fleming described Bond as resembling a more handsome version of Hoagy Carmichael, but with a scar down one cheek.

Not all of the James Bond quagmire was Moore’s fault. In fact, Moore just did what was needed of him, so the real problem lies with the environment that propped up Roger. Cheesy scripting, eye-rolling gags, laughable villains, etc. Implausible situation may be part of the Bond shtick but in the mid-career movies the scenes often felt like they were set up awkwardly or poorly just for the sake of forcing a thrill (e.g., the maze at Scaramanga’s place in The Man with the Golden Gun — really? why? maybe because the rest of the movie was soooo boring?). And, of course, it was the 1970’s. How the hell is ANYONE supposed to look cool with flaired polyester pants and slip-on shoes? And that awful ski suit from The Spy Who Loved Me – was there any chance James Bond could be credible for the rest of the movie after seeing that terrible mess?

The Spy Who Loved Me

God Save the Queen!

Bond girl

See? Like this! Pew, pew, pew. Kerblam!

The Bond girls were reduced to waifish cocaine-era models that couldn’t act. One also had to wonder how any of them could fire a gun without shattering all of the chicken bones in their hands. The earlier Bond girls like Honey Rider and Pussy Galore at least seemed like they could do you some harm if you weren’t watching. On the other hand, Agent XXX (aka Major Anya Amasova aka Barbara Bach aka Mrs. Richard Starkey) from The Spy Who Loved Me, wasn’t even a cerebral threat let alone a physical one. We are led to believe by General Gogol that Amasova was the best agent the USSR had to offer. Hell, no wonder the USSR blew up. It’s just a wonder that it didn’t happen sooner.

So, anyway, all this bother leads to another opportunity for ratings. Here are our oh-so-credible stars for each of the Bond movies. Note: these are ratings based on a “Bond” scale, not ratings compared to other movies.

Rating Movie Year Actor
* * * * * Dr. No 1962 Sean Connery
* * * * * From Russia with Love 1963 Sean Connery
* * * * * Goldfinger 1964 Sean Connery
* * * * * Thunderball 1965 Sean Connery
* * * You Only Live Twice 1967 Sean Connery
* * * * * On Her Majesty’s Secret Service 1969 George Lazenby
* * * Diamonds Are Forever 1971 Sean Connery
* * * Live and Let Die 1973 Roger Moore
* The Man with the Golden Gun 1974 Roger Moore
* * * The Spy Who Loved Me 1977 Roger Moore
* * Moonraker 1979 Roger Moore
* * For Your Eyes Only 1981 Roger Moore
* Octopussy 1983 Roger Moore
* * A View to a Kill 1985 Roger Moore
* * The Living Daylights 1987 Timothy Dalton
* * Licence to Kill 1989 Timothy Dalton
* * * * * GoldenEye 1995 Pierce Brosnan
* * Tomorrow Never Dies 1997 Pierce Brosnan
* * * The World Is Not Enough 1999 Pierce Brosnan
* * * Die Another Day 2002 Pierce Brosnan
* * * * * Casino Royale 2006 Daniel Craig
* * * * Quantum of Solace 2008 Daniel Craig
 Here’s hoping… Skyfall 2012 Daniel Craig

Want a more in-depth analysis of our expert opinions? You’re in luck! We made a special page for you of such a thing.

James Bond

James Bond fashion

Connery's Bond was quite fashionable ... most of the time. Here's an example of a miss.

Tintin Movie – early response is good!

It’s still over a month away from release in the U.S. but critical response from the amateur and professional community has been good thus far for The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn. IMDB users are giving the film a 7.8 rating overall (as of November 20, 2011). The audience categories are responding in a fairly tight configuration. Men and women, and young and old are giving overage ratings above 7. Professional critics’ reviews are also substantially positive. is giving the film a Fresh Rating of 86%.

Tintin Movie

Read about the Tintin Movie on IMDB

Tintin Movie

Read about the Tintin Movie on RottenTomatoes