Bond in Review: Never Say Never Again

Allen L. Linton II
10 min readOct 19, 2019

I really like the James Bond franchise. This is part fourteen of a behind schedule, bimonthly, 24-part series of me watching James Bond movies and providing a stream of consciousness style commentary for a given film. I will also rank the movies so stay tuned for that at the bottom of the piece. We end the famed “Battle of the Bonds” with Never Say Never Again, the final return of Sean Connery to the 007 role. It’s Kevin McClory winning his court case and essentially making Thunderball again. It was a commercial success but failed to make as much as Octopussy in 1983. The title, allegedly, comes Connery saying he would “Never again” play the James Bond character. Welp.

· So weird not having the EON open and the gun barrel.

· Oh McClory won the rights to this movie and he is blasting 007s all over the screen!

· Irvin Kershner directed this movie. Why is that notable or why is he notable? The previous movie he directed was in 1980. A little production called The Empire Strikes Back. He did an amazing Star Wars movie and then got a “Bond” movie.

· Some awesome actors are in this movie.

· How do you pronounce “Basinger”?

· This song is so bad except the hook/chorus is fantastic and gets stuck in one’s head with tremendous ease.

· Connery is looking old. He is 52 here. He is also THREE years younger than Roger Moore.

· Glad to see MI6 has stepped up training to match SPECTRE and used live targets and such. I get the bullets aren’t real but that poison dart looked like a dart in the neck. That hurts.

· Glad she knows where to stab him.

· Edward Fox is a good M for Connery.

· It’s 1983 and we are doing the “double-0 section isn’t being used a bunch how useful is this” bit. We do this all the time now. Spectre is basically this taken to the max

· M being focused on health and a cleansing is actually from the book Thunderball. This movie handles it better than the movie Thunderball but what can you do.

· The “free radical” line with Moneypenny is fantastic.

· It is so disappointing that there isn’t a title sequence.

· “But it’s in pretty good shape.” — Ok we get the metaphor. No need to double down.

· Lotta simple humor in this movie early which is enjoyable.

· Fatima Blush is joining a room of people with the worst special layout ever.

· Max Von Sydow is a proper sinister villain.

· KLAUS MARIA BRANDAUER is the best thing about this movie. He is on the edge of unhinged and it’s a shame he wasn’t in a proper film.

· I’ve been to a chiropractor — that part absolutely hurts.

· Handsy/perverted Bond getting his way. Yup Connery is back.

· Jack and Fatima are chewing up the scene here with the smoking revelation.

· Took me a while when I was younger but I realize that he is addicted to heroin. They didn’t tell him to just say no to drugs.

· Super spy James Bond hears everything but can’t wander around a clinic without being undetected?

· This bench press machine is a piece of work but it is a simple machine. When he pulls the pin off the weight, the bar should be incredibly easy to lift.

· Breaking that device isn’t impressive. It’s pulling apart springs. Not moving when someone throws a dumbbell is incredibly impressive.

· Again, small comedic moments through. Feels a bit extra but maybe not.

· What does this henchman have that is cutting through steel???

· So there should be shards of glass all throughout Bond’s body here.

· That the fight essentially ends with Bond throwing his own urine in a person’s face is lazy and not actually funny and thoroughly unimpressive.

· M with the major flex on suppressing the chaos at the facility.

· “let’s hope we never have to use the real thing” — Literally Captain Obvious at the command desk

· You insert the card, then push the lock in, then take the card out? Seems a bit much but better to have two-stage authorization.

· 1983 and we have eye ball manipulation. Pretty cool. Automated voice adding “Have a nice day” after loading up a nuclear warhead? Too cute by half.

· The 80s loved the camera shot/special effect of riding along with something at high speed.

· She threw a snake in the car. I imagine most would react that way and the car didn’t needlessly explode. This is a very good thing

· Wow these noises are a bit much for wearing headphones.

· How does SPECTRE have a line into all of these government agencies? Did they patch into a conference line or what? What is this?

· Seven days is a reasonable amount of time for a decision this great.

· There was a call for order and this calm person to address everyone. His address is merely stating the obvious thing we all just heard sitting in the room? THROW HIM OUT

· This was build up just to reactivate the Double-0 section? Not going to out perform Octopussy with this effort.

· Computer correcting itself to add an additional 2 million in self-worth to Largo. Not sure how I feel about that database.

· I really love the eccentricities of Largo. “Morning everyone.”

· Is Connery just reading lines when discussing the false eye scenario?

· Double sided mirror into a dance studio is super creepy. Always. Creepier given how affable he is as a person.

· First dance scene…to think we get another long one.

· So the use of the piano is what I mean: he plays something menacing to announce his presence and plays a sudden chord when hearing the question of if she ever leaves him. Good nuance

· To end that scene with “then I cut your throat” is chilling

· This shooting exercise looks dumb. That Bond looks at his gun to see if he shot an explosive is dumber.

· Alge quite fussy about bureaucracy, envious of the Americans, prototypes from the Russians, complaining about computers.

· Saying in a Bond movie you hope for gratuitous sex and violence is over the top

· Rowan Atkinson being over the top.

· The movie is a bit too self-aware in the jokes it employs.

· Cool note: Flying Saucer is the translation of “Disco Volante” — the name of the Largo’s boat in Thunderball

· “All wet but my martini is still dry” is a fantastic line.

· Soft focus on Fatima Blush there during the verbal foreplay.

· Montage of intimacy is pretty cheesy and disappointing.

· Attaching a beacon to Bond and a radar type situation to the shark is fairly clever

· There is no way that this shark wasn’t harmed in shooting this scene.

· Caught a lure and saved by a fishing woman he met earlier — sure I guess.

· Now this is the type of planning I’d like to see from all henchpeople. Just a block of C-4 and a button. Bad luck here

· Now what if she didn’t duck in time and got hit in the face? Silly games between boys and their fruits

· Felix Leiter is BLACK! That’s a check plus. Definitely the 80s.

· The fawning over old James Bond is laying it on a bit too thick

· Posing as a masseuse for Exposition Emily is lackluster plot moving and super pervy

· For as ridiculous as it was to punch and orchestrate the entrance into the casino space, this is a nice casino scene. Mostly for the balance between classic games and arcade games

· Now some folks would say Klaus Maria’s Largo is over the top and, yes, he is but it feels like he is closer to walking all over the line but never crossing it.

· Look at the way he shakes Bond’s hand. EXCELLENT

· The male ego is strong within Largo and it is his undoing. It’s a nice weakness.

· I can listen to Largo explain the game rules all day.

· Also, can someone make this game in real life because it looks like it would be fun

· I say “we will begin again” just like Largo — that’s someone disappointing and fantastic.

· Bond wasn’t really keeping up at all in the penultimate round. Blow out city.

· Bond totally boat raced Largo by the end.

· Light jazz fingers in the end by Largo.

· “Do you lose as gracefully as you win?” “I wouldn’t know, I never lost.” “This game has been played and I have lost. That’s it.” Great line

· I hate this tango scene. It’s needlessly long and unenjoyable. And slow.

· Oh Largo pulled rank there to show seriousness with “#12.”

· The pay off that the cigarette case was simply a cigarette case is solid

· That’s not how waterbeds work!

· James Bond on a motorbike feels very strange. This feels like something that Tom Cruise should be doing. Bond is a car guy

· Bond has popped 3 wheelies on this chase. All of them entirely unnecessary.

· A mini cooper adjacent car in a chase with a motorcycle. Outstanding.

· You can see how Xenia Onatopp could come out of this character.

· Who was the woman in Philadelphia? Why was Bond in Philadelphia?

· What a contrived way to get the pen gadget into the scene.

· So just how long was Felix going to wait and would he have shot her?

· Everyone knows the boxer is Black and the trainer is White — I guess

· That’s awkward — super spy James Bond expected and detected in his spying.

· Run a large government from that control center. That was a crafy line

· This is such an 80s movie: the over story is oil, Largo is hiding Tomahawk missiles, and dance studio scenes

· That interaction between Bond and Domino is so weird before he goes to his room for clothes. It seems like a thrown away scene

· I know Roger Moore gets dinged for being so darn old in the end but Connery is no better here

· How does Bond know how to use the equipment in this control room and get access to Largo’s private area?

· Also, Bond seems very cool watching Largo meltdown while also being known as a major threat

· Largo goes full mental here and it is absolutely over the top but also thoroughly engaging. Admitting to being crazy, maybe, is on point.

· This is the worst scene. Bond asks where are the bombs and Largo just drops this information without any hesitation. That’s pathetic.

· Laser watch in use with such casual flare. The back end of this movie really does get lazy

· Bond hanging off the side and pulling the guard over feels like the most legitimate thing that would absolutely happen in real life

· Lets discuss this horse jumping scene. It looks awful and more likely than not, you’ve seen the censored version of this movie because jumping a horse into water like that is, well, NOT VERY GOOD. This scene caused a huge controversy at the time and it is the reason we now have disclaimers about animals not being hurt in the production of movies.

· Always time for a dual shower even though the world is at risk with massive bombs

· Acting low point here between Domino and Bond. It’s incredibly bad.

· So they find the first bomb off screen very easily. Then M wants to talk to Bond and starts with saying “THIS IS M.” WHAT? That’s some awful mess.

· Connery is just letting the accent fully go when walking us through the “Tears of Allah” explanation

· XT7Bs. Russians spoil everything

· So this is a nice update on the idea of putting the jetpack in the movie. Not as cool as the original but decidedly effective. I’m here for this

· The slowest water/cave chase in a long time. Take notes for the ending of “A View To A Kill”

· Does Bond have an UZI? Yup, it’s the 80s.

· “There is nothing that can stop us” is such an overused line for villains.

· “Sweet like money.” — He says that in the weirdest voice. Like an American accent suddenly appears

· Wow James Bond is slow to the draw and immediately loses his gun. But his leg workouts have been very good

· Largo, for some reason, set explosives on the entrance way to his underwater tunnel. That is a well thought plan but pretty random to have that button on his underwater controls.

· Government resources have been quick and efficient which feels justified given the situation but still amazing to see

· Underwater fight that happens because Bond happens to just get ahead of Largo. These movies just don’t know how to make the underwater stuff work.

· Let me add that I like a villain that is not a natural fighter. This reminds me of Dominic Greene in “Quantum of Solace.” It feels very relatable that a mastermind wouldn’t also be a great fighter too.

· The scoring of this scene is piss poor. And to have the villain pinned down while Bond is disarming the device only to have his life saved by Domino with this score takes the entire energy out the scene. AWFUL

· Why is Domino there? Actually why? And how?

· The final third of this movie is lazy and dull and scored poorly.

· Fourth wall breaking after the “never” exchanges? Meh too.

So that is how the Battle of the Bonds was lost. “Never Say Never Again” has more pop than Thunderball and a villain that would’ve been fantastic in an EON produced movie. But the plot fell flat as did the performances around the movie. Always fun to revisit Largo but everything else was a bit disappointing. And now the updated ranking:

1) From Russia With Love

2) Goldfinger

3) OHMSS

4) The Spy Who Loved Me

5) Live and Let Die

6) Dr. No

7) Octopussy

8) The Man with the Golden Gun

9) Moonraker

10) For Your Eyes Only

11) YOLT

12) Diamonds Are Forever

13) Thunderball

14) Never Say Never Again

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Allen L. Linton II

Free writing about politics, sports, intersection between the two, and Chicago.