Often viewed as the ugly stepchild of the James Bond movies, Never Say Never Again may be the most polarizing movie to feature the martini-swilling superspy (unless, of course, one counts the ‘67 spoof Casino Royale – but really, who would?). But can a Bond movie starring Sean Connery ever really be that bad? It depends who you ask. While this re-release isn’t exactly brimming with extras, there’s just enough on here to give some insight into a production about which most people (myself included) are largely ignorant.
The movie is usually described as “a remake of Thunderball,” which isn’t quite the truth. As it turns out, the one thing producer Jack Schwartzman (the late husband of Talia Shire, as well as father of Jason the actor and John the cinematographer) was basically forbidden to do was remake Thunderball. Due to legalities too complex to elaborate on here, the producers were instead allowed only to work from Ian Fleming’s original text to create their version of this story. Pretty much anything created for the previous movie that wasn’t in the book was off limits.
This in and of itself makes the movie a curiosity piece, as it’s the only time in Bond film history that we’ve gotten two different versions of the same Fleming story (again, let’s not bring the Casino spoof into the equation). The final product really doesn’t bear much resemblance to the ‘65 outing. It features some of the iconography and many character names are the same or similar, but otherwise it might as well just be another James Bond movie (especially when one considers how similar all the movies in the franchise are to one another.) Further, Thunderball is actually a pretty boring movie, and while many a criticism may be launched at Never Say Never Again, boring probably wouldn’t be the first word used to describe it.
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