Oct 2, 2019
Never Say Never Again (1983): the lost recap (part 3 of 6)
Previously on Never Say Never Again: Bond went on a health kick with an all-vodka and foie gras diet; Jack did his tricky for nursey and baby got his candy and also a couple of nuclear warheads; Bond had an extended fight scene with a guy who may have been a SPECTRE goon but was definitely extremely sensitive to urine; and Blofeld used the theft of warheads to demand 25% of the oil reserve money each country spent annually on a per capita basis, or something like that.
Cut to Bond doing research on a computer while holding his matchbook clue. He eventually traces the yellow-flags-on-black logo to Maximillian Largo, and the computer displays multiple random snapshots of Largo while a voice says he’s an “industrialist and philanthropist” who currently resides in Nassau, Bahamas. Another screen shows that his “net worth” is over two billion dollars.
Moneypenny enters, and Bond tells her it’s late and she should be in bed. “James, we both should be!” Well, good to see that even in the unofficial Bond entry, there’s not a single conversation between these two that doesn’t drip with innuendo. Moneypenny ushers him out for a meeting with M, telling him “it’s panic stations upstairs”. She then happily informs him he’s “back in business” due to the Double-Os being reactivated. So I guess Bond was just researching Largo during his free time?
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Cut to a large yacht cutting through the ocean. And a crazy hunch tells me—well, actually, the giant insignia of two yellow flags inside a black circle tells me that this is Largo’s yacht. The logo is the helipad, and Largo is currently landing his helicopter on it right now. He heads below and all his men give him cheerful reports. He learns that everything’s going quite well in whatever industry/profession he happens to work at and/or be involved in.
Meanwhile, Bond meets with M, who explains that SPECTRE is using one stolen warhead to threaten the entire US eastern seaboard, and the other to threaten “the oil fields of the Middle East!” Moustache Guy (previously seen announcing Bond’s time in the training exercise) enters, explaining that a “subterranean explosion” in the oil fields would indeed be very bad, because it could cause a “ripple effect” in the “oil-bearing strata”.
M further explains that the only way the nuclear missiles could have been released was by a scan of the U.S. President’s right eye, and we can see the gears turning in Bond’s head. Moustache Guy also knows that a man left the base during the launch, and identifies him as “A certain Captain Jack Petachi!”
Bond is already doing his routine where he preternaturally senses shit, as he suggests Patachi may have used a “false eye”. M hilariously scrunches up his face and goes, “Oh, do come along, Bond! Let’s think of a more logical explanation, shall we?” And M’s grandpa reading glasses really add to the effect here. It’s almost like he’s grumpy about SPECTRE making him miss out on the early bird special.
Meanwhile, Largo is stepping into the futuristic computer room on his yacht, which has metal walls, and a sliding metal Star Trek door, and the walls are covered in monitors and keyboards. Largo reaches up and flips a switch, and suddenly the room is filled with what sounds like ‘70s porno music, pretty much.
Largo leans back, darkens the room, and flips another switch that causes a wall to slide away. Beyond the wall is a one-way mirror that allows him to spy on a dance studio where Kim Basinger as Domino Petachi is working through a routine.
She’s here with her instructor, and they run through all sorts of sexy dance moves set to the porno music, while Largo looks on gleefully. Largo switches off the music and exits, while Domino and her instructor continue to do a whole synchronized dance routine here (they even dry hump the floor at one point), and you have to wonder, what is she rehearsing for, exactly? Does Largo plan to stage a huge porno-slash-musical on his yacht?
Just then, they hear someone pounding on a piano, and of course it’s Largo. Domino cries out “Max!” and leaps into his arms. Largo says he’s brought her a gift, which turns out to be a blue-green gemstone on a necklace. It has an inscription in Arabic, which Largo translates as “The tears of Allah.” Aw, how sweet of him to buy her a necklace inscribed with his plan for world domination.
But it seems this is also the name of a “legend” where a prophet “wept for the barrenness of the desert, and his tears made a well!” He puts the necklace on her, saying, “It is ze most valuable thing I have ever possessed… except you.” Did you catch the disturbing implications there? Domino wonders if he really trusts her to wear it, but somehow he thinks her neck is the safest place it could be.
This prompts Domino to ask, “And what if I ever leave you?” Largo brings his hand down hard on the piano. Subtle, Max. They both start laughing, and the tension is broken, and then Largo goes, “And zen I cut your throat!” Okay, but can she keep the necklace?
Cut to Bond getting his secret agent groove back, and doing a little target practice on a cardboard dummy. In close-up, a guy fiddles with a pen decorated with the Union Jack. He sneaks up behind Bond, points the pen at him… and the cardboard dummy blows up.
Bond has a comic bit where he looks at his gun, wondering how he did that. The guy with the pen announces, “Nice to know even old Q can surprise one of you Double-Os occasionally!” Yes, this is this movie’s Q (Alec McCowen), though Bond never calls him that, only referring to him as “Algernon” and “Algy” for some reason. And this movie’s Q definitely has nothing like the onscreen charisma of Desmond Llewellyn, or even that guy who played Q in that one movie. I don’t mean John Cleese, I mean the other guy, that’s how bland he is.
Bond examines the pen and says, “You could write a very binding contract with this.” Since this is roughly the fifth or sixth time an exploding pen appears in a Bond movie, I guess they ran all out of “pen” and “writing” puns that actually made sense.
It seems this line is an awkward segue into Q talking about contractual issues. He reveals that MI6 “slashed my budget!” They stroll through Q’s lab, past all the bland weapons and gadgets, and Q says, “If the CIA made me an offer, I’d be off like a shot!” He admires how the CIA has “unlimited resources, air conditioning, 28 flavors of ice cream in the restaurant!” That’s right, we Americans have all the best shit. We’ve got air conditioning, bitches! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!
Q goes to get a gadget, all the while sharing pointless information about the KGB defector he got it from. He presents the gadget, saying it “looks like a watch, but it’s really a laser!” Yeah, that’s… not exactly novel, Q. Even Bond looks kind of bored upon seeing it. He takes off his actual watch and puts on the laser watch, and Q charmingly takes Bond’s old watch and tosses it away, to off-screen crashing noises.
Q continues with the bitching and moaning about “bureaucrats running the place, everything done by the book!” But he’s optimistic that now that James Bond is back on the job, “I hope we’re going to have gratuitous sex and violence!” Sheesh, did you really have to go that meta on us, Q? Anyway, it’s all BS. There’s not going to be gratuitous amounts of anything in this movie, besides scuba diving.
Bond picks up a tiny white tube, and asks what it’s for. In a mild joke, Q explains that he sticks it up his nose, and it helps with his sinuses. This thankfully takes us into the next scene, by way of Bond explaining that he won’t need it where he’s going, which is Nassau. So yeah, that was one underwhelming Q scene. Was this another scene specifically written so as to avoid a potential lawsuit? Does Eon hold the copyright on interesting gadgets?
There’s a shot of a harbor in the Bahamas, scored with the expected steel drum calypso music. Bond wanders around a touristy outdoor market, and being the secret agent that he is, he’s wearing a light colored suit while everyone around him is in shorts and tank tops. Way to blend in, James.
He quickly eyes a babe in a bikini taking a fishing pole out of a hatchback. He almost gets clocked by her pole, but ducks just in time. He asks her what she hopes to catch, and she replies, “Something about… 6 foot 2, 190 pounds, with brown eyes.” Okay, I see we’re all done being subtle, then.
We then get a closer look at her face, and she’s… well, I think you know where I’m going with this. But the interesting thing is, this actress (Valerie Leon) also had a small part in the official Bond entry The Spy Who Loved Me, where she looked quite stunning. So I’m starting to suspect the reason all the Bond girls here are sort of unappealing is because whoever did hair and makeup for Never Say Never Again just did a lousy job.
The unsubtle flirtation is interrupted when a guy calls out Bond’s name. Bikini Girl says she’ll “catch you later, perhaps.” The guy, who’s also wearing a light colored suit, runs up, and turns out to be Rowan Atkinson.
I’d say he wasn’t really known to American audiences at the time, but he’s still not really known to American audiences. People who’ve heard of him probably only know him from either Mr. Bean or Four Weddings and a Funeral. Ironically, he’d later star in a James Bond spoof called Johnny English. Though, this is only ironic if you don’t consider this movie a James Bond spoof.
Atkinson runs up and quietly introduces himself as “Nigel Small-Fawcett” (which surely is not a double entendre of any kind) of the British Embassy in Nassau. He has some sort of speech impediment, and he says that because Bond is “one of those undercover Johnnies”, he made sure no one was following him. Bond points out that he just yelled out Bond’s name across a crowded harbor.
Nigel immediately, and broadly, curses his own ineptitude. Honestly, I don’t think a movie that’s been mostly jokey for the first 45 minutes needed a comic relief character, but that’s basically what Atkinson’s giving us here.
He fills Bond in on Maximillian Largo: He’s “enormously wealthy”, he has “the biggest boat in the Caribbean”, and he’s into “marine archaeology”. Nigel says, “He’s charming! I mean… foreign, but charming nonetheless.” What? Nigel goes on and on about Largo, about how he’s a philanthropist, and he helped build a “new wing” for an orphanage, and so on. Bond quips, “I’m sure he’s very kind to this mother.” Hey now, James, leave the snark to me.
Nigel knows Bond’s “reputation”, and worries that he’s going to “make trouble” here. He really, really doesn’t want to Bond to upset the “tourist trade” by “going around killing people!” So Bond patronizes on Nigel, telling him to “just go back to [his] desk” and find out where Largo’s boat is.
As Nigel walks away, Bond goofs on him some more, and even gets him to hide behind columns and such to avoid being detected. And the moral of the scene is, don’t try to tell Bond what to do, especially if you’re a pencil-pushing sissy!
Cut to Bond at a seaside bar, examining a photo of Largo’s boat. Evidently, it’s called “The Flying Saucer”, and the bartender informs him it sailed out this morning. And if the name seems odd, it’s because it’s actually a reference to the name of the original boat in Thunderball, which was the “Disco Volante”, which is actually just Italian for “flying saucer”.
And in real life, the yacht they use for the Flying Saucer was the Nabila, which was owned at the time by Saudi billionaire Adnan Khashoggi. It was later sold to Donald Trump, who sold it again three years later, but in the brief time he owned it, he renamed it the Trump Princess. But I think he should have stuck with “The Flying Saucer”. It could have been a subtle reference to his hairpiece.
Bond looks out at the water and sees a woman waterskiing, and it just happens to be Fatima Blush. She skis past the seaside bar where Bond is enjoying a martini, and he gets splashed in her wake, and looks annoyed. Weirdly, we didn’t get to see Bond order the martini. So I’m guessing the “shaken, not stirred” line was vetoed and excised by the lawyers?
Fatima glares at Bond from the water, and then eventually skis up a ramp, which leads directly to the bar, and she ends up running into Bond’s arms. Bond grabs her, not even spilling a drop of his drink. Fatima composes herself, and then we get an exchange that sounds like someone trying way too hard to come up with “James Bond-esque” dialogue.
Fatima: How reckless of me! I’ve made you all wet!
Bond: Yes, but my martini’s still dry.
Bond: Yes, but my martini’s still dry.
At long last, Fatima introduces herself to Bond (this is the first time anyone’s said her name in the film, actually), and they have the standard flirtatious conversation, which wraps up with Fatima saying she “knows the best waters”, and offering to show them to Bond.
And just like that, the two of them are on a yacht, cruising through the sea. Below deck, Fatima gives Bond a wetsuit. He takes a gander at all the scuba gear and says that she’s “marvelously equipped”. They’re about to go on a dive, and Bond says that she seems tense. Actually, she couldn’t seem less tense. She seems about as tense as a lion coming upon a baby wildebeest with a broken leg. No surprise, this is just another setup for a double entendre from Bond: “Going down, one should always be relaxed.” Oh, groan.
They both strip down naked in front of each other, but before Bond can put on his wetsuit, Fatima pounces on him. A sexy saxophone starts up, they make out, and we cut to the boat penetrating the waves, which is not at all phallic imagery. Actually, this turns into a rather weird sex montage, because we get random shots of Fatima and Bond in the heat of passion, intercut with stock footage of marine life.
They’re in each other’s arms, and the boat tilts, sending them sliding out of the frame. This “artfully” cuts to them both diving into the water in their scuba gear. Hey, easy there, Kersh, don’t suddenly start getting creative on us.
So I’m assuming Bond recognizes Fatima from when she was pounding Jack’s head against the wall back at the health clinic, and of course she immediately recognized Bond when she saw him back there. And I assume he knows that she knows he’s a secret agent, so what better time to go scuba diving together?
They swim along a reef, and all I can think is whoever made Connery’s hairpiece deserves a medal. Fatima surreptitiously sticks a homing device on Bond’s oxygen tank, and back on the boat, the ship’s captain hears something beeping.
The sexy saxophone continues to wail as they examine a barnacle-covered shipwreck. Bond swims over to a hatch and stares inside, and behind him, Fatima makes some sort of gesture at Bond that I gather is not a salute to his health, and swims away. Back on the boat, the captain flips some switches on his beeping console, and we get Bond Movie Cliche #72 when a shark appears. And this shark has wires and stuff on its back, implying that it’s actually radio-controlled, somehow.
The shark closes in on Bond’s homing beacon. At the last minute, Bond sees the shark and swims away. Very slowly. And the shark just kind of ambles along after him. Here’s a tip for all you burgeoning supervillains: if you want your pet shark to devour your enemy, you might want to make sure it’s actually hungry first.
Bond swims into the shipwreck, and the shark follows. Bond grabs a fire extinguisher and sprays it, using it like a smokescreen to confuse and disorient the shark. He swims out of the boat, only to encounter yet another shark coming at him. Bond goes back into the boat, and uses the clever ploy of closing a door behind him to defeat the shark.
Bond peers out a window, and sees sharks are circling the boat. Then he turns around, and yet another shark is coming right at him. Damn! Dude has sharks all up in his grill!
Bond swims out of the boat yet again. A shark advances on him, so Bond pulls out a knife and cuts a rope, causing the ship’s mast to collapse and trap the shark. As the shark lies there, Bond checks out the device on its back, which upon closer inspection appears to be a combination light switch/intercom panel. It even has rabbit ear antennae coming out of it. I hope SPECTRE is prepared for 2009, when sharks transition to digital.
Bond puts two and two together, and finds the metallic thingie attached to his oxygen tank. Just then, another shark attacks him, and knocks the scuba mouthpiece out of his mouth, while also somehow severing his air hose. Bond throws the homing beacon down into the shipwreck, and the sharks chase after it. Well, one shark, anyway. Bond then spots a fishing lure in the water.
Cut to someone getting the mother of all tugs on her fishing line. One guess who. Yep, it’s Bikini Girl from earlier, and it appears she actually did catch something that’s 6’2” with brown eyes. Bond pops up out of the water, and the woman is amazed.
Bond quips, “Well, you did say you’d catch me later!” Oh, groan. Okay, admittedly, that was kinda clever, but still: groan. And you can catch more of this recap later, in part four, coming soon!