Dave’s 3-Word Review:
The unofficial Bond.
Once upon a time, there was a book called Thunderball, but that’s not where the story began. Ian Flemming is of course the author responsible for the James Bond character, and he created this script for James Bond, but the movie never came to pass. But Flemming, he really liked the story, so he settled to make it a novel…then he got sued by his partners for that original script for not crediting them. They eventually made the novel version that doesn’t credit the other people in the film Thunderball, but the people that weren’t credited still wanted to make a movie…and they had to wait several years in order to do so, because the law suit was taking forever to get through. Finally, they were able to do it, and they settled on Never Say Never Again, a film that is virtually a re-imagining of Thunderball. Sean Connery came back to reprise his role…and after so much Roger Moore…I very much welcomed his return, even if it’s the once.
Alright, so James Bond is a little bit old and the double 0 program in MI6 has since been closed down. Bond has been out of the field for a while, and they want him back, so the first thing they need to do is send him to a clinic to get whipped back in shape. While getting whipped into shape, he runs into a nasty plot to steal a couple of nuclear missiles from SPECTRE boss Blofeld in order to attack two major cities and rule the world (just like in Thunderball). So, of course James Bond must find the strength left in him to do yet another mission.
Can I tell that this is the same movie? Had I watched this immediately after Thunderball, I would have immediately said “yes”. However, I’ve watched plenty of Bond films since that third film in the franchise, and I know enough to say that every film practically feels like the same thing as Thunderball in the purest sense of what the end game is…which usually has to do with stealing nuclear warheads to attack some major city(cities). So yes, there was that, but I guess the part that really seemed the most similar was the beginning at the clinic, where he’s working out and someone tries to kill him with the machinery…that was reminiscent. The rest? Yes and no…could go either way.
The main difference in this film that they include, which I actually really liked, was an explanation to the obvious shift in Connery’s age. Yeah, that took a little tweaking of the original story, but that little tweak made the film more human and ultimately made Bond more vulnerable. James Bond is almost never vulnerable, so it’s nice to see that side of him. It may even remind you of his getting back into shape idea used in Skyfall. That film, of course, required more detail and character development, but still…Connery’s vulnerability in this film was apparent enough to see a change from the EON films.
After Roger Moore has been rapidly getting on my nerves, I needed this…even if just to take a break. Sean Connery is a stiffer, more serious James Bond, which I think is perfect for the role…the same reason why I like Daniel Craig. Now, this film was hardly necessary. Do we really need it? No, but I do like it more than the original. Partially because it’s later and film techniques have enhanced (no more fast-forwarded fight scenes), Bond is more realistic and human, and because it’s a good change from Moore’s interpretation of Bond.
Other than that, I can see why it’s unofficial. It’s not greenlit by EON, it doesn’t have the opening shot with blood coming down the barrel, doesn’t have the James Bond theme song, and it doesn’t have the iconic music video intro sequence with the naked women silhouettes. These are all ingredients to what makes Bond…Bond. Without it, it can still be seen as a spy movie, but just because you call him James Bond doesn’t technically mean it’s a welcomed Bond film. I wish it was, because the inclusion of all the aforementioned elements would have made this film that much better. But…it is unofficial and not included in the 50 Years of Bond collector’s set.
Never Say Never Again is a good film to check out and compare with the source material, but it’s not difficult to understand why it’s not included with the rest.