Never Say Never Again is the second James Bond theatrical film not produced by EON Productions and the second film adaptation of the story Thunderball. Released in 1983, it stars Sean Connery as British Secret Service agent James Bond. It was released theatrically by Warner Bros.
The film is not considered part of the canon of the Bond film franchise from EON Productions and United Artists, despite its currently being handled by the official film series distributor, MGM. MGM acquired the distribution rights in 1997 after their acquisition of Orion Pictures. The film also marks the culmination of a long legal battle between United Artists and Kevin McClory. Its release opposite the franchise Bond film Octopussy (starring Roger Moore) quickly led the media to dub the situation the "Battle of the Bonds."
In November 2013, the McClory Estate and EON Productions reached an agreement transferring all rights to Fleming's Thunderball, the organization of S.P.E.C.T.R.E., and the character of Ernst Stavro Blofeld to EON.
Being the second adaptation of the novel Thunderball, Never Say Never Again follows a similar plotline to the earlier film, but with some differences.
The film opens with a middle-aged, yet still athletic James Bond making his way through an armed camp in order to rescue a girl who has been kidnapped. After killing the kidnappers, Bond lets his guard down, forgetting that the girl might have been subject to the Stockholm syndrome (in which a kidnapped person comes to identify with his/her kidnappers) and is stabbed to death by her. Or so it seems.
In fact, the attack on the camp is nothing more than a field training exercise using blank ammunition and fake knives, and one Bond fails because he ends up "dead". A new M is now in office, one who sees little use for the 00-section. In fact, Bond has spent most of his recent time teaching, rather than doing, a fact he points out with some resentment.
Feeling that Bond is slipping, M orders him to enroll in a health clinic in order to "eliminate all those free radicals" and get back into shape. While there, Bond discovers a mysterious nurse, Fatima Blush, and her patient, who is wrapped in bandages. His suspicions are aroused even further when a thug (Lippe) tries to kill him.
Blush and her charge, an American Air Force pilot named Jack Petachi, are in fact operatives of SPECTRE, a criminal organization run by Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Petachi has undergone an operation to alter one of his retinas to match the retinal pattern of the American President. Using his position as a pilot, and the president's eye pattern to circumvent security, Petachi infiltrates an American military base in England and orders the dummy warheads in two cruise missiles replaced with two live nuclear warheads, which SPECTRE captures and uses to extort billions of dollars from the governments of the world.
M reluctantly reactivates the 00 section, and Bond is assigned the task of tracking down the missing weapons, beginning with a rendezvous with Domino Petachi, the pilot's sister, who is kept a virtual prisoner by her lover, Maximillian Largo. Bond pursues Largo and his yacht to the Bahamas, where he engages Domino, Fatima Blush, and Largo in a game of wits and resources as he attempts to derail SPECTRE's scheme.
Changes to the Bond universeEdit
The film makes a few changes to the James Bond universe. MI6 is shown to be underfunded and understaffed, particularly with regards to Q-Branch, and the character Q is referred to by the name "Algernon", and is presumably a different individual than the Q in the official Bond films (whose name is Major Boothroyd). The film also appears to take place in an "alternate universe" in which none of the events of You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Diamonds Are Forever and the opening sequence of For Your Eyes Only have occurred, since Blofeld is alive and apparently previously unknown to Bond and MI6. Despite sharing many basic similarities with Thunderball, the course of events throughout the film are different enough for it to be more than a direct remake, and the action clearly takes place at a much later date (contemporary with the film's production).
The film is notable for depicting Felix Leiter, Bond's CIA colleague, as an African-American, something which would not occur in the EON series until Casino Royale in 2006. The film also makes a major departure from official continuity by ending with Bond indicating his intention to retire from MI6 - while Bond had considered retirement in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, he is shown to be unsure of the decision and later chooses to stay with the service. In the scene where Bond states his intention to quit, Connery breaks the fourth wall by winking at the camera; while this is incorrectly considered by many as being unique to this film, George Lazenby was in fact the first Bond to break the fourth wall almost 15 years earlier when he told the audience, "This never happened to the other fellow" (referring to Connery, the man he had replaced as Bond).
Cast and CharactersEdit
- Directed by: Irvin Kershner
- Screenplay by: Lorenzo Semple Jr.
- Produced by: Jack Schwartzman, Kevin McClory (executive), Michael Dryhurst (associate)
- Cinematography by Douglas Slocombe
- Music composed by: Michel Legrand
Argentinean publisher Editora Columba, who published several original Spanish-language James Bond film adaptations in various D'artagnan comic magazines during the ‘60s and ‘70s, adapted Never Say Never Again in 1984.
- The movie title comes from Sean Connery's statement when asked if he would ever play Bond again after Diamonds Are Forever, to which he replied "Never Again".
- The Flying Saucer, Largo's ship, is a translation of "the Disco Volante", the name of Largo's ship in Thunderball. In this film, the Disco Volante is a formidable vessel clearly based on a military cruiser hull, with a helipad and scale which dramatically dwarf the vessel present in the official film continuity. The Disco is still the base of underwater operations by Largo. In real life, the ship used in long shots was known as the "Nabila" and was build for Saudi billionaire, Adnan Kashoggi. The craft was later sold to Donald Trump who christened it the "Trump Princess."
- The casino where Bond and Largo go head to head in a videogame was called Casino Royale.
- This scene also prevented author John Gardner from having a somewhat similar scene involving Bond playing a computer game over a LAN in Gardner's novel Role of Honour. Bond was supposed to be playing a simulation of "The Battle of Waterloo", this was later changed to a different type of game involving "The Battle of Bunker Hill". Interestingly, the Battle of Waterloo would also play a part in the later official Bond film, The Living Daylights.
- Originally, both this film and Octopussy were to be released to theatres simultaneously, which led to a brief flurry of media activity regarding the "Battle of the Bonds." Ultimately, it was decided to separate the two release dates.
- McClory originally planned for the film to open with some version of the famous "gunbarrel" opening as seen in the official Bond series, but ultimately the film opens with a screenful of "007" symbols instead. When the soundtrack for the film was released on CD, it included a piece of music composed for the proposed opening.
- Klaus Maria Brandauer, who played Largo, was originally cast as Marko Ramius in The Hunt for Red October; the role eventually went to Connery.
- Rowan Atkinson, who later became famous for the Mr. Bean comedy series, played a British agent in this movie, the bungling Nigel Small-Fawcett. Later he would play a James Bond parody in Johnny English.
|James Bond films|
Dr. No (1962) - From Russia with Love (1963) - Goldfinger (1964) - Thunderball (1965) - You Only Live Twice (1967) - Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
| George Lazenby |
On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)
Live and Let Die (1973) - The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) - The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) - Moonraker (1979) - For Your Eyes Only (1981) - Octopussy (1983) - A View to a Kill (1985)
The Living Daylights (1987) - Licence to Kill (1989)
GoldenEye (1995) - Tomorrow Never Dies (1998) - The World Is Not Enough (1999) - Die Another Day (2002)
Casino Royale (2006) - Quantum of Solace (2008) - Skyfall (2012) - Spectre (2015) - Bond 25
Casino Royale (1954) - Casino Royale (1967) - Never Say Never Again (1983)