When James Bond Met Johnny English
I reckon Sean Connery must have been laughing all the way to the bank when he was asked to star in "Never Say Never Again", not only was he paid handsomely to return to the iconic role of James Bond but here he was in what is for all sense and purposes a remake of "Thunderball". I've never truly understood why Kevin McClory felt the need to remake "Thunderball", yes I know he was one of the original writers and producers but it just seemed a strange idea especially when you consider that at the time there was Roger Moore in the official James Bond series. But anyway he did, well he sort of did because technically "Never Say Never Again" is not a remake of the movie but another movie based on the original story and as such is very similar, with the exception of some name changes, different actors and a few location changes. And sadly "Never Say Never Again" is not good, in fact it is just about average as it drags things out, goes on to long and at times is more camp than the Bond of the Roger Moore era.
When SPECTRE agents Maximilian Largo (Klaus Maria Brandauer) and Fatima Blush (Barbara Carrera - Embryo) steal 2 nuclear war heads they hold the US and British Governments to ransom over their return. With just a few days to pay up or suffer the consequence James Bond (Sean Connery - Robin and Marian) is put on the case and heads to the Caribbean to try and discover where Largo has his toxic cargo hidden whilst avoiding being killed and befriending Largo's girl Domino Petachi (Kim Basinger - Cellular).
So whilst not part of the official Bond franchise "Never Say Never Again" does run to the same formula with Bond after an evil genius, meeting various sexy women, escaping death and saving the day. You expect nothing less and the idea of SPECTRE stealing to nuclear weapons to try and extort money out of the US and British government is still a reasonably good basis for a Bond movie, especially as it sees him doing a little bit of globe trotting.
But "Never Say Never Again" has a problem and in updating the storyline to make it more current for the 80s it has become painfully drawn out. Now the irony is that "Never Say Never Again" is only 4 minutes longer than "Thunderball" but the pacing of it and the focus on various elements makes it slow. The whole intro as we learn that the 00's have been deactivated and then James being sent to a health spa seems to go on and on. And then there are all the attempts by Fatima Blush to kill Bond, be it whilst scuba diving or blowing up his hotel room. Basically it takes well over half of the movie before it really gets down to the main storyline of James trying to stop Maximilian Largo and his nefarious plans.
Because of this, because everything ends up feeling laboured that all those traditional Bond elements end up feeling dull. It maybe great to see Connery back as Bond but he seems almost pedestrian compared to when he originally played the character. And as for the sexy women, well it borders on the comical as they are all over the top be it the therapist at the health spa or femme fatale Fatima Blush. In fact comical is also in the way they try and make these women sexy and to be honest Barbara Carrera as Fatima might as well have been topless as she wears a series of outfits which barely cover her.
Comical is also an issue with other characters be it Alec McCowen as 'Q' Algy or Edward Fox as M and lets not forget "Never Say Never Again" saw Johnny English, I mean Rowan Atkinson in a seriously comical role as Nigel Small-Fawcett. To be honest there are times when "Never Say Never Again" is more camp than any of the Roger Moore Bond movies and it is so wrong with Sean Connery in the lead role. You watch Connery and at times he looks so bemused by all the comical nonsense and it is because of all this comical nonsense that you end up mentally switching off.
To be honest there is nothing in "Never Say Never Again" which is better than in any of the previous official Bond movies and it is another reason why you find yourself questioning why? It wouldn't have been so bad if there had been a better action scene or an improved piece of casting, there are certainly some impressive names such as Max von Sydow and Edward Fox in iconic roles but it basically doesn't work. And as such it is purely down to Connery returning as Bond which keeps "Never Say Never Again" average as without him it wouldn't have even been that.
What this all boils down to is that "Never Say Never Again" is really quite a poor movie and doesn't do anything better than what was done in the official James Bond movies. Its one saving grace is that watching Sean Connery as Bond once again is a delight even if he looks as bemused as you end up feeling watching.