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STEPHEN'S MOVIE GUIDE

Never Say Never Again (1983)  rating

Review: written 2007

Scrapes by on Connery’s charisma alone

Never Say Never Again (1983)

At a time when Roger was playing Bland, James Bland... the prospect of an unofficial Bond movie enticing Sean Connery to return to the role was mouthwateringly tantalizing. And at the time it came out in 1983, the competition was one of Moore's weakest efforts, Octopussy, making the Bond versus Bond clash seem one sided in this movies favour. Never Say Never Again has a larger budget, stronger cast and is based on an Ian Fleming story.

Alas, the end result turns out to be not much better than a parody of the earlier Bonds, and despite a strong cast the script is so clunky and obvious that the wit and panache of Bond is missing. Worse, the music is anachronistic and dated. Of course, for legal reasons, they could not use John Barry's timeless themes, but all the more reason one would have thought to spend more time getting the score just right for the tone of the movie. Perhaps the most serious crime of all.. it is more than a bit dull. You find yourself waiting for an action scene to come along, then when one comes along, you wish they would get it over with. Aside from an effective bike-chasing-car scene, no other action scene resonates after the credits have rolled.

It's not all bad.. Kim Basinger is a lithe and lovely Bond girl, and Klaus Maria Brandauer is a deliciously quirky villain. A few scenes hold up - the dance scene when Bond tells Domino her brother is dead, the fistfight at Shrublands with Pat Roach (from Auf Wiedersehen pet), and at least we don't have the dreadful speeded up boat scene from the original and otherwise superior 'Thunderball'.

Finally, with the `official' Bond movies so well digitally remastered and sound remixed, the very poor quality of the sound mix and blemished print currently available are all the more obvious. Sound is very boomy and with no surround mix - speech is muffled, and I had to turn up the volume much higher than usual to hear any detail.

The worst of Moore's Bond outings can still be enjoyed, even when the grin is mixed with a groan... here though, the grin has become a fixed grimace, and the pleasures are few and far between. Connery's charisma pulls us through without feeling obliged to give up half way through - but the temptation is never far away. Worth watching only for nostalgia's sake, to see Connery's Bond swansong.





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