An alternative synopsis for Never Say Never Again

TheMagusTheMagus Posts: 10MI6 Agent
edited August 15 in The James Bond Films

Most of us in the Bond community agree that Never Say Never Again is far from a perfect Bond film (to say the very least). For a long time, I have wondered if an alternative approach to the story would have made Never Say Never Again a better film. I have written an alternative synopsis below. Tell me what you think.

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The film opens with Bond on a mission to rescue an heiress who has spent several weeks as a hostage of the Nicaraguan Contras. In that time, she has been tortured, and brainwashed. Bond eliminates her guards and unties her. Unknown to Bond, however, the heiress is suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. She stabs Bond in the right shoulder causing damage to the auxiliary nerve.

Following surgery, M sends Bond to Shrublands Health Clinic for rest, recuperation, and rehabilitation. During his time at Shrublands, Bond seduces a young female nurse and notices some strange behaviour regarding another male patient. He toys with the idea of reporting his suspicions to the authorities, but ultimately decides not to.

Meanwhile, at a nearby US Air Base, two hydrogen bombs are stolen. The culprits are revealed to be SPECTRE. They are demanding billions-of-dollars or they will detonate each bomb in a major city in Europe or the United States. M immediately recalls all 00 agents, including Bond.

During the group briefing, M informs the 00s that an American Air Force Lieutenant named Jack Petacci was found dead in a nearby motel room shortly after the theft, the victim of a heroin overdose. Bond informs M during their individual conference that he had encountered Petacci during his stay at Shrublands and argues that he [Petacci] was probably involved in the theft of the hydrogen bombs. Bond tells M that Petacci’s sister, Domino is in a relationship with the billionaire Maximilian Largo who, Bond points out, has the money and resources to steal two hydrogen bombs. M concurs and agrees to send Bond to Nice, France where Domino and Largo are currently residing.  

In Nice, Bond is teamed up with CIA Agent Felix Leiter, Deuxième Bureau agent Mathis, and British agent Nicole Fearing. Bond has Mathis use his connections in France to compile as much information about Largo and his organisation as possible. Fearing is given the task of gathering information from British and American sources.

Whilst Felix Leiter is busy looking for the bombs (through helicopter searches and so forth), Bond devotes his time to ingratiating himself with Largo on a social basis. Bond plays baccarat with Largo at a Nice Casino and even has lunch with him and Domino at his estate.

At the same time, Bond has entered into a sexual relationship (which is as heartless as any other relationship Bond has with a woman) with Fearing. Unknown to Bond, however, Fearing is a double-agent working for SPECTRE. Under instructions from Largo, Fearing attempts to murder Bond after they make love. Bond avoids death and kills Fearing.

With all their intelligence compromised, Bond decides to focus his attention on seducing Domino. He attends a ball that Largo has organised. Bond dances with Domino during which time he sets up a date with her the following morning at a local café. Their date the following day goes well and the pair end up making love in Bond’s hotel room. Afterwards, Bond informs Domino that her brother was found dead of a drug overdose and that her boyfriend, Largo, may have been involved. Domino agrees to help Bond.

Domino returns to Largo’s estate. Largo questions her on where she’s been and what she’s been doing and becomes suspicious when Domino avoids the question. His suspicion is heightened when she responds coldly to his touch. Suspecting that she may have spent the better part of the day with Bond, Largo invites him lunch on his yacht – the Disco Volante.

At the lunch, Largo’s suspicions are confirmed (at least in his own mind). Under the guise of “going for a brief cruise”, Largo has the Disco Volante cast off. As soon as it becomes apparent that he is, for all intents and purposes, Largo’s prisoner, Bond finds a way to send a message to MI6 telling them to track Largo’s ship. Largo drops the charade once they have arrived in Palmyra. He has Domino taken back aboard the Disco Volante where he plans and locks Bond in a prison cell to starve to death. Before leaving, Largo explains that SPECTRE dismantled both bombs and re-assembled them, piece-by-piece in New York City and London. Both bombs can only be detonated via a coded message sent by one of the Disco Volante’s computers.

Soon after Largo has left, Felix Leiter and a combined squadron of Navy Seals and British SAS arrive disguised as locals. Once freed, Bond, Leiter and the Seals-SAS don diving gear and make their way towards the Disco Volante. The Seals and the SAS create a diversion by engaging Largo’s men in an underwater battle.

In the meantime, Bond and Leiter sneak aboard the Disco Volante. Whilst Felix Leiter focuses on planting plastic explosives in the Disco Volante’s fuel tank (thus creating an explosion that will destroy the ship), Bond focuses on disabling the ship and rescuing Domino.

Bond finds Domino tied to a bed in one of the cabins. He unties her and instructs her to come with him. She follows him to the bridge where Bond, Largo, and the senior crew of the Disco Volante become embroiled in a viscous fight. Domino kills Largo by shooting a harpoon through his belly. Leiter finds Bond and Domino and the trio leap off the ship. Mere moments later, the plastic explosive detonates – destroying the Disco Volante and her ability detonate the two atomic bombs.

The film ends with Bond and Domino aboard a US Aircraft Carrier. Leiter informs them that both bombs have been found and safely dismantled. After he has left, Bond and Domino “enjoy each other’s company.” 

Comments

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 1,254MI6 Agent

    That's quite good.

  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 4,223MI6 Agent
    edited August 15

    Yes that’s fun, I especially like the opening: good reason for him to go the Shrublands. Although I always thought that NSNA actually improved on Thunderball by giving Bond a more concrete reason to investigate Domino/the Disco Volante- I’m not sure that just basing it on Petacci having an attractive sister was ever a great idea! 😄

    I also think TB needs to have at least one of the bombs present where Bond is; there’s no ticking clock or immediate threat to the people the audience are looking at from the bombs they’re racing to stop, which seems a bit mad. Show don’t tell and all that.

  • John from CorkJohn from Cork Posts: 40MI6 Agent

    Like I said in another thread about Die another day, nobody had a bad word to say about NSNA when It was an new release back in 83. cinema goers didn't give a**** that it wasn't made by eon or the lack of gunbarrel.

  • Westward_DriftWestward_Drift Posts: 2,573MI6 Agent

    Again, I will disagree with you. I was a Bond fan in the US then I skipped seeing it in theaters due to the reviews. Blanket statements about "nobody" rarely hold up.


    As for the OP of this thread. I like some of the choices made. Still, the film would have needed a heck of a director to overcome the built in limitations of a Thunderball remake.

  • John from CorkJohn from Cork Posts: 40MI6 Agent

    Rex Reed said "The real 007 is back, older, gritter, greater than ever" The LA times said: "inventive imaginative Tension filled fun" Roger Ebert gave it 3.5 stars out of 4.

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 2,413MI6 Agent
    edited August 15

    @TheMagus That's a good idea to tighten up some of the plot holes and digressions in the original story. The remake just seemed to make all those lapses in logic looser than ever.


    @John from Cork you've provided two examples of contemporary reviews that liked the film. Whereas your premise was that "nobody had a bad word to say", you really need to find positive quotes from all seven billion humans alive at the time to prove that claim, otherwise it cannot be absolute. I for one had some criticisms as I left the theatre, so that's one more than nobody who had a bad word to say.

  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,201MI6 Agent

    It's usually a case of the Emperor's Clothes with Bond film releases - critics are unwilling to put the boot in. All thru 1983 US commentators had been wetting themselves over Connery's return, they'd hardly say the film was pants @John from Cork Ditto many reviewers in England of the vintage who would relish Connery's return too. The James Bond British Fan Club put the boot in, and John Brosnan, fabled Bond critic of Starburst magazine, wasn't over keen.

    I'm not sure any Bond films have been slated by the critics since the 1980s really, certainly not in the UK. They always put a positive spin on them. The fact that in the UK NSNA played second fiddle in cinemas to that movie masterpiece Jaws 3D says a lot.

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 4,223MI6 Agent

    Yeah they always get good reviews. I don’t even recall QoS getting poor ones (although I’m sure not as strong as CR) and I do remember DAD going down well.

  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,201MI6 Agent

    Back to @TheMagus synopsis. It's an enjoyable read. The alternative team would not be allowed to use Mathis of course as he was not in the Thunderball book or any original treatments.

    What happened to Nassau?! But I agree to some extent Nice is a more enjoyable location, I prefer - just about - those scenes in NSNA. This new treatment ditches the whole Bond being old thing, as he is still on a mission in the pre-credits.

    Domino seems a bit, erm, loose given her behaviour here. Usually there needs to be some wooing before the villain's girlfriend jumps into bed with Bond to make it more seemly. May Day an exception but both she and Bond had ulterior motives there.

    One central problem not resolved here is one I touched upon in my lengthy The Spy Who Loved Me review on Last Bond Film.. Thunderball just isn't that interesting a plot and it has no subtext to make it so. That mattered less in 1965 because the subtext was 'James Bond is the funkiest new action hero on the plant, Bondmania is rampant and this is the new James Bond film in widescreen'. In Never Say Never Again the subtext was 'Sean Connery is back as Bond!' - somewhat under-utilised, perhaps because Roger Moore was pretty mega as Bond in the early 80s and Connery yesterday's man - and 'Bond is retirired and over the hill, can he still hack it?' - also a tad under-utilised for fear of running down the hero.

    Through no particular fault of The Magus, this new treatment is still just not that interesting because we still know exactly what the villain's plan is, who they are, what they intend to do and where the bombs are. Unlike, say, YOLT and TSWLM there is no subtext to distract from this - Bond's interaction with Japan and Far East customs, Bond's interaction and cooperation with former enemies the Soviet Union and so on. Nor, as in Moonraker - which also lacks a subtext I must say - is there any sexual rivalry between Bond and his main squeeze to generate interest or spice. And as Bond writer Sinclair Mackay writes, Fleming's book also lacks that sense of the exotic or weird, perhaps due to McClory's input.

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • Jimmy BondJimmy Bond Posts: 322MI6 Agent
    edited September 3

    Great, accurate reviews. :D

    But seriously, way better than its reputation with purists, but not as good as the Connery fanboys praised it to be back in the day. It's a perfectly serviceable Bond movie with a great cast and Connery going out with style and grace.

    EDIT: as a German/Greek, I can attest I have pursued a lot of reviews for NSNA as a kid, and I have yet to find any bad reviews for it, contemporary or otherwise (German magazine CINEMA and the TV guide TV SPIELFILM always had good stuff to say about it).

  • The Domino EffectThe Domino Effect Posts: 3,215MI6 Agent

    As a Bond-mad teenager when NSNA came out and someone who rushed to the cinema with massive excitement the first weekend it was playing, I vividly remember leaving feeling rather disappointed to say the least, even then. My favourite bits at the time were those with Nigel Small-Fawcett, which says a lot! When a film appeals to me, I don't pay attention to professional reviews. I only do that if I'm trying to choose a film to see rather than going for a specific title. As such, while I don't remember the professional reviews, I do remember that none of my friends liked it, even those who were as Bond-mad as I was, and that the general reaction from friends and family was not positive. Even the most pro-Connery/anti-Moore friends weren't overly excited by it.


    By comparison, Octopussy still doesn't rank amongst my favourite Bond films but I do remember leaving the cinema feeling as though I'd actually seen a Bond film. The plot, the locations, the gadgets, the music were all classically Bond (albeit Moore Bond) and the reaction to it in my circle was that if you liked Bond, you'd like Octopussy. I have no recollection of the professional reviews that Octopussy got either.

  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 18,127MI6 Agent

    I really liked your general plot for NSNA, but I think it comes up short when it comes to exotic locations and memorable action. I don't have any quick fixes to these problems, though.

  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 18,127MI6 Agent

    Now I have a suggestion (please forgive med for being do forward). Instead of setting the PTS in the same region as much of the rest of the movie I'd like Bond's mission to be somewhere really different. Perhaps the hostage is held in an old crusader castle in the middle east or on a houseboat in Kashmir, India?

  • The Domino EffectThe Domino Effect Posts: 3,215MI6 Agent

    It's a good plot and tighter than the film. I would change the Navy SEALS/SAS to Navy SEALS/SBS and I like Number24's idea for the PTS location, but otherwise it's good.

  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 18,127MI6 Agent

    I didn't really discover that the Disco Volante part of the story happend in the Mediterian, but I still like the middle east or Kashmir for the PTS.

  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 4,223MI6 Agent
    edited September 4

    Yeah it was in a way quite a strange follow up to Goldfinger, because all of those slightly twisted unique ideas which made GF exciting are gone in favour of a really quite straightforward plot. Bond doesn’t even much in the way of cool gadgets (he doesn’t use the car! How disappointing for kids).

    Also having a bomb plot where there’s no countdown at the end seems a bit weird; plus the bombs aren’t threatening anyone we can see! If a bomb went off James Bond and everyone else in the film would be fine, which is a bit wrong-headed. We should be worried for Bond’s life. Again look how GF gets this right: there’s a nuke at the end and Bond is handcuffed to it! :)

  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,201MI6 Agent

    I'm not sure there's any threat at all re the bombs in Thunderball. The Govts have agreed to pay up. As one set of critics put it in the book Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, published in the 1990s, 'hardly a thrilling premise, eh?' This lends the film the air of a qualifying game in which at least one team or both has already qualified. Nobody's going to die in any event. A character like Paula will die but it doesn't have the impact it ought.

    It's similar to OHMSS, both book and film. Blofeld only wants to be recognised as a Count and have his previous allegations dropped. He doesn't even want any money. It wouldn't be the end of the world if it were granted, just get someone to bump him off on the quiet later, who's gonna care? (That's not something I'd advocate in the normal run of things I should add.)

    TB is unique as a movie where the villain's plan is revealed from the outset (albeit well into the film after the Shrublands malarky), YOLT runs it close in this regard, as perhaps does TND. Usually, in the manner of revealing details about an upcoming Bond film - the director, the cast, the title, the singer of the title theme, the teaser trailer, the trailer and so on, they unveil details like the dance of the double-oh seven veils.

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • John from CorkJohn from Cork Posts: 40MI6 Agent

    My understanding is that Lorenzo Semple Jr had originally written a much more serious screenplay but the reality was, that the masses in the early 80s weren't into old fashioned spy thrillers, so Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais were brought in and they are responsible for the comedic tone of the end product

  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,201MI6 Agent

    Hard to say. Semple did Three Days of a Condor and the TV series Batman and was hired because they wanted something between the two. I'm not sure his treatment has been made public. A sketchy draft aimed at appealing to Connery was submitted by Semple and got the project going. Then - horror! The treatment he turned in pissed off Connery who wanted out and Semple became the bad guy to his consternation. His treatment had Fatima Blush as a bald-headed assassin on a motorbike and the actress Barbara Carrera didn't want to play her. Basically a ****-up of the first order and Clement and La Frenais were brought its as script doctors to put it right, inject some British humour too. That and the fact that the film makers couldn't get much of the script on film due to ****-ups and EON were taking them to court daily to forestall and interfere with what they were trying to do meant the end product had not too much to do with whatever was originally decided.

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 4,223MI6 Agent
    edited September 4

    Yes that's a very good point. At least in YOLT or TSWLM or MR the villains' plans is to cause WW3 or kill everyone on the planet and they can't be paid off. You're right that the stakes are oddly not terribly high in TB.

    There's really a lot wrong with TB which NSNA went some way towards fixing, but by no means far enough.

  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,201MI6 Agent

    I don't recall using swear words in my post, they weren't that bad!

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
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