Friday, July 10, 2015

Never Say Never Again (1983) | Villains

Thunderball's villainous, but not that bright Count Lippe is turned into a nameless assassin in Never Say Never Again. There ain't much to him except he's played by frequent Indiana Jones henchman (and General Kael from Willow) Pat Roach. And he dies in an anticlimactic, unbelievable way.

Fatima Blush replaces Fiona from Thunderball, but she's so much crueler than Fiona. Fiona was ruthless, but Fatima is downright sadistic. And manic. There's a scene in the Bahamas where she thinks she's killed Bond and she's dancing alone, whooping it up to the Caribbean music, until she spots Bond and realizes that she failed. She suddenly gets very serious and stalks off to his hotel to plant a bomb, but when she passes another band, she can't help but grin enthusiastically, dance, and applaud them. Until she's past them and then she's all business again. It's like she can't help herself. She changes moods so quickly, like she's a prisoner to her whims.

Unlike Lady in Bahamas, who seems so comfortable in her solitude, Fatima's putting on an act. Everything about her is a delusion that she's created around herself and she's probably the saddest of any Bond character ever. That's why she can't accept that she's not the greatest sex of Bond's life.

Somehow, that ties into the crazy ass, overly complicated schemes she comes up with for killing people. I'm guessing that she can't just be a competent killer; she has to be an artiste about it. Just another mask for her bottomless cauldron of insecurities. She can't just plant a bomb in Jack's car; she has to toss a snake at him to get him to drive off the road first. She can't just shoot Bond with a spear-gun; she has to use a homing device and radio-controlled sharks. Frankly, I don't know how she's lasted as a SPECTRE assassin. Her doing so reveals some weakness on Blofeld's part.

Maximilian Largo is another debilitatingly insecure, psychotic member of SPECTRE. Why does Blofeld pick these people? Largo's façade isn't as desperate as Fatima's though and he's likeable as long as he feels in control. The difference between them is highlighted in a great scene at the casino party where Fatima questions Max's ability to leave Domino and Bond alone together. She's way more pissed about it than Max is, because if it were her, she would totally lose it. She can't stand the idea of not being the center of the universe and doesn't see how he can either. But Max has enough power at that point that he can at least keep his cool. He clearly doesn't like what's going on between Domino and Bond, but he assumes that he can force her back to him later on and everything will be fine.

That doesn't explain Max's fatal mistake though, which is letting Domino keep the necklace that identifies the location of one of the nukes. I suppose you could say that Bond drives him so crazy that he makes that error, but it doesn't ring true. About that same time, he also tells Bond where the other nuke is and he's pretty calm when he does it. I can't think of a plausible, in-story explanation, unfortunately. It's just the script rushing to wrap itself up.

Regardless of his inclination for hiring psychopaths, Max von Sydow's Blofeld is a perfect, full representation of the character in From Russia with Love and Thunderball. This is what he always should have looked and acted like.

Top Ten Villains

1. Auric Goldfinger (Goldfinger)
2. Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Never Say Never Again)
3. Ernst Stavro Blofeld (From Russia With Love and Thunderball)
4. Ernst Stavro Blofeld (On Her Majesty's Secret Service)
5. Maximilian Largo (Never Say Never Again)
6. Francisco Scaramanga (The Man with the Golden Gun)
7. Dr. Kananga (Live and Let Die)
8. Doctor No (Dr. No)
9. General Gogol (For Your Eyes Only)
10. Karl Stromberg (The Spy Who Loved Me)

Top Ten Henchmen

1. Baron Samedi (Live and Let Die)
2. Fiona Volpe (Thunderball)
3. Grant (From Russia with Love)
4. Nick Nack (The Man with the Golden Gun)
5. Gobinda (Octopussy)
6. Naomi (The Spy Who Loved Me)
7. Oddjob (Goldfinger)
8. Jaws (The Spy Who Loved Me)
9. Irma Bunt (On Her Majesty's Secret Service)
10. Miss Taro (Dr. No)

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