A look at the most unusual Bond film ever made
"Never Say Never Again" has an odd place in the Bond film series.
It's the only Bond film to be a remake of a previous film.
It's the only Bond film not produced by Eon Productions.
It's the only film to show a middle-aged Bond.
It also happens to star Rowan Atkinson, who played a parody version of Bond in the Johnny English movies.
How did this movie come about?
The short version is that in the late 1950s, Bond creator Ian Fleming tried to make a movie with filmmaker Kevin
As Fleming biographer John Pearson explains it, Fleming wanted to work with McClory because McClory's upcoming film "The Boy and the Bridge" was supposed to be a big success.
"The Boy and the Bridge" didn't turn out well, so Fleming shifted to writing the Bond novel "Thunderball," based on the story he'd developed with McClory and other screenwriters.
A lawsuit followed.
Ultimately Fleming got to could keep the rights to the book "Thunderball" (provided the book had a "based on a screen treatment" note inside) and McClory got the movie rights.
Eon Productions worked with McClory to make the 1965 movie "Thunderball."
Since he still had the movie rights, McClory worked with other producers company to adapt "Thunderball" again years later.
"Never Say Never Again" mostly follows the same basic plot as its predecessor, with a few big changes.
In this film, Bond (played one last time by Sean Connery) is a middle-aged man trying to work with a new M who doesn't approve of his methods.
After failing (at least by his boss's standards) to pass a training simulation, Bond gets sent to a health clinic to shape up.
Obviously, Bond doesn't follow the clinic's diet program.
He does, however, discover a pilot hiding in the clinic who's being blackmailed to steal NATO nuclear weapons.
When the theft takes place and the thieves demand a ransom, M is forced to deploy 00 agents to find the bombs. Bond gets assigned to the Bahamas.
He quickly runs into a mysterious millionaire whose girlfriend is related to the pilot he saw at the clinic.
In true Bond fashion, things proceed to get hot, exciting and explosive.
Overall, "Never Say Never Again" is a solid film.
With the exception of an 80ish-sounding score and a scene where Bond plays a video game, it sidesteps trying to seem trendy by referencing whatever or pop culture things were popular at the time.
That automatically makes the film better than Roger Moore films like "Octopussy" and "The Man with the Golden Gun."
The movie's tone is a little tedious, but some scenes are genuinely chilling and frightening.
That makes it similar but better than Pierce Brosnan films like "Tomorrow Never Dies" and "The World is Not Enough."
The movie also sometimes messes with tradition at times (this Bond villain is genuinely charming). These changes work well and bring something new to the table.
However, "Never Say Never Again" really shines when it shows its themes.
The movie turns out to be visionary in its own way, dealing with problems the canonical Bond wouldn't face until much later.
It starts by showing Bond dealing with an irritating supervisor who's trying to be trendy and thinks Bond's outdated.
Over a decade later, Pierce Brosnan's Bond would face the same problem in "GoldenEye," working for an M who relies too much on analysts and thinks Bond is a Cold War relic.
This film also shows how Bond and his department have changed over the years. He's past his prime. Q's department has been severely reduced by budget cuts.
In short, this Bond has to face the fact that many people think the world's passed him by.
By association, "Never Say Never Again" considers how spy movies and the public's perception of spies had changed since the first Bond films. Is there really a place for old-school spies and school-boy heroics in 1983?
This is basically the same struggle that Daniel Craig's Bond would face over twenty years later in "Skyfall." By that time, the same questions would be even prominent and the answers even murkier.
Does "Never Say Never Again" reach the same conclusion as "Skyfall"?
Well, that's for you to find out.
You'll enjoy the ride.
This article is Copyright 2018 by Gabriel Connor Salter. Originally published by the Odyssey Online on September 10, 2018. Original URL: https://www.theodysseyonline.com/never-say-never-again-review