Released under perhaps the strangest circumstances imaginable, Never Say Never Again was Sean Connery’s final portrayal of 007 and was paired up against the current Bond, Roger Moore, in the summer of 1983 when it was released just months after Octopussy. While certainly one of the less popular films of the franchise, Never Say Never Again was also one of the more unique as per stipulations that this film could be made, the trademark Bond theme was not used, nor did the film sport any kind of opening credits montage (although it did have a custom song written for it). In addition, the film was always held separate as even though Fox/MGM own the rights to it, it was not included in their massive “Collection” volume two-disc editions years back and instead was treated to a lone 2000 DVD release. Now, Bond fans can add the film to their collection in an all-new Collector’s Edition, available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Sean Connery is back for his final performance as agent James Bond in this high-velocity action thriller…and now you can experience it as never before with this explosively entertaining Collector’s Edition with an all-new audio commentary and three never-before-seen featurettes! Agent 007 is hurled into a pulse-pounding race to save the world from Armageddon when two atomic warheads are hijacked by the evil SPECTRE organization!
Plot sound familiar? Yeah, another one of the stipulations for this film to be made was that it had to be a re-production of Thunderball, so there’s some underwater action tossed in there as well, though the action in the film is severely limited and there really isn’t a whole lot here to keep you on the edge of your seat. As a Bond fan, it was just a kind of treat to see Connery back in the role (I hadn’t seen this film prior to watching this Blu-ray release—I held off since the previous DVD release as so lackluster), but there is really little to tie the film to Thunderball aside from the general “villain” plot of it. Bond’s “relaxation” is now an excuse for James to get re-invigorated in his old age and the villain in the film is barely seen outside of their big nuclear heist.
In fact, the villainy in the film takes a huge back seat to the Connery side of the film, as he “attempts” to discover more about Spectre, but he spends so much time just running around and jumping in bed (seriously, two girls in one day, just hours apart? C’mon man!) that it’s a good hours worth of absolutely no plot-progression. It’s entertaining in a Bond sense as there is some of the usual humorous sexual innuendo, but my patience was really tested during some of the film. And the whole arcade game sequence? What the hell was that about. I get that video games were a huge deal in 1983, but how does James Bond playing one equal an intense sequence? It was about as exciting as watching someone else play a video game (i.e., never fun).
Really, that was the only thing that kept this film from being a true Bond outing…the action was just so little. Granted, the car chase and the motorcycle was pretty exciting to watch, but it took over an hour and a half to get to it and considering that was one of the first things trailered in the film (which is included on this release and…man, is it terrible), it’s kind of a dirty little trick. I can understand wanting to give Connery more time on the screen since this was his last run as Bond, but it just was a very, very dry and lifeless film. Not to mention the Bond girls weren’t all that intriguing (though, man, that was a lot of skin that they showed in this one, wasn’t it?).
Really there just isn’t much here to be impressed with. I will say I was quite surprised by how great the shark sequence looked, but that alone isn’t enough to keep me coming back to this film. I really enjoyed Thunderball for whatever reason, but this film is really just a mediocre remake of it. And not even a full remake in that regard—similar situations, same villainy plot, but the mannerisms and everything about the film were just completely different. Of course there is also the simple fact that this film is just a fun return to form for Connery, but it’s certainly not his best works and seeing him bounce around on screen is a bit ridiculous (especially since just a few years later he was balding and grey in Indiana Jones).
Overall a decent film for the Bond fan, but unless you are well versed in the universe and can enjoy even the mediocre outings, then this film really can just be avoided. But for the fans it’s still Recommended, even if it is a bit tedious and dull at times. It’s still Bond and I’d rather watch this film over Octopussy any day (no, I’m not a Moore fan).
After the aforementioned mediocre original 2000 DVD release, Fox has finally bestowed us with a new release that includes a commentary and three featurettes. Before we get into that, however, the packaging is presented in a style that’s not similar to the “normal” Bond’s in the least (yes we get it Fox, this isn’t a “normal” Bond film—but what’s with the constant treatment that it’s the black sheep of the family?), complete with a dull menu system and generic case inserts (firmware notice, MGM Blu-ray). No slipcover is provided either.
Video arrives in an AVC (@35mbps) encoded 2.35:1 transfer that really isn’t too terrible looking. It’s a bit flat at times and nothing truly screamed out “look at me in high-def!” but it still wasn’t anything horrible either. There really just isn’t much about this film that’s visually appealing; even the underwater sequences and oceanic views are kind of mundane and only the tanness of Connery’s skin and the copious amounts of chest hair were the only thing that I noticed visually—but I would’ve noticed that even on VHS. The audio, a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix, is also quite underwhelming, with a very tinny and front-ended mix that really doesn’t offer anything in the surrounds of any value. I expected this from a 60s or 70s movie, but a 80s movie to sound this dated? Kind of surprising.
The biggest extra here is obviously the Commentary with Director Irvin Kershner and James Bond Historian Steven Jay Rubin which is really just leagues more interesting than the film itself, as it discusses in-depth about how this film came to be and what the process of making it was like. Really the story behind how this film came to be is a lot more intriguing than the plot of the film, so in that regard it’s great to have a commentary accompany the film.
The other extras, all presented in standard definition, give us a deeper look into the history of the film. Included is The Big Gamble (16:24) which acts as a mini-making of as well as a history lesson. Next up is Sean is Back (8:04), which, as you can guess, discusses Connery’s return to the role. The Girls of (10:07) profiles the three girls of the film (including future Oscar winner Kim Basinger). Finally the horrible Theatrical Trailer (1:27) is included as well as a Photo Gallery.
Overall a definite upgrade from the previous barebones release and easily Recommended for the completist Bond fan. But, as with the film, this Blu-ray won’t offer much besides an interesting history lesson, so unless you are a fan of the films, you can probably settle for a rental on this one.
Never Say Never Again: Collector’s Edition arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on March 24th.