An over-the-hill James Bond called back into active service after apparently ‘dying’ on a mission? Skyfall may have got the plaudits, but Never Say Never Again got there first in suggesting 007 might be a walking anachronism, past his sell-by.
But Irvin Kershner’s unofficial Bond is more curio than classic, a cheap-looking enterprise that lured Sean Connery back for one last hurrah, only to deny him an Eon-sized budget or a script worth his time.
Not only that, but it also features one of the all-time Bond abominations: Rowan Atkinson’s Nigel Small-Fawcett, a bumbling Bean-in-waiting whom we last see floating in a swimming pool like a giant comedy turd.
But it’s not a total disaster.
Max von Sydow, Klaus Maria Brandauer and the superb Barbara Carrera make an ace triptych of villains; the bike chase is slickly done; and Alec McCowen briefly steals the show as a colourful Q keen to see “some gratuitous sex and violence”.
And then there is Sean himshelf: effortlessly insouciant in a role that fits him as snugly as any tuxedo or greying hair-piece.
As content caressing Kim Basinger on a massage table as he is reducing a health farm to rubble, his ease with a quip, unflappable elegance and snappy tango moves ensure NSNA is never less than watchable.
He even sells the movie’s most ludicrous set-piece: a videogame duel that resembles the crummiest of Atari knock-offs.