Picks and Pans Review: Never Say Never Again

updated 10/24/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/24/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

It's not a rap against Roger Moore to say that this film seems to bring James Bond back to life. Sean Connery did, after all, define the character. In this, Connery's first Bond film since Diamonds Are Forever in 1971, he restores the temper, the vague nastiness, the passion to Ian Fleming's agent. (In fairness, some Bond purists argue that Moore's cooler, more detached portrayal is closer to Fleming's 007.) The plot is a little too familiar—it is only a slightly updated version of 1965's Thunderball, in which a SPECTRE operative steals two nuclear weapons and holds them for ransom. Bond in this case is brought out of retirement to handle the situation. That fits in nicely with the return of Connery, who at 53 is noticeably older but still more than fit (and still possessed of an Oscar-caliber hairpiece). He is also surrounded by some first-rate acting. Klaus Maria Brandauer, an Austrian actor, plays the sadistic SPECTRE agent. It's the kind of performance that should be shown in acting classes—understated, tense and full of intelligence; he becomes one of the screen's most convincing psychotics. Barbara (Masada) Carrera has a great time as Brandauer's equally insane henchwoman; she never has trouble looking sexy, and she throws herself into the evil of this part with delicious abandon. Kim (TV's From Here to Eternity) Basinger is gorgeous and bright as Brandauer's more or less innocent mistress. Irvin (The Empire Strikes Back) Kershner directed, with occasional lapses into near slapstick but far greater attention to his actors and less to effects than has been typical of recent Bond films. It doesn't hurt that the wry script by Lorenzo (Flash Gordon) Semple Jr. takes itself with exactly the right degree of seriousness. At one point former chorus boy Connery and Basinger are doing a tango—quite a spiffy one at that—when he reveals to her that Brandauer has been using her. "Your brother is dead," Connery whispers in her ear. "Keep dancing." Welcome back, Mr. Bond. (PG)

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