As Roger Moore’s sequence of Bond Films settled into its increasingly frivolous nature, Sean Connery — who has famously said “Never again” after filming his comeback Bond-movie Diamonds Are Forever — was persuaded to return once more twelve years later.
Never Say Never Again (1983)
This came out in the same year as Octopussy, which I consider the nadir of Moore’s efforts. Tiring of Moore, I watched Never Say Never Again between For Your Eyes Only and Octopussy, and found myself liking it a lot more than I expected to. Connery is clearly too old for role at 53 — but that’s still three years younger than Moore was in his offering of the same year. More importantly, Connery had retained his charisma — if anything, he emits even more of an alpha-male vibe in 1983 than he had in 1971. And that alone makes the film work.
History shows that Octopussy took more money than this film ($187.5M vs. $160M) but it’s certainly not the better of the two. In fact, Never Say Never Again has a rough-edged brutality to it, almost a realism, that must surely have been much more in mind as the template for Timothy Dalton’s run than any of the films Moore had made. Even the opening sequence (which has a spoiler that I won’t give away) has a grit to it that drew me into the film far more effectively than the more flamboyant openings of films like Octopussy (mini-jet) or A View to a Kill (snowboarding to the hideously ill-judged sound of California Girls.)
NSNA was only ever going to be one-off, and that was the right decision: for Connery to keep playing Bond further into his fifties could only have resulted in his becoming as ridiculous as Moore had become. But as a one-off, it works; and it signposts the way forward for the series.