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Nobody Does It Better

ver Say Never Again rected by Irvin Kershner the Sack 57

By John D. Solomon

AS PART of a rehabilitation program to get an Connery's 007 ready for a return to action, British Secret Service officials put him through a medical examination that includes a urine test. But seen an English hospital affords Bond little production. A random assassin chases the aging Bond through the hospital and traps him in a laboratory, desperation. Bond picks up the nearest beaker and throws its contents at the assailant, who recoils and impales himself on a wall of test tubes. Connery casually looks at the beaker, which is belled "James Bond's urine." Portrait of the self-sufficient secret agent.

And it's important that Connery, now 53 years did, not waste anything if he is to serve Her Majesty again the way he used to, before his 12-ar hiatus. And Bond fans who thought of Roger Moore as just a stand-in until Connery decided to turn to active service will not be disappointed. Nor even though Connery might be thinning a little the temples and sports a small tire around the aist, he still manages an appropriate series of improbable escapes, after-hours conquests and evilish grins. As his forever faithful Miss loneypenny would say, it's the same old James.

In fact, Bond followers will probably register some deja vu in Never Say Never Again, whose hotline is almost identical to one of Connery's earlier efforts, Thunderball. In that offering, the con-partisan bad guys, SPECTRE, captured a etched U.S. Air Force plane with nuclear missiles a board and then ransomed it to the world. This name, SPECTRE is up to evil doings once again, filtrating NATO's strategic bomber command with a turncoat U.S. Air Force officer, sending two cruise missiles armed with nuclear warheads into the Atlantic--where, again, the evil group is waiting to claim and ransom them.

The mastermind of no-good is Largo (Klaus laria Brandauer), a cheerful middle-aged multimillionaire with a beautiful top agent named atima Blush (Barbara Carrera). He gives the world--mainly Bermuda, Cannes, and North Africa--a week to pay up. Enter the rehabilitated bond, at the insistence of the British foreign minister--who has a higher opinion of 007 than the agent's newfangled current boss.

ONCE ACTIVATED, Connery goes into is time-honored routine. There is the usual interlay with the villain: an early duel in a Cannes casino at a complex video game (a modern update of a baccarat table); a direct confrontation over Largo's innocent girlfriend Domino (Kim Basinger); and finally the obligatory showdown. The victory for the old days--for viewers and characters alike--is best summed up by "Q" (Alec McCowen), Bond's chief gadget provider. "The bureaucrats are now running the place; you can't do anything without a computer okaying it. Everything's by the book," he laments to Connery. "Now that you're back, I hope we're going to have some gratuitous sex and violence."

But while Bond, quite properly, delivers plenty of both, the thing that sets Never Say Never Again apart from his last few escapades is a refreshing absence of gratuitous technology and special effects. In the last few Bond flicks with Moore, any dialogue seemed to be just a bridge between the high-tech special effects; here the technology is kept under control. Ian Fleming's James Bond was never intended to get by on equipment alone--save for some "Q" -designed gadgets, he survives and prospers through wiles and luck. Bond is Connery fending off killers with urine, not Moore driving a car through the ocean in The Spy Who Loved Me.

The most advanced device that Connery uses is a regular motorcycle, touched up to shear cars and jump a little farther. Late in the movie, Bond flies on a U.S. Navy self-powered one-man flying object from a submarine near Largo's boat. But that manuever is so broadly done that it comes off as a spoof on the other production company.

Nor has Connery lost the cocky wisecrack which so typified his portrayal of Bond and which Moore never seemed to master. When a bomb explodes in his room, Connery, snuggling a woman just across the yard, tells her they made the right choice--"between your place and mine." And when Fatima, with a gun pointed at Bond's testicles, asks him if she was his best lover ever, he replies with that classic Connery shit-eating grin, "Well, there was this girl in Philadelphia..."

SOME SCENES are too simplistic even for a Bond film. World diplomats react to Largo's threat of nuclear holocaust like actors in a fourth-grade play, stiffly delivering throwaway lines like "This is the ultimate nightmare" and "I hope the American government realizes its large, large responsibility." And the producers are just a bit too casual in casting Bernie Casey as Bond's CIA buddy. Since Never's production company is not the usual Albert Broccoli crew, having different actors play the same roles is to be expected--in fact, Broccoli wouldn't let this movie use the 007 theme. And when we last saw Felix in Live and Let Die, he was white; now he's Black. It makes for a sense of discontinuity.

But as far as the main actor goes, there is no continuity problem at all. Connery is 007, pure and simple, and in Never Say Never Again his performance is not masked with heavy technology. It's all natural--especially the weapons.

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