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Never Say Never Again (1983)

by on 2010/11/29

“M says that without you in the service, he fears for the security of the civilized world.”

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No sooner had I read of the death of Leslie Nielsen than I learned of another passing:  Irvin Kershner.  Any geek worth their label will recognize him as the director of the formerly-second (now-fifth) Star Wars entry, The Empire Strikes Back.

While I recognize the importance of that landmark series, it is Kershner’s subsequent film which cements him so well in my mind:  Never Say Never Again.

When my 1983-self caught sight of a “Battle of the Bonds” headline at the time, I nearly lost my headstrong young mind.  Shortly thereafter I made the rounds at school, announcing to everyone who would listen (thanks Eric) that, in their next movie, Sean Connery and Roger Moore were literally going to engage each other, mano-a-mano or in armed combat.

Instead I was (only somewhat) relieved to learn that each of the Bond actors would star in their own respective vehicles:  Octopussy for Moore, and the “unofficial” Never Say Never Again for Connery.

I saw both in the theatres, but only the latter got an encore sale.  Of all the Bond films my sister and I later taped, it was easily the one rewatched the most.  We came to quote it endlessly, we mocked its music with affection, and we probably watched that poor damned horse plummet to its death a hundred times over.  At least.

A twenty-years-on remake of Thunderball, Never Say Never Again tells the story of a nuclear weapons theft.  In their sole return engagement since their leader got out of the (ahem) deli biz, SPECTRE holds the world for ransom.  James Bond emerges from a borderline retirement of teaching, training, and convalescing, saves us all, and then quits with a wink.  Maybe.

While it has aged somewhat — perhaps more than most Bond movies — it remains to this day the most fun overall.  It reminds me of my family, my youth, and even Irvin Kershner, the one who worked it all out so memorably.

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Please note:  This review is a placeholder “stub” intended for future revision.

Rated 14A for adult situations and violence

134 minutes

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