Never Say Never Again (1983)

Never Say Never Again (1983), directed by Irvin Kershner.

When SPECTRE steals two nuclear cruise missiles, James Bond is taken off the bench and unleased on the Bahamas, the Riviera and North Africa. Sean Connery returns to the role in this remake of Thunderball (1965), 18 years after the original.

Connery fans rejoice. No other Bond combines his confidence, humor and physicality. He's 52 here and plays his age well enough, although the action scenes strain credulity. It's much lighter than the original and has no dramatic force or tension whatsoever. The final cavern shootout and underwater combat are poor.

The worst moment is when we find that cheesy video games have invaded the casino and Bond has to do nerd-battle with the arch-villain (an effectively nutty Klaus Maria Brandauer). No, the worst moment is the Dr Evil radio-controlled sharks.

The women are bright spots: the wicked Barbara Carrera (that's her water-skiing backwards in pane #2 below; I don't know why she can't afford a new swimsuit) and Kim Basinger, wholesome but often in transparent clothing. (And: a woman named "Domino" should be wearing black and white). Will Bond allow one of his girls to be auctioned off to lusty desert tribesmen? What do you think?

They do funny bits with MI6 gone all stuffy and bureaucratic. "Algernon" Q commiserates with Bond: "Now that you're on this I hope we're going to have some gratuitous sex and violence."

This is not an official Eon Productions entry in the series. It was released the same year as Octopussy (1983), Bond #13 with Roger Moore. It has a long complicated production history. Because of rights issues they do not use the familiar Bond music or opening. Both films were successful.

The music is mostly missing, and what there is belongs in some other film.

Available on Blu-ray. Bad commentary track with the director and a Bond scholar; I couldn't finish it.