After his lack lustre performance in Diamonds .., Connery returns as 007 in a non EON production and re-working of Thunderball. In this Warner Bros. release, Sean helped by his $5 million fee is in competition with Moore's Octopussy.
In this updated but similar plot, we have a wiser, older, greyer and phased out secret agent who in the opening sequence has to save a damsel in distress on a jungle training exercise resulting with a knifing for Bond. During the video replay M played by a 'crusty' Edward Fox is not impressed, so he sends James off to Shrublands, a health clinic "to fight some toxic radicals". On arrival he spots the lovely Fatima Blush parading as a nurse and drugging poor Capt. Jack Petachi ( no double in this version ) who is part of a SPECTRE plot to steal two nuclear missiles. Yet again Connery gets to grip with another blonde ( Prunella Gee ) but has a drawn out and silly fight with ex-wrestler Pat Roach ( who is credited as Lippe .. a Count never ! ) which ends with help from some bodily fluid.
A less menacing Blofeld ( Max von Sydow ) and crazy Largo ( Klaus Maria Brandauer ) are the main villains helped by Blush, the ravishing Barbara Carrera who like Octopussy's Wayborn seems to end her lines with an exclamation mark. Her character enjoys killing her victims, an earlier version of GoldenEye's Xenia, but after a long and exciting bike chase around the streets of the South of France she finally gets the point from James after demands about their love-making on a boat. Meanwhile Brandauer's portrayal of a wealthy businessman & calculated, sinister modern day villain is great especially with his hold over Jack's dancing sister Domino ( Kim Basinger ).
This adventure may lack the EON trade-mark ( especially the Bond theme ) but because of Connery's charm & presence Never .. proves to be an enjoyable romp with good supporting cast: a brief appearance by Alec McCowen as Q aka Argy who expects "gratuitous sex and violence" from our hero and aided by another Felix Leiter ( Bernie Casey whom film critic Barry Norman jokingly suggested Felix Darker ). Director Irvin The Empire Strikes Back Kershner keeps the narrative moving along at a nice pace helped by some exciting stunts and the usual Bond locations ( the Bahamas for the underwater scenes where 007 is fished up by Valerie Leon who played the receptionist in Moore's The Spy .. ). Also around to provide some comedy is the bumbling Small-Fawcett played by Rowan tv's Mr. Bean & Blackadder Atkinson . On the musical side not a bad title* theme by Lani Hall but for the rest as Bond composer David Arnold recently said "without the Bond Theme it's just an action movie".
Despite ending pleads from a wet Atkinson of "We Need You !", Connery winks to the camera and will "never again" appear as James Bond 007. No doubt helped by the blonde Miss Basinger in a tiger swimming costume.
Watch out for a couple of obvious bloopers ( Blush's water skis and Leiter's diving head gear ).
Also questions about the re-vamped plot, less over the top than Thunderball, like how does Domino appear from nowhere to shoot that spear ? Poor James had to order a Naval chopper ( from somewhere ? ) to drop down a well to catch up with Largo.
If it took Connery & co. nearly 20 years to do this entertaining re-make, how long will it take EON to do similar with Casino Royale ? Now there's an idea ( as once suggested ) ... move on to 2006.
* In a tv interview Connery said that the movie's title was thought up by his wife.