Aug 20, 2020
Never Say Never Again (1983): the lost recap (part 4 of 6)
Previously on Never Say Never Again: Kim Basinger as Domino Petachi rehearsed for a musical and/or porno on the massive yacht of her boyfriend, SPECTRE bad guy Maxmillian Largo. Bond met this movie’s truly dull Q and got some truly dull Q gadgets. Bond then went to the Bahamas, and had sex with SPECTRE henchwoman Fatima Blush (thus ensuring her imminent demise) who hatched a plan that failed to take into account that James Bond is shark kryptonite. Oh, and Rowan Atkinson showed up for reasons that I don’t fully understand.
In the streets of Nassau, men in brightly colored clothes and masks shake their maracas and play the steel drums. Fatima, wearing another kooky yet hot outfit, dances around in front of the band. Suddenly, she catches sight of James Bond and the woman who just “caught” him while fishing.
“Oh my god,” Fatima gasps, whipping on her big sun hat, presumably because she can’t believe Bond survived her foolproof shark trap, but sounding more like she can’t even believe Bond slept with that total skank whore OMG.
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Bond has Bikini Babe under one arm, and he’s holding up a very big fish with the other, and some guy is snapping a photo of them. So apparently, Bond had enough free time to do some fishing after he was done banging Bikini Babe, and he also happens to be an expert fisherman. James, don’t you have a job you should be doing? Something involving finding stolen nuclear warheads, maybe?
Also, Bond is now wearing Bikini Babe’s overalls, with no shirt on underneath. It’s quite the look.
Cut to Fatima, who’s suddenly wearing a totally different crazy outfit. She enters a hotel and walks past yet another band playing in the lobby. She even snaps her fingers in their direction, getting all caught up in the sounds of their smooth tropical jazz. And doesn’t she have a job she should be doing?
The jazz continues as we get to watch her climb an entire flight of stairs. She goes to a room (presumably Bond’s hotel room) and plants another of her trademark plastic explosives under his bed.
Jethro Bond enters the hotel, along with Bikini Babe, now clad in a loose silk robe, with nothing underneath. (Gotta love that island culture.) They go to the front desk, and Bond picks up his room key, and his lady friend also gets her room key, which will be important later. As they head to the elevator, Fatima hides just out of sight, with a sinister smile on her face.
And now Bond and Bikini Babe are in bed, in the heat of passion. Well, I hope they both at least took a shower to wash off the fish smell first. As they’re going at it, there’s a shot of the bomb underneath the bed.
Just then, the phone rings, and it’s Nigel Small-Fawcett. He says, “I hope I haven’t caught you in an awkward moment!” Bond tells him to just say what he wants, while Bikini Babe continues nuzzling on his neck. Cut to Nigel sitting in his embassy office, fanning himself with his hat, and sharing the plot detail that Largo’s yacht is heading for “the south of France.”
Having inched the story forward, Bond attempts to hang up on him, but Nigel asks, “If you’re free tomorrow, why don’t we go snorkeling?” Did he just ask Bond out on a date? Wow, even the stuffy dudes at the British Embassy can’t resist Bond’s raw animal magnetism. Bond responds by dropping the phone receiver in his champagne ice bucket.
And here’s a part where the editing gets a bit… scattershot. Fatima, down on the hotel patio, extends the antenna on her detonator. There’s a quick shot of the bomb under Bond’s bed. Nigel continues to prattle on from the ice bucket. And Fatima, looking completely dead-eyed, pushes a button, and doesn’t even blink as a room behind her blows up.
And the next thing we see is Bond, still in bed with Bikini Babe, as they look out across the hotel courtyard at black smoke billowing out of another room. As it turns out, Bond is not in his room. He went to Bikini Babe’s room instead, and thus they were both spared. Cunning secret agent tactic, or blind luck? You be the judge.
Bikini Babe is terrified by the explosion, but Bond calmly says it’s “proof that we made the right decision.” When she asks what the hell he’s talking about, considering that a room in their hotel was just bombed, he quips, “Your place or mine.” And then they go right back to the sex. Yeah, you don’t want to evacuate, or find out if anyone was hurt, or see if the bomber is still in the area, or do anything crazy like an actual government agent might do.
Also, didn’t Bond have sex with Fatima immediately before going scuba diving and having his run-in with sharks? That couldn’t have been more than a few hours ago. Is Bond so incredibly horny that he can’t go more than three or four hours without finding a new woman to bone?
And now, we get skyline shots of the French city of Nice. After stock footage of a plane landing, we see what appears to be a seaport in Nice, but is actually a wall mural photo in the airport. A guy in a suit crouches down near the mural, looking pensive, and holding what looks like a red wiffle ball.
Bond strolls through the airport, and a woman with a thick French accent and a glittery shawl runs up beside him. She says she’s “found a villa for us” and that it’s “perfect”. Man, the Jehovah’s Witnesses at the airport are getting more and more aggressive these days.
But she’s really a French secret agent, because she says the Flying Saucer is anchored near the villa, and “Q sent this”, but whatever “this” is remains just outside the shot. They head outside, and Wiffle Ball Guy is standing out on the sidewalk. He yells, “Catch!” and tosses the ball at Bond. Bond catches it, even though it could easily be another bomb for all he knows.
Bond is about to toss it back, but then he recognizes who threw it. “Felix!” Yes, it’s Felix Leiter, CIA agent, and one of Bond’s most frequent allies. He probably could have been considered Watson to Bond’s Holmes, if he hadn’t been played over the course of the franchise by more actors than Doctor Who. The character has appeared in ten movies (and one TV episode), and only two actors (David Hedison and Jeffrey Wright) have ever played him more than once.
And you might recognize our current Felix Leiter as Bernie Casey, former NFL wide receiver turned actor (actually, most visitors to this site would probably know him as the undercover leader of the Maquis in a Deep Space Nine two-parter), meaning this movie beat the “official” Bond series to having a black Felix Leiter by more than 20 years.
Leiter and Bond shake hands, and Leiter explains that the “CIA sent me to ride shotgun!” Bond introduces the French agent as “326”, but she introduces herself as Nicole. As they head to Nicole’s car, Leiter says that Largo is “squeaky clean” as far as the CIA knows. And then he spots a pen Bond is tucking into his jacket and goes, “Algernon!” Leiter says he had one of these pens, and “it blew up in my face!” Does this mean Q is secretly moonlighting for the CIA? I hope they paid him in 28 flavors of ice cream.
Nicole’s car is towing a small trailer, and Bond and Leiter look inside. It contains some sort of “bike” that Bond plans to “test” later, but Leiter warns, “It’s gonna be your ass, James!” Bond retorts, “Thank you!” Uh… good comeback?
There are more shots of the lovely French countryside as the three agents arrive at the villa. Cut to Bond doing surveillance on the Flying Saucer in the most stealthy way possible: by staring at it through a big, bulky telescope in broad daylight. Through the telescope, he sees Domino walk out onto the deck of the ship in a frilly, translucent robe, apparently having some sort of seizure. Oh, my mistake, those are actually dance moves, and she’s prancing around like an idiot, and doing lots of high kicks.
Bond calls out to Leiter: “Forget the soup.” At first I thought this was some sort of euphemism I’m not familiar with, but it turns out to be a setup for him telling Leiter to “feast [his] eyes” on Domino, who’s doing more goofy high kicks. Leiter says it’s “Largo’s lady”, and Nicole, mixing drinks inside the villa, calls out that her name is Domino Petachi. Bond hears the name “Petachi” and the men instantly connect her to Jack Petachi, the Air Force officer who was “killed in that car crash”.
Then they spy Largo on the boat, walking past a cheap-looking sign saying “FLYING SAUCER”. Leiter speculates on the possibility of the nuclear warheads being hidden on his yacht. Bond calls this “unlikely”, while he continues to check out Domino dancing like a moron. He tells Leiter to get some scuba gear ready: “We’ll check her out.” Oh, I bet you will, James.
The next thing we see is Domino being taken to shore in a smaller boat. As she steps onto land, Bond is suavely shadowing her, in yet another suit. Domino pays a visit to a spa/sauna, where a woman behind the desk hands her a key, and Domino walks off. Bond enters right after her and says hello to the woman at the desk, and she’s of course instantly captivated by him. Bond gets in another loaded question with, “Do you serve men here?” Yes, and they’re delicious!
“But of course,” the woman says, looking him over. “Some men more than others!” How very professional of her.
Cut to a room where it’s nothing but wall-to-wall babes in swimsuits. To be honest, these women are still not that hot, but they’re all practically naked, so who’s complaining? Bond saunters through the room, now in a turtleneck and white pants, and of course all the women stare after him as he walks past.
He enters another room, where Domino is lying on a massage table, wrapped in a towel. Bond immediately grabs a towel from a passing staffer and pretends to be a masseur, asking Domino if she’d like a “hard or soft” massage.
She likes it “hard, please,” so Bond tells her to flip over so he can work on her back. He holds up the towel, blocking our view, but he himself is obviously getting a nice gander at Domino’s naked body. We get a little Basinger side-boob as they make idle chit-chat, and Bond gets out some oil and begins to literally work her over for information.
In the course of their conversation, Domino reveals that Largo is throwing “a charity ball tonight, at the casino”. She further explains it’s “for children”, and that’s about as much as we learn about this particular charity.
Bond says he’d like to go, and Domino doesn’t seem taken aback by a spa employee trying to finagle his way into a social event. But she says it’s a “very restricted” guest list, so Bond replies, “C’est la vie!” And Domino has no idea what this means, and actually makes him translate it into English for her. What? How could someone not know the meaning of “C’est la vie”? Especially someone who appears to vacation regularly in the south of France?
And now Bond does a weird move where he gets in front of her and grabs both her hands, and starts lifting them up and down really fast. This can’t be a real massage technique, can it? I think he’s just goofing around at this point.
Bond continues to rub her down, while she moans with pleasure. “That feels so good,” she says. And then smooth, tactful Bond, obviously caught up in the moment, mutters, “Certainly does.” Domino gets weirded out by this, so Bond recovers with, “It certainly does need it!”
Then he steals a line from his own diagnosis back at the health clinic, telling her she has “lesions in the upper vertebrae”. And why does this sound much more serious than his tone of voice would indicate?
As he works on her lower back, Domino asks him to “go a little lower, please,” and it appears Bond is willing to make that sacrifice for Queen and country, because he quickly obliges. Now they’re moaning together, and Bond is getting all horned up, yet again. I mean, it’s probably been a whole 12 hours since he last had sex, so the man must be ready to explode.
That’s when Bond notices the real masseuse approaching, and quickly bails out of there. Domino asks where the “masseur” went, and the Real Masseuse reveals that the man who just left doesn’t work here. The camera zooms in on Domino’s face, where she puts on a priceless look that says, “Wow, I really am that stupid!” The only thing missing here is the sad trombone sound effect.
And then a instant later, she just smiles to herself. Because really, there’s nothing quite as nice as being groped by some random guy off the street, is there?
Cut to that night in Monte Carlo, and everyone’s arriving at the casino for Largo’s fancy dress party, including Bond in his customary tux. It appears Nicole is Bond’s designated driver for the evening, because she drops him off and says she’s headed back to the villa. We then see Fatima in a nearby car, somehow listening in on their entire conversation. Huh? When and how did she bug Nicole’s car? Or did she actually bug Bond’s penis while they were doing it?
As Fatima gets out of the car, revealing another ridiculous outfit, she tells her driver to follow Nicole back to the villa.
Inside the casino, a sign reveals the name of the event, and it’s not much more forthcoming: “A Charity Ball For Orphaned Children”. And hey, look, according to the sign, this casino is actually the “Casino Royale”! Gosh, it’s always nice to see one non-official Bond entry give a shout-out to another.
Lacking an invite, Bond craftily sneaks into the event by… running past the guy at the front desk. The goon runs off-screen after him, and Bond punches him. And from the way the guy is standing when he stumbles back into the frame, it appears Bond punched him in the nuts. Two people wander past, and to explain the look on the guy’s face, Bond says, “You shouldn’t have the fish.” Because clearly, it’s the kind of fish that causes extreme ball pain.
Bond forces the goon into a storeroom, and relieves him of his gun. Bond then pulls a silver rectangular object out of his jacket, and calls it a “bomb” with a “tiny gyroscope inside”. He puts it in the guy’s hand and says that if he moves even a little bit, the bomb will go off. For some reason, the guy completely buys what Bond is telling him, and quietly stays frozen. I guess SPECTRE doesn’t hire the best and the brightest, do they?
And finally, Bond enters the casino. Have no fear, Bond is here! He’s gonna save the world at Casino Royale!
He strolls around, checking out all the not-so-hot women, and quietly dumps the goon’s gun in another convenient ice bucket. He then catches sight of Domino playing roulette. I think. His line of sight doesn’t really match up with the camera’s slow pan across the roulette table to end up at Domino.
Domino leaves the table, and to pad things out some more, Bond follows her around the casino. She opens a set of doors, revealing where the real action goes down: the casino also has a video arcade. And the reason for this should be obvious, considering this movie came out in 1983, when video games were first making their mark in pop culture. I kind of doubt a high-end Monte Carlo casino would have a video game room—this is the Casino Royale, not a Dave & Buster’s—but this obvious attempt to include trendy new technology is going to get a whole lot dumber in a minute.
So, what games have they got here? I see Centipede, and… Centipede again, and, hey, there’s Centipede! Also, I see some game called “Gravitar”. Well, they can’t all be winners, can they, Atari? Domino steps on up to play Gravitar, which is when Bond pops out of nowhere to say he owes her an “explanation”, presumably for the unwanted naked molesting thing. He offers to buy her a drink, and they walk away from the rows and rows of Centipede games to sit at the bar.
Before Bond orders a drink for her, he repeats his line where he asks if she likes it “hard or soft”. She says she likes it soft, and asks for a Bloody Mary with “plenty of Worcestershire sauce”. Gross. And can I have a Clamato, with extra clam juice, please? Bond goes, “I hate to think what you mean by ‘hard’!”
Bond then orders his signature drink, which is… a vodka on the rocks? Nope, he’s still not ordering a martini, which is just lame.
Largo is in the arcade, watching a woman play Centipede. Fatima comes along and alerts him to Bond’s presence. Largo loses interest in seeing his friend make the high score, and goes to spy on Bond and Domino enjoying a drink together. Fatima says, “I think you have lost her,” but Largo doesn’t think he could possibly lose her to “an underpaid British agent, ja?”
Fatima goes for a pun, or something, when she warns him that Bond will have his “Domino turned over!” I think Bond actually already did that, during the massage. Largo then screws with Fatima a little, pointing out she failed to take out Bond twice now (first time: sharks, second time: C-4 under the bed), and maybe she’s unable to kill him because she actually lusts for him.
Fatima wonders why he’s wasting his time with Domino, and Largo responds that Fatima will “maybe one day have to kill her”. Fatima says that his “sense of humor” is “delicious”, but I think that joke went over my head. Meanwhile, Bond and Domino have small talk, expressly to reveal that Domino doesn’t know her brother is dead yet.
And then Largo enters and meets Bond face to face for the first time. And after knowing him for perhaps ten seconds, he immediately challenges him to a game. At this point, why do Bond and his villains still play coy with each other with all this fake politeness? Just say, “Hi, I’m secret agent James Bond,” and “Hi, I’m evil mastermind Maximillian Largo. Shall we go find out who’s dick is bigger now?”
You might recall that in Thunderball, Bond and Emilio Largo faced off in a game of baccarat. This is the Never Say Never Again equivalent, and it’s a bit different, to say the least. Obviously, the baccarat had to go, because nobody under the age of 80 knows what that is. But as for what they replaced it with, well…
Largo leads Bond into a room which features a large, bizarre arcade game. It’s like a steampunk arcade game, with an ornate wooden table with a “screen” (actually, just a hollow metal ring) in the middle, and ivory and brass handles at each end of the table.
Largo says the game is called “Domination”, and he “designed it [himself]!” Wow, an evil overlord and a video game designer? He’s got it all going on. But he has a problem, you see: he’s never found a “worthy adversary” to play against. Well, maybe that’s because he seems to prefer playing against people who are hearing about the game for the first time, whereas he created the stupid thing.
Largo says the game “has one objective: power!” He pushes a button, and a fake “computer screen” pops up in front of him, with graphics matted in. Inside the larger “screen”, a 3-D wireframe graphic of France rotates into view, and Largo says that whoever shoots up enough of it with his “laser beam” (which appears to be an actual laser beam) wins.
He explains that “with ze left hand, you control two nuclear missiles” (real subtle, Max. Real subtle) and “With ze right hand, you control a shield to block my missiles!” And… what should Bond use to actually fire the lasers? Never mind, I don’t want to know.
And now begins perhaps one of the goofiest sequences in any of the Bond movies, as Bond and his enemy proceed to play a patently bogus three-dimensional holographic video game against each other. A computer voice, which may have recently asked Matthew Broderick if he wanted to play a game, kicks things off by saying that “random target selection” has chosen Spain, and its value is $9,000. Why are they playing for US dollars in Monte Carlo?
Spain flies at the camera, and becomes a 3-D wireframe tunnel through which Bond and Largo can see each other. They both begin firing “lasers”, and it would seem absolutely no attempt was made to have the graphics match up with what the actors’ hands are doing, making them both seem like they’re jerking their joysticks around randomly.
Largo wins Spain, I guess. Suddenly, Bond jumps back, because the joysticks gave him an electric shock. Largo chuckles, saying this is by design. “Unlike armchair generals, we will share ze pain of our soldiers!” Yes, Largo not only designed a game that delivers actual electric shocks, he also failed to mention this ahead of time. He also points out that if Bond lets go of the controls, he will “forfeit” the game. But since he neglected to outline all of these crazy rules earlier, “we will begin again!”
Things start up again, and the random target this time is Japan, for $16,000. Fatima makes her way through the crowd that’s suddenly formed, full of people who all seem totally engrossed in the game. I mean, how could they not be enthralled by this exceedingly rudimentary video game with shifting, nonsensical rules?
Random lights flash on and off, Largo and Bond fiddle with their joysticks, and beeps and bloops go off. Largo sends a blue animated “missile” over to Bond, which apparently causes a massive electric shock on Bond’s side. And the crowd continues to watch, utterly fascinated. This is like the spectator sport version of the Milgram Experiment.
Largo explains, belatedly once again, that “as ze stakes increase, so does ze level of pain! Rather like life!” Rather like this movie. Largo is all too happy to continue, and Bond isn’t about to back down.
The next target is the United States, at a value of $42,000. More lasers are fired into the country’s wireframe topology. This goes on for a while, with us in the audience not having the slightest clue who’s winning or losing this round.
Then Largo blocks one of Bond’s missiles (I guess), and the computer freaks out. “Red pain level at 50 percent! Danger level! Repeat, danger level!” No one reacts to this. Largo continues fiddling with his joystick. The only indicators that an actual “game” is going on are the scores on the screen, which show Largo with about four times Bond’s score.
The computer counts up the “pain percent”, which reaches 60%, then 65%, then 80%. Bond refuses to let go of his joysticks, and winces in pain. The computer says, “Danger! Danger!” Bond eventually lets go and collapses to the ground. So there you have it, folks. James Bond, secret agent: killed by a video game. And you just know all of Bond’s enemies are kicking themselves right now for wasting all that time and money on sharks and crocodiles and lasers.
Domino wants to run to him, but Largo sternly warns her not to. He walks over to Bond, who’s on the floor and coming around. Largo simply tells him he lost $58,000, which goes to his charity, and suggests they can cool it on the electroconvulsive therapy, at least for tonight. Bond stays strong, however. He wants to “play one more game for the rest of the world”. Risk addicts can never get enough, can they?
Largo warns that he could be in for even more pain, but Bond is willing to take that chance. And so, the stupid video game continues, and they play for the World, for $325,000.
And now, all the continents form a random wireframe pattern, and get shot up by lasers. And it’s not the slightest bit more exciting than the last round. This time, however, Bond gets the upper hand. He blocks Largo’s missile, and now Largo’s “blue pain level” is increasing. And the “shield” Bond deploys to block missiles looks exactly like the gun barrel closing and opening in the typical Bond intro, so I guess the f/x guys didn’t get the memo from the lawyers.
He blocks another missile, and up goes the Blue Pain Level for Largo. And now Largo is gripping the joysticks and having a seizure, but still managing to smirk at the same time. Domino is terrified and keeps crying out, “Max!” But it all ends when Largo deliberately takes his hands off the controls, and blows on his fingertips, and forfeits the game. Well, that was anticlimactic.
Bond has won, so I guess he’s either a quick learner, or some sort of World Domination shark. Or more likely, he’s just a wish fulfillment character who kicks ass at everything he does at all times. Largo whips out his checkbook to write Bond a check for $267,000, but Bond’s not interested in money. Instead, he only wants “one dance with Domino.” For $267,000, that dance better have a happy ending.
Bond and Largo are both all smiles and fake-gracious about beating and being beaten, and Largo walks away. After he leaves, Domino talks about how terrified she is. But Largo then calls for music. Specifically, the tango. Will Bond be able to pull off the tango? Will this be the first time Bond isn’t revealed to be a total expert in every single activity he attempts? Tune in next time to find out!